Baird JD / MA ’18 selected as Registrar for Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito


Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. has selected Shelby Baird JD / MA ’18 as clerk for the Court’s next term. Baird will begin his internship this summer.

“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to serve as clerk for Judge Alito,” said Baird. “I have always been interested in the Supreme Court growing up and I am delighted to have this incredible experience. “

Baird met Justice Alito at his Duke Law seminar, Current Issues in Constitutional Interpretation, which he has been teaching since 2009. in the same way and it inspired me to apply for an internship with him, ”she said. declared.

Baird credited his faculty mentors and James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean Kerry Abrams for supporting his Supreme Court internship application, as well as David F. Levi, professor of law and forensic studies at the Levi family and director of the Bolch. Judicial Institute, who served as Dean during her three years at Duke Law.

“I can’t thank them enough,” she said. “I’m so grateful, from the bottom of my heart, and so grateful that they are helping and encouraging me because I certainly couldn’t have done this without them.”

Baird is the fifth Duke Law graduate to serve as Justice Alito’s Registrar and the eleventh selected for an internship at the Supreme Court since 2010. Most recently, Hunter Bruton ’16 served as Justice Alito’s Registrar during the Court’s 2019-2020 tenure. .

“Shelby’s talent and drive was evident to anyone watching her excel at Duke Law,” said Abrams. “We are delighted that she is now adding a Supreme Court internship to her already long list of accomplishments, and are proud to have laid the foundation for her legal career.”

A Mordecai Fellow at Duke Law, Baird earned a Master of Arts in Bioethics and Science Policy with her JD, and was elected to the Order of the Headdress. After graduation, she worked for Judge Thomas M. Hardiman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

“I am absolutely delighted that Judge Alito has chosen Shelby as one of his paralegals,” said Robinson O. Everett law professor Nita Farahany. “She brings a unique combination of a brilliant legal mind, compassion for others, openness to other points of view, balance, maturity and life experience, which will make her a clerk.” exceptional to the Supreme Court. She was an exceptional student in every way – in law and bioethics, in her classes, in her scholarship, in her community involvement and in her leadership.

Seize every opportunity as it presents itself

Baird said his internship with Justice Hardiman was a key factor in his willingness to apply for the Supreme Court internship.

“For someone new to law school, an appeals court internship is a dream job – witnessing all the lawyers appearing in court, seeing what good writing looks like and working very in-depth on business, ”she said. “Judge Hardiman is not only a very thoughtful judge, but also an incredible mentor, and he was a great supporter of me when I applied for the internship with Judge Alito. Judge Hardiman works incredibly hard and takes the judicial oath very seriously. I have learned so much from him.

Baird is currently a partner at Cooper & Kirk, an appellate litigation firm where she previously spent a year as William H. Rehnquist Fellow after earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale. She works remotely from Pittsburgh, an hour from her hometown of Somerset, Pennsylvania.

“Right now, I am striving to become the best litigator I can be and seize every opportunity that presents itself,” Baird said. “If you had asked me a few years ago if I would be a Supreme Court clerk, I would have just laughed. It’s one of those things you never think will happen to you. “

Professor Thomas B. Metzloff said Baird stood out early on as one of the most active participants in her 1L Civil Procedure course and a frequent visitor during office hours, where she showed a keen interest in the process. of dispute. Baird then served as Metzloff’s teaching assistant for civil procedure and also for distinctive aspects of American law, a class taught to international LLM students.

“Shelby was among the best teaching assistants I’ve had for this course – and I’ve had a lot, including two who served as Supreme Court clerks,” Metzloff said. “Not only was she proficient in the material, but she was also remarkably effective at presenting it to students to enhance their understanding and appreciation of the nuances of American law. ”

Curtis Bradley, William Van Alstyne law professor, added another educational advisor: “In addition to being extremely intelligent, Shelby has excellent practical judgment and an incredibly strong work ethic. She was a student in my Federal Courts class – a class always filled with some of the best students – and she received the highest grade. She was also great in class discussions, and I especially appreciated her enthusiasm when addressing difficult issues of legal doctrine.

In addition to excelling academically at Duke Law, Baird served as a note writer for the Duke Law Journal and distinguished herself as a leader, winning the Outstanding Student Organization Leader award from the Duke Bar Association for her work as president. of the Federalist Society. “She led the Duke Law Chapter with considerable grace and courage,” said Ernest Young, law professor at Alston & Bird.

Baird was also a student leader for the Cancer Pro Bono Clinic and won a customer service award for his work at the Health Justice Clinic. Her experience with thyroid cancer in college sparked an interest in health law and bioethics, which she continued, with Farahany’s mentorship, as a joint student on the demanding program. of Master of Arts in Bioethics and Science Policy.

“Shelby brought her own personal experience navigating the health care system, her compassion and her sharp legal mind to address issues at the intersection of law, science, medicine and ethics,” said said Farahany, who is faculty chair of the master’s program. “It was her outstanding commitment and mastery of both her law school and her Masters courses that led her to be shortlisted for the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies Award upon graduation, that I I had the honor to give it to him. “

Baird was the only 1L in Farahany’s course on FDA Law and Policy, which helped inspire his student grade, “Don’t Try This At Home: The FDA’s Restrictive Device Regulations. home test ”, published in Duke Law Journal in 2017. In it, Baird argues that courts should not rely on the Food and Drug Administration’s interpretation of “safety” by restricting home testing devices and direct genetic testing services. to consumers such as 23andMe, as the agency’s broad view of security is incorrect. seeks to protect consumers from their own negative reactions to test results.

Additionally, she argues, the agency should not have the power to make value judgments about whether consumers should research their own personal health information. By assuming such a role, she writes, the agency oversteps its authority, restricts individual autonomy and presents worrying implications for restrictions on current and future technologies.

Farahany, who served as Baird’s notes advisor, called the article “a brilliant work of scholarship that reveals his insightful and thoughtful approach to emerging issues of law, ethics and politics.”

Levi recalled meeting Baird on the 2015 Admissions Weekend and said her Supreme Court internship confirmed the strong impression she made.

“I could tell right away that he was someone we really wanted in law school,” he said. “She has become an excellent student and an active member of our close-knit community. She has now earned this wonderful opportunity with Judge Alito, and I know she will be a great paralegal. We can all be proud of Shelby for her many accomplishments and for the person she is.

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