Mr. Singh Goes to Washington


Jaswant Singh, Class of 2007, was never one to shy away from work. Salutatorian of his class and recipient of the Principal’s Awards for Excellence in Foreign Language and Science, Jaswant left St. Joe’s for the academic challenges of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Having decided early that he would tackle majors in both Political Science and African Studies, Jaswant also opted to spend his summers interning in order to gain valuable experiences.

During the summers of 2009 and 2010, Jaswant clerked for the Honorable Edmund Ponce de Leon (formerly Presiding Judge of the 4th Municipal District in Maywood, Illinois and currently Presiding Judge, County Division at Circuit Court of Cook County). Jaswant researched case law, worked with law students, learned computer programs written specifically for legal research and he also wrote interdepartmental memos; in short, he learned the behind-the scenes requirements for part of the judicial system, especially in preparation for what would take place in the felony courtrooms. But it wasn’t exactly what Jaswant was looking for relative to his future.

“The clerkship was fascinating and a great learning experience, but it became a little too routine once you got the hang of it. I understood that criminal law was not an area that I wanted to pursue in a legal career because it wasn’t as engaging as I would have liked and, for me, it wasn’t too intellectually stimulating.”

On the other hand, the summer of 2011 saw Jaswant on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., working for United States Senator Carl Levin (from Michigan). “That was a captivating experience. Senator Levin is Chair of the PSI (Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations). I worked with others reviewing all of the subpoenaed documents of either companies or individuals that were suspected of illegal actions, such as tax evasion or money laundering. I would question the lawyers representing those people to clarify the accusations against them.”

While the work was plentiful and concentrated, there were also light moments. “I would open up the office in the morning and occasionally the phone for PSI would be ringing and some of the things the public wanted investigated led to some interesting conversations. I remember one time picking up the phone and before I could indicate who I was, the caller addressed me as if I was John Boehner (Speaker of the House of Representatives) and he was chastising me for not doing a good job as Speaker.”

After returning from Washington, Jaswant began his pursuit of a degree in law from the University of Chicago. “The students there are very serious and competitive and I love it. I just finished my course work in Civil Procedure I and Elements of the Law. My two other courses, Property and Contracts, will carry over into the next quarter, when I’ll also pick up Torts and Criminal Law. Taking final exams is very different from both high school and college. My Civil Procedure final was online and eight hours long. The clock started as soon as I downloaded the exam. And unlike many exams where you just regurgitate what was taught in class, our tests at U of C are more hypothetical so that you have to apply what was taught in class to theoretical situations.”

Jaswant enjoys returning to the Chicago area after four years on the east coast but where his life will lead after law school is too early to say right now. In the immediate future – the summer of 2012 – Jaswant will be in Iowa, having accepted an associate position with David Brown, a large law firm. Summer Associate positions are quite rare for first year law students which really makes the upcoming adventure all the more exciting. Summer Associates are prestigious positions because the firm treats the student the same as a practicing lawyer for the firm which means they pay summer associates on the same scale as a junior associate and provide the person with an official office in the firm.

St. Joseph High School is very proud of this Charger! Congratulations, Jaswant!!!