CHOOSING YOUR JUSTICE
Each year, there are 36 openings for
U.S. Supreme Court clerkships. But
which justice do you plead your case
to? How do you get in?
Kenneth Ziffren, Ziffren Brittenham;
Entertainment & Sports (Earl Warren
1965-66): California Supreme Court Chief
Justice Roger Traynor offered me a clerkship
but I declined, taking a chance that [U.S.] Chief
Justice Warren would pick me, which he did.
Mark Helm, Munger, Tolles & Olson;
Business Litigation, Intellectual Property
Litigation (Warren Burger 1983-84): I
didn’t apply to Rehnquist. He was just too
philosophically opposite to me. Burger was also
conservative, but more centrist.
Daniel Bussel, Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff
& Stern; Bankruptcy: Business (Sandra
Day O’Connor 1986-87): [I went with]
Justice O’Connor—based largely on advice that
it would be exciting to clerk for someone who
was closer to the ideological center, pragmatic
in her decision-making process, and still open
to persuasion on many issues.
Mark Haddad, Sidley Austin; Appellate
(William J. Brennan 1986-87): I first applied
to Brennan. He was taking applications earlier
than the other justices. When I was in law
school, he was already a legend.
You never forget your first SCOTUS
Kelly Klaus, Munger, Tolles & Olson;
Intellectual Property Litigation,
Appellate (Anthony Kennedy 1995-96):
It’s obviously an intimidating experience, but
Justice Kennedy was a very warm, gracious
man from the outset. For a half hour, he asked
me about law school, judges I’d clerked for,
and the like.