In a few short moments in January, University of Virginia School of Law graduate Katie Barber '15 went from interviewing with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to learning that she would soon clerk for her.
"Justice Ginsburg gave me the offer during the interview. It was very surreal to walk out of the Supreme Court knowing that I would be coming back to work there in about a year," said Barber, who will clerk during the 2018 term. "Justice Ginsburg is so gracious, and it was such an honor just to meet her and have the opportunity to speak with her one-on-one."
Barber, a Springfield, Virginia, native, is currently clerking for Judge John B. Owens of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and living in San Diego. She previously clerked for Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
"I'm looking forward to continuing to hone my research and writing skills and to experiencing life at the highest level of the federal judiciary," Barber said. "Both of my clerkships thus far have been invaluable experiences, and I can only imagine that clerking for Justice Ginsburg will be just as challenging and rewarding."
Barber joins a Virginia tradition: Three Virginia graduates — Andrew Ferguson '12, Nicole Frazer '15 and Austin Raynor '13 — are currently clerking for the Supreme Court. Virginia is fourth in contributing the most clerks to the U.S. Supreme Court from 2005-17, after Harvard, Stanford and Yale. (More)
Barber earned her B.A. with distinction from UVA in 2011, double majoring in English and Spanish, with a minor in history. She then spent a year teaching English as a foreign language in a public high school in Shenzhen, China.
At the Law School she served on the board of the Public Interest Law Association, was a member of the Program in Law and Public Service, served as a Peer Advisor and was a notes editor on the managing board of the Virginia Law Review, an experience she found "incredibly rewarding."
"The other managing board members, and especially my fellow Notes Department members, were such interesting, smart, nice people," Barber said. "I also think the detail-oriented nature of the work was good preparation for clerking."
While in Law School, Barber also began work on an article, "Domicile Dismantled," with Professor Kerry Abrams, UVA's vice provost for faculty affairs. It was published in the Indiana Law Journal this spring.
Abrams said Barber "was a wonderful student."
"What really stood out about her was how she focused on the things that mattered to her," Abrams said. "For example, she noticed that international conventions that were intended to prevent parental kidnapping weren't working, and were actually discouraging women from leaving abusive relationships. She wrote a paper on the subject and found a legal solution to the problem: a lowering of the burden of proof for demonstrating that a person fled with his or her child due to a 'grave risk of harm.'"
After her clerkship with Owens ends, Barber plans to move back to Virginia to work for the law firm McGuireWoods in Richmond for about 10 months before beginning her role at the Supreme Court.
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.