LINCOLN, NEBRASKA, August 3, 2020 – What is a law school student to do when their all-important summer Clerkship suddenly evaporates? In a time when the coronavirus pandemic was causing many large law firms to rescind offers to law students, Nebraska’s Berry Law stepped up to add more law clerks than ever before, allowing the clerks to gain critical experience in the legal field. During the pandemic, Berry Law onboarded 8 additional law clerks to its team, many of whom had clerking opportunities canceled by other firms due to COVID-19.
Talented law students from across the country lost their summer positions due to COVID-19 hiring freezes. Many students entirely lost the opportunity to work for a law firm over the summer, while others had their clerkship delayed. The potential setback to a generation of legal minds created significant concerns throughout the USA but there was no initiative to fix the problem.
Berry Law saw the issue unfolding and stepped up to fill the leadership vacuum, taking on additional law clerks into paid positions to ensure they received the work experience a law clerk position provides. They added budget to the program to give law students the training and experience that is considered essential for the development of future attorneys. The new law clerks worked directly with Berry Law’s experienced attorneys to gain practical experience and expand their legal knowledge.
To manage health concerns, the law clerks were able to work remotely for a portion of the summer before returning to the office for the full clerkship experience. Abbie Morlock, a second-year law student at the University of Nebraska College of Law said that working from home had its own benefits, “giving me the opportunity to develop stronger communication skills. I was able to work as if there was no COVID-19.” Another law student, Taylor Wikum, a fellow second-year law student at the University of Nebraska College of Law praised the adjustments to the program, noting that “with limited in-person training, the leadership team made it a point to provide us with the skills necessary to succeed.” Though their clerkship was different than anyone would have imagined back in February, the clerks were still able to gain all the skills they would have during a normal summer.
During their first month of clerkship, each student worked from home to ensure their safety, before being able to return to a specially configured environment to maintain social distancing. While this limited standard in-person training, the use of videoconferencing and cloud-based software allowed for the motivated clerks to succeed, and encouraged them to develop stronger communication and time management skills. The attorneys at Berry Law used phone calls and video calls to check up on them regularly to ensure they felt comfortable with their projects and then trusted them to execute their tasks successfully.
While COVID-19 continues to impact economic activity in Nebraska, Berry Law is refusing to let the situation slow down its growth. The firm has continued hiring, and in the past 4 months has added 24 people to its staff in Lincoln and Omaha. While the firm had to slow down some activities in March, it quickly rebounded after making the necessary process and technology changes to work at full speed with a distributed staff. CEO John Berry described the turnaround with the phrase: “you go on defense only long enough to go back on offense.”
Berry Law continuously hires talented students and professionals and is always looking to add to their growing team. They provide exceptional legal representation to each of their clients, specializing in personal injury, criminal defense, and Veterans law. Visit jsberrylaw.com to learn more about the firm, its mission, and current job openings.
Berry Law was founded in 1965 by legendary attorney John S. Berry, Sr. With over 250 years of legal experience, Berry Law is well equipped to handle the most serious legal needs. Originally focused on criminal defense work, the firm has expanded to offer a full suite of legal services.