SIDEBAR Fall 2017 - 16



By Robert Oliver


mong the various local bar associations throughout this
Commonwealth, the Montgomery Bar Association is
certainly a leader when it comes to recruiting, developing,
and maintaining top talent from diverse backgrounds. Of course,
the diversity that the Montgomery Bar has fostered within
the county derives from its members' collective efforts. Judges
Clifford and Austin, with others, really "got the ball rolling,"
so-to-speak, when they organized for the first time a summer
diversity internship program almost ten years ago with the goal of
seeking diverse student candidates from the region's law schools
and collaborating with local law firms to place said students in
meaningful and enjoyable internships. The idea behind the Robert
E. Slota, Jr. Summer 1L Diversity Internship Program was that
such an affirmative action by the bar would do more than tout
acceptance for diversity, as is increasingly popular; it is a deliberate
measure to attract and retain diversity in the legal workforce.
The Diversity Program is sophisticated-the candidate
selection and interview process is carried out collaboratively
amongst the members of the bar and their respective firms. Once
students are initially interviewed and selected as prospective
summer interns, they are then matched with and further
interviewed by firms thought to be a good fit for the respective
students. The group of interns selected in any given summer
has the opportunity to meet every week for a breakfast event,
at which the interns, employers, and other bar members can
converse amongst each other, and with whomever is invited as the
weekly guest speaker. Often, established lawyers or judges with
backgrounds in various areas of the law and ties to the county
are invited as guests to the weekly breakfasts. There are also other
activities and events the students can participate in throughout the
summer, and each student at the beginning of the summer is also
assigned a "mentor," an MBA member and resource, with whom

the students can meet individually throughout the summer. This
method of networking lends itself naturally to the attraction and
retention of diverse lawyers within the county.
As such, I'd like to recount some of my personal experiences
participating as an intern in this program in 2014 and 2015, and
how these experiences ultimately led me to an opportunity for
full-time legal employment within the county upon graduating
from law school. I first participated in the Philadelphia Diversity
Law Group ("PDLG") Program, a similar program in Philadelphia
that matches diverse student candidates with respective firms,
albeit typically larger, private and in-house firms, for potential
internships. During my participation, and somewhat in passing, I
mentioned I had an ancillary interest in family law. A person from
the PDLG Program passed my name along to Wendy Rothstein,
who headed the Montgomery Diversity Program at the time.
Ms. Rothstein's subsequent phone call to me ultimately led to
my participation in the Program; specifically, I interned with the
family law group at Weber Gallagher in Norristown during my first
summer session, and with various civil defense litigation groups
at Weber Gallagher in the Philadelphia office during my second
summer session. I met a lot of wonderful, admirable barristers and
judges during my time as an intern, and have kept in touch with
most of them, including one Daniel Clifford, now the Honorable
Daniel Clifford of the Montgomery County Court of Common
Pleas. Upon my graduation from Villanova University School
of Law in May of 2015, and after sitting for the Pennsylvania
and New Jersey Bar Examinations that summer, Judge Clifford
notified me of an opportunity clerking for the Honorable Gail
Weilheimer of Montgomery County. I immediately sent my
information and application to Judge Weilheimer's chambers and
"the rest," as they say, "is history"; I've been happily clerking for
Judge Weilheimer for almost two (2) years, in which time I have

As the successful and essential Robert E. Slota, Jr. Summer Diversity Program enters its 10th year, and the
MBA Diversity Committee continues to advance efforts to increase diversity throughout the legal professional,
we are in search of additional firms interested in taking advantage of the opportunity to sponsor a talented law
school intern for the 8-week summer program. Students and members of sponsoring law firms have touted the
benefits and gratification of participation in this valuable program. If you are interested in learning more, please
contact Nancy Walsh (; 610-994-3663).

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