McGeorge School of Law

Profile: Agung Atmaja

Atmaja Agung
Agung Atmaja

Class of 2012

Senior Associate, State and Local Tax, KPMG US (San Francisco, Calif.)
Area of Practice: Tax
Undergraduate: UC Riverside
Major: Political Science

When he served as a law clerk in the Third Judicial District of Nevada the year after graduating from McGeorge, Agung Atmaja was surprised by the amount of impact he had on the cases that he worked on. The Honorable Leon Aberasturi, the judge for whom Mr. Atmaja worked, would often ask for his opinion and thoughts on the various issues and cases that came before him. Mr. Atmaja remarks, "He valued my input and I really appreciated that."

A United States immigrant, Mr. Atmaja saw the power of the law, and how it effects people's lives, first-hand. Hesitant to label himself argumentative, he credits his need to have evidence to support various positions as another reason he was drawn to law school. Mr. Atmaja ultimately chose McGeorge because he felt like he clicked with the campus. Although he was admitted to higher-ranked schools, when he visited McGeorge, he could actually see himself spending three years there. He also heard glowing reviews from current students — reviews he did not hear when he visited the other schools.

While at McGeorge, Mr. Atmaja spent a great deal of time gaining practical experience. He was an extern at the Human Rights Fair Housing Commission and with the California Attorney General's Office in the tobacco litigation division. He also worked in the legal research division at the Sacramento Superior Court. The remainder of his free time was spent working as an associate editor for the Global Business & Development Law Journal and participating in the Asian/Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA). Mr. Atmaja fondly remembers serving on the APALSA Board during his third year, and having to sing in the annual "McGeorge Idol" competition. Watch a video about Mr. Atmaja's externship.

Mr. Atmaja chose to become a judicial clerk after working in the legal research division of the Sacramento Superior Court. He explains that he has always been more interested in the more analytical side of the law, something critical for clerks.

"You have to actually like the law itself; you have to be interested in the analysis, the nitty-gritty of the law and the reasoning of the justices' opinions."

Mr. Atmaja credits his time as an associate editor with The Globe for helping him transition from law student to judicial clerk. The attention to detail that he adopted as an editor, in addition to the strong research and writing skills that he developed, were crucial as a clerk. About ninety percent of his time was spent researching case law and writing orders.

"Many times, judges will issue orders from the bench; however, there are cases that involve more complex issues and the judge may need to make specific factual findings, or more research may need to be done. He would take the issue under submission, and at that, point I would do the research and draft the opinion."

Because the Third Judicial District Court of Nevada is a court of general jurisdiction, Mr. Atmaja had the opportunity to observe various types of proceedings, including criminal trials, civil proceedings and family law cases. He sat is on all the hearings and was able to observe a lot of litigation, which helped a great deal when it came getting a job after his clerkship was over. He also gained a great deal of insight while being in chambers. By working closely with judges for a year, Mr. Atmaja was able to make countless mental notes about what to do, and not do to, as a practitioner.

Knowing what a judge wants in pleadings and during oral arguments has given Mr. Atmaja a great advantage as he dives deeper into his position as an associate attorney at Nemecek & Cole. And perhaps most importantly, he learned that, at the end of the day, judges are people too, making them a little less intimidating when he appears before them as an attorney.