Anthony Kennedy, Clerkships, Diarmuid O'Scannlain, Federal Judges, Feeder Judges, Janice Rogers Brown, Law Schools, SCOTUS, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Stephen Reinhardt, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Clerks

Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Sparkle Bright Like A Diamond

In her bestselling memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link), Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounts her journey from the projects of the South Bronx to the bench of the United States Supreme Court. Given that background, one would expect Justice Sotomayor to have a weak spot for young women who make it to One First Street from improbable places.

So it makes perfect sense that Justice Sotomayor has hired the first-ever Brooklyn Law School graduate to serve as a Supreme Court law clerk: Sparkle Sooknanan, a 2010 graduate of BLS who is currently an appellate attorney at the Justice Department. We’ve heard Sooknanan described as “an awesome human being” and “brilliant” — and with a name like “Sparkle,” the brilliance must be literal.

Sparkle isn’t the only bright young lawyer to claim a shiny new credential for the résumé. Read on for additional news of Supreme Court clerk hiring….

Before we get to the new hires, we’d like to mention a new website worth checking out for clerkship seekers: Clerkship Quest (via PrawfsBlawg). There have been a number of such sites over the years, such as Clerkship Scramble, the Clerkship Notification Blog, and Law Clerk Addict. Let’s hope that Clerkship Quest sticks around for a while. With the clerkship hiring process about to become more chaotic than ever, an information clearinghouse like Clerkship Quest is sorely needed.

Now, on to the new SCOTUS clerk hires (“new” as in previously unreported in these pages; some of these clerks, including Sparkle Sooknanan, got hired a while ago). Heading to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is:

  • Michael Murray (Yale 2009 / O’Scannlain)

I know Murray — we went to the same law school and clerked for the same judge — and he’s a mensch. He’s also married to a former SCOTUS clerk, Claire McCusker Murray (Yale 2009 / Kavanaugh / Alito). Congrats to Michael and to Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (9th Cir.), who will have two former clerks at the Court next Term.

(For the record, I did not receive the news of Murray’s hiring from him or from Judge O’Scannlain. Not that there would be anything wrong with that; there’s no particular confidentiality in information that’s going to become public in a few months anyway, when the Court’s Public Information Office releases the official list of law clerks. Cf. the inevitable discovery doctrine.)

Also with AMK in OT 2013:

  • Greg Dubinsky (Yale 2011 / Kavanaugh / Feinerman (N.D. Ill.))

Here’s an interview with Dubinsky (although not about clerking; it’s on a much more somber subject, experiencing 9/11 when he was 15).

Note, by the way, that Judge Gary Feinerman, a federal trial judge in Chicago, has two former clerks at the Court in OT 2013. Could we be seeing the return of the district court feeder? Back in day, certain district judges — e.g., Judge Louis Pollak (E.D. Pa.), Judge Louis Oberdorfer (D.D.C.) — would regularly send clerks to SCOTUS. It’s much less common these days.

(Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) is a district judge who sends clerks to SCOTUS. But he’s something of a special case, due to his tag team with judicial hottie Robert Katzmann of the Second Circuit. Judge Charles Breyer (N.D. Cal.) also feeds — in OT 2011, he had two clerks at the Court — but he’s also no ordinary district judge, since he’s the brother of Justice Stephen Breyer.)

Meanwhile, joining Sparkle Sookanan in Justice Sotomayor’s chambers will be:

Interesting to see Justice Sotomayor hiring from a conservative feeder judge. But even though Judge Wilkinson himself is conservative, he hires clerks from all across the ideological spectrum — and he feeds to both sides of the Court. In October Term 2011, for example, half of Justice Kagan’s clerks were Wilkinson alumni.

This next hire by Justice Sotomayor, for October Term 2014, is a bit more surprising:

Say what? The Wise Latina, one of the most liberal justices, hired a clerk from the outspokenly conservative Judge Janice Rogers Brown? Judge Brown is one of my top three right-wing judicial divas (even though, for the record, she denied to me that she’s a diva).

Of course, Justice Sotomayor also hired a clerk from one of the most left-wing judges in the entire federal judiciary, Judge Stephen Reinhardt (aka the Ninth Circuit’s Emperor Palpatine):

Winik is currently cooling his heels at WilmerHale. He won best oralist in the Yale moot court finals, in a performance you can watch here (second speaker, arguing before Judge O’Scannlain, the brilliantly liberal Judge Marsha Berzon (9th Cir.), and Judge Raymond Lohier (2d Cir.)).

UPDATE (5:55 PM): Heading to Lady Kaga for OT 2013:

  • Ian Fein (Berkeley 2011 / W. Fletcher / J. Rogers)

All of these new SCOTUS clerk hires are reflected in the two lists on the next page….

(hidden for your protection)

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