Supreme Court Clerks, October Term 2012: Where Are They Now?
Three are judges, two just put Sam Bankman-Fried behind bars, and one is a full-time parent.
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As part of my continuing catch-up efforts here at Original Jurisdiction, I’m returning to another popular feature that I haven’t done in a while: my “SCOTUS Clerks: Where Are They Now” roundups, where I catch up with Supreme Court clerks a decade after their clerkships. A SCOTUS clerkship is one of the most coveted credentials in the entire legal profession, so it’s interesting to see what clerks are doing with themselves professionally at the ten-year mark, a significant milestone.
Since I haven’t published this feature in some time, I have two classes to profile. I’ll start with the clerks from October Term 2012, now 11 years out of their clerkships, and follow up with the October Term 2013 clerks in the near future.
Following my past practice—as well as that of Professor Derek Muller, who started this feature at his Excess of Democracy blog before I picked it up in 2021—I’ll offer both big-picture observations and a list of the former clerks and their current jobs.
There are 39 clerks in the OT 2012 class. In terms of where they are now, here’s a rough breakdown by field:
Private practice: 15 clerks (38 percent percent)
Government: 13 clerks (33 percent)
In-house: 4 clerks (10 percent)
Judiciary: 3 clerks (8 percent)
Business: 2 clerks (5 percent)
Academia: 1 clerk (3 percent)
Other: 1 clerk (3 percent)
A Supreme Court clerkship is an excellent launchpad for a judicial career—there’s a reason why six out of the nine current justices are former SCOTUS clerks themselves—so it shouldn’t be surprising to see three clerks already on the bench. Judge Brad Garcia, the first Latino judge on the powerful and prestigious D.C. Circuit, is only 37; keep an eye on him as a possible future SCOTUS nominee. The other judges are Judge Julia Kobick, confirmed to the District of Massachusetts this week, and Judge Kenton Skarin, a state trial-court judge in Illinois (and candidate for an appellate-court opening in 2024).
As was the case with the OT 2020 and OT 2011 clerk classes, the most popular path is private practice, with almost 40 percent of the OT 2012 clerks at firms. Most are in Biglaw, except for two at boutiques at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum: Brian Barnes, at the conservative Cooper & Kirk, and Eric Citron, at the progressive Gupta Wessler.
The most popular firm for the OT 2012 class is Jones Day, which boasts four clerks—three of whom it hired right after their clerkships. Sometimes partners at rival firms criticize or express puzzlement at Jones Day’s determination to hire the most SCOTUS clerks every year, wondering whether they’re worth the crazy signing bonuses—now a staggering $500,000. But if Jones Day can hold on to these clerks until they become productive partners with nice practices, they might be a better investment than the critics realize. If a firm used a recruiting firm to hire a lateral partner earning $2 million, the firm would pay a placement fee of around $500,000.
The second most-popular path for the OT 2012 clerk class was government. Four are now assistant U.S. attorneys, three of them in the S.D.N.Y., regarded by many as the nation’s top prosecutor’s office—and two of them, Danielle Sassoon and Thane Rehn, were on the team that just won convictions of fallen crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried. Three more are at Main Justice, including two in the DOJ’s most prestigious divisions, the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of Legal Counsel.
This clerk class appears to be fairly business-minded: six clerks (15 percent) have either gone in-house or shifted over completely to business roles. For the OT 2010 class, only three were in-house and zero were in business roles at the time of my roundup, and for the OT 2011 class, there were no clerks in corporate-counsel or business roles.
Academia is usually in the top three or four destinations for pointy-headed SCOTUS clerks, but not the OT 2012 clerks. Only one of them is an academic: Adam Klein, director of the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin (where he’s also a senior lecturer at the law school).
And one clerk, Caroline Edsall Littleton, is a full-time parent. She describes herself on LinkedIn as “a former partner at Jones Day” who is “currently taking a hiatus from my legal career to dedicate my time to my three young children.” Good for her. You know who else took a hiatus from her legal career to focus on her three kids? One Sandra Day O’Connor—and her career turned out just fine when she returned.
For paid subscribers to Original Jurisdiction, I’ve provided below my list of October Term 2021 clerks and what I believe to be their current jobs. I put together this list by running lots of Google searches, and for every clerk, I have provided one or two links to my sources (e.g., a law firm bio and a LinkedIn profile).
Alas, despite what my six-year-old believes (“Google doesn’t lie!”), some information you find on the internets is inaccurate or outdated. So I’m counting on you, my knowledgeable and well-connected readers, to catch any errors. Please post in the comments or email me (email@example.com) with corrections or updates, and I’ll revise this list accordingly.
Okay, disclaimers done. Here you go:
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