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A Clerk's View

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Abstract

One enduring challenge of being a law clerk for Justice Stevens was trying to prove, at least to yourself, that the Justice actually needed a clerk. He could do it all himself—and he frequently did. It wasn't just the fact that he drafted his own opinions, although that was definitely part of it. (What exactly do you say as a young, recent lawschool graduate when he gives you his polished and carefully conceived draft?“Good effort, Justice, I think you’re coming along nicely”?) And it wasn't just the fact that he would read the same mountain of briefs as you and then come up with an insight that nobody had seen and that irrevocably turned the case on its side for all concerned, including the lawyers and the other Justices.

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