Getting His Clerkship

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In 1945, John Paul Stevens, age twenty-five, returned to his native Chicago. Stevens was a 1941 graduate of the University of Chicago. He had served in the United States Navy for the duration of World War II. Now he turned toward what would become his profession.

Northwestern University’s School of Law was then, as it is now, a strong school with a national reputation. Its graduates were leaders in private practice and public service, particularly in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. Its dean, Leon Green, was a prominent, well-connected figure in legal academia. He had been leading the school for almost twenty years.

In the aftermath of World War II, John Stevens and many other veterans felt that military service had put them “behind”—they were in a hurry to get on with their lives. At Northwestern, Stevens enrolled in the accelerated law school program. By matriculating through regular and summer sessions, he would be able to complete law school in just two years.