Who did SG Verrilli Recommend to Justice Sotomayor for #SCOTUS Clerkship Via Email?

July 12th, 2016

Vice News filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Office of the Solicitor General, seeking any correspondences with the Justices. They found two.

The first was a 2013 email from SG Verrilli to Justice Sotomayor about a (redacted) law clerk applicant.

What’s curious about this is that Verrilli thanked the Justice for “reaching out to us.” It’s unclear if this was done by email. At first glance, the fact that the subject is “RE: Law Clerk applicants,” suggests Verrilli would be replying to an email from Sotomayor. But OSG only found these two correspondences. Unclear the sequencing here. But in any event, having a recommendation from the SG is pretty cool.

I attempted to work backwards to see if I could figure out if Sotomayor hired whomever Verrilli recommended. We have a few clues:

  • Male (pronoun “he”)
  • If he was being interviewed in the fall of 2013, that would mean he would have been hired during for OT 2014. According to David Lat’s November 2013 Hiring Watch post, Sotomayor only had one spot filled for OT 2014.
  • For Verrilli to go to bat for him, the applicant must have some connection to OSG, or perhaps the White House, or maybe from Jenner & Block.

Sotomayor’s three male clerks from OT 2014 were

1. Luke McCloud (Harvard 2011 / Niemeyer / Kavanaugh) –> No obvious connection to Verrilli.

2.  James Sigel (Harvard 2011 / Reinhardt / Liu (Cal.) / Tatel) –> No obvious connection to Verrilli.

3. Michael Pollack (NYU 2011 / J.R. Brown) –> Summer Intern at DOJ Appellate (2010), Summer Associate at Jenner & Block (2010), Summer Intern at OSG (2011), Trial Attorney at DOJ Federal Programs (2012-2014).

If Sotomayor did hire whomever Verilli recommended, I think the odds are pretty solid that it was Pollack. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine Sotomayor hiring someone who worked at both OSG and Jenner without seeking a recommendation from Verrilli.

Not my best legal SCOTUS Holmes exercise, but it’s up there.

Pollack is currently a Bigelow Fellow at Chicago.


The other email–far less interesting–is from Acting SG Katyal to Justice Kagan about where to hang her portrait in the OSG office.


Nothing earth-shattering here, but the first proof the Justices do send and receive emails with the outside world. It’s unclear if Justices Kagan and Sotomayor will now set up their own homebrew email server to evade FOIA.