Berry and Salva Land Prestigious Clerkships

caitlyn berry jennifer salva
Caitlyn Berry Jennifer Salva

Caitlyn Berry and Jennifer Salva, both 3Ls, have lined up prestigious clerkships for themselves upon graduation, built on the backs of previous externships.

Berry will join the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review as a judicial law clerk after graduation. She previously externed for the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Kansas City, where she conducted research and prepared legal memoranda on behalf of 10 different attorneys to file with the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Kansas City Immigration Court.

“I was able to see many writing styles because each attorney wanted specific things,” she said. “They kept me really busy. I liked to see the administrative side of law because many students don’t get the chance to experience that.”

In her new role, Berry will be writing for judges. She said is looking forward to learning experienced judges’ perspectives on immigration reform and seeing the different ways each judge approaches a case.

She was drawn to immigration law after growing up in a heavily Hispanic area of Arkansas.

“Kids made fun of me because I couldn’t speak Spanish, so it was kind of a challenge that made me keep fighting to learn the language until I became bilingual,” she said.  

She then pursued an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of Arkansas, where she frequently worked with international students. Hearing about their VISA troubles and other issues motivated her to find a way to help.

Advocacy also inspired Jennifer Salva to pursue a legal education.

Salva grew up looking out for the needs of her little sister, who was born deaf and with other disabilities. She advocated for her sister throughout their elementary school years, informing peers and teachers on how to include her in classroom and social activities. Regardless of her career path, Salva plans to continue working on behalf of people with disabilities, either professionally or through volunteerism.

After receiving undergraduate degrees in Journalism, and Film and Media Studies from the University of Kansas, she embarked upon a journalism career. She has worked for the National Science Foundation, in the pharmaceutical industry, and as editor of the Kansas Bar Association Journal. Working for the KBA introduced her to several Washburn Law faculty, and clinched her decision to attend the Law School.

 “I lovedworking at the KBA,” she said. “It gave me context, helped me envision what I really wanted, and got my feet wet before jumping into law school.”

Through Washburn Law’s externship program, Salva was placed with Judge Julie A. Robinson, Chief District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. During the externship, she was able to witness a criminal trial from jury selection to the final verdict, and also completed a summary judgment order that was accepted by Judge Robinson.

“She agreed with what I wrote so it was a good feeling that she thought my analysis was correct,” Salva said.

Inspired by this positive experience and her time clerking at several private firms, she decided to apply for a term clerk position with Judge Robinson. She was hired, and will begin in 2019.

“The externship program was a chance for me to demonstrate to Judge Robinson and her staff my legal analysis and writing skills,” she explained. “I believe the program played a large role in me ultimately obtaining a federal clerkship.”

Salva said she enjoys the research and writing a clerkship requires, and credits her journalism background for teaching her to translate complex ideas into understandable language. However, “legal research and writing is different from anything I’ve done before,” she said.

She explained that the legal writing faculty at Washburn Law pushed her and her classmates hard during their first semester, but that she is better for it, as shown in her clerkship work. Berry said she also found her first year challenging, but that “a few professors took me under their wings and totally changed things around.”

Both students said they are thankful for the school’s generous scholarships, and feel well-supported by their peers.

“The community aspect here is great,” Berry said. “We all try to help each other instead of competing, unlike at other law schools.”

Salva said the opportunity to get involved and network while still in school was key in setting up her immediate future.

“I would encourage other students to try new things, get out there, and meet people,” she said. “I didn’t know I would enjoy clerking but I did. I came into law school thinking, ‘I won’t get a job,’ but I did. By the time I graduate, I will have worked for three private firms on top of my externships. This is invaluable experience."