Counting the recent selection of University of Georgia School of Law alumna Merritt E. McAlister as a U.S. Supreme Court judicial clerk for the October 2009 term, the law school will have had graduates serve the nation's highest court in this capacity for four out of five years. McAlister, a 2007 law school graduate, will clerk for Justice John Paul Stevens.
"A Supreme Court clerkship is one of the most prestigious positions available to recent law school graduates," Georgia Law Dean Rebecca H. White said. "We are delighted for Merritt and are proud that the legal education she received at Georgia Law has enabled her to join a very select group. This appointment will provide Merritt with invaluable experience that will benefit her for the rest of her professional life; for a law student, a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship is akin to an undergraduate receiving a Rhodes Scholarship."
"It is such a rare opportunity and an extraordinary privilege," McAlister said. "I am looking forward to being exposed to that level of legal thinking and decision making."
According to McAlister, faculty members at Georgia Law encouraged her to apply, while Georgia Law's recent history of Supreme Court judicial clerkship success bolstered her confidence.
"I could not have done it without the support of everyone at the law school," McAlister said. "Knowing that I am coming from a great school that has produced great clerks gave me the confidence I needed to take this step."
Currently, she is serving as a judicial clerk for Judge R. Lanier Anderson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. This September, she will join the law firm King & Spalding in Atlanta as an associate before leaving to work for Stevens in the summer of 2009.
"After clerking for an appellate court, I understand even more the depth of what you can learn and am excited to have the same opportunity with the U.S. Supreme Court." McAlister added that this recent appointment is an "unparalleled opportunity."
Besides graduating first in her class at Georgia Law, McAlister also participated in the school's accomplished advocacy program, worked as a teaching and research assistant, served as executive articles editor for the Georgia Law Review and was inducted into the Order of the Coif.
Her clerkship selection brings the total number of Georgia Law graduates who have clerked for Supreme Court justices to eight. A recent ranking placed Georgia Law among the top five public law schools in the nation for supplying clerks to the U.S. Supreme Court for 2000-07.
The other seven Georgia Law alumni who have served the nation's highest court in this capacity are:
- Benna R. Solomon, a 1978 graduate who clerked for Justice Byron R. White in 1980;
- Bruce P. Brown, a 1984 graduate who clerked for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger in 1986;
- Glen M. Darbyshire, a 1984 graduate who clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1985;
- Anne Proffitt Dupre, a 1988 graduate who clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun in 1989;
- John H. Longwell, a 1999 graduate who clerked Justice Stephen G. Breyer in 2005;
- Adam M. Conrad, a 2005 graduate who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas in 2006; and
- Jason T. Burnette, a 2006 graduate who clerked for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in 2007.