Sarah Boyce ’12 can add being selected for a Supreme Court clerkship to an impressive record of accomplishments during and after her time at Duke Law.
Boyce will clerk for former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor during the 2015-16 term, making her the sixth of the school’s alumni awarded clerkships on the Court in the past four years. Her time will be divided between assisting O’Connor, who retired from the court in 2006 but remains engaged in judicial service on the United States Courts of Appeals, and serving as a fifth clerk for one of the active justices.
“Receiving this clerkship was a dream come true,” said Boyce, who got word last month as she was leaving for the wedding of two Duke Law classmates. “I almost didn't even open the envelope because I figured a letter, as opposed to a phone call, couldn't possibly contain good news, and I didn't want to spoil the weekend. I had to read the letter at least four times before I finally realized the justice was offering me a job.”
Boyce is completing a one-year Bristow Fellowship in the U.S. Department of Justice. Bristow Fellows assist attorneys in the Office of the Solicitor General, a job Boyce said is great preparation for a Supreme Court clerkship.
“The Bristows have the opportunity to work with 20 of the shrewdest legal minds in the country on a daily basis,” she said. “I'm just trying to soak it all in and take advantage of every opportunity to learn from the way the attorneys there approach their cases and craft their arguments.”
At Duke, Boyce served as editor-in-chief of the Duke Law Journal, won the Dean’s Cup Moot Court Cup tournament twice, and received the Law School’s Advocacy Award. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
“I’m confident that Sarah is going to make the most of such a terrific opportunity and will serve the Court with distinction as a clerk,” said Professor Lisa Kern Griffin. “She’s brilliant, diligent, careful and articulate, and already well-launched in a great career as an advocate.”
Griffin, who clerked for O’Connor following law school, called the experience “a unique privilege.”
“Interacting with her is incredibly meaningful for a young lawyer. It’s a lifelong gift to the clerk because of how much you learn and how much you carry with you afterward.”
Boyce, who was a middle-school teacher before coming to Duke Law, credited Griffin, Dean David F. Levi, Alston & Bird Professor of Law Ernest Young and Charles L. B. Lowndes Professor of Law Sara Sun Beale, as well as Sutton and former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, with helping her secure her clerkship.
“I'd be a fool to think I earned these accolades entirely of my own accord,” she said. “I have no doubt that Dean Levi's and my professors' advocacy on my behalf was, in large part, what set my application apart. I will be forever grateful.”