Michael Corcoran, a 2017 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, will clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas at the U.S. Supreme Court for the 2022 term.

Corcoran said he has admired Thomas for many years and is excited for the chance to learn from the justice after studying his opinions.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to clerk for Justice Thomas, who’s been such a towering intellect on the court,” he said. “He’s a justice whose jurisprudence is going to shape the minds of law students for years to come.” 

The Law School is fifth after Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Chicago in placing clerks on the U.S. Supreme Court since 2005. Libby Baird ’19 will clerk for Justice Amy Coney Barrett for the 2021 term.

Corcoran is an associate at Dechert in Philadelphia, focusing his practice on appellate litigation, as well as trial litigation and criminal investigations. He previously clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judges Jerry E. Smith of the Fifth Circuit and Stephanos Bibas of the Third Circuit.

Corcoran said law school taught him how to think like a lawyer, including about difficult legal issues, and that his clerkships were a continuation of that education.

“I think that the two clerkships only helped further hone those skills and helped me delve very deeply into a given case and think very critically and analytically about all the different angles that were involved,” he said. “And I think both judges also helped me become a much better writer and really focus on the way that words interact on a page and communicate with their reader.”

At UVA Law, Corcoran was articles editor of the Virginia Law Review, recipient of the Roger and Madeleine Traynor Prize, and logistics chair for the Federalist Society’s 2016 National Student Symposium. He also was a participant in the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, served as a research assistant for then-Professor Kimberly Kessler Ferzan and Professor Saikrishna Prakash, and conducted an independent study under the guidance of Professor Caleb Nelson.

“Michael has all the skills to serve Justice Thomas extremely well: superb intellect, tremendous work ethic and fluid writing,” said Prakash, a former Thomas clerk. “And he is a wonderful person, to boot.”

Corcoran said he learned a great deal with the Supreme Court clinic under the tutelage of instructor John Elwood, who Corcoran said pushed students to focus on enhancing their argumentative and practical legal skills.

“I feel like I owe a lot to the people who have put me here,” he said. “This is something that I couldn’t have achieved on my own, and I think anyone who obtains one of these clerkships is someone who has behind them a lot of people who have helped them get over the finish line.”

Corcoran earned his bachelor’s from Villanova University.

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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