Each year, hundreds of law students vie for post-graduate clerkships in federal, state, and local courts across the country. The coveted one- or two-year positions offer an unrivaled opportunity for new lawyers to immerse themselves in the daily work of trial and appellate courts, to engage with practitioners, and to support judges and juries as they uphold and shape the law.
Anthony Nania ’20 and Daniel Vitagliano ’20, who are both student fellows for the Law School’s Center for Law and Religion, are thrilled to be among the select few who will start their legal careers this fall as judicial law clerks. Nania, who also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the St. John’s Law Review, will clerk for Hon. Janet DiFiore ’81, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and of the State of New York, from 2020 to 2022. Vitagliano, an Associate Managing Editor on the St. John’s Law Review, will clerk from 2020 to 2021 for Hon. Mary Kay Vyskocil ’83, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, and from 2021 to 2022 for Hon. Stuart Kyle Duncan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Baton Rouge, LA.
As they start their clerkships, Nania and Vitagliano will draw on the skills and knowledge they gained as Center fellows. Each year, the Center’s co-directors, Professors Marc O. DeGirolami and Mark L. Movsesian, select up to four upper-class students to serve as fellows based on academic performance and demonstrated interest in law and religion. Along with other responsibilities, the fellows contribute weekly to the Center’s award-winning Law and Religion Forum blog and help to produce its Legal Spirits podcast. Along with 3Ls Nania and Vitagliano, the Center’s 2019-2020 fellows include Catherine Mapelli ’21 and Anthony Scarcella ’21.
“This year marks the first time that both graduating fellows have secured judicial clerkships, and we couldn’t be prouder,” Professor Movsesian says. “Anthony and Dan have worked so hard and contributed so much to the Center over the last couple of years. They’re going to be fantastic law clerks.”
Chief Judge DiFiore and Judge Vyskocil both graduated from St. John’s Law and continue to be vital members of the Law School community. Chief Judge DiFiore spoke to 1Ls recently about her initiative to improve New York’s expansive court system, and Judge Vyskocil, who was an acclaimed commercial litigator before taking the bench, serves on the Center’s Board of Advisers and is past president of the Law School Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. Judge Duncan has also gotten to know St. John’s, having spoken at a Center roundtable on the Supreme Court last fall. “It’s wonderful to see our fellows clerk for two of our most illustrious graduates, who know St. John’s so well, and also for newly-appointed jurists who are only now getting to learn about us,” says Professor Movsesian. “And it’s great that our Center continues to expand its national reputation among judges.”
Being a Center fellow, Nania shares, prepared him well for the opportunity ahead. "Working with Professors Movsesian, DeGirolami, and the other Center fellows has been a wonderful experience,” he says. “Learning how to research and successfully launch new projects like the podcast series has improved my ability to make critical decisions about unfamiliar and novel topics, which will serve me well as a law clerk.” Vitagliano agrees that his time as a Center fellow has been formative. “It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences I've had at St. John's,” he says, adding, “the Center for Law and Religion was instrumental in helping me secure these clerkships and in equipping me to do my best.”
As Nania and Vitagliano look forward to their clerkships, Professor DeGirolami has no doubt that they will thrive in their new roles. “Anthony and Dan have both been extraordinary as St. John’s law students and Center fellows,” he observes. “Chief Judge DiFiore, Judge Vyskocil, and Judge Duncan are getting some of our very best students, and Mark and I are just delighted that the work our students have done for the Center can help them seize wonderful opportunities like these.”