Federal Courts

THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS

Article III of the United States Constitution places “the judicial power of the United States” in the federal courts. The United States District Court is the federal court with general trial jurisdiction to hear both civil and criminal matters. Judges of the United States District Court are appointed by the President, subject to the approval of the Senate, and they exercise the judicial power of the United States under Article III of the Constitution. More information about the United States District Court.

Externship positions are available with the following members of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas:  Judge Kristine G. Baker, Judge D.P. Marshall Jr., and Judge Bill Wilson.  The requirements for each position vary somewhat, so please see the more specific externship requirements below.

1. Judge Kristine G. Baker (1 position)

Judge Kristine G. Baker joined the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in May 2012.  Prior to becoming a judge, she was a litigator in private practice for over 15 years.  Most recently, she was a Managing Member of Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull & Burrow in Little Rock.  Judge Baker graduated summa cum laude from St. Louis University and magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas School of Law, where she served as Articles Editor of the Arkansas Law Review.  She clerked for United States District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright before entering private practice.

An extern serving in Judge Baker’s chambers will work one-on-one with Judge Baker and her staff.  The extern will have the opportunity to observe and learn more about federal court practice.  The extern also will have the opportunity to develop strong analytical and writing skills by preparing memoranda and draft orders and the opportunity to observe proceedings like jury trials, bench trials, motion hearings, sentencing hearings, and status conferences.  Judge Baker prefers that the extern be a third-year student or in the second semester of the second year and have taken Constitutional Law and other courses relevant to the work of a federal district court.  Judge Baker and her staff will interview students recommended for the externship prior to final approval of the placement.

2. Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. (1 position)

[THIS EXTERNSHIP IS AVAILABLE ONLY DURING SPRING SEMESTERS.]

Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. joined the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in May 2010. He was on the Arkansas Court of Appeals for more than three years. Before joining the bench, he practiced law at Barrett & Deacon in Jonesboro. Judge Marshall attended Arkansas State University, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Harvard Law School. He clerked for U.S. Circuit Judge Richard S. Arnold. He is the co-author of Arkansas Civil Practice and Procedure (5th ed. 2011).

An extern serving in Judge Marshall’s chambers will work with Judge Marshall and his staff. The extern will have the opportunity to develop analytical and writing skills by preparing memoranda and draft orders, attending court, and participating in staff meetings. To be eligible to serve as an extern in Judge Marshall’s chambers, a student must have excellent writing and research skills. Because Judge Marshall lives in Jonesboro, he typically works in Little Rock only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Accordingly, to provide a better externship experience for the student, Judge Marshall prefers that the extern work on one or more of those three days of the week. Judge Marshall also prefers that externs be in their third year of law school or the second semester of the second year, so that the externs will have had an opportunity to complete courses in Constitutional Law, Federal Courts, and other courses relevant to the work and jurisdiction of the federal district court. Judge Marshall and his staff will interview students recommended for an externship prior to final approval of the placement.

3. Judge Bill Wilson (1 position)

Judge Bill Wilson was appointed to the United States District Court in 1993 by President Clinton. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Wilson was in private practice for over 25 years. He had a general practice with an emphasis on litigation. In 1988, he was named the Outstanding Trial Lawyer by the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association. In 1991, he received the Arkansas Bar Association’s Outstanding Lawyer Award. Judge Wilson is a graduate of Hendrix College and the Vanderbilt University School of Law.

An extern in Judge Wilson’s chambers will have the opportunity to work with Judge Wilson and his staff and observe proceedings like jury trials, bench trials, motion hearings, sentencing hearings, and status conferences. An extern also will have the opportunity to research and prepare legal memoranda. Because of the nature of the cases heard by the federal district court, Judge Wilson prefers that externs be in their third year of law school or the second semester of the second year, so that the externs will have had an opportunity to complete courses in Constitutional Law, Federal Courts, and other courses relevant to the work and jurisdiction of the federal district court. Judge Wilson’s staff will conduct telephone interviews and reference checks of students recommended for an externship with Judge Wilson prior to final approval of the placement. Accordingly, students who apply for an externship with Judge Wilson should list on their résumé at least two employment references and the contact information for those references.

UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS (2 positions total)

A federal magistrate judge is a trial level judge appointed by the other judges of the U.S. District Court for a term of eight years. A magistrate judge handles both civil and criminal matters. With respect to their civil case responsibilities, magistrates are generally assigned cases for specific purposes by way of General Order, Local Rule, or Order of Referral entered in the context of a specific case. They may rule on any non-dispositive matter by way of Order. However, with respect to motions to dismiss, for summary judgment, for preliminary injunctive relief, or for remand, they prepare Reports and Recommendations to the District Judges who have been assigned the case. If all parties to a civil dispute consent, a Magistrate Judge may be assigned a case for all purposes including trial and disposition. Some of the types of cases that federal magistrate judges hear include social security disability matters, § 1983 prisoners’ rights cases, and prisoner habeas petitions. Magistrate judges also hear applications for federal search warrants and arrest warrants and approve or deny the applications.

Externship positions are available with the following magistrate judges of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas: Magistrate Judge Tricia Harris and Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe. Please see the description for each externship below.

1. Magistrate Judge Tricia Harris (1 position)

Tricia Harris was appointed as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas on July 31, 2015.  Judge Harris graduated from the University of Arkansas with Honors in 1986, and earned her law degree in 1989 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law.  While in law school, Judge Harris served as Associate Notes Editor and Executive Editor of the UALR Law Journal.  After law school, she practiced law at Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP in Little Rock for 18 years.  In private practice, Judge Harris specialized in the defense of personal injury cases, focusing primarily on medical malpractice defense.  She also served as Chair of the firm’s committee on associates and as a member of the management committee.  In January of 2007, Harris left private practice to become an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. As an AUSA, she participated in the investigation and prosecution of a wide variety of cases, including public corruption, white collar crime, drug, firearm, and human trafficking cases.  Harris also served as the District Election Officer for the Eastern District of Arkansas.  She appeared before the district courts in the Eastern District of Arkansas, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and as a Special AUSA in the Northern District of Oklahoma.  For seventeen years, Judge Harris was an adjunct professor at the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, where she taught trial advocacy skills.  Harris also has been a faculty member at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina.  She is a member of the Henry Woods American Inn of Court, the American Board of Trial Advocates, and the Federal Magistrate Judges Association.

An extern in Judge Harris’s chambers will have the opportunity to work with Judge Harris and her staff and observe proceedings such as plea and arraignment hearings, detention hearings, bond revocation hearings, motion hearings, evidentiary hearings in § 1983 cases, and trials.  An extern also will have the opportunity to research and prepare legal memoranda for Judge Harris and her staff.  Judge Harris and her staff will interview students recommended for the externship prior to final approval of the placement.

2. Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe (1 position)

On July 30, 2009, Chief United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes swore in Joe J. Volpe as United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Judge Volpe succeeded John Forster, Jr., the Magistrate Judge for whom Volpe previously clerked. The son of a career Army officer, Judge Volpe has lived in numerous places around the United States and overseas. He is a 1988 graduate of the United States Military Academy and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army Field Artillery. He spent four years on active duty as an artillery officer and was stationed in Oklahoma, California, Colorado, and The Republic of Turkey. Upon leaving the active Army, he moved to Little Rock where he graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law. After graduating from law school, Judge Volpe spent some time clerking in state and federal court. In October 2001, the Arkansas Army National Guard activated him, and he deployed to Egypt for 7 months. Upon his return, he was hired as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Little Rock where he served for approximately seven years.

An extern in Judge Volpe’s chambers will have the opportunity to work with Judge Volpe and his staff and observe proceedings such as plea and arraignment hearings, detention hearings, bond revocation hearings, motion hearings, evidentiary hearings in § 1983 cases, and trials. An extern also will have the opportunity to research and prepare legal memoranda for Judge Volpe and his staff. Judge Volpe and his staff will interview students recommended for the externship prior to final approval of the placement.

THE UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT FOR THE EASTERN AND WESTERN DISTRICTS OF ARKANSAS (3 positions)

The United States Bankruptcy Court is a federal court that has subject matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. While the United States district courts technically have subject matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy matters, most district courts, including the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas, have a standing “reference” order referring all bankruptcy matters to the Bankruptcy Court for that district. Thus, all bankruptcy cases typically are filed and administered in bankruptcy court.

Although there are separate Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas, there is only one Bankruptcy Court for both the Eastern and Western Districts. Arkansas’s Bankruptcy Court is located in Little Rock, with a satellite office in Fayetteville. More information about the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Arkansas.

Externship positions are available with the following members of the Bankruptcy Court who are located in Little Rock:  Judge Phyllis Jones and Judge Richard Taylor.

1. Judge Phyllis Jones (2 positions)

Phyllis M. Jones was selected by the Eighth  Circuit Court of Appeals as U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas on September 10, 2014, and she was sworn in on January 7, 2015. Judge Jones was a judicial assistant to the Hon. James G. Mixon for twelve years prior to graduation from law school. She began her legal career as an associate at Wright, Lindsey & Jennings, LLP from August 1997 to December 2001. From there, she became a partner at the law firm of Lax, Vaughan, Fortson, Jones & Rowe, P.A. She has also been an adjunct professor at the William H. Bowen School of Law teaching Secured Transactions for twelve years. She earned her J.D. from the William H. Bowen School of Law in 1997, graduating with high honors, and earned her B.S. in Accounting from UA Little Rock in 1992.

An extern will have the opportunity to work with Judge Jones and her staff and to observe hearings and trials. An extern also will have the opportunity to research and draft legal memoranda. The requirements for the position are a desire to learn more about federal bankruptcy court practice and procedures. No background or experience in bankruptcy law is necessary for this position. Judge Jones and her staff will interview students recommended for the externship prior to final approval of the placement.

2. Judge Richard Taylor (1 position)

Chief Judge Richard D. Taylor was appointed to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on January 3, 2003.  He is an honors graduate of Centenary College in Louisiana and the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, where he served on the law review.  After graduating from law school in 1980, Judge Taylor joined the firm of Friday, Eldredge and Clark in Little Rock, where his practice focused on bankruptcy law.  He was a partner in the firm from 1985 until he took the bench.  Judge Taylor also has served as an adjunct professor at both the Bowen School of Law and the UAF School of Law, teaching bankruptcy reorganization and business reorganizations.

Judge Taylor’s perspective of the extern experience is viewing trials and participating in the deliberative process.  His hope is that an extern will learn from the experience relative to specific trial tactics or practices, as well as matters concerning general attorney conduct between lawyers and the courts.  Trial tactics will be constructively discussed.  Additionally, an extern will be expected to contribute to discussions resulting in the Court’s ruling.  On occasion, there will be mundane activities dealing with office and administrative procedures and issues.  On other occasions, the extern will be asked to research a particular issue that is pertinent to ongoing litigation.  Seldom will this require a memo, as the emphasis will be on finding the applicable rule or statute and, if appropriate, related case law.  The requirements for this position include a sense of humor and an interest in litigation and the work of a judge’s chambers.  No background or experience in bankruptcy law is necessary for this position.