Supreme Court clerks are some of the brightest young legal minds in the country. But their talents don’t come cheap. Every year, Biglaw firms fall all over each other trying to woo outgoing SCOTUS clerks, showering them with six-figure signing bonuses (on top of robust base salaries and year-end bonuses, of course).
The going rate in terms of Supreme Court clerkship bonuses is a cool $300,000. Which top law firm just dropped $1.8 million in signing bonuses for a half-dozen SCOTUS clerks?
The same firm that scored the most SCOTUS clerks last year. Tony Mauro of The BLT reports:
For the second year in a row, Jones Day has hired six law clerks who worked for Supreme Court justices in the term just ended. “It’s a wonderful kind of deja vu,” hiring partner Beth Heifetz said.
As with last year, the six hires seems to exceed the number hired by any other firm from a class of 39 clerks — four for each sitting justice and one each for the three retired justices.
We noted that development back in this post — and speculated that it might be the most Supreme Court clerks ever hired by a single firm from a single clerk class. If you’re aware of any firm that has ever hired seven or more SCOTUS clerks from the same Term, let us know.
More from The BLT:
The firm hired two clerks who worked for Justice Samuel Alito Jr. — Emily Kennedy and Ryan Watson –- as well as Kenton Skarin and David Morrell, who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas. Charlotte Taylor, a clerk to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Ian Samuel, who worked for Justice Antonin Scalia, round out the six.
In announcing the hires, Jones Day emphasized that of the six, only three will be working in the D.C. office, the typical perch for many former high court clerks. Morrell will work in Houston, Samuel in New York, and Skarin in Chicago. “We really do operate across offices all the time,” said Heifetz. Tina Tabacchi, head of the firm’s clerk recruitment, said the geographic spread exemplifies the “one firm worldwide” approach at Jones Day.
Mauro offered Jones Day the chance to refute the
player haters critics of law firms who pay huge bonuses to hire SCOTUS clerks:
Some appellate lawyers grumble about Supreme Court clerks as high-priced “trophy hires,” some of whom move on a couple of years later after they’ve earned enough to pay off their student debt. But Heifetz said she has not seen that trend at Jones Day.
“Retention has been terrific,” she said.“They stay and make a commitment to us as well.”
Of the 15 Supreme Court clerks Jones Day has hired since 2007 (not including the newest six) only two have left the firm, said Heifetz. One was Eric Murphy, a former Anthony Kennedy clerk who in August became Ohio’s solicitor general. Murphy followed the same path taken in years past by Jones Day lawyers Sutton and Richard Cordray, now head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Leaving a law firm to become a state solicitor general is entirely understandable (see also Elbert Lin). You can read more about Jones Day’s SCOTUS clerk haul, including interviews with some of the clerks, over at The BLT.
Deja Vu at Jones Day: Firm Hires Six More Supreme Court Clerks [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Jones Day welcomes six U.S. Supreme Court clerks [Jones Day (press release)]
Earlier: It’s Official: Supreme Court Clerkship Bonuses Hit A New High
The Best Biglaw Firms In The World According To Clients (2013)
Which Biglaw Firms Have The Most Satisfied Litigators?
Jones Day Lands 6 High Court Clerks