A Path to the Supreme CourtPrinter Friendly Version
Leila Thompson ’05 has racked up one impressive achievement after another: She was a winner of the Daniel G. Collins 1L Negotiation Competition, served on the Law Review, and has held two federal clerkships. Now she’s recently completed a coveted clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, making her the first AnBryce Scholar to clerk for the High Court.
A hard worker, to be sure, Thompson nonetheless credits her success in large part to the 10-year-old scholarship program, which pays full tuition to exceptional students who are from economically disadvantaged circumstances and are the first in their family to pursue a graduate degree.
“I had a hard time growing up. I had to overcome a lot to get here,” says Thompson, who was very much on her own growing up near Seattle. After a high school counselor “showed me that education was the way out,” she says, she attended Stanford University, earning a B.A. in sociology. Graduating in 1997, she held positions in marketing and finance before turning to law.
When she got to NYU, Thompson couldn’t afford a computer and intended to go without, until Anthony ’77 and Beatrice Welters, founders of the AnBryce Foundation, stepped in and bought her one. Dean Richard Revesz and several professors, including Rachel Barkow and Clayton Gillette, also gave her support. “I never saw myself as a star, but they always encouraged me. It’s hard not to believe in yourself if so many people that you respect are telling you that you can do it,” she says. “I am forever grateful.”
Thompson was the first student that Gillette, the Max E. Greenberg Professor of Contract Law, ever asked to coauthor an article (not yet published). “Leila was one of the most interesting, engaging students I have ever had the privilege to teach,” he told the school newspaper, The Commentator.
Planning to pursue corporate law after a few months of traveling, Thompson reflected on her Supreme Court stint. “You walk out and look at the building you just came from,” she says, and no matter what happens, “you feel good about yourself because it’s so amazing.”