May 6, 2019 — One year after passing the bar exam, University of Houston Law Center alumna Clarissa Medrano ’17 fulfilled her dream by gaining employment as litigation associate at Akerman LLP’s Houston office.
“I have aspired to be a litigation lawyer for so long, and it feels amazing to finally be in this spot,” she said. “I am enjoying every part of it.”
The most rewarding aspect, she said, is working collaboratively with partners and other associates. The caseload primarily concerns insurance coverage, an area of law she is eager to better understand.
“On a day-to-day basis, I am either helping our clients analyze and respond to Stowers demands, or helping our clients analyze coverage of certain claims,” she said.
“Even though I focus on one area, I find it amazing that almost every claim raises individual and novel issues that I then spend time researching,” Medrano said. “I am never bored because of the diversity of my cases.”
In the time between graduating from the Law Center and beginning at Akerman, Medrano clerked with U.S. District Judge Randy Crane.
“Judge Crane is someone that you can learn a lot from because he is extremely efficient and intelligent, both in the courtroom and behind the scenes,” she said.
While Medrano realizes the potential drawbacks to accepting a clerkship, such as having to relocate or receiving less pay than a private firm would offer, she also acknowledged the multitude of benefits they offer.
“In addition to the knowledge, experience, and amazing connections you gain, clerking often results in an opportunity to work for the employer or in the position of your choosing,” she said.
The possibility of clerking was presented to Medrano during her internship with U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ’78.
“It was Judge Miller’s clerks that asked me if I ever considered clerking myself. I hadn’t thought of clerking as an option but was quickly drawn to the idea because I loved my internship,” she said. “I would not be where I am now professionally without their guidance and belief in me.”
Interning with state District Judge Debra Ibarra Mayfield was also an impactful experience for Medrano. Through this opportunity, she was able to enhance her writing and researching skills, attend trials and hearings, and participate in various networking events.
“Judge Mayfield was always a helpful and willing reference for me anytime I asked her and I am proud to say that she and I are close to this day. I can always count on Judge Mayfield for professional and personal advice and that is invaluable to me. She is someone I look up to very much,” Medrano said.
Medrano counts as another transformative experience her time in mock trial and moot court at the Law Center where she learned skills that she utilizes today.
“I will always have my mock trial experience. The coaches and the team taught me how to work up a trial from start to finish, and also helped me hone my public speaking skills.
“I feel that without moot court, I would not have any experience writing an appellate brief or hearing an appellate oral argument,” she said.
Lessons such as these solidified Medrano’s pursuit of litigation and prepared her for the work that would accompany it.
“Now that I have more experience with litigation, I love the research and persuasive argument that you get to do as a litigator as well,” she said.
Regarding the courses and professors she took, Medrano holds a host of them close to her heart. She recalls enrolling in Lawyering Skills and Strategies with Professor Whitney Heard, who greatly improved Medrano’s ability to write legally.
“I knew nothing about legal writing before law school, but by the end of her class, I received the highest grade in my class on the assigned brief,” she said.
Other courses which bettered her writing include Early Legal American History with Professor Robert C. Palmer and Judicial Writing with Professor Jennifer Brevorka.
“I am warning any law students reading this that these professors were harder on my writing than anyone I have come in contact with to this day. However, I realized how much better of a writer I became by the end of their courses.”