- Behind the scenes, clerks do research and draft opinions for the Supreme Court's nine justices.
- Nearly one-third of this year's class graduated from Yale Law, the court's main feeder school.
- At least seven clerks were in the Federalist Society, reflecting the court's conservative majority.
The nine justices who sit on the Supreme Court are among the most powerful legal practitioners in the US, ruling on cases that deal with the First Amendment, antitrust regulation, and the death penalty. But behind the scenes, their clerks keep the court running by helping draft early opinions for justices, contributing to decisions on which cases to consider, and preparing their bosses for oral arguments.
It's a coveted gig, with many of the industry's highest-performing young attorneys competing against one another for just a few dozen spots. Clerks who go on to work in Big Law firms can earn signing bonuses of up to $400,000 for their experience.
Of this year's 37 Supreme Court clerks, nearly one-third graduated from Yale Law School. Others come from the University of Chicago Law School and Harvard Law School. Most clerked for at least two other federal judges, and many were associates at some of the US's top law firms.
The composition of this year's clerk class also reflects the new conservative majority on the court. Three clerks are graduates of Hillsdale College, a small conservative school in Michigan whose home Justice Clarence Thomas has called a "shining city on a hill" for its commitment to liberty and originalist thinking, The New York Times reported. At least seven clerks were active members of their law school's Federalist Society chapters.
Here are the clerks of the Supreme Court's 2021-22 term.
The clerks' biographical information is sourced from local news articles, LinkedIn pages, law-school press releases and videos, and David Lat's Original Jurisdiction.
Chief Justice John Roberts's Clerks
Adkisson graduated in 2018 from Yale Law School and is one of 12 Yale alumni clerking this term.
He previously clerked with Judge Gregory Katsas of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Amul Thapar of the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
He was also a law clerk for the US Senate during Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings.
Christina Kirkpatrick Gay
Gay graduated from the University of Chicago Law School last year and is one of the school's nine recent graduates clerking at the Supreme Court this term. She previously clerked for Judge Britt Grant on the 11th Circuit. In law school, she was a Kirkland & Ellis scholar and a member of the University of Chicago Law Review.
Gottschall is a 2019 Harvard Law School graduate who previously clerked for Judge Sri Srinivasan for the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and Judge James Emanuel Boasberg for the US District Court for Washington, DC.
Howe is a 2018 Harvard Law School graduate and was on the university's law-review staff. He clerked for two judges previously, including Judge Debra Ann Livingston on the 2nd Circuit and Dabney Langhorne Friedrich of the US District Court for DC.
Justice Clarence Thomas' Clerks
Goodnow, a 2017 Harvard Law School graduate, was previously an associate at Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick and an intern at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He clerked for Katsas of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and Judge Diane Sykes of the 7th Circuit.
In law school, he was an editor for The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, which Thomas has written for, according to its website.
Lindsay is a 2017 Yale Law School graduate who clerked for Judge Thomas Griffith of the DC Circuit. He was also a 2018 recipient of a Bristow Fellowship, which allows young lawyers to work for one year in the Office of the Solicitor General.
In a video published in 2015 on Yale Law's website, Lindsay said he was particularly interested in questions of constitutional law. He also said he chose Yale in part because of its Federalist Society chapter, which he called "particularly intellectually vibrant."
Proctor, a 2017 Harvard Law graduate, clerked for Judge Jeffrey Sutton in the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
While in law school, he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Valle is a 2017 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review. He was most recently a litigation associate at Sidley Austin.
He previously clerked for Judge Joan Larsen of the 6th Circuit and Judge Edith Jones of the 5th Circuit.
Justice Stephen Breyer's Clerks
A 2016 graduate of Yale Law, Deutsch was recently an associate at Jenner & Block and a Grubber Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union. She has held two previous clerkships, with Judge Nina Pillard of the DC Circuit and Judge J. Paul Oetken of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
She previously wrote for the Yale Daily News, the university's student newspaper.
Hoglund, a 2019 Stanford Law School graduate, was recently a summer associate at Boies Schiller Flexner. She clerked for Judge Sidney Thomas of the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
While at Stanford, she wrote about her experience representing a detained client during her work with the Immigrant Rights Clinic. Hoglund said the experience taught her the "the power of compassionate legal work to offer humanity, support, and the possibility of vindication to a client navigating an often callous and indifferent immigration system."
Diana L. Kim
Kim graduated from Yale Law School in 2017 and clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. She earned a Resnik-Curtis Fellowship, working in New Haven, Connecticut, with the Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services.
Wacks graduated from the University of Chicago in 2018 and was an associate at Keker, Van Nest & Peters before Breyers hired him as a clerk. He clerked for Judge Charles Breyer of the US District Court for the Northern District of California and Judge Margaret McKeown of the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. In law school, he was a Kirkland & Ellis scholar and a Rubenstein scholar.
Justice Samuel Alito's Clerks
Baird, a 2018 graduate of Duke University Law, met Alito when taking his seminar on Current Issues in Constitutional Interpretation at Duke.
"I had always admired him before going to law school, but when I took his class I realized that I see the law in a similar way and that inspired me to apply for a clerkship with him," she said in a news release.
She has also clerked for Judge Thomas M. Hardiman of the 3rd Circuit and was an associate at Cooper & Kirk. In law school, she was the notes editor for the Duke Law Journal and president of the Federalist Society chapter there.
Gaiser graduated from the University of Chicago in 2016 and held two previous clerkships: Judge Edith Jones of the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and Judge Neomi Rao of the DC Circuit.
In law school, Gaiser was a member of the Federalist Society and the Edmund Burke Society, a conservative debating group.
Palmer, a 2017 Yale Law School graduate, clerked for Chief Judge William Pryor Jr. of the 11th Circuit.
Garrett West Jr.
West, a 2018 Yale Law School graduate, has been a summer associate at Sullivan & Cromwell and Bancroft and has clerked for Griffith of the DC Circuit and Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain of the 9th Circuit.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor's Clerks
Brown held three previous clerkships, with Judge Morgan Christen of the 9th Circuit, Calabresi of the 2nd Circuit, and Justice Goodwin Liu of the California Supreme Court.
Brown graduated from UCLA School of Law, where she was the editor in chief of its law review. She was most recently a litigation associate at Stoel Rives, and before law school, she was a policy advisor in the Senate and House of Representatives, according to UCLA.
Jain, a 2018 Yale Law School graduate, clerked for Judge Diana Motz on the 4th Circuit.
Munyan, a 2017 Yale Law graduate, was most recently an associate in Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe's Supreme Court and appellate group. She clerked for Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York and Judge Robert Allen Katzmann of the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
Schiffman, a 2018 graduate of Yale Law, was recently a Liman fellow with the San Diego County Office of the Primary Public Defender. She clerked for two judges, William Alan Fletcher of the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and Keith P. Ellison of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Schiffman was copresident of the Yale Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter and earned a PhD in philosophy from Yale.
Justice Elena Kagan's Clerks
Fischell's clerkship with Kagan will be her third, after clerking with Judges Raymond Kethledge of the 6th Circuit and Ronnie Abrams of the Southern District of New York. Fischell graduated from the University of Michigan's law school in 2016 and worked in the civil- and appellate-litigation practice at MoloLamken.
She is one of the few clerks in this term who worked at a boutique firm.
Lim, a former litigation associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, graduated from Stanford Law School in 2019 and previously clerked for Judge Michelle T. Friedland of the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Lim was also an extern in San Francisco City Attorney's Office.
Smith, a 2019 Yale Law School graduate, previously clerked for Griffith of the DC Circuit, as have three other clerks in this year's Supreme Court term.
Waks graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 2019 and has held two clerkships, with Judge Gary Feinerman of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and Judge David Tatel of the DC Circuit.
In law school, Waks was a Rubenstein scholar, a Kirkland & Ellis scholar, and an editor of the school's law review.
Justice Neil Gorsuch's Clerks
Barclay graduated from Brigham Young University's law school in 2011 and appears to be one of the oldest Supreme Court clerks of this term. She was an associate law professor at BYU from 2018 to 2020, when she joined Notre Dame's law school, where she directs the Religious Liberty Initiative.
She previously clerked for Judge N. Randy Smith of the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. She was also a litigator for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and an associate at Covington & Burling.
Capozzi graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's law school in 2019 and has held two previous clerkships. He clerked for Judge Anthony Scirica of the 3rd Circuit and for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the 4th Circuit.
Capozzi, a former summer associate at Gibson Dunn, was the executive editor at the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and the president of Penn Law's chapter of the Federalist Society.
Storslee is one of few law professors to have earned a Supreme Court clerkship this fall. At Penn State Law, he teaches courses on civil procedure, the federal courts, constitutional law, and the First Amendment. His research focuses on religious freedom and freedom of speech.
He previously served as executive director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School and clerked for O'Scannlain in the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. He graduated in 2015 from Stanford University's law school.
John Henry Thompson
Thompson, another University of Chicago graduate, recently completed his one-year term in the Office of the Solicitor General as a Bristow fellow. He held two previous clerkships: for Griffith of the DC Circuit and for Sykes of the 7th Circuit.
In law school, Thomson was a Kirkland & Ellis scholar, a member of the Federalist Society, and a member of the college's law review.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh's Clerks
Baltes clerked for then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett — her former law professor — on the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
Baltes is a former basketball player for Illinois Wesleyan University who was a NCAA Woman of the Year finalist in 2014. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 2017 and clerked for Judge Raymond W. Gruender of 8th Circuit.
After graduating from Yale Law School in 2019, Livas clerked for Thapar of the 6th Circuit, one of two of Kavanaugh's clerks to have done so. She also clerked for Langhorne Friedrich of the US District Court for DC.
While at Yale, Livas was the president of the school's Federalist Society chapter.
Pavelec graduated from Yale Law School in 2017 and worked as an associate at Wilkinson Stekloff, a boutique litigation firm. She clerked for Thapar of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky and for Kethledge of the 6th Circuit before earning a clerkship with Kavanaugh.
Welch is a former Phillips fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General who graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 2019. She clerked for Pryor of the 11th Circuit and for Sutton of the 6th Circuit.
In law school, Welch was a Kirkland & Ellis scholar, vice president of the school's Federalist Society chapter, and an articles editor on its law review.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett's Clerks
Libby Stropko Baird
Baird graduated from the University of Virginia's law school in 2019 and clerked for Judge Kevin C. Newsom of the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and for Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the US District Court for DC.
She was the Virginia Law Review's articles editor.
Heckmann, a 2016 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, was an associate at Latham & Watkins before earning a clerkship with Barrett. He previously clerked for the newest justice when she was on the 7th Circuit. He was the managing online editor for the university's law review.
Schulman worked as an associate at Gibson Dunn after graduating from Harvard Law School in 2017. Before Gibson Dunn, he clerked for Katsas of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and for Judge Sidney Stein of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
While at Harvard, he was an editor of the school's law review.
Tyree graduated in 2017 from the George Washington University Law School, where he was the managing editor for the school's law review. He clerked for Larsen of the Michigan Supreme Court in 2017 and for Sutton of the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in 2018.
He was a summer associate at Gibson Dunn in 2016 and an attorney-advisor for the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel before earning the clerkship with Barrett.
Before law school, Tyree interned at the conservative Family Research Council.
"Our rights come first from God," he told Politico after the Supreme Court's 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores decision. "The government must protect those rights."
(Retired) Justice Anthony Kennedy's Clerks
While they no longer sit on the bench, it's customary for some retired justices to hire a clerk.
Nielson graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 2019 and has since clerked for Sutton of the 6th Circuit. She was the book-review and symposium editor for the University of Chicago Law Review.
Her father, Judge Howard Nielson of the US District Court for the District of Utah, clerked for Kennedy in 1998.
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law alums Adam Steene (LLM '12) and Leigh Kramer (JD '22) will clerk for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts. Steene will start his term in October 2023 and Kramer will start her clerkship in October 2024.What are the benefits of clerkship in the Supreme Court? ›
Benefits of Clerkships
Exposure to the legal system: Clerkships can provide a front row seat to the legal system, allowing clerks to gain firsthand experience with court procedures, legal writing, and research. A lot can be learned from watching how hearings are conducted and understanding what judges expect.
Salmanowitz, a Harvard Law School graduate, is a law clerk at Hogan Lovells. Jackson also is hiring Michael Qian, a Stanford law graduate and associate at Morrison & Foerster who earlier clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in 2020.Who are Justice Breyer's law clerks? ›
Justices each work with four clerks. The Supreme Court identified Breyer's clerks as Elizabeth Deutsch, Erika Hoglund, Diana Kim and Joel Wacks. Deutsch and Kim are Yale Law School graduates. Hoglund graduated from Stanford Law School, and Wacks is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School.What cases will the Supreme Court hear in 2023 2024? ›
- Acheson Hotels, LLC v. Laufer. ...
- Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. ...
- Brown v. United States. ...
- Campos-Chaves v. Garland. ...
- Carnahan v. ...
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. ...
- Culley v. ...
- Department of Agriculture Rural Development Rural Housing Service v.
Over the past three decades, the standard practice for Supreme Court justices has been to choose their law clerks from those who have served (or are serving) in other courts, primarily the federal courts of appeals.How valuable is a federal clerkship? ›
The experience and training obtained in a judicial clerkship is valued by most law firms, public interest organizations, government agencies, and corporations. Large private firms often pay clerkship bonuses and provide a year of “credit” toward partnership when associates return from their clerkships.Are federal clerkships hard to get? ›
Clerkships are highly competitive, especially ones that take place in federal courts, and it is likely that you will apply to many and get rejected before finding a position. If you find yourself sending out many applications and being refused, don't get discouraged.How prestigious is a federal clerkship? ›
At top national law schools, students compete very aggressively for federal clerkships more so than they do for state judicial clerkships. Given the prestige of a federal clerkship, it can often make you marketable far beyond the geographic area where you are clerking.How many black Supreme Court clerks are there? ›
Of the 38 Supreme Court clerks for the October 2022 term, 25 are men and 13 are women. It appears that two clerks are Black, two are Hispanic, and two are Asian.
Each justice is permitted to have three or four law clerks per Court term. Most clerks are recent law school graduates, who have typically graduated at the top of their class and spent at least one year clerking for a lower federal judge.How many Supreme Court justices were clerks? ›
Have any Supreme Court Justices served as law clerks? Ten Justices served as law clerks.What was the role of law clerks? ›
Law Clerk responsibilities include preparing legal documents, conducting legal research and analysis and compiling case materials for Lawyers and Judges. Ultimately, you will work with various Lawyers and Judges to ensure they can do their duties as efficiently and effectively as possible.What are law clerks called? ›
A law clerk, judicial clerk, or judicial assistant is a person, often a lawyer, that provides direct counsel and assistance to a lawyer or judge by researching issues and drafting legal opinions for cases before the court.What does it mean to clerk for a justice? ›
General Duties: Generally, a judicial law clerk is an attorney hired to assist a judge with his or her various responsibilities, including administrative work. There are no strictly defined duties, as the clerk carries out the judge's instructions.What is the average age of Supreme Court clerks? ›
The workforce of Judicial law clerks in 2020 was 20,946 people, with 63.4% woman, and 36.6% men. The average age of male Judicial law clerks in the workforce is 34 and of female Judicial law clerks is 39.1, and the most common race/ethnicity for Judicial law clerks is White.How many law clerks are there in the US Supreme Court? ›
Each justice is permitted to have between three and four law clerks per Court term. The chief justice is allowed to have five law clerks per Term, but no chief justice has ever done so regularly. Most persons serving in this capacity are recent law school graduates (and typically graduated at the top of their class).How many clerks does each Supreme Court judge have? ›
Each justice is permitted to have three or four law clerks per Court term. Most clerks are recent law school graduates, who have typically graduated at the top of their class and spent at least one year clerking for a lower federal judge.Who is on the Supreme Court 2023? ›
- John G. Roberts.
- Clarence Thomas.
- Samuel Alito.
- Sonia Sotomayor.
- Elena Kagan.
- Neil Gorsuch.
- Brett Kavanaugh.
- Amy Coney Barrett.