A Supreme Appointment

Sarah CampbellSarah Keeton Campbell  (A&S, ’04) has been selected to serve as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Campbell will clerk for Alito for one court term, starting in July.

Campbell, who graduated from UT with a bachelor’s degree in college scholars, obtained her law degree from Duke Law in 2009. Originally, she considered a career that bridged law and public policy and viewed law school as a complement to her policy studies. However, after completing a joint degree program at Duke in which she obtained both a JD and an MPP, Campbell decided she wanted to focus her efforts on a legal career. She is currently an associate at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, DC.

Campbell says her desire to clerk for a Supreme Court justice was sparked by a class on law and American society that she took at UT. Though it was one of her first law-related classes, it was also one of her favorites.

“We studied many of the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions, and we also discussed the role of the Supreme Court as an institution. I remember thinking then how fascinating it would be to clerk for a Supreme Court Justice, but I never dreamed that I would actually have the opportunity to do so,” she says.

After law school, Campbell clerked for judge William H. Pryor Jr. on the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Birmingham, Alabama. She says she greatly enjoyed the job and its duties, which included writing bench memos, drafting opinions, and discussing legal issues with the judge and other clerks. Pryor encouraged her to pursue the Supreme Court clerkship, and she submitted applications to all of the justices last spring (each active justice has four clerks; each retired justice has one). Campbell interviewed with Alito last fall and was offered the clerkship only a few months later.

Like her job at the appellate court, Campbell’s duties for Alito will include writing bench memos and helping draft opinions. However, she also will perform certain tasks unique to a Supreme Court clerkship—namely, assisting Alito in reviewing petitions for certiorari (petitions seeking judicial review of a lower court decision). She explains that whereas appeals to the lower federal appellate courts are heard as a matter of right, nearly all appeals to the Supreme Court are heard only if the Court issues a writ of certiorari.

Campbell concludes that much thanks is in order to UT programs and donors for helping her achieve her career goals.

“Thanks to the generosity of donors who support scholarships and programs like the University Honors Program, the College Scholars Program, and the Baker Center, I had a well-rounded and academically rigorous undergraduate experience that prepared me well to succeed in law school. I am especially grateful to the late Mr. Dortch Oldham and his wife Lenore ‘Sis’ Oldham, who funded the full merit scholarship that enticed me to attend UT and allowed me to graduate debt-free,” she says.

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