Alessandro was the first in his family to attend law school. He explained that luck played a significant role in his journey but noted that “it’s also the group of people that help you along the way. For example, your professors who write your letters of recommendation. People who you can talk to who have gone through the process. It’s really just a big, quite a big, network of people.” During Critical Lawyering Skills (CLS), a first-year law class, Alessandro came across the federal clerkship as a career opportunity. “And so that was my starting point… Talking to people, because it is something that if you don’t seek it out, you’re not going to be able to understand it very well or be successful. And then I think secondarily, I tried to pick my externships strategically,” he said. Alessandro went on to complete three externships across the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Santa Clara County Superior Court, and at the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender. For those considering a clerkship, Alessandro points to Legal Research and Writing, another first-year class, as the benchmark: “The writing. That’s what a clerkship is. It’s entirely legal research and writing.” He plans to continue clerking in the future and aims to pursue civil litigation as he moves forward in his career.
His advice to future students? “It really is about who you can pull together to help guide you in your pursuits. Just go talk to your professors. I am super guilty of not going to office hours enough. Just go talk to your professors, talk to your employers… you have to show your face.”
Erik began his journey to law school with his STEM education—holding degrees in Chemistry and Math—and as a high school debate coach during his undergraduate years. Over time, he grew to enjoy argumentation and especially enjoyed the writing and research aspect of his degree. He wanted to be a patent litigator, so he set out to find a school that would prepare him for his career, choosing Santa Clara Law due to its high ranking in IP law, diversity, and location. He credits his first step towards clerkship as externing in the Northern District of California during his 1L summer. The knowledge and connections built during that time provided the fundamental knowledge of the judiciary to begin his path toward clerking. Erik especially notes that former Santa Clara Law Professor Colleen V. Chien was one of his best resources, and she gave him the push to develop as a law student and as an attorney. After graduating from law school, Erik served at a top international law firm working in IP litigation, gaining exceptional insight into the ins and outs of federal litigation. Erik notes that “the job primarily is research and writing” concurring with Alessandro that “it is almost identical to your 1L… legal research and writing class, but instead of being given a packet from your professor to do your memo, you are given the party’s briefs and are required to draft a memo or order for the judge.” Erik plans to continue clerking and looks to continue working with patents and IP law in the future, whether in public or private practice.
When asked about his advice to future students, he replied: “Your legal career is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s all about taking deliberate steps to reach your finish line.”
Alessandro Piras is a law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. He graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law in 2023. Alessandro was the Senior Articles Editor for Vol. 63 of the Santa Clara Law Review. He was also a semi-finalist in the Honors Moot Court Internal competition and served as president of the student organization SCOTUS Review. While in law school, Alessandro completed externships in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Santa Clara County Superior Court, and the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender.
Erik Perez is a law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Erik graduated from Santa Clara Law in 2022 after serving as President of the Student Bar Association. Erik also was the Managing Editor of the High-Tech Law Journal, Vol. 38. He served as President of Scotus Review and participated in Honors Moot Court External and Galloway Honors Moot Court, placing as a Semifinalist in Oral Arguments. Erik served as a Judicial Extern in the Northern District of California during the summer of 2020. Erik was an IP litigation attorney at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP from October 2022 to May 2023 before joining the US. District Court.