Rachel Daley ’21 To Clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch

UVA Law Is No. 5 in High Court Clerkships From 2007-21
Rachel Daley

Rachel Daley ’21 is currently clerking for Judge Amul R. Thapar of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Courtesy photo

September 1, 2022

Rachel Daley, a 2021 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, will clerk for Justice Neil Gorsuch at the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2024 term.

Daley said she has admired Gorsuch since before law school and is honored to have the opportunity to clerk for him.

“I especially admire how Justice Gorsuch clearly and powerfully explains why respecting our constitutional structure is essential to protecting the rule of law and individual liberty,” she said. “His writings have majorly influenced how I think about a whole host of foundational legal questions, and it’s really an incredible honor to be selected to serve as his law clerk.”

The Law School is fifth after Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Chicago in placing clerks on the U.S. Supreme Court from the 2007 through 2021 terms. For the 2022 term, Michael Corcoran ’17 will clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas and Henry Dickman ’20 will clerk for Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Daley is currently clerking for Judge Amul R. Thapar of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for the 2022 term and formerly clerked for Judge Andrew Oldham of the Fifth Circuit. (Both are UVA Law lecturers.)

She called both Oldham and Thapar “brilliant judges and incredible mentors.”

“Of the many things they have in common, both take very seriously every exercise of judicial power, no matter how small,” she added. “They’re both wholeheartedly committed to getting the answer right every single time, a quality I greatly admire. It’s a privilege to spend the first two years of my legal career learning from the two of them.”

Daley said she applied lessons from her law school classes every day in her clerkship, with Civil Procedure, Federal Courts and Legislation — all taught by Professor Caleb Nelson — being the most influential.

“I find myself very frequently pulling out my outlines from his classes and returning to those notes to understand how to apply the law in a tricky case,” she added.

At UVA Law, Daley was a member of the Virginia Law Review editorial board, a semifinalist in the William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition and a recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship. She was president of the Federalist Society when the organization was named the first back-to-back recipient of the James Madison Award for national student chapter of the year in 2021. Daley was also a research assistant to Professors Aditya Bamzai and John Harrison, and conducted independent research under the guidance of Nelson and Professor Richard Re.

Daley said she learned how to write persuasive and clear arguments with the Appellate Litigation Clinic and Professor Scott Ballenger ’96, the clinic’s director. She also credits Professors Cynthia Nicoletti and Saikrishna Prakash, and Professor Emerita Lillian R. BeVier for contributing to her success.

“Rachel isn’t just a deep thinker but also someone who reasons with clarity and conviction,” Re said. “Her ideas fueled illuminating seminar discussions, and her academic research addresses issues at the cutting-edge of Supreme Court practice.”

Daley said she hopes to hone her skills as a lawyer and writer clerking at the Supreme Court.

“I’m looking forward to observing the advocacy before the court and watching how the cases progress from start to finish,” she said. “More than anything, though, I hope to serve well and contribute as much as I can during my year at the court.”

Daley, a native of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, earned a bachelor’s degree from Rice 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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