Supreme Court Clerks

If you’re a former Supreme Court clerk, the legal world is your oyster. In the words of one observer, “Supreme Court clerkships have become the Willy Wonka golden tickets of the legal profession. So many top-shelf opportunities within the law, such as tenure-track professorships and jobs in the SG’s office, [are] reserved for members of the Elect.”

If you work at a hedge fund, maybe after a stint at Goldman Sachs or a similarly elite investment bank, you’re the Wall Street version of a SCOTUS clerk — at the top of the field, but with way more money. There aren’t many Lawyerly Lairs out there that cost $60 million (the cost of hedge fund magnate Steve Cohen’s new Hamptons house).

What could lure four high-powered lawyers and hedge-fund types, including two former clerks to the all-powerful Justice Anthony Kennedy, to leave their current perches? How about the chance to earn the kind of money that would make a Supreme Court clerkship bonus look like a diner waitress’s tip?

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The thousands of NYU faithful crowding Washington Square park last night unleashed a torrent of cheers upon seeing plumes of white smoke arising from Furman Hall, signaling the selection of a new dean for the School of Law.

The hiring comes after former Dean Ricky Revesz announced that he was stepping down from the post he held for the last 11 years (though Revesz will remain on faculty at NYU, sort of a Dean Emeritus).

So let’s meet the new dean…

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For Supreme Court clerks from October Term 2011, the historic Term of NFIB v. Sebelius (aka “Obamacare”), the hot firm to go to was Jones Day. As Tony Mauro recently reported, the firm hired six SCOTUS clerks from the OT 2011 class, which “may be the most clerks signed up by a single firm from a single term” (although Ted Frank suggests that Kirkland & Ellis might have had seven clerks back in 1995).

UPDATE (3/17/2013, 1 p.m.): Per Mauro, K&E has never had six or seven clerks from a single Term.

Leading litigatrix Beth Heifetz — a former SCOTUS clerk herself (OT 1985 / Blackmun), and a Tina Fey doppelgänger — confirmed that Jones Day paid the going rate in terms of SCOTUS clerkship bonuses: $280,000 (on top of the usual base salary and year-end bonus). One of the new hires, Rachel Bloomekatz, is joining JD’s office in Columbus, Ohio. She should be able to survive out there on half a million (the SCOTUS clerkship bonus plus a fifth-year associate’s salary; she’s a 2008 UCLA Law grad).

But what if you’re in the Columbus office and not a SCOTUS clerk? Don’t expect to be shown the money; instead, you might be shown the door….

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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….

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Merry Christmas! Yes, “Merry Christmas,” and not “Happy Holidays,” consistent with the late Chief Justice Rehnquist’s preference.

Look at what Santa Claus left underneath the Christmas tree: news of Supreme Court clerk hiring, wrapped up in a bow! Just in time for the holiday season.

Keep reading to find out the latest law clerks bound for One First Street, as well as their law schools and feeder judges. Some of the justices are already hiring for October Term 2014….

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There are four of us [on the Court] from New York City. We have every borough covered except for Staten Island; we’re waiting for that Staten Island judge.

– Justice Elena Kagan, speaking last night with Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic for the seventh annual Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Lecture, “Law and Justice,” at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C.

(Read more about Justice Kagan’s remarks, in which the former Harvard Law School dean called a certain T14 school a TTT, after the jump.)

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(And: Justice Kagan Disses A Top Law School)

Judge Lorna Schofield (S.D.N.Y.) looks like my mom. Is she as divalicious? Let’s hope!

* How much could going over the fiscal cliff cost midlevel to senior associates whose bonuses get paid in January? Here’s an estimate. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Congratulations to the newest member of the S.D.N.Y. bench: former Debevoise partner Lorna Schofield, the first person of Filipino descent to be confirmed as an Article III judge. [AABANY]

* Judges in my home state of New Jersey are always so fair-minded. Here’s a great recusal motion, directed at Judge Carol Higbee in the New Jersey Accutane mass tort case. [Reed Smith via Drug and Device Law.]

* Make sure you don’t murder any babies before signing up to meet Nancy Grace. [Charity Buzz]

* Check out Advisable, an innovative new service for helping lawyers connect with clients; it’s free and easy to join. [Advisable (description); Advisable (application form)]

* If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer (affiliate link) for a young lawyer in your life, look no further; Dan Hull has a great recommendation. [What About Clients?]

If you’re interested in Judaism, Supreme Court clerks, or both, there’s a video for you after the jump….

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The Supreme Court’s 2008-2009 Term resulted in many notable decisions, including Ricci v. DeStafano and NAMUDNO v. Holder. It also resulted in some epic romances among the law clerks who ruled the building that year. This edition of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch features an astounding five Supreme Court clerks, all from that steamy OT ’08 class.

With five SCOTUS clerks — plus one former White House counsel — this is sure to be one prestige-drenched competition. Settle in, wedding watchers. Here are your finalists:

Jennifer Wynn and Damian Williams

Erin Delaney and Travis Lenkner

Miriam Seifter and Robert Yablon

Beth Nolan and Charles Wright

You’ll find all the details on these lawyer newlyweds, plus many more, after the jump.

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This Thanksgiving, five brilliant young lawyers will have something special to give thanks for. Earlier this month, they learned of their selection as the 2013 Bristow Fellows.

Bristow Fellowships, one-year fellowships in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, go to recent law school graduates with outstanding academic records and top clerkships. They 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.

One of the newest Bristow Fellows is an Above the Law celebrity, whom many of you will recognize. Yes, that’s right — you can appear in the pages of ATL and go on to enjoy great career success in the law….

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* Are associates or partners more maniacally stressed out? Science helps us answer the age-old question. [The Careerist]

* What does it take to land a Supreme Court clerkship? Luck, reputation, and a helluva lot of patience. [ABA Journal and Supreme Ambitions]

* And what should SCOTUS clerks do after they finish at One First Street if they want to make the most money? The answer may surprise you. [Breaking Views]

* As the NFL faces all those concussion lawsuits, America’s other professional football league (yes, the United Football League does exist) is getting sued… for not paying its players. [Forbes]

* An HLS student pleaded not guilty to sexual assault. What is it with all the Harvard Law folks allegedly causing trouble this week? Next thing you know, some Harvard Law grad is going to threaten to murder Big Bird. [Harvard Crimson]

* A veteran is suing the government over his frostbitten penis, which had to be “partially amputated.” Not only is that the second-worst thing I’ve ever heard, it doesn’t even really make sense. [ABC15]

* An ex-law student explains why she quit just a few weeks into the semester. Why? Bullying and backstabbing. Hmmm. That sounds familiar. [A Nerd Girl's Perspective]

* Delaware Bar Exam results are out. Congratulations to everyone who passed! [Delaware State Courts]

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