Clerkships, Department of Justice, Fabulosity, Federal Government, Federal Judges, Feeder Judges, J. Harvie Wilkinson III, Merrick Garland, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Clerks

Congratulations To The 2014 Bristow Fellows

Don’t say we never bring you happy news here at Above the Law. Yesterday, for example, we extended congratulations to the 2014 Skadden Fellows, 28 graduating law students and judicial clerks who just landed prestigious public interest fellowships.

Today we are pleased to present to you the 2014 Bristow Fellows. As we’re previously explained, the holders of these one-year fellowships in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office get to work on cases pending before the Supreme Court, some of the most fascinating and important matters in all the land.

Bristow Fellowships, awarded to recent law school graduates with outstanding academic records and top clerkships, are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige (and often lead to SCOTUS clerkships as well). You can read more about the Bristow Fellowship, including the job responsibilities and application process, on the Justice Department website.

Who are the newest Bristow Fellows? Where did they graduate from law school, and for whom did they clerk? Inquiring minds want to know….

Behold the four Bristow Fellows for 2014-2015 (i.e., for October Term 2014 at the Supreme Court):

Z. Payvand Ahdout (Columbia / Livingston)

Galen Bascom (UVA / Garland)

Samuel Harbourt (Harvard / Garland)

Jonathan Meltzer (Yale / Wilkinson)

(Random tidbit about Jonathan Meltzer: he’s the son of Daniel Meltzer, the distinguished Harvard Law School professor and former Principal Deputy White House Counsel. The legal genius apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, it seems!)

If you’re interested in appellate or Supreme Court litigation, federal government service, or SCOTUS clerkships, serving as a Bristow is a great experience and amazing credential. But these positions are very difficult to land. This comment on Top Law Schools is accurate:

You have to be competitive for SCOTUS to get Bristow. You have to have a COA clerkship obviously. 2/9/DC is ideal. Magna at T14 or summa elsewhere and clerking for a feeder COA judge is a probably must.

Obviously there are outliers, such as people with White House and/or military experience.

There don’t seem to be “outliers” in this latest batch. Occasionally you’ll see a Bristow who didn’t graduate from a T14 law school, but this year, all four come from those hallowed halls. (And no, just because the brilliant Judge Debra Ann Livingston — a former full-time Columbia Law School professor, assistant U.S. attorney in the S.D.N.Y., and associate at Paul Weiss — is not (yet) a major feeder judge does not make her clerk the “outlier.”)

It looks like we’re back to four Bristow Fellows; last year, five were selected. If anyone knows the reason for the change — did it have anything to do with federal budget issues? — feel free to drop us a line.

UPDATE (12/19/2013, 6:30 a.m.): As it turns out, Will Edelman ultimately withdrew from the Bristow and did not end up starting as a Fellow, so what had been a class of five turned into a class of four. We’ve revised our counts on the next page accordingly.

Congratulations to these four fabulous Fellows. If you’d like to follow in their footsteps someday, flip to the next page to find out which law schools and judges have the strongest track records at minting Bristows.

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