Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University
This Month @ Moritz

RonNell Jones '00 Begins Clerkship with U.S. Supreme Court Justice O'Connor

RonNell and son
RonNell Jones and Son

As a Supreme Court clerk, RonNell will work at the highest level of the judicial branch of government. She will have a voice in which cases are accepted and assist Justice O'Connor in crafting and writing her opinions. At age 30, she will help influence decisions that shape the very foundation of our society.

Being at the top, however, is not a new sensation for this multifaceted woman. As Deseret News staff writer Alan Edwards wrote in October 2002, "She's always been in the top of her class in everything. Growing up, Jones entered a poem in a contest that was so good the judges initially refused to believe she had written it herself. It won first place, of course. A farm girl, she was president of her 4-H club. She won numerous awards in various areas. She was interested in everything. After marrying husband K.C., graduating from Utah State University and working as a Deseret News City Desk intern one summer, Jones moved with her husband to Carson City, Nevada, and Columbus, Ohio, following K.C.'s career as an engineer. Along the way Jones worked on a Master's in communications and then earned a law degree from Ohio State - top of her law class, of course."

RonNell was a stellar student at the Moritz College of Law. She was first in her class of 202 graduates and earned the top grade award in 16 courses. RonNell served on the Ohio State Law Journal, and won a Strong Award for outstanding writing skills. Her volunteer efforts earned her a designation as a Public Service Fellow. Classmate and friend Chris Snyder '00 was struck by RonNell's character. He says, "She volunteered to teach fifth graders basic principles of government, drafted briefs for prisoners on death row, and ran a women's rights group."

Following graduation with Order of the Coif honors in 2000, RonNell joined the international law firm of Jones Day. There she worked with then partner Jeff Sutton '90, a former U.S. Supreme Court clerk now serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judge Sutton says "She is an elegant writer, a diligent researcher, a thoughtful problem solver and a lawyer with as keen a sense for getting it right as any I have known."

In 2001, she accepted a highly competitive clerkship with the Honorable William Fletcher, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Her family, including infant son Max, headed to San Francisco. Reflecting her religious upbringing and commitment to family, RonNell never worked on Sunday and went home every evening at 5:00 p.m. She worked late into the night to keep up with the demands of an appellate court clerkship. Days were equally demanding. She was at the Ninth Circuit when the Pledge of Allegiance was ruled unconstitutional because it contained the words "under God." RonNell worked for weeks above the din of protesters outside her window.

Despite these pressures, RonNell distinguished herself as a top-flight researcher, legal analyst, and persuasive writer. Although she had not intended to apply for a Supreme Court clerkship, Judge Fletcher encouraged her. She interviewed with Justice O'Connor in San Francisco and was offered the job on the spot.

In the year between the end of her clerkship with Judge Fletcher and the beginning of her clerkship with Justice O'Connor, RonNell returned to Jones Day. She elected to work only two days a week in the Palo Alto office so she could devote as much time as possible to son Max in advance of the demanding year ahead at the Supreme Court. Husband K.C. will assume primary parenting responsibility upon their relocation to the D.C. area.

For a year, RonNell will serve at the pinnacle of the legal world. D.C.-area alumni and Dean Nancy H. Rogers will gather at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey's Washington Office at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 7 to congratulate RonNell and offer their support during the upcoming year. Alan Briggs '67 will host. In November, she will return to Ohio State to receive the O.S.U. Alumni Association's 2003 Thomson Award for early career achievement.