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In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices

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Written by former law clerks, legal scholars, biographers, historians, and political scientists, the essays in In Chambers tell the fascinating story of clerking at the Supreme Court. In addition to reflecting the personal experiences of the law clerks with their justices, the essays reveal how clerks are chosen, what tasks are assigned to them, and how the institution of Written by former law clerks, legal scholars, biographers, historians, and political scientists, the essays in In Chambers tell the fascinating story of clerking at the Supreme Court. In addition to reflecting the personal experiences of the law clerks with their justices, the essays reveal how clerks are chosen, what tasks are assigned to them, and how the institution of clerking has evolved over time, from the first clerks in the late 1800s to the clerks of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. In Chambers offers a variety of perspectives on the unique experience of Supreme Court clerks. Former law clerks—including Alan M. Dershowitz, Charles A. Reich, and J. Harvie Wilkinson III—write about their own clerkships, painting vivid and detailed pictures of their relationships with the justices, while other authors write about the various clerkships for a single justice, putting a justice's practice into a broader context. The book also includes essays about the first African American and first woman to hold clerkships. Sharing their insights, anecdotes, and experiences in a clear, accessible style, the contributors provide readers with a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Supreme Court.


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Written by former law clerks, legal scholars, biographers, historians, and political scientists, the essays in In Chambers tell the fascinating story of clerking at the Supreme Court. In addition to reflecting the personal experiences of the law clerks with their justices, the essays reveal how clerks are chosen, what tasks are assigned to them, and how the institution of Written by former law clerks, legal scholars, biographers, historians, and political scientists, the essays in In Chambers tell the fascinating story of clerking at the Supreme Court. In addition to reflecting the personal experiences of the law clerks with their justices, the essays reveal how clerks are chosen, what tasks are assigned to them, and how the institution of clerking has evolved over time, from the first clerks in the late 1800s to the clerks of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. In Chambers offers a variety of perspectives on the unique experience of Supreme Court clerks. Former law clerks—including Alan M. Dershowitz, Charles A. Reich, and J. Harvie Wilkinson III—write about their own clerkships, painting vivid and detailed pictures of their relationships with the justices, while other authors write about the various clerkships for a single justice, putting a justice's practice into a broader context. The book also includes essays about the first African American and first woman to hold clerkships. Sharing their insights, anecdotes, and experiences in a clear, accessible style, the contributors provide readers with a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Supreme Court.

30 review for In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    This is a collection of essays about being law clerks for the Supreme Court Justices. The first part gives the history of the Courts law clerks. Then the next series of essays are by law clerks telling about their time with the Justice they clerked for. They provide some information about the justice but mostly about how the Justice utilized the clerks. Also included is the story of the first black law clerk. William Thaddeus Coleman Jr., who clerked for Felix Frankfurter in 1948. But This is a collection of essays about being law clerks for the Supreme Court Justices. The first part gives the history of the Courts law clerks. Then the next series of essays are by law clerks telling about their time with the Justice they clerked for. They provide some information about the justice but mostly about how the Justice utilized the clerks. Also included is the story of the first black law clerk. William Thaddeus Coleman Jr., who clerked for Felix Frankfurter in 1948. But Frankfurter turned down Ruth Bader Ginsburg saying he could not hire a woman clerk. The first women clerk was Lucile Loman who clerked for William Douglas in 1944. Some of the Justice’s covered are Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardoza, Felix Frankfurter, Hugo Black, Earl Warren, William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall (Justice Elena Kagan clerked for Marshall) Harry Blackmun, William Rehnquist (Chief Justice Roberts clerked for Rehnquist) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The book is well written and researched. I enjoyed the personal stories of the various clerks and how they worked with the Justice. Each of the Justices used the clerks in various ways. The role of the clerks has evolved over the years and the Justices now have more than one clerk. Enjoyed peering into the goings on of the Court. I read this as an e-book downloaded from Amazon into my Kindle app for my iPad. The book 472 pages with lots of pictures.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Liu

    An interesting read, though probably more as "inside baseball" for people in law school and particularly, people who are clerking or interested in clerking. The essays are written by law clerks of various justices throughout history. They detail how the institution of clerking has changed, and tell some interesting stories about specific chambers. A few assorted thoughts that stood out for me: - Justice Douglas was a complete a-hole to his clerks, and most of the people in his life. He An interesting read, though probably more as "inside baseball" for people in law school and particularly, people who are clerking or interested in clerking. The essays are written by law clerks of various justices throughout history. They detail how the institution of clerking has changed, and tell some interesting stories about specific chambers. A few assorted thoughts that stood out for me: - Justice Douglas was a complete a-hole to his clerks, and most of the people in his life. He intentionally terrified them, psychologically abused them, and in the words of one clerk, refused to ever give any praise for any work they did. One of the stories involved a clerk who he called "shithead" all year. Wow. - Warren and Rehnquist, on the other hand, were well-loved by their clerks and developed lifelong relationships with them. - The job has changed greatly. In the first many years of the institution, clerks were tantamount to secretaries. No longer, as it appears that clerks in all chambers now do everything from writing cert pool memos to drafting opinions.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Witherspoon

    A thoroughly enjoyable read, complete with several surprisingly humorous and touching anecdotes about the Justices and their relationships with their clerks throughout history. Not something most will find interesting, including most lawyers (especially most lawyers?). But for someone interested in the Court as an institution or curious what law clerks do there and elsewhere, it's worth checking out. A special tip of the cap to my former Dean, Kevin J. Worthen, for his touching, humorous, and A thoroughly enjoyable read, complete with several surprisingly humorous and touching anecdotes about the Justices and their relationships with their clerks throughout history. Not something most will find interesting, including most lawyers (especially most lawyers?). But for someone interested in the Court as an institution or curious what law clerks do there and elsewhere, it's worth checking out. A special tip of the cap to my former Dean, Kevin J. Worthen, for his touching, humorous, and wonderfully written tribute to the late Justice Byron White. Reading it made me wish I had gotten to know Dean Worthen much better during my time at JRCLS.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I've always been interested in the Supreme Court and recently my interest has increased since I've been accepted into law school. The neat aspect of this book, is it brings almost a fictional feel toward real-life stories. Meaning, the book to me at least is a page turner. Often I would find myself laughing aloud due to some of the stories shared. I felt as though I was following characters of a novel, but only to remember these are real joyous occasions shared by the justices and their law I've always been interested in the Supreme Court and recently my interest has increased since I've been accepted into law school. The neat aspect of this book, is it brings almost a fictional feel toward real-life stories. Meaning, the book to me at least is a page turner. Often I would find myself laughing aloud due to some of the stories shared. I felt as though I was following characters of a novel, but only to remember these are real joyous occasions shared by the justices and their law clerks. Well, unless you clerked for William O. Douglas.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Despite its fun premise (okay, fun for lawyers and law students), this book is basically the Groundhog Day of histories. Perhaps because many of the essays are reprints, roughly 80% of the content is the same from essay to essay. Unless you have the memory of a gnat, it's not worth investing 400+ pages of reading time for maybe 40 pages of content.

  6. 5 out of 5

    MC

    If you're interested in the U.S. Supreme Court, this book will probably interest you. It's a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what it was like to work for many famous Supreme Court justices as a law clerk. Highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    A collection of remembrances from Supreme Court law clerks about their experiences clerking at the court. There is a chapter devoted to Lucile Lomen, the first woman clerk (for Justice Douglas).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bill Pace

    When I finally picked it up again and finished it, I really liked it, so much so that I bought Tood Peppers new book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kaushik Iyer

    A very well researched discussion of how the role of SCOTUS law clerks has changed over time. Worth your time if you're interested in the court.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Adam Warber

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave Kaylor

  12. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

  13. 5 out of 5

    william m janssen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Evan Binder

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  16. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Shrager

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  18. 4 out of 5

    Giuseppe

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lomazoff

  20. 4 out of 5

    David

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Crockett

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ian Greenham

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hambe Hambe

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eben

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ankur

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cassie Kerkhoff

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shireen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Will Hornbeck

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