The Chronicle: Can you talk a little bit about your experiences at Duke Law School? What were you involved with during your time here?
Jenn Bandy: At Duke I was really involved with the Duke Law Journal in my second and third year. In that capacity I worked on a lot of different articles about legal issues written by both professors and students.... I was also a Guardian ad Litem in Durham—which [is when] a child has come into the state foster care system or come to the awareness of Durham’s social services and there’s some concern that they’re not being adequately cared for. They then appoint a Guardian ad Litem observer to advocate for the child’s best interests in court.
I had a couple cases where I was the Guardian ad Litem, which involved doing case studies, visiting the parent, talking to family members, visiting the home and if the child is in foster care visiting with the foster care provider. That was really rewarding. I was also a research assistant for a couple of different professors. I worked on voting rights issues for [Charles S. Rhyne] Professor [of Law] Guy-Uriel Charles, and I worked on the Alien Tort Statute legal issues for [Alston and Bird] Professor Ernest Young.
TC: What path did your career take after Duke?
JB: Immediately after Duke, I went to Birmingham, Alabama to clerk for Judge William H. Pryor Jr. for the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. I helped research and provide the judge with information about the cases in the form of bench memoranda and make recommendations as to how the case should be resolved and then I would go to oral argument for the court and help the judge draft [an] opinion. After that I went to Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm that I am currently at.
TC: What inspired you to apply for the Supreme Court position?
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JB: I’ve always been really interested in constitutional law and there’s no better place to learn about that then at the Supreme Court because most of the issues they’re resolving are constitutional questions, although there are plenty of really interesting federal statutory issues presented. I just thought it would be an incredible intellectual experience to work at the court.
TC: What do you hope to accomplish during your time with Justice Thomas?
JB: I hope to serve the court by writing accurate and helpful memos, to serve Justice Thomas by helping him figure out how to decide cases and write opinions and to learn a lot about the way that the Supreme Court decides some of these really important issues.
TC: And I know you’re still young but what are your ultimate career goals?
JB: I have no idea. I probably want to continue to do mainly appellate work. I find that some people call it “nerdy law” issues. But I really enjoy that aspect of the law—thinking about what words mean, what Congress intended or understood the law to mean and how the law should develop overtime, focusing more broadly on the law’s applications as opposed to the particular facts of each case.TC: And what would your advice be for aspiring lawyers who are still in school?
JB: Find what area of law you enjoy and pursue it. Don’t be afraid to take chances and really go for what you want. There are so many different types of law and there’s no sense in letting yourself get dragged off into an area you’re not interested in. Try to find some way to do what you love.