16 August 2013

The half a million dollar clerks

The going rate for Supreme Court clerks has soared with law firms fiercely competing for this rare breed of lawyer.

By Mary Heaney

Orhan Cam

According to The Economist, Skadden Arps and Sullivan & Cromwell have set a new high in the bidding war for the clerks who have completed a stint at the Supreme Court. The firms offered signing bonuses of $300,000, which, when added to their salaries, amounts to a salary of  half a million dollars.

What do they do?

At the court, clerks are responsible for reviewing cases, helping prepare the Justices for Oral Argument , helping with the research for and assisting in the drafting of judicial opinions and assisting the justices in deciding emergency applications to the Court, says Philippa Scarlett, now a partner with the Washington office of Kirkland & Ellis. The court recruits 39 clerks, who are junior lawyers, for a year. Each Supreme court judge has four clerks to assist whilst the three retired judges are allowed one clerk each. John Roberts, the Chief Justice, earns $224,618 a year.

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