Clerking for a judge is a highly regarded accomplishment for a recent law school graduate and attaining clerkships for three judges is nearly unheard of. Yet that’s exactly what Abigail Stout (J.D. ’19) has done. She clerked for Justice Sarah Hawkins Warren on the Supreme Court of Georgia, for Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, and after spending this year at Jones Day in Washington, D.C., she will clerk for Judge Elizabeth L. Branch on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
It’s no surprise that Stout gravitated towards clerking since she knew before entering law school that litigation was her desired path. The Georgia native says when it came time for her to choose a law school, she was drawn to the diversity in age and life skills that Georgia State Law’s student body had.
“I didn’t want law school to simply be an extension of undergrad,” Stout said. “I was looking for a more professional environment and Georgia State’s urban campus embodied that. The school is surrounded by professions, with the Atlanta legal market being just one of them.”
Here, we learn about her experiences since graduating and how Georgia State Law helped prepare her.
What was the law school experience like for you?
Admittedly, I’m one of those people who really loved law school. I think it provides a unique opportunity to dive headfirst into the law without having to worry about the other stressors of the workforce. I loved all my professors and felt like they were invested in their students and cared deeply about law. They impressed the black letter law on us but also had us think critically about what was going on under the surface.
What do you enjoy about clerking?
I really enjoy being able to hone in on legal research and learn how to write objectively and clearly. That was especially important when clerking at the Georgia Supreme Court because its opinions are binding across the state. It’s important for writing to be clear and accessible to the lawyers, their clients, and also to the public who might pick up an opinion to better understand and interpret the laws they are living under.
I also think clerkships offer a unique opportunity to work on developing legal judgment because you see so many different types of briefs and arguments. Having to critically think through the merits and relative strengths of a variety of arguments helped give me a better idea of which types of arguments may work best and why.
How has Georgia State Law prepared you?
A legal education at Georgia State touches on both the practical skills required for practice and the theoretical or “bigger picture” ideas about the law. Extracurricular activities like Law Review, Moot Court, the Federalist Society, and being a research assistant also enhanced my law school experience. Law Review taught me about editing, good writing, and attention to detail; Moot Court provided invaluable practice in oral and written advocacy; the Federalist Society supplied a forum to debate and learn about bigger ideas that enhanced what I was learning in the classroom; and being a research assistant opened my eyes to how the law impacts and interacts with fields and industries that are otherwise not strictly “legal.”
Interview by Mara Thompson