Bentz '12 to Clerk for Supreme Court Justice Kennedy
Andrew Bentz, a 2012 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, will clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy during the 2014-15 term.
Bentz, who is originally from Charleston, S.C., and is an associate at the law firm Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel in Washington, D.C., was clerking for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals when he learned that he'd been selected to clerk at the Supreme Court.
"I was overjoyed and went into Judge Kozinski's office to let him know the good news," Bentz said. "He gave me a big bear hug and said, 'You dog! You did it!'"
Bentz is one of a significant number of UVA Law graduates who have gone on to clerk at the Supreme Court in recent years. Two graduates are currently clerking at the Supreme Court — Brian Schmalzbach '10, who is clerking for Justice Clarence Thomas, and Katherine Mims Crocker '12, who is clerking for Justice Antonin Scalia.
Bentz graduated from the University of South Carolina with degrees in music and political science, and went on to Duke University on a Department of Homeland Security scholarship to study political science. After earning his master's degree, he enrolled at UVA Law.
At the Law School, Bentz took part in the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, in which students handle actual cases, from the seeking of Supreme Court review to briefing on the merits. Several clinic participants have gone on to clerk for the Supreme Court.
"The writing skills I learned there and the insight into the inner workings of the court will undoubtedly help me in my new endeavor," he said.
Bentz also served on UVA Law's National Trial Advocacy Team, and was part of a team that won a national mock trial championship.
"As part of that experience, I learned how to make coherent arguments on the fly and translate the law into layman's terms. Those abilities have served me well, I think," he said.
Professor John C. Jeffries Jr. recalled Bentz as "exceptionally smart and likeable" and "one of the most broad-gauged and interesting students I have ever known."
Bentz took a seminar on First Amendment Theory co-taught by Jeffries and Professor Leslie Kendrick during the fall semester of his third year at UVA Law, Jeffries said.
"The seminar required some writing, but greater emphasis was placed on oral presentation and class discussion. Andrew shone. His comments were always informed, always on point, and always constructive. They were often quite original," Jeffries said. "I see many law students with the ability to master the materials assigned to them. Insight, however, is less common. Andrew has a creative turn of mind and often made comments that were at once astute and unanticipated."
Bentz's clerkship with Justice Kennedy will get underway in July 2014. Looking ahead, he said he expects the court's fast-paced workload will be a challenge.
"The court is extremely busy," he said. "I'll bet time management will be the biggest challenge, but clerking for Judge Kozinski prepared me well for that."
Bentz said he is looking forward to honing his reasoning and writing skills in his new role.
"Although I only met Justice Kennedy for a brief time during my interview, I can already tell what an engaging and thought-provoking year is coming my way," he said.
Following the clerkship, Bentz plans to continue practicing law, but ultimately hopes to enter academia.
"I want to get into the courtroom and argue," he said. "Eventually, though, I want to research and teach in the law."
Bentz said next year will be a momentous one. In addition to starting his clerkship at the Supreme Court, he and his wife are also expecting their first child in April.
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.