Monday, July 10, 2006

How to apply for a Supreme Court clerkship

One of my commenters noted that the application process for Supreme Court clerkships is remarkably opaque and that if you don't have someone to explain it to you it puts you at a disadvantage (does this disadvantage women who have less access to existing old-boy networks?). HLS helpfully outlines this process, but it puts the information behind password protection. Information, however, wants to be free, so I'm summarizing it for you below. Enjoy!

(If any of this information is out of date, please let me know and I will correct it.)

Applications for October Term N should be sent in March - June of N-1. Thomas hires much further in advance, so take this into account.

Apply to all nine justices even if you don't think you'd like to clerk for some of them.

Your package should include
  • a short cover letter containing the names of your recommenders, the contents of your packet, and the term you are applying for
  • a resume
  • a transcript
  • a writing sample consisting of a scholarly note, comment, or article
  • recommendations from professors, judges, or very famous practitioners
Send updates to your materials as needed.

To prep for an interview, read the justice's opinions, especially those from the recent term. Do not contact current clerks even if you know them.

Idiosyncracies of the justices:
  • Roberts: 2 recommendations (may have changed)
  • Stevens: short writing sample is optional. At least 2 recommendations from professors, at least 3 total.
  • Scalia: 3 recommendations. Note names of professors on your transcript.
  • Kennedy: two writing samples and 3-5 recommendations required.
  • Souter: 3-5 recommendations, including one from your circuit judge. Academic writing samples a must!
  • Thomas: at least 2 recommendations.
  • Ginsburg: at least 3 recommendations. Short writing sample plus a reprint of any academic publication you have.
  • Breyer: 3 recommendations, including one from your circuit judge. Short writing sample.
  • Alito: unknown!
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