The brilliant young lawyers who clerk at the Supreme Court, after hanging out with the justices for a year, can head to the private sector and collect signing bonuses of $200,000 (and up). Former SCOTUS clerks get these bonuses just for showing up to work — they’re in addition to the six-figure salaries they’ll earn as law firm associates. (It should be noted, however, that protocol generally requires them to return some portion of the bonus if they leave the firm too quickly after arriving.)
But not all former clerks take a “show me the money” approach to their post-SCOTUS careers. Some decide to go into teaching or government work. And while their dedication to shaping young minds or performing public service is valuable, they pay a price for it — literally. Consider this photo and message from a reader:
This is a photograph of the feet of [redacted], who recently finished clerking for Justice [redacted]. He could have gone to any number of large law firms, but he decided instead to [redacted].
As a result of foregoing the filthy lucre of law firms, he has been plunged into a life of poverty. In fact, he can barely afford to keep himself fed and clothed. Check out his threadbare socks!
Threadbare indeed. These socks appear to be grey (or perhaps they were once white). But the pink-orange portions, visible on the left heel and the right toe, reflect areas where this former clerk’s skin can be seen through the thinning fabric. How depressing!
So the next time you find yourself filled with envy of Supreme Court clerks, remind yourself: Not all of them cash in after their clerkships. Some of them pursue commendable but less remunerative endeavors, in the legal academy or the government.
Buddy, can you spare a pair of socks?