Clarence Thomas Doesn't Care About Law School Rankings Either

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on September 27, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Law school rankings are a source of anxiety and stress for many law students. But at least one employer agrees that they shouldn't be so important. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas has no time for them, he told students at University of Florida's Levin College of Law.

Justice Thomas denounced U.S. News & World Report for creating a discriminatory atmosphere in the legal job market. He compared the difficulty law students from lower ranked law schools face in the job market to struggles based on race and gender.

It's not just talk either. Justice Thomas backs up his statements with his actions.

When it comes to hiring clerks, Thomas says he doesn't discriminate against anyone, according to The Wall Street Journal. He accepts applications from any school, including the Ivies, but he has an intentional preference for 'kids from regular backgrounds and regular students.'

The issue for Thomas is whether the applicant can do the work well. Individual skills dictate how successful a lawyer will be, not the name on his transcript. That's a philosophy Thomas sticks to in his hiring.

Looking at his roster of past clerks, several of them come from 'third-tier' law schools, including Rutgers, George Mason, and Creighton.

It wasn't always like this with the Associate Justice. In a list of his past clerks, the early years are full of grads from Harvard and Yale, along with a few less prestigious schools. But the last five years show much fewer Ivy Leaguers.

This year's clerks have only one Yale grad who clerks alongside students from University of Chicago, Northwestern, and Berkeley.

Those schools are still highly ranked, but the mix is a little more balanced than some other justices. His point that he values the candidate, not the alma mater, shows in his recent clerks.

This still doesn't mean you're in line for the next spot to clerk for Justice Thomas. But at least it feels like we all have a fighting chance.

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