Gilbert Dickey, ’12: “Building on What I Learned from the Law School”

Gilbert Dickey, '12

Gilbert Dickey, ’12, clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas in the 2017-2018 Supreme Court term. “In my short career in the law, I have been so fortunate,” Dickey said. “I’ve been helped by so many people—people who were not only exemplars of how law should be practiced, but also great, caring mentors.”

After graduating from the Law School, Dickey clerked for Court of Appeals Judge William H. Pryor Jr., where he reaped two benefits. The first he described as “a one-of-a-kind learning experience with a judge of uncommon diligence and unwavering intellectual honesty.” The other he called “the best thing that has ever happened to me”—meeting his wife, Jennifer, who was also clerking for Judge Pryor. The two were married last year.

After his clerkship with Judge Pryor, Dickey worked for a year in the Birmingham office of Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis. But wanting to be able to visit Jennifer in Washington, D.C., more often, he accepted a position as an assistant attorney general in West Virginia in 2014, working in the solicitor general’s office. He described his boss there, Elbert Lin, as “an incredibly talented lawyer who gave his staff very substantial responsibilities.”

Lin, who had clerked for Justice Thomas, supported Dickey’s application for a clerkship, which Judge Pryor had encouraged him to submit. “I can’t say that a Supreme Court clerkship was really on my radar,” Dickey said, “but if they thought I could handle it, I felt like I must be ready, or at least ready enough. They had certainly given me all the preparation a person could hope for, building on what I had learned at the Law School.”

He said that the Law School helped him in the expected ways—through superb classroom experiences, challenging intellectual exchanges with other students, and invigorating interactions at various student organizations—and it also helped him manage daunting workloads. “Like many students, I felt overwhelmed at times, and I learned to create a system and work methodically through it,” he said. “That skill has come in handy.”

Lecturer Adam Mortara, ‘01, who taught Dickey at the Law School and who himself clerked for Justice Thomas, has said that he wasn’t surprised that Dickey was selected by Thomas. “He has a quality that Justice Thomas looks for but sadly few with Gilbert’s incredible legal intellect possess, which is genuine humility,” Mortara said.

Observing that Judge Pryor and Justice Thomas both established very positive relationships with their clerks, Dickey said, “I feel like I’ve become part of two big new families just in the past few years, families full of very smart people who care about each other and who honor the highest standards of the legal profession in all that they do.”