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Federal Clerkship Counts as Law Practice, Kentucky Court Rules

Oct. 10, 2019, 9:54 PM

Time spent as a federal court clerk counts toward the legal experience requirement to run for Kentucky attorney general, a state circuit court ruled Oct. 10.

Kentucky’s definition of “practicing law” should be broadly interpreted, the court said in a ruling that short-circuited a complaint by a Louisville voter to disqualify Republican Daniel Cameron from the November ballot.

“There is no meaningful distinction between the professional responsibilities Mr. Cameron performed as a federal judicial law clerk and his responsibilities as legal counsel for Senate Majority Leader (Mitch) McConnell,” the court said.

“Both positions involved, ‘service rendered involving legal knowledge or legal advice,” the Kentucky Supreme Court standard for “the practice of law,” it said.

Cameron’s two years in the chambers of U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove between 2011-13 coupled with his time as a McConnell aide and a private attorney in Louisville enables him to just clear the eight-year practice requirement.

Democrat Greg Stumbo, Cameron’s opponent and a previous state attorney general, has raised his general election opponent’s experience frequently in the campaign.

So did the Democrat Attorneys General Association, which released a statement saying the case against raised the issue again despite the ruling going for Cameron.

The “Ethics for Federal Judicial Law Clerks” includes the line: “During your clerkship, you many not practice law.”

Cameron said in a statement that he wasn’t surprised at the decision, and was “thrilled to put this frivolous lawsuit behind us.”

Jackson v. Cameron, et al., Ky. Cir. Ct., No. 19-CI-5702, Order denying disqualification 10/10/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; John Crawley at