I spent my summer working as a Judicial Intern for the Delaware State Courts. The first half of the summer I worked in the Court of Chancery, and the second half of the summer I was in the Superior Court.
The Court of Chancery is interesting because it is one of only five equity courts remaining in the United States. This provides a venue for parties to sue each other for equitable remedies, which is popular practice among corporations. The state of Delaware has a population of approximately 950,000 people, but there are more than 1 million companies incorporated there. This is due to favorable tax laws for corporations within the state. As a result, the Delaware Court of Chancery is a popular venue for corporate litigation. I enjoyed observing proceedings, especially due to the quality of the representation. When corporations file suit, they spare no expense when it comes to their legal teams. I heard oral arguments given by attorneys who had argued in front of the United States Supreme Court on many occasions. I was disappointed that throughout my time at the court, I heard one oral argument given by a female attorney. The attorney worked for the state government, and not for a corporation. The few other times I saw women in the court room, they did work for corporations, but were second or third chair and seemingly only took notes.
I had the pleasure of meeting the four Vice Chancellors on the court, as well as the Chancellor himself. They were all cordial and went out of their way to meet all the interns. Vice Chancellor Montgomery-Reeves is the first African American to serve on the court and the second woman. It is great to see diversity on the court now, but disappointing overall when considering the 220-plus years of its history.
Working at the Court of Chancery was a great opportunity, but the lack of diversity on both sides of the bench was clear. It was discouraging to see the lack of inclusivity within this field.
The Superior Court is the trial level court in the state of Delaware. It was more encouraging than the Court of Chancery in terms of diversity, but still not quite there yet. There are 21 judges on the Superior Court and 7 of them are women. Each judge has a law clerk and a secretary. Every secretary I met was a woman and the law clerks seemed to be an even balance between women and men. Walking around the office, the odds were that any older man encountered was a judge, and any older woman encountered was a secretary.
The judge’s offices are located on the tenth floor of the building where the hallways are full of photographs of the Delaware bar in distant past years. The judge I worked for and I would often discuss how these pictures were entirely of white men. The Superior Court has progressed significantly since then, but at a slow pace.
I thoroughly enjoyed working in both of these courts this summer. I worked with kind and intelligent people who I plan to keep in touch with. I gained valuable experience and learned new ways to approach legal issues. However, I was constantly aware of the lack of women represented in each courtroom. I would love to see an increase in gender diversity in these courts.