First to the Bench

First to the Bench session

The Center for Judicial Events & Clerkships (CJEC) is dedicated to building broad communities of support. Foremost is developing a community for our first-generation students. At times it is not always obvious the support structure that exists, so it is critical to create a community that is vibrant, visible, and welcoming.

To meet this goal, in its inaugural year the CJEC developed a first-generation initiative – First to the Bench Event - in collaboration with our student organizations, including the then newly launched Fordham First Generation Student Organization (F1GS).

First-Generation Jurist Speaker

Each academic year, the CJEC welcomes a prominent member of the judiciary to the law school who is the first in their family to attend college or professional school or is an immigrant to speak about their path to the bench to our self-identified first-generation students and alumni.

We have titled this talk "First to the Bench". The format is a fireside chat with the jurist.

This event is a wonderful opportunity for the entire law school community, students, alumni, faculty, and staff to gather to hear these inspiring life stories as well as demonstrate our support for our first-generation law students. This event not only inspires but allows our students to see the possibilities and hopefully plant the seed for future jurists!

The First to the Bench speaker is central to our annual community building event. At the conclusion of the fireside chat the CJEC hosts a reception designed to foster a vibrant and supportive community for our first-generation students and alumni. At the reception we welcome our alumni first-generation current and former judicial clerks and members of our faculty to meet and mingle with our current first-generation students and each other. Sharing their stories and backgrounds and forging relationships. This is, also, a unique opportunity to ask questions in a comfortable and informal environment. Equally important, it offers an unparalleled opportunity to engage with a member of the judiciary in an informal setting.

Pre-Event Meet and Greet with First-Generation Law Students

As part of the CJEC’s First to the Bench event, each year we collaborate with F1Gs leadership to host a small group informal meet and greet with our first-generation law students and the featured jurist.

Building Bridges to the Next Generation – the IDEAL Program

In 2019, Fordham Law School launched the IDEAL Program. The IDEAL students are a cohort of ten (10) first-generation pre-law students whom Fordham Law is mentoring and supporting. As part of the CJEC’s First to the Bench event, we partner with the Office of Student Affairs.

Past First to the Bench Speakers

February 2020 (inaugural event): Hon. Denny Chin ‘78 (2d Cir.) and Hon. Maria Araujo Kahn ’89 (then Conn. Supreme Court; now 2d Cir.)

February 2021: Hon. Christine Arguello (D.Colo.)

February 2022: Hon. Diane Humetewa (D.Ariz.)

October 2022: Hon. Zahid Quraishi (D.N.J.)

October 2023: Hon. Hector Gonzalez (E.D.N.Y.)

Upcoming October 2024: Hon. Maria Araujo Kahn ’89 (2d Cir)