Judge Mary Stenson Scriven ('87) Speaks to FSU Law Students as Part of Jurist in Residence Program

Press Date
October 16, 2020
Judge Scriven Speaking

The Honorable Mary Scriven ('87) met with students virtually this
week as part of FSU Law's Jurist in Residence Program.

On Tuesday, October 13, we hosted Judge Mary Stenson Scriven (’87), of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, as our first virtual jurist in residence. Judge Scriven spoke with FSU Law students via Zoom about the value of judicial clerkships, what students can do to make themselves strong candidates for clerkships, the work performed by judicial clerks and the often lifelong relationships that are formed between judges and clerks. She shared personal experiences and answered student questions.

The importance of legal writing was covered several times during the session. “The number one thing lawyers can do to learn how to write is to read,” said Judge Scriven when asked by a student how to improve legal writing skills. “Read legal writing. You don’t have to have flowery legal writing, it doesn’t have to be full of turns of phrases, it just needs to be very good, strong legal writing. I think in the world of Westlaw and Lexis and other tools, lawyers have stopped reading. When you read cases, you develop style.”

When asked about ways lawyers can exhibit professionalism, Judge Scriven said, “Have common compassion for your co-counsel and your opposing counsel. Treat them the way you want to be treated—be nice to people, return phone calls, extend professional courtesy that you can extend without damaging your clients’ interests. For example, if interrogatory responses are due and it’s two days before Thanksgiving, give the people an extension of time until after Thanksgiving. I have 300 civil cases and 190 criminal cases pending at any one time, yours is not on the front burner unless it’s about to go to trial or there is an injunction motion, so giving someone a basic extension of time is not going to hurt you.”

Judge Scriven was nominated by President George W. Bush on July 10, 2008, and took her seat on the bench on September 30, 2008. She had previously served as a magistrate judge in the district for more than 10 years. When she became a magistrate judge in 1997, she became the first African American woman to serve on the federal court in Florida and the second to serve on the federal court in the Eleventh Circuit. Prior to that, Judge Scriven was a shareholder with Carlton, Fields, Ward, Emmanuel, Smith & Cutler, P.A. She previously served on the FSU Law Alumni Association Board of Directors. It was our pleasure to welcome Judge Scriven to speak with our community! She provided extremely valuable insight and advice to students, and we are grateful to her and the many other alumni who make time to engage with FSU Law students.

Published on October 16, 2020