Kavanaugh Praised for Mentorship by His Former Clerks

July 15, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee of President Donald Trump, was praised for his character and “extraordinary mentorship” he’s provided to young lawyers serving under him as clerks, according to feedback collected by Yale law professor Amy Chua.

Kavanaugh has sought clerks with whom he doesn’t share political leanings, taught them about hard work and integrity by his own example, and provided advice long after their clerkship ended, according to Chua.

A clerkship is often the first job law students land after graduation. They help the judge analyze cases and write opinions.

Over Chua’s 17 years at Yale, she helped place 10 students with Kavanaugh and when she emailed them for feedback, “they all responded almost instantaneously” she wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

“He expected us to work really hard, but there was always one person working harder than us—the Judge,” one of the former clerks wrote to Chua.

“He wants every opinion that comes out of his chambers to be perfect; it is not uncommon to go through 30-50 drafts,” one wrote.

One complimented his manners, saying, “I’ve never seen him be rude to anyone in the building.”

Another praised his wit and humility: “He can take a great joke just as easily as he can land one.”

In particular, the clerk praised his mentorship.

“When I accepted his offer to clerk, I had no idea I was signing up for a lifelong mentor who feels an enduring sense of responsibility for each of his clerks,” one said.

“I can’t imagine making a career decision without his advice,” said another.

Many judges pick clerks that align with their political preferences, Chua noted. Not Kavanaugh. A conservative himself, he likes clerks who disagree and challenge him.

“He’s been an incredible mentor to me despite the fact that I’m a left-of-center woman,” a former clerk wrote. “He always takes into account my goals rather than giving generic advice.”

Over half of Kavanaugh’s clerks were women, including all four he had in 2014—“a first for any judge on the D.C. Circuit,” Chua said.

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