Brenda Milcik

Jun 102013


Newlyweds Erin Cox and Rachel Halfpap – both 2008 Wesleyan graduates – now serve as clerks for federal judges in the Central District of Illinois. A federal clerkship is one of the most highly sought positions for recent law school graduates.  Cox is a term clerk to the Honorable Sara Darrow, who is an expert on federal criminal practice through her experience as a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the United States District Court.  “I am responsible for being intimately familiar with the facts of each case before her, conducting legal research to assist the judge’s determination of which party should prevail, and drafting a written order or opinion for the judge’s review,” Cox explained, adding that federal criminal practice is of great interest to him and he considers himself highly fortunate to learn from Judge Darrow’s experience.

Halfpap works for the Honorable Michael Mihm, who has been on the bench for over 30 years. “He’s incredibly knowledgeable and a really great mentor,” said Halfpap, adding that she, like Cox, assists in researching and writing draft opinions. Halfpap primarily works with civil issues on Mihm’s docket, which include contractual disputes between individuals or organizations, violations of constitutional rights, employment discrimination claims, or habeas corpus petitions.

Both attorneys say critical thinking skills required in their coursework at Wesleyan were paramount to their success in law school and continue to be important in their work. “Lawyers often say that a liberal arts education enables one to think critically about legal problems, and that’s completely true,” said Cox, who calls the education and experiences he received at Wesleyan “superb.”

Those Wesleyan experiences included a semester abroad through the IWU Spain Program, where he and Halfpap met.  They wed in August 2012 at Illinois Wesleyan’s Evelyn Chapel.