Jessica Wagner ’15 Will Clerk for Supreme Court Justice Alito

Jessica Wagner

Jessica Wagner ’15 was a member of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at UVA Law. The Law School has ranked No. 4 in placing clerks on the U.S. Supreme Court since 2005. Photo by Julia Davis

May 10, 2019

Jessica Wagner, a 2015 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, has been chosen by Justice Samuel Alito to clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court next term.

“When I went up for the interview and then came out of it, I had a sort of a pinch-myself moment,” Wagner said. “I had just spent 45 minutes with a Supreme Court justice.”

Wagner applied for the clerkship before graduation, at the behest of professors who thought she would be a good match. Two years passed.

“The call from the Alito chamber was sort of out of the blue,” she said. “They asked if I’d still be interested.”

Wagner will bring to the court her experience clerking for Senior Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain LL.M. ’92 of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Jerry Edwin Smith of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Both of my judges really modeled humility and servant leadership,” she said.

At UVA Law, Wagner received the Thomas Marshall Miller Prize, was a member of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic and served as a notes editor for the Virginia Law Review. She earned a bachelor of arts degree summa cum laude in government from Patrick Henry College in 2010 and received the school’s Trustees’ Academic Excellence Award.

Wagner credits professors Lillian Bevier, A. E. Dick Howard ’61, Caleb Nelson and Saikrishna Prakash for their efforts in backing her application, as well as Ruth Payne ’02, the senior director of judicial clerkships. “I can’t say enough about how amazing they are.”

A native of Montana, she is currently an associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. She practices in the firm’s litigation department, but will exit this summer.

She follows in the footsteps of two alumnae who are clerking this term: Katie Barber ’15, with whom she worked on the Virginia Law Review, and Megan Lacy ’10.

UVA Law ranks No. 4 after Yale, Harvard and Stanford in placing clerks on the U.S. Supreme Court from 2005-18. A record 38 alumni are clerking for federal appeals court judges during the 2018 term, a typical precursor to clerking for 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.

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