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One of the recurring story lines of the current U.S. Supreme Court is the increasing influence and prestige of the law clerks the justices hire to help screen incoming petitions and write opinions. It’s not just the hiring bonuses of $350,000 that they can command when they leave— nearly $100,000 more than the justices’ annual salaries. It’s also the career doors that a clerkship opens in private practice, corporations, academia and government.

Exclusive Report: SCOTUS Clerks This article is part of a series examining the professional pathways and diversity of Supreme Court law clerks. • A Look Inside the Elite World of Supreme Court Law Clerks

So we decided to take a deeper look at the clerks—who they are, demographically, how they get there, and what they do when they leave. NLJ’s Supreme Court correspondent Tony Mauro had researched the subject in 1998 at USA TODAY, when the clerk hiring bonuses were a measly $50,000. Clearly, the data needed updating.

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Tony Mauro

Tony Mauro, based in Washington, covers the U.S. Supreme Court. A lead writer for ALM's Supreme Court Brief, Tony focuses on the court's history and traditions, appellate advocacy and the SCOTUS cases that matter most to business litigators. Contact him at tmauro@alm.com. On Twitter: @Tonymauro

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Vanessa Blum

Vanessa is director of newsroom innovation at ALM and leads new journalism initiatives including Law.com Briefings and the Legal Speak podcast. Contact Vanessa at vblum@alm.com. On Twitter: @vanessablum.

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