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Associate Justice Clarence Thomas

Justice Clarence Thomas has earned a reputation as a frequent dissenter during his 26 years on the U.S. Supreme Court bench, and when it comes to the clerks he hires, he also strays from the pack.

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

In a system where justices pull heavily from their own alma maters and a handful of other top schools to fill the coveted slots, Thomas casts the widest net.

He has hired from 23 different law schools since 2005, with one-third of his clerks coming from schools outside the Top 10 on the U.S. News and World Report rankings. The approach, he has said, enables him to find excellence “from all over.”


➤➤ INFOGRAPHIC: Click here to view the Top 15 law schools for Supreme Court clerk placements and sort by justice to see who’s hiring from which law schools.


His clerk class in 2008 generated quite the internet buzz that year. Not one of the four bright young attorneys the justice chose as clerks graduated from an elite law school. Instead, they hailed from George Washington University Law School; George Mason University School of Law; Creighton University School of Law; and Rutgers School of Law-Camden, none of which land in U.S. News Top 20 law schools. (Creighton, in Omaha, Nebraska, came in at No. 120 in this year’s rankings.)

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Karen Sloan

Karen Sloan is the Legal Education Editor and Senior Writer at ALM. Contact her at [email protected] On Twitter: @KarenSloanNLJ Sign up for Ahead of the Curve—her weekly email update on trends and innovation in legal education—here: https://www.law.com/briefings/ahead-of-the-curve/

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