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Hastings Alumni Mag-Fall 2012

{ judicial perspective: faculty } RoRy LittLe clerkinG 101 T knowledgeable expert drawing on his unique experience clerking at the u.s.here may be no more on the subject of judicial supreme court, professor rory little helps students clerkships than rory little. a professor of law at Uc find their way to sought-after judicial clerkships. Hastings since 1994, little chairs the career Placement and Judicial clerkships committee, advising stu- dents on how to land the louis f. oberdorfer for the Supreme court,” he no. 1 and have clerked for a increasingly coveted clerk- one year, but he still had adds. “The justices struggle judge, even more doors will ships once they graduate. his eye on a clerkship at with the hardest issues of the open for you.” There is also To this task, little brings not the high court. Through a day and are asked to make a major financial incentive— only genuine commitment combination of intellectual decisions that have incred- some law firms pay new hires to his students’ success but gifts, tireless perseverance, ible ramifications. and they a $250,000 bonus if they also a unique perspective and a few strokes of right- are just human beings, after have had a U.S. Supreme on the subject, having had place-right-time luck, little all, trying to do their best.” court clerkship and as much a one-of-a-kind clerkship at obtained a clerkship with as $50,000 for a lower court the U.S. Supreme court in retired U.S. Supreme court NAvIgATINg THE clerkship. the early 1980s. Justice Potter Stewart. ClErksHIp ExpErIENCE Today, obtaining a clerk- in fact, little says his Stewart maintained an coming to the realiza- ship is more competitive than own experience was so office in the Supreme court tion that judges are mere ever. The applicant pool has transformative that he wants but, being retired from the mortals is one of the many become flooded with stu- his students to fully appreci- bench, did not have enough benefits of clerking, little dents, alumni, and practicing ate how valuable clerking work to occupy a full-time says. Because clerks see attorneys seeking work dur- can be to their careers. “My clerk. So little managed to judges up close, on good ing the economic downturn. year at the Supreme court fill his hours—which were days and bad, the judges will in addition, the phenomenon was incredible,” little says. typically 8 a.m. to midnight— inevitably reveal their imper- of “permanent clerks”— “i worked for five different eventually clerking for four of fections. “i tell my students those who stay on indefinitely justices. as far as i know, the sitting justices: William that they will be far better in certain courts that allow no one has ever done that Brennan, lewis Powell, John lawyers once they lose their it—has greatly reduced the before. and nothing has Paul Stevens, and Warren awe of judges,” says little. number of openings. been more important to my Burger. in short order, “once they understand that little works with Sari career than that experience, Brennan picked him up full judges react to things that Zimmerman and fairuz for a myriad of reasons.” time, but he continued to do other people react to, they’ll abdullah in the office work for the other three. see how the law is shaped by of career & Professional INsIDE THE HIgH CourT “it was utterly thrilling,” a lot of human factors.” development on yearly pan- little says he did not know says little. “i wrote labor among other advantages els and programs to help law much about clerkships law opinions, constitutional of a clerkship, according to students navigate their way while a student at Yale law opinions, first amendment little, are the connections to these prized opportunities. School, but after reading The opinions, and criminal one forges with co-clerks, and there could be no Brethren, the 1979 best-seller opinions. i would prepare who often rise to become better guide to this process about the inner workings the justices with background, leaders of the legal profes- than little, who brims with of the Supreme court, he write up questions for them sion. Most clerks also find enthusiasm at the very men- decided that “there was to ask at oral argument, and that the experience is an tion of clerkships. “it’s an nothing i wanted more than help them shape their voting instant career enhancer. “if intense experience,” he says, to clerk there.” statements. you graduate first in your “but if you like the work, as i Upon graduating from “at the end of the day, class from Uc Hastings, you’ll did, you can’t get enough of Yale in 1982, little clerked i came away with huge have great opportunities,” it. To my mind, nothing could for U.S. district court Judge respect for the integrity of says little. “But if you are be more exhilarating.” Uc HaSTinGS 33


Hastings Alumni Mag-Fall 2012
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