Kamaile Turcan, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, UC Berkeley and the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Manoa, has been chosen for a prestigious law clerk position by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor beginning this summer.
This is the first time a UH Law School graduate has been invited to clerk for a United States Supreme Court Justice - as well as the first time that a person of Native Hawaiian ancestry has served as a law clerk to any Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
"The opportunity to work on some of the biggest legal questions of our day, to help Justice Sotomayor, is the ultimate opportunity for a young lawyer and an unparalleled experience," Turcan said. "It's an incredible lifetime opportunity for any law graduate, let alone one from Hawai'i, and I have to keep pinching myself. One of the exciting things about the Court is one never knows what nationally important issue will present itself."
UH Law Dean Avi Soifer said that he and the Law School are thrilled to have a graduate serve as a clerk in the nation's highest court.
"Kamaile is an outstanding example of the high level of achievement and diverse talents of our students," Soifer said. "For an attorney, one simply cannot do better than to clerk for a United States Supreme Court Justice. The opportunity for Kamaile to assist and be mentored by Justice Sotomayor, whose life story is so inspiring, is even more special."
Turcan is a Waialae Nui resident who grew up in Mililani and has family in Waialua. She is a 1998 graduate and salutatorian of Kamehameha Schools, and received her BA in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley in 2001.
After working for several years as a field biologist, she entered the UH Law School, graduating in 2008 with a Certificate in Environmental Law.
She served as Editor-in-Chief of the UH Law Review, participated on the International Environmental Law Moot Court team, and received the Carl K. Mirikitani Jr. Valedictory Prize.
After graduating, Turcan served as a law clerk for Federal District Court Judge David Ezra, followed by a clerkship with Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Clifton. She describes those two experiences as essential preparations for her coming clerkship with Justice Sotomayor.
“I can’t say exactly what life will hold for me once the clerkship is over, but I do know I would like to eventually bring this once-in-a-lifetime experience home to Hawai‘i with me, and to share it with the community that has supported and nurtured me and my legal career,” Turcan said.
Turcan's duties will include helping Sotomayor prepare for oral arguments and helping justices decide emergency applications to the court.