Andrew Kilberg, a 2014 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, will clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy during the 2015-16 term – the fourth U.Va. Law graduate named to clerk at the Supreme Court next term, matching a school record from the 2009-10 term.
He joins fellow 2014 graduate Ben Tyson and 2013 grads Galen Bascom and Jonathan Urick, who will clerk for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia, respectively. Virginia is fourth in contributing the most clerks to the U.S. Supreme Court since 2005, after Harvard, Stanford and Yale universities.
Kilberg is currently clerking for 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, and was on his lunch break with Wilkinson and his fellow clerks when Kennedy called him personally.
Kilberg’s reaction? “I was in a quasi-state of shock,” he said.
But when he told his parents, who both hold law degrees, they were exuberant. “When I reached my mother on her cell, she reacted with a very loud ‘Yes!’” he said. “She’s a big fan of Justice Kennedy.”
Kilberg, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, served as articles development editor of the Virginia Law Review in his final year.
“I personally reviewed roughly 1,700 article and essay submissions in less than a year,” Kilberg said. “I became familiar with substantive arguments in many different areas of the law, learned how to better manage my time and honed my persuasion skills in long debates over whether to accept articles.”
In September, the Law Review published Kilberg’s article “We the People: The Original Meaning of Popular Sovereignty,” a note that resulted from an independent study project supervised by Professor John Harrison. The piece proved to be a solid writing sample for his clerkship applications, he said.
As a participant in last year’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, Kilberg was also able to say in his applications that he helped win a case before the court. Under the leadership of clinic instructors Dan Ortiz and John Elwood, he was part of the team that drafted the reply brief in Rosemond v. United States.
“Professor Nelson’s ‘Federal Courts’ class should be a required course for all law students, not just at U.Va., but nationally,” Kilberg said, “and Professor Prakash’s ‘Constitutional Law’ and ‘Presidential Powers’ classes introduced me to the breadth and subtleties of constitutional law.”
But Kilberg said that working under Wilkinson has been the ultimate training for the Supreme Court job.
“Legal writing is an exercise in persuasion,” Kilberg said. “Judge Wilkinson is an exceedingly thoughtful writer, and I can think of no better teacher of the craft.”
Following his Supreme Court clerkship, Kilberg hopes to practice appellate and trial litigation in Washington, D.C., where he plans to live with his wife, Julia.