From Jefferson Scholar Classmates to U.S. Supreme Court Clerks

August 19, 2008

Aug. 18, 2008 – University of Virginia alumni Andy Oldham and Steven Shepard have not seen one another since they graduated together as Jefferson Scholars in 2001. They may cross paths this month in the United States Supreme Court building, as they both begin clerkships.

Andy will serve as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr.

"Justice Alito is like a celebrity to me," Oldham said. "He is universally well-regarded and is a wonderful, wonderful man."

Shepard will clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who chose him as one of only four clerks.

"It's a thrill to be working here," Shepard said.

Oldham and Shepard both embrace the rare opportunity to work closely with the justices who shape and guide U.S. law.

"It's an unprecedented opportunity to be so close to the law that governs the United States and in many ways influences the world," Oldham said. "This is the dream of every law student."

Shepard added that reading through the most important, contentious issues of law can be "a real intellectual puzzle at times." He previously served as a clerk for Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Oldham gained experience in the court system while serving as a clerk for David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He then served in the Office of Legal Counsel at the United States Department of Justice.

Shepard called the Jefferson Scholarship a "wonderful program," and particularly credited the quality of his seminars, one of which stimulated his interest in studying law.

"It was Professor David O'Brien's constitutional law seminar that first got me interested," Shepard said. One of his classmates was Oldham.

Oldham and Shepard both graduated from U.Va with double majors in the government and foreign affairs honors program.

Shepard, who received a commission from the Navy last fall, plans to serve as a lawyer in the Judge Advocate General Corps following his Supreme Court clerkship. Previously, he spent two years in Bolivia as a Peace Corps volunteer before attending Yale Law School. He graduated in 2007.

After his time at U.Va., Oldham earned a master's of philosophy from Cambridge University. He then attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 2005. He has "no idea" where his current clerkship will lead him, but leaving won't be easy.

"It's hard to imagine something that holds a candle to this," he said.

About the Jefferson Scholars Foundation

The 28-year-old, not-for-profit Jefferson Scholars Foundation serves the University of Virginia by identifying, attracting, and nurturing individuals of extraordinary intellectual range and depth who possess the highest qualities of leadership, scholarship and citizenship.