Federal government lawyers are having their pay frozen. But let’s face it: you don’t don’t go into government service for the money.

You might do it for the experience. You might do it for the lifestyle. And, depending on the position, you might do it for the prestige.

Someone once said to me, “You can’t eat prestige.” “Maybe not,” I replied. “But prestige certainly is delicious!”

For a young lawyer, one of the most prestigious government gigs around is a Bristow Fellowship. These four one-year fellowships in the Solicitor General’s Office are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige (and many Bristow Fellows later go on to clerk at the Court). You can read more about the Bristow, including the job responsibilities and the application process, on the Department of Justice website.

Earlier this month, the four Bristows for 2011-2012 were notified of their good fortune. Who are they?

Here are the fabulous and fortunate four, the Bristow Fellows for 2011-2012 (with law schools and prior clerkships noted parenthetically):

Martine Cicconi (Stanford / Garland)
Jonathan Ellis (Penn / Randolph)
Nicole Ries (Berkeley / W. Fletcher)
Eric Tung (Chicago / Gorsuch)

A few observations:

1. The California schools continue to do well. Last year, Stanford and Berkeley (aka Boalt Hall) had one Bristow apiece; this year, they both repeat the performance.

2. For a second year in a row, there are no Bristows from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and NYU (the other members of the top eight law schools, in addition to Stanford, Chicago, Berkeley and Penn).

3. Over four years ago, I identified Judge Neil Gorsuch (10th Cir.) — a member of The Elect, as a former clerk to Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy — as “one to watch. He’s brilliant, he’s young, and he’s incredibly well-connected. Look for him to rise through the ranks of Supreme Court feeder judges in the years to come.”

Well, Judge Gorsuch is delivering on his feeder judge promise. For the current Term, October Term 2010, he has two clerks at the Court: Matt Owen, with Justice Antonin Scalia, and Allison Jones, with Justice Clarence Thomas. And with another one of his clerks, Eric Tung, joining the ranks of the Bristows (perhaps en route to a SCOTUS clerkship?), Judge Gorsuch is showing that he can identify and grab top talent.

(Note that the other three judges whose clerks landed Bristow Fellowships — Judges Merrick Garland, Raymond Randolph, and Willy Fletcher — are all Big Pimpin’ Feeder Judges. Noscitur a sociis.)

Congratulations to the new Bristow Fellows, as well as their law schools and their judges, on this awesome accomplishment!

Bristow Fellows [Office of the Solicitor General / U.S. Department of Justice]
“Kiss Me, Guido”: The E! True Hollywood Story of Judge Guido Calabresi [Underneath Their Robes]

Earlier: Congratulations to the 2010 Bristow Fellows


comments sponsored by

25 comments (hidden for your protection) Show all comments