November 13, 2018
By Elizabeth Olson
Jones Day cornered the market among the major law firms jockeying to hire from the small, elite group of Supreme Court clerks, many of whom also clerked for judges at the federal appeals and district court level.
The 11 clerks joining Jones Day’s issues and appeals practice could command impressive signing bonuses, which have gone as high as $350,000 at some firms in recent years.
The firm now has 47 high court clerks that have joined the firm directly following their clerkships in the past six years. That experience makes them attractive to Jones Day, said Beth Heifetz, head of Jones Day’s issues and appeals practice.
While Jones Day picked up what’s likely the biggest single share of clerks this year, other big law firms also vie for such hires.
Kirkland & Ellis told Bloomberg Law it’s bringing aboard two recent Supreme Court law clerks. Matt Owen, who clerked for Justice Neil Gorsuch, and Kevin Neyland, who clerked for Justice Samuel Alito, will be joining the firm’s litigation practice.
Owen, who has his law degree from University of Michigan Law School, will be in the firm’s Washington office. Neyland, a Harvard Law School graduate who previously was an associate at Kirkland as well as a former congressional staffer, will be in the firm’s New York office.
Heifetz said the clerks have “had a tremendous amount of exposure to lawyers’ arguments and to legal writing in briefs, and tremendous exposure to judges and to different areas of the law. That is really valuable to our work,” she said.
Firms pay heftily to acquire Supreme Court clerk experience, although Jones Day declined to disclose the amount it pays when signing a clerk.
Last year, Washington-based litigation boutique Wilkinson Walsh & Eskovitz said it paid signing bonuses of $350,000 each to two Supreme Court clerks it hired. The firm did not respond to a request about its hiring this year.
The high acquisition price has not deterred 2,500-lawyer Jones Day. With a large appellate practice, Heifetz said that getting clerks on board early gives lawyers a chance to be involved in important cases from the beginning, where the record is established and the arguments shaped.
Jones Day has a strong presence at the Supreme Court this year, representing petitioners in six cases already on the high court’s docket. One of them, Air & Liquid Systems Corp. v. DeVries, was argued last month.
The Jones Day arrivals include five women:
The other clerks Jones Day hired are: