Supreme Court Clerkship Application Thread

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Supreme Court Clerkship Application Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:31 pm

This thread is to discuss various insights or suggestions about the Supreme Court application process for clerkships. When are people thinking of sending in applications (i.e., some schools suggest that applications should be going out now for OT 2012,) how are people handling letters of recommendation, thoughts on chancing, etc.

Obviously, if anyone wants to post any insight about interviews with the Justices, etc., that would be great (though I only know of one person on TLS who has actually done a SCOTUS interview, and s/he has specifically said he would never post which Justice he/she interviewed with, etc.,) but I don't think it's likely that people would be willing to share much first-hand knowledge.

A few of my personal observations:

I think the optimal strategy may be to send applications in early (i.e., nowish,) and then update your applications with relevant material. Some of the Justices seem to evaluate applications very, very early, while some will not even look at an application until the applicant has all of his/her law school grades. Sending the applications in now, and updating/amending applications for the Justices for whom it is appropriate, seems like the best approach.

Worth knowing:

- Most, if not all, of the Justices send a form letter from the chambers acknowledging receipt of your initial application materials, and detail the Justice-specific requirements.

- Justice Alito requires a letter of recommendation from the lower court judge an applicant currently is clerking for, or will be clerking for. This suggests that Alito either: (i) makes his decisions late (how could a judge write a meaningful letter until an applicant has been working with the judge for at least a few months); (ii) gives a fair amount of preference to 'non-trad' applicants (people who have put in a year or two of post-clerkship work before looking to make the next step); or (iii) expects a letter from the lower court judge based on little or no information (basically, a "why did you hire the applicant to clerk with you" letter, instead of a "is the applicant a good clerk" letter). I have no idea which tact is correct. It's interesting, because people at nearly every school I have talked to have all said that their CSOs specifically counseled against obtaining a recommendation from the lower court judge, unless you are a 'non-trad' applicant. The basic sense is thatthe lower court judge has no way of writing a strong rec until far too late in the application cycle.

- Justice Scalia intends to have his hiring decisions for OT 2012 completed by December 2011

- Justice Thomas' acknowledgement indicates that he is "currently" reviewing applicants, though who knows whether that just means he is always reviewing applicants or what

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