Two Alums to Clerk for Supreme Court Justices


By Shanice Harris

After Law School Alumni Clerkships nlawproud

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law alums Adam Steene (LLM ‘12) and Leigh Kramer (JD ’22) will clerk for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts. Steene will start his term in October 2023 and Kramer will start her clerkship in October 2024.

Adam Steene (LLM ’12)

Steene says he’s overwhelmed by the opportunity to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, especially at this moment in his career. “Given the nature of my upcoming job, it’s perhaps not a good time to say that words fail me,” he says. “It’s an honor to have the chance to serve as one of the Justice’s clerks, and I hope I can make proud everyone who helped me get this position. I have no doubt that the clerkship will be a boon to my career, but for now I’m just focused on doing the best work possible.”

Currently, Steene is counsel at Lehotsky Keller LLP in Washington, D.C. Steene clerked for Chief Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and for Judge Andrew S. Oldham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Steene also served as a Gregory S. Coleman Fellow in the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.

“I learned valuable lessons from my judges about the importance of civility and kindness. Judge Oldham and Chief Judge Pryor are two of the smartest men I know, but they still took the time to hear me out when I had questions or disagreed with them,” Steene says. “Their behavior was a timely reminder that, even (or perhaps especially) with the most hot-button issues, litigation should be an exercise in reasoning and persuasion, not a barking contest.”

Clerking for the highest court in the country wasn’t something Steene ever saw for himself. “When I moved back to America in 2016, I had a hard time convincing law firms to hire me, a mostly foreign-trained lawyer. Working for a judge, I assumed, was out of the question,” he says. “It was only a few years later, and with the encouragement of Professors [Janet Siegel] Brown, [John] McGinnis, and [Stephen] Presser, that I applied for clerkships—expecting to get nothing, but surprised and enormously grateful that there were some judges who were willing to take a chance on me.” 

Before joining Lehotsky Keller, Steene practiced in the New York office of DLA Piper LLP. As a member of the firm’s commercial litigation and antitrust groups, Steene represented clients at all levels of state and federal courts and before administrative agencies.

“Northwestern laid the foundation for my career as a lawyer and time as a law clerk,” he says. “In the rare moment during my clerkships that history was relevant, my mind flew back to Professor Presser’s ‘American Legal History’ class. Professor McGinnis’s antitrust class—the most challenging and rewarding class I ever took in America or England—was invaluable at the start of my career when I practiced antitrust law exclusively. Suffice it to say that I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

Leigh Kramer (JD ’22)

As a recent graduate, Kramer is thrilled at the opportunity to clerk for Chief Justice John Roberts. “[This] means the world, and I am so humbled by it. Truly, I cannot imagine a better way to begin my legal career than having the privilege of clerking for Chief Justice Roberts,” Kramer says. “I am not only confident that this opportunity will open many doors down the line, but am also excited that I’ll have a chance to learn directly from Chief Justice Roberts, and to continue to develop my legal research and writing skills while being exposed to top-tier advocacy and challenging legal issues, day in and day out.”

Before starting her clerkship with Chief Justice Roberts, Kramer will clerk on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for Judge M. Margaret McKeown, starting in August. She currently is an associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP in Los Angeles.

“My time at Munger, Tolles & Olson has been an invaluable experience; in just a few short months, I’ve learned so much about the practice of law—and also realized just how much more I have to learn, which makes me all the more grateful that I will have the opportunity to clerk,” she says. “Clerking is an experience unlike any other and the absolute best way for a new lawyer to build their legal reasoning and writing skills and to start to understand how the law works in actual practice, while simultaneously building a relationship with a judge who is both a brilliant legal mind and lifelong mentor.”

Kramer says she owes a lot to her Northwestern community for the clerkship opportunity, something that she has never taken for granted.

“Above all else, the connections I made at Northwestern were vital to securing the opportunity to clerk for Chief Justice Roberts. With so many brilliant law students around the country vying for clerkships—especially on the Supreme Court—connections are immensely important,” Kramer says. “You need professors to go to bat for you and to guide you through what can be a somewhat opaque and stressful process. And I am so thankful to the many professors I had who did just that.”

She mentions Judge Michael Scudder, who teaches “Advanced Federal Jurisdiction” at the Law School, and Daniel Rodriguez, Harold Washington Professor of Law, who helped counsel her through the Supreme Court clerkship application process. “Professor Emerita Nancy Loeb and Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer supported my application with thoughtful letters of recommendation, while Professor Janet Siegel Brown helped guide me through the clerkship process from my time as a 2L up through applying to the Supreme Court.” She also mentions Julie M.K. Siegal (JD ’14), a Northwestern alumna who also clerked for Chief Justice Roberts, for sharing invaluable advice with her. “I’m very grateful for the close-knit Northwestern law alumni network.”