Friday, March 20, 2009

By Mary Bundren, JD 2008

Imagine hearing the voice of John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, speaking to you from the other end of the phone. Imagine further, being 26 years old, less than two years out of law school and getting the chance of a lifetime from the top jurist in the country.

Jamie McDonald, a Tulsa native and current visiting professor at The University of Tulsa College of Law, had just such an opportunity. During the upcoming Supreme Court term, he will serve as law clerk to Justice Roberts.

McDonald will deliver the year's final Faculty Showcase Series lecture on March 25, 2009 at noon in the Price & Turpen Courtroom. Practicing lawyers can receive one hour of CLE credit for attending the lecture. All attendees should RSVP to Karen Bouteller at (918) 631-3704 or CLE@utulsa.edu.

McDonald, a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, Harvard University and the University of Virginia Law School, states, "It's impossible, I think, to ever be completely prepared for a position like this."

He recalls that he was waiting outside a restaurant to meet his father, attorney Gary McDonald, a partner with Doerner Sanders Daniel & Anderson, for lunch when Roberts' secretary called and asked if he had a minute to speak to the chief justice.

"He got on the phone and offered me the job, and was incredibly nice. I obviously was thrilled and accepted the job," McDonald said. "About 30 seconds later, my dad walked up and asked me how I was doing. I said 'Pretty good Dad. I just got hired by the Chief Justice.' And he said, 'Well, that's not a bad day.'"

Not a bad day indeed. But the opportunity to work for the county's leading jurist did not come merely from luck or chance.

Risa Goluboff, professor of law at UVA and one of McDonald's former professors, said he possesses the skill to excel in his future job.

"Jamie's obvious intellect, his seriousness of purpose, and his deep intellectual engagement with the law have impressed me ever since I taught him Constitutional Law during his first year of law school," Goluboff said. "Chief Justice Roberts is lucky to have the opportunity to work with a person like Jamie."

Following graduation from law school, McDonald clerked for Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and then spent a year as a deputy associate counsel in the White House Counsel's office. From 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he has returned to Tulsa to teach constitutional law and foreign relations law, and spend time with his family.

Jimmy Hart