Western District of Texas Archives - College of Law

Western District of Texas

From law school in Tulsa to a federal clerkship in Texas

Sage Martin (BA ’16, JD ’21) has a lot to celebrate. After three years of diligent work at The University of Tulsa College of Law, from which she graduated on May 14 with highest honors, Martin is looking forward to taking up a two-year clerkship for U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald C. Griffin in the Western District of Texas. Throughout the clerkship, Sage will be doing a significant amount of research for and writing judicial documents, such as memoranda and briefs for civil and criminal cases.

young woman with long dark hair wearing a grey pin-stripe pant suit standing with arms crossed while smiling
Sage Martin (BA ’16, JD ’21)

As Associate Professor of Law Matt Lamkin explained, “a federal clerkship is a rare privilege and an invaluable experience for a law graduate. It allows lawyers to see the judicial process from the inside and to learn how to see cases through a judge’s eyes. That’s why these positions are so coveted. Clerking with Judge Griffin is a perfect way for Sage to continue her longstanding commitment to public service.”

Martin’s clerkship will station her in the city of Midland. While Martin is uncertain where she will end up after those two years in the Lone Star State, her long-term goal is to pursue a public service-oriented career. Indeed, among her many accomplishments while at law school, Martin received the Dean’s Award for Community Service, which is given to the graduating student who has contributed the most community service hours. In Martin’s case, this totaled 327 hours of pro bono work.

Among Martin’s contributions in this regard are the hours she put in while interning with Still She Rises. This organization provides legal representation and other supports to mothers in North Tulsa who are involved in the criminal justice system.

Laying the foundation for success

For Martin, TU Law was, in part, a family affair.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology at TU in 2016, Martin then moved home to Texas to complete a master’s of social work at The University of Texas at Austin. While trying to decide on which law school to attend, Martin drew on a parental connection and the outstanding reception she received back in Tulsa: “As a native Texan, I wasn’t super interested in looking at Oklahoma schools, but my dad – Steve J. Martin (JD’ 81) — encouraged me to consider TU since he’s a TU Law graduate himself. I fell in love with the small, gorgeous campus and the individualized attention I received during my on-campus visit. It was the perfect fit.”

During law school, Martin got involved with several student organizations. Perhaps most notably, she served as executive editor of the Tulsa Law Review. In this prestigious position, she directed the journal’s writing program. Her responsibilities included helping guide the new members of the journal to write and, in some cases, publish scholarly articles. On top of the guidance and editing she provided, Martin took on event scheduling as well as planning and aiding the editor in chief when needed.

In addition, Martin was honored with the Robert C. Butler Award for Outstanding Tulsa Law Review article for her argument that courts should allow inmates to use the Prison Rape Elimination Act as persuasive authority when bringing Eighth Amendment claims of rape or sexual assault in prisons and jails. The Butler Award is given to the TU Law student whose contribution to the journal best perpetuates the tradition of excellence established by Robert C. Butler, Jr.

Martin also served as secretary of TU Law’s Women’s Law Caucus. Her primary responsibility for that student organization was to plan and schedule events, as well as to maintain and distribute records to members. While she helped plan many events during her time at TU Law, Martin says the most memorable one was the Tulsa Law Review’s symposium commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. She helped Adam Heavin (JD ’21), the 2020-21 editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Law Review, plan the event: “Not only were the issues very relevant to today, but it would have been a travesty for the law school not to acknowledge such a momentous anniversary and discuss how the city, its law enforcement and its legal professionals failed its citizens all those years ago.”

Martin capped off her years at TU Law in flying colors, graduating with the Order of the Curule Chair. The Order of the Curule Chair is the highest academic honor a TU Law student can receive and indicates that Martin both ranked in the top 10% of the graduating class and rendered distinguished service to the College of Law. Additionally, in Professor Russell Christopher’s Criminal Law course, Martin received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award: Criminal Law/Administration.

Along with getting involved in college life and organizations, Martin believes the relationships she nurtured with professors helped her to maximize her success during law school. In particular, she identified professors Lamkin, Christopher and Associate Dean Karen Grundy as influential mentors during her time at TU Law. One of her closest bonds was with Evelyn Hutchinson, a widely admired professor of legal writing who passed away in fall 2020. Of Hutchinson, Martin said, “I was her teaching assistant as well as her legal writing student, and she was an amazing, positive influence on me during my time at TU. She will be greatly missed.”

Martin’s professors echoed the respect she held for them. “Sage Martin is a remarkable person,” remarked Grundy. “She was one of my best writing students in Legal Writing III and simply an excellent student. For me, what was more remarkable about Sage was her maturity and empathy. She served as a teaching assistant for Legal Writing and also willingly mentored junior students who had difficulty with law school study.” Christopher, who taught Criminal Law to Martin, said, “she writes extremely well. She produced one of the best-written student articles that I have read in 20 years of teaching.”

Well prepared for the road ahead

The connections made and lessons learned at TU Law have helped Martin as she prepares for the future. Looking back on her law school years, she offered advice for those following in her footsteps.

“Focus on what works best for you,” Martin counseled. “Whether it’s studying, outlining or social activities, don’t worry about what others are doing. Also, actively seek out people that you can trust and learn from them, whether that’s someone in your own class, an upperclassman, a professor or another professional.” By doing these things — working for herself and forging beneficial connections — Martin helped to ensure she would get the most out of her TU experience.

Martin also credited TU Law with making efforts to ensure every student is in the best place to cultivate personal success: “TU Law has the resources to offer students individual attention, which enabled me to succeed. Not only do the professors genuinely care about their students, but they also demonstrate how to be successful professionals. The importance of that cannot be overstated.”

In other words, the hands-on opportunities provided at TU Law were catalysts to Martin’s success: “Having the opportunity to put my knowledge into practice — while also having the protection of being a student — has given me the confidence I need to go into the ‘real world’ and succeed.”

As Martin prepares for a clerkship in Texas, she’s already well on her way.

A juris doctor from The University of Tulsa College of Law leads to success. Within 10 months of graduation, the Class of 2020 achieved an 83.7% rate of employment for full-time, long-term, bar license-required or JD advantage positions. Get your outstanding future started by applying today.