Jonathan Ellis L’10, who is currently wrapping up a year’s service as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, will begin a year-long clerkship this July for Chief Justice John G. Roberts of the Supreme Court of the United States.
“I’m excited to work closely with one of the most respected jurists of his generation,” said Ellis during a recent call. “It’s a great honor to have the opportunity to work with the Chief Justice, and to get a view of the Supreme Court that isn’t available to many citizens.”
A standout student while at Penn Law, upon graduating in 2010 Ellis was awarded the Peter McCall prize, which is awarded each to the member of the graduating class who has received the highest grades during their three years at the Law School.
Ellis, whose interest in appellate work runs deep, sought during each year of his summer employment while in law school to work for appellate lawyers, and clerked after graduation for Judge A. Raymond Randolph on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He then applied to be a Bristow Fellow, which are awarded to law school graduates with excellent academic records, typically after completion the of a one-year judicial clerkship, usually with a federal appellate-court judge.
In applying for a highly coveted Supreme Court clerkship, Ellis worked with the Law School’s clerkship committee in preparing his application, including with Christine Fritton, the Associate Director for Clerkships in Penn Law’s Career Planning & Professionalism office. “She gave me good advice on how to prepare for the process,” he said, and added, “Professors Bibas, Burbank, and Yoo graciously wrote letters of recommendation for me.”
With no small amount of humility, he remarked his successful application is “thanks to some good fortune and a great deal of help from Penn and elsewhere.”
In addition to looking forward to working with Chief Justice Roberts and learning more about his working style and decision-making process, Ellis hopes his clerkship “will continue to improve my legal writing,” on which he devoted particular focus while at Penn Law, during his previous clerkship, and as a Bristow Fellow. “I also hope to enhance my research and reasoning abilities over the next year.”
Meanwhile, Ellis looks forward to working with Roberts, “often the voice of the Court,” and to “witness a wide array of oral arguments, skills, approaches, and styles,” and to garner insights into “what moves the Court to decide the cases the way it does.”
As Ellis starts his clerkship this July, he follows another recent Penn Law alumnus to the U.S. Supreme Court, Christopher DiPompeo L’09, who is in the final months of his year-long clerkship
with Chief Justice Roberts.
“Chris was a year ahead of me,” Ellis explained, “and is a friend; we met during my Admitted Students Weekend and had similar experiences at Penn Law. For example, he was president of the Law School’s Christian Legal Society when he was a 2L, and then I was the following year. We both were on the Law Review board. And we worked together for a summer at Jones Day – he was a rising 3L and I was a rising 2L.”
Meanwhile, Ellis is still determining his career’s future direction. “I’m very interested in appellate work, though I’m not sure whether that will be in the government or in private practice. I suppose I have the next year-and-a-half to figure that out,” he said. “I’d certainly be excited to argue in front of the Supreme Court one day.”