Mary Miller, '16, will clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito during the upcoming October term. "I never thought that this opportunity would come around," she said. "But it's here and it's happening, and I'm really trying to dive in and appreciate every moment of it." She is the latest in a long line of Michigan Law alumni who have clerked for the high court. Since 1991, Michigan Law graduates—Miller included—have accepted 38 Supreme Court clerkships.
Miller previously clerked for The Hon. Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and The Hon. Priscilla Owen of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and also practiced at Kirkland & Ellis in the firm's Washington, D.C., office. "My former clerkships helped develop my writing skills and how to think about complex or novel legal issues and work through those with a very experienced judge," said Miller. "At Kirkland, I learned a lot about how to litigate from truly exceptional lawyers. I hope my experience working at a law firm and the time that I've spent developing advocacy and client-facing skills will be helpful in this position."
She also looks forward to the challenge of writing for the Supreme Court. "One thing I really like about legal work is the writing, taking complicated facts and trying to present them in a way that is clear and understandable, whether it is to the parties, a court, or a client. That is a skill that I've just started to develop, and although I'm very early in my career, I hope to continue to get better at that," she said.
Miller credits the mentors she's had along the way, beginning at Michigan Law, where she enjoyed "a really wonderful three years," and felt encouraged to step outside her comfort zone and pursue a range of opportunities, including serving as the executive articles editor on the Michigan Law Review. She cites the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, at the time taught by Professor Christina Whitman, as a valuable experience that allowed her to explore court dockets, as well as different roles and opinions. Miller is also grateful to Professor Joan Larsen, now Judge Larsen, who has been an encouraging mentor.
"My time in Ann Arbor was a great intellectual experience, but also such a collegial environment," Miller emphasized. "I really enjoyed the classroom time with fantastic professors and really smart classmates who challenged each other to think critically about legal issues. I think that's really the heart of being a lawyer, and it's a skillset that has served me well."