Hiring the Few, the Select, the SCOTUS Clerks

By George Khoury, Esq. on January 09, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When it comes to judicial clerkships, none are so coveted as those at the United States Supreme Court. According to a recent report on Above the Law, all the new 2018 fall term SCOTUS clerks have been hired. Although there are some names missing from the unofficial list, it's only a matter of time before it is updated to include all the new hires (assuming the rumors are true).

In addition to the 2018 term clerks being all-but-decided, it looks like Justices Ginsberg, Roberts, Breyer, and Gorsuch have selected some clerks through 2019 as well. Reportedly Gorsuch has even hired one clerk for the 2020 term. One significant conclusion the ATL writer draws from Justice Kennedy hiring clerks for the October 2018 term: He's not planning on retiring before the fall term.

Who Are the New SCOTUS Clerks

The new batch of clerks boast the sort of prestigious background you'd expect. As of this writing, of the 30 known hires, 11 are Yale grads, eight are Harvard grads, and four are Stanford grads. The other known hires come from UVA, Chicago, Northwestern, U. Florida, Vanderbilt, Columbia, and NYU. Also, every single new clerk has prior clerking experience, and most with multiple judges.

How to Get a SCOTUS Clerkship

Even if you didn't go to Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, you are not completely out of the running for a SCOTUS clerk job, especially if you're willing to clerk for Justice Thomas. There are always a few clerks that come from other schools every year. Notably, if you can get a job clerking for one of the so-called "feeder judges," then you might have a better shot. Typically, the feeder judges have themselves previously clerked for a High Court justice, and thus can help clerks get to the High Court by writing recommendations.

However, if you have your sights set on clerking for the High Court, the ATL writer behind the clerk hiring report recommends that you keep trying as it could take more than a few tries. Also, according to an ABA Journal podcast on the subject, you should probably focus on clerking for a judge with connections to a SCOTUS justice that can write you a strong recommendation.

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