Jessie Shields

Hometown: Andover, Massachusetts

Undergraduate school: Vassar

Graduate school: University of Pennsylvania

Job: Associate at Drinker Biddle & Reath, then clerkship with the Hon. Christopher C. Connor, United States District Court for the Middle District of PA

Experiential opportunities

I did two clerkship clinicals – the State Judicial Clerkship Clinic during the spring of my second year, and the Federal Judicial Clerkship Honors Program during my third year. Both were absolutely fantastic and taught me a lot about how the court system works at both the state and federal levels. The State Judicial Clerkship Clinic exposed me to the inner workings of the First Judicial District of the Court of Common Pleas of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As someone who is hoping to practice in Philadelphia for quite some time, the classroom component each week was invaluable. I was also paired with the Honorable Holly J. Ford, Court of Common Pleas Family Division, who allowed me to sit in on countless hearings and who tirelessly answered all of my questions. The most fascinating part of observing her was how she worked with pro se litigants. The Federal Judicial Clerkship Honors Program made me such a better writer. I was paired with the Honorable Theodore A. McKee, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, who is one of the most intelligent and down to earth individuals I have ever met. Working with him and his clerks was a true honor. It was also a special year to be interning in the Third Circuit, which heard not one, but four re-hearings en banc!

Volunteer and service experiences

I have been an Academic Core Enrichment (ACE) counselor for the past two years, and an Owl Ambassador for the past three years. Both have meant so much to me. As an ACE counselor, I had the opportunity to work with first- and second-year students who were either struggling in a particular class or just wanted an upper-level student to talk to for advice. When I was a first-year student, I got SO much advice from upper level students, and I couldn’t wait to give back. Law school can be tough to navigate, and it can be intimidating to approach upper level students if you don’t know them. Professor Jim Shellenberger, who coordinates the ACE program, works tirelessly to bridge that divide, and I really enjoyed helping out. Being an Owl Ambassador has also meant a great deal to me. Temple Law School has been so good to me in every sense of the word, and I love giving tours and reaching out to prospective students. I think that Temple is a very special and unique place, and feel passionately that prospective students should have an opportunity to consider that as they make their decision about where to go for law school. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the tangible things, but it’s all of the intangibles (such as the support from faculty and peers, and the support from the wider Temple network) that make this a great place to kick off a legal career.

Favorite memory

My favorite memory is the moment I stopped referring to my first-year study group as my “study group,” and started referring to them as my friends. I didn’t come to law school thinking that I would make friends. I had lived in Philadelphia for four years, had lots of friends from when I was a teacher, and just assumed I would stick my nose in a book for three years and study alone as I had done my whole life as a student. Boy, was I wrong! The first year of law school was both terrifying and overwhelming, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my “study group.” Those three gals were my rocks during the first year, and although we lost one to D.C. after she transferred, the remaining two have continued to be incredibly supportive. They are both bright, hard-working, and inspiring. I cannot even imagine law school (or being a lawyer) without them!

Advice for incoming students

My only advice to the next class of entering students is that the next three years are going to FLY by, so make the most of every day. Go to office hours, reach out to professors, and reach out to alumni. There are so many people ready and willing to support you – so don’t be afraid to ask!