How does one get a Bristow? Forum

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How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:14 am

The path to a SCOTUS clerkship seems pretty clear—albeit difficult—get incredible grades from a great school, know important profs, get a feeder clerkship, apply for SCOTUS clerkship. It seems that the path to a Bristow is much murkier. It does not seem there are really specific feeder judges for Bristow, and I have no idea how political/jurisprudential views get factored into the applications. Does anyone have insight here? Thanks in advance.

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:56 am

It's really not that different. If you look at the list of recent Bristows, you'll see they went to the same schools and clerked for the same feeder judges as any class Supreme Court clerks, and quite a few Bristows go on to clerk for the Court. If anything, getting a Bristow is even more competitive, since OSG only hires 4-5 per year.

To answer your question, though, my understanding is that the "networking" that sometimes goes into getting a SCOTUS clerkship is less of a thing in getting a Bristow. The most important thing seems to be your judge(s) and law school dean singing your praise to OSG.

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 10, 2021 1:35 pm

Only thing I’d add is that I’ve heard rumblings (and past classes seem to suggest) that they try to get some variance in politics/ideology and law schools (from among the T14). E.g., both Srivansan and Wilkinson clerks; not 5 Harvard or Yale grads but 1 Duke, 1 UVA, etc.

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:56 am
It's really not that different. If you look at the list of recent Bristows, you'll see they went to the same schools and clerked for the same feeder judges as any class Supreme Court clerks, and quite a few Bristows go on to clerk for the Court. If anything, getting a Bristow is even more competitive, since OSG only hires 4-5 per year.

To answer your question, though, my understanding is that the "networking" that sometimes goes into getting a SCOTUS clerkship is less of a thing in getting a Bristow. The most important thing seems to be your judge(s) and law school dean singing your praise to OSG.
I'd second this, and add these points:
-OSG aims to hire an even mix of liberals and conservatives, regardless of the administration.
-OSG is less school snobby than certain justices are. It hires Bristows from across the T14.
-Grades are extremely important (probably more important than they are for SCOTUS). If you're not the #1 in your grade, you can't be far off and hope to have any realistic chance.
-Bristow feeders and SCOTUS feeders overlap to varying degrees. Some feed very well to both (Srinivasan, Wilkinson, Kethledge, Sutton, Fletcher), while some feed heavily to SCOTUS but not to Bristow (Pryor, Katzmann, Tatel).

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 10, 2021 6:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:51 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:56 am
It's really not that different. If you look at the list of recent Bristows, you'll see they went to the same schools and clerked for the same feeder judges as any class Supreme Court clerks, and quite a few Bristows go on to clerk for the Court. If anything, getting a Bristow is even more competitive, since OSG only hires 4-5 per year.

To answer your question, though, my understanding is that the "networking" that sometimes goes into getting a SCOTUS clerkship is less of a thing in getting a Bristow. The most important thing seems to be your judge(s) and law school dean singing your praise to OSG.
I'd second this, and add these points:
-OSG aims to hire an even mix of liberals and conservatives, regardless of the administration.
-OSG is less school snobby than certain justices are. It hires Bristows from across the T14.
-Grades are extremely important (probably more important than they are for SCOTUS). If you're not the #1 in your grade, you can't be far off and hope to have any realistic chance.
-Bristow feeders and SCOTUS feeders overlap to varying degrees. Some feed very well to both (Srinivasan, Wilkinson, Kethledge, Sutton, Fletcher), while some feed heavily to SCOTUS but not to Bristow (Pryor, Katzmann, Tatel).
That's interesting re: the last thing, any hypothesis for why?

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Joachim2017

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Joachim2017 » Sat Apr 10, 2021 6:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:51 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:56 am
It's really not that different. If you look at the list of recent Bristows, you'll see they went to the same schools and clerked for the same feeder judges as any class Supreme Court clerks, and quite a few Bristows go on to clerk for the Court. If anything, getting a Bristow is even more competitive, since OSG only hires 4-5 per year.

To answer your question, though, my understanding is that the "networking" that sometimes goes into getting a SCOTUS clerkship is less of a thing in getting a Bristow. The most important thing seems to be your judge(s) and law school dean singing your praise to OSG.
I'd second this, and add these points:
-OSG aims to hire an even mix of liberals and conservatives, regardless of the administration.
-OSG is less school snobby than certain justices are. It hires Bristows from across the T14.
-Grades are extremely important (probably more important than they are for SCOTUS). If you're not the #1 in your grade, you can't be far off and hope to have any realistic chance.
-Bristow feeders and SCOTUS feeders overlap to varying degrees. Some feed very well to both (Srinivasan, Wilkinson, Kethledge, Sutton, Fletcher), while some feed heavily to SCOTUS but not to Bristow (Pryor, Katzmann, Tatel).

Some of these are inaccurate, or at least exaggerated. You don't need near-top, 1% grades at the best schools. If you're African-American, for example, and well-connected through institutions like Law Review, you can get Bristow with only cum laude level grades. You can see recent Bristow fellow profiles to confirm this. (That's not to say it's easy, just that it's doable and doesn't require tippy top grades if you're a diverse candidate from a top school).

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 10, 2021 7:11 pm

Joachim2017 wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 6:09 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:51 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:56 am
It's really not that different. If you look at the list of recent Bristows, you'll see they went to the same schools and clerked for the same feeder judges as any class Supreme Court clerks, and quite a few Bristows go on to clerk for the Court. If anything, getting a Bristow is even more competitive, since OSG only hires 4-5 per year.

To answer your question, though, my understanding is that the "networking" that sometimes goes into getting a SCOTUS clerkship is less of a thing in getting a Bristow. The most important thing seems to be your judge(s) and law school dean singing your praise to OSG.
I'd second this, and add these points:
-OSG aims to hire an even mix of liberals and conservatives, regardless of the administration.
-OSG is less school snobby than certain justices are. It hires Bristows from across the T14.
-Grades are extremely important (probably more important than they are for SCOTUS). If you're not the #1 in your grade, you can't be far off and hope to have any realistic chance.
-Bristow feeders and SCOTUS feeders overlap to varying degrees. Some feed very well to both (Srinivasan, Wilkinson, Kethledge, Sutton, Fletcher), while some feed heavily to SCOTUS but not to Bristow (Pryor, Katzmann, Tatel).

Some of these are inaccurate, or at least exaggerated. You don't need near-top, 1% grades at the best schools. If you're African-American, for example, and well-connected through institutions like Law Review, you can get Bristow with only cum laude level grades. You can see recent Bristow fellow profiles to confirm this. (That's not to say it's easy, just that it's doable and doesn't require tippy top grades if you're a diverse candidate from a top school).
You're referring to Jo-Ann Karhson, the only person in the last 10 classes who meets those criteria. And I assure you, she didn't get her job through being "well-connected through institutions like Law Review," whatever that means. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton, led a distinguished career in government, clerked for then-Judge Kavanaugh (the #1 feeder judge) and soon-to-be-Justice K.B. Jackson, and had a clerkship with Justice Breyer secured before applying to the Bristow Fellowship. She is one of only 4 Harvard Law graduates to become a Bristow Fellow in the last 10 years. Being a "diverse candidate from a top school" doesn't remotely cut it.

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by cheaptilts » Sat Apr 10, 2021 7:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 7:11 pm
Joachim2017 wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 6:09 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:51 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:56 am
It's really not that different. If you look at the list of recent Bristows, you'll see they went to the same schools and clerked for the same feeder judges as any class Supreme Court clerks, and quite a few Bristows go on to clerk for the Court. If anything, getting a Bristow is even more competitive, since OSG only hires 4-5 per year.

To answer your question, though, my understanding is that the "networking" that sometimes goes into getting a SCOTUS clerkship is less of a thing in getting a Bristow. The most important thing seems to be your judge(s) and law school dean singing your praise to OSG.
I'd second this, and add these points:
-OSG aims to hire an even mix of liberals and conservatives, regardless of the administration.
-OSG is less school snobby than certain justices are. It hires Bristows from across the T14.
-Grades are extremely important (probably more important than they are for SCOTUS). If you're not the #1 in your grade, you can't be far off and hope to have any realistic chance.
-Bristow feeders and SCOTUS feeders overlap to varying degrees. Some feed very well to both (Srinivasan, Wilkinson, Kethledge, Sutton, Fletcher), while some feed heavily to SCOTUS but not to Bristow (Pryor, Katzmann, Tatel).

Some of these are inaccurate, or at least exaggerated. You don't need near-top, 1% grades at the best schools. If you're African-American, for example, and well-connected through institutions like Law Review, you can get Bristow with only cum laude level grades. You can see recent Bristow fellow profiles to confirm this. (That's not to say it's easy, just that it's doable and doesn't require tippy top grades if you're a diverse candidate from a top school).
You're referring to Jo-Ann Karhson, the only person in the last 10 classes who meets those criteria. And I assure you, she didn't get her job through being "well-connected through institutions like Law Review," whatever that means. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton, led a distinguished career in government, clerked for then-Judge Kavanaugh (the #1 feeder judge) and soon-to-be-Justice K.B. Jackson, and had a clerkship with Justice Breyer secured before applying to the Bristow Fellowship. She is one of only 4 Harvard Law graduates to become a Bristow Fellow in the last 10 years. Being a "diverse candidate from a top school" doesn't remotely cut it.
Joachim2017’s response was so far from reality that I didn’t even think it merited a response. But kudos to you for responding.

Joachim2017

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Joachim2017 » Sat Apr 10, 2021 9:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 7:11 pm
Joachim2017 wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 6:09 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:51 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:56 am
It's really not that different. If you look at the list of recent Bristows, you'll see they went to the same schools and clerked for the same feeder judges as any class Supreme Court clerks, and quite a few Bristows go on to clerk for the Court. If anything, getting a Bristow is even more competitive, since OSG only hires 4-5 per year.

To answer your question, though, my understanding is that the "networking" that sometimes goes into getting a SCOTUS clerkship is less of a thing in getting a Bristow. The most important thing seems to be your judge(s) and law school dean singing your praise to OSG.
I'd second this, and add these points:
-OSG aims to hire an even mix of liberals and conservatives, regardless of the administration.
-OSG is less school snobby than certain justices are. It hires Bristows from across the T14.
-Grades are extremely important (probably more important than they are for SCOTUS). If you're not the #1 in your grade, you can't be far off and hope to have any realistic chance.
-Bristow feeders and SCOTUS feeders overlap to varying degrees. Some feed very well to both (Srinivasan, Wilkinson, Kethledge, Sutton, Fletcher), while some feed heavily to SCOTUS but not to Bristow (Pryor, Katzmann, Tatel).

Some of these are inaccurate, or at least exaggerated. You don't need near-top, 1% grades at the best schools. If you're African-American, for example, and well-connected through institutions like Law Review, you can get Bristow with only cum laude level grades. You can see recent Bristow fellow profiles to confirm this. (That's not to say it's easy, just that it's doable and doesn't require tippy top grades if you're a diverse candidate from a top school).
You're referring to Jo-Ann Karhson, the only person in the last 10 classes who meets those criteria. And I assure you, she didn't get her job through being "well-connected through institutions like Law Review," whatever that means. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton, led a distinguished career in government, clerked for then-Judge Kavanaugh (the #1 feeder judge) and soon-to-be-Justice K.B. Jackson, and had a clerkship with Justice Breyer secured before applying to the Bristow Fellowship. She is one of only 4 Harvard Law graduates to become a Bristow Fellow in the last 10 years. Being a "diverse candidate from a top school" doesn't remotely cut it.
You willfully caricaturize what I wrote, but sure, why not. Anyone who doesn't meet that exact profile, don't bother trying to apply, the all-knowing anonymous posters at TLS have spoken.

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Anonymous User
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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:06 pm

Is this something I should approach my school about? I know the clerkship office normally approaches top clerkship applicants, but it seems that Bristow falls into a grey area. FWIW I have a feeder clerkship set up for after I graduate.

Anonymous User
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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Apr 11, 2021 7:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 10:06 pm
Is this something I should approach my school about? I know the clerkship office normally approaches top clerkship applicants, but it seems that Bristow falls into a grey area. FWIW I have a feeder clerkship set up for after I graduate.
Certainly not a bad place to start. Also, most top law schools have at least one OSG alum on the faculty - I'd be sure to reach out to them.

questionasker2019

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by questionasker2019 » Wed Jul 07, 2021 8:46 am

Reviving this thread with a couple of questions:

1) Any idea what the statement of interest should look like?

2) I think in some other thread, there's something that says you should have people making calls on your behalf. Is that right? Or do most people just rely on letters? I know unsolicited calls can be very important for clerkships, but I always thought of clerkships as being a bit weird on that front. (If I knew that one of my profs had a good relationship with someone in OSG, that might be a different story; but that is not something that I know.)

Thanks to anyone who can share any potentially relevant info!

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jul 07, 2021 10:23 am

questionasker2019 wrote:
Wed Jul 07, 2021 8:46 am
Reviving this thread with a couple of questions:

1) Any idea what the statement of interest should look like?

2) I think in some other thread, there's something that says you should have people making calls on your behalf. Is that right? Or do most people just rely on letters? I know unsolicited calls can be very important for clerkships, but I always thought of clerkships as being a bit weird on that front. (If I knew that one of my profs had a good relationship with someone in OSG, that might be a different story; but that is not something that I know.)

Thanks to anyone who can share any potentially relevant info!
On #2, calls are definitely very important. I know my judge called the SG to advocate for an applicant. That applicant got the spot. My judge also knew the SG, but I think calls matter even if the judge/professor doesn’t have close contacts in the office. Same as clerkship/SCOTUS hiring.

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Re: How does one get a Bristow?

Post by questionasker2019 » Wed Sep 08, 2021 12:48 pm

Late to the party on this reply but thanks for responding! A related question that is something of a shot in the dark: Does anyone know when calls should be made for maximum effect? My impression is that the SG's office doesn't even really start looking at applications until October, though that could be way off. And given that Prelogar can't be acting SG while she's awaiting confirmation, it seems plausible that the office may hold off until she's confirmed to make any decisions. (Relatedly, does anyone have any insight on when Prelogar might get confirmed?) Would appreciate anything even potentially relevant. Thanks!

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