Published on March 21, 2024 by Morgan Black  
Neill Taylor In DC

Taylor Neill, a third-year Samford University Cumberland School of Law student, recently participated in the fourth annual Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing Conference hosted by the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. Neill was one of 36 participants from across the country selected to attend the prestigious conference, all of whom have accepted judicial clerkships during the 2024-25 term. Following her graduation from Cumberland School of Law in April, Neill will serve as a law clerk to United States District Judge Austin Huffaker of the Middle District of Alabama.

During the three-day conference, participants heard presentations from federal appellate judges. Each conference participant wrote a Supreme Court opinion on a First Amendment issue and participated in a breakout session with a federal district judge and other conference attendees, who commented on the draft opinion.

Neill said, “It was an incredible experience to learn opinion writing techniques from federal court of appeals judges from multiple circuits. To close out the weekend, a panel of district court judges presented their thoughts on opinion writing and what to expect when beginning a federal term clerkship. I am thankful to each of the judges who spent their valuable time to teach the future clerks in attendance.”

Following the conference, participants had the opportunity to use the writing techniques they learned to draft a second Supreme Court opinion for a writing competition. 

Neill credited her Cumberland experience with preparing her to participate in this conference. She said, “I was excited to feel that I had the requisite base knowledge to truly get the most out of the judges’ presentations. While this was specifically a writing conference, I cannot imagine the concepts I would have missed out on had Cumberland not offered valuable courses like Legislation, Administrative Law, and Federal Courts. Further, the judges presented a few familiar writing techniques that I recognized from [the first-year] LLR [courses]. I recognize the importance of the writing foundation that Cumberland’s LLR program provided me, and I am excited to apply what I learned at the conference to that foundation.”

Neill Taylor presenting

Neill is one of several members of Cumberland School of Law’s class of 2024 who will serve as judicial law clerks after graduation. In recent years, Cumberland School of Law alumni have been hired to serve as law clerks for judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; the United States District Courts for the Middle, Northern, and Southern Districts of Alabama; the Supreme Court of Alabama and the Court of Civil Appeals; and the Supreme Court of Georgia. In addition, graduates have clerked for judges on state trial courts in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Tuscaloosa. 

Learn more about Cumberland School of Law’s efforts to help students pursue judicial clerkship opportunities.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.