Kyle Hawkins (’09) to Clerk for Justice Alito
MARCH 15, 2013—Kyle Hawkins (’09), currently an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., has done some traveling over the years. But he won't have to go far to get to his new post. Just a few blocks south from the firm's office and a left on Constitution Avenue will bring him to the U.S. Supreme Court building, where he has accepted a clerkship with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., beginning July 2013.
"I'm deeply honored that Justice Alito selected me to serve as his law clerk," says Hawkins. "I never imagined when I entered law school that I would have the chance to serve as a Supreme Court clerk."
Hawkins' selection for the prestigious job comes as no surprise to Law School Professor Kristin E. Hickman, who worked closely with Hawkins during his Law School years and is co-authoring an article with him. "Kyle is exceptional," Hickman says. "He is whip smart and intellectually curious, but he is also incredibly hard working, collegial, and gracious. He has truly earned this honor."
After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard in 2002 with a B.A. in history and literature, Hawkins worked in management consulting in Chicago for two years, then taught English in Japan for two years. Only then did the Edina, Minn., native decide he was ready for law school. And after so many years away, he was ready to return to the Twin Cities and reconnect with family and friends.
At the Law School, Hawkins quickly settled into a demanding pace. In addition to his classwork, he was a research assistant for Professor Michael Stokes Paulsen (now at the University of St. Thomas Law School) and Professor Robert A. Stein (’61), and a legal writing student instructor for all three years of his study. In his 3L year, he served as editor-in-chief of the Minnesota Law Review.
"I owe this opportunity to the strong support of the Minnesota faculty," says Hawkins, "especially my three mentors: Dean Robert Stein and Professors Kristin Hickman and Michael Stokes Paulsen," who wrote letters of recommendation to Justice Alito on his behalf.
"I am thrilled that Kyle will have an opportunity to clerk for Justice Alito," says Stein. "It will be an incredible educational experience for him, and I know the Justice will be delighted with Kyle's work, as I was. Kyle is absolutely dependable in getting projects done, however long and late it takes."
Any free time Hawkins had after working long and late was put to use—as a volunteer in Raise the Bar, Asylum Law Project, and HOMEline activities, and as a piano accompanist and parody script writer with the student-run Theatre of the Relatively Talentless. Even his summers were booked up. After his 1L year, he was a summer law clerk at the Hennepin County Office of the Public Defender, and after his 2L year he was a summer associate at the Los Angeles and Singapore offices of Latham & Watkins.
When he graduated from the Law School summa cum laude, Order of the Coif, in 2009, Hawkins was honored at commencement ceremonies for his leadership and participation in academic programs and extracurricular activities with the Most Outstanding Contribution Award. He also was selected by the faculty to receive the William B. Lockhart Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Leadership, and Service.
After graduation, Hawkins was an associate in the general litigation group with Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis for a year. He then moved to Houston to clerk from 2010-11 for Chief Judge Edith H. Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, who started him down his current path by recommending him to Justice Alito.
In 2008 Hawkins was interviewed for a profile in the spring issue of Perspectives and predicted that his summer job with Latham & Watkins would help him decide between litigation and international law. For now, he has chosen litigation and is representing clients in complex matters before state and federal trial and appellate courts with Gibson Dunn. He is a member of the firm's appellate and constitutional law practice group.
Hawkins becomes part of another group with his latest honor: Law School alumni who have clerked for U.S. Supreme Court justices. His predecessors are Norris Darrell (’23), William Canby (’56), James Hale (’65), Allan Ryan (’70), Tim Kelly (’73), Scott Knudson (’82), Doug Winthrop (’91), and Amy Bergquist (’07).
"I had a wonderful experience at Minnesota," says Hawkins, "thanks entirely to my outstanding professors and extraordinary classmates. Minnesota fosters a unique, supportive environment that encourages students to thrive. I'm proud to be a Golden Gopher."