Timothy alum Taylor Hoogendoorn is currently serving as a Supreme Court Clerk — the holy grail of jobs for a law school graduate. Landing a SCOTUS clerkship, one of the most prestigious positions any young lawyer can get — is no easy feat. Near perfect grades at an Ivy League law school, plus glowing references still don’t guarantee one of the 36 coveted clerkships at the top court. The SCOTUS clerks are the best and the brightest — many go on to prestigious careers, some even earning a nomination to the bench later in their career.
It would undoubtedly be easy to be starstruck working alongside the likes of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., for whom Taylor clerks. But if you talk to Taylor, the accolades and the prestige of the high court aren’t his main focus.
“I got this job only by the grace of God,” Taylor says.
While Taylor’s achievements are indeed quite noteworthy, it’s his grounding in his faith that makes him a remarkable Under 30 Distinguished Alumni of the Year. Taylor has “Kept the Main Thing, the Main Thing,” which has long been one of Timothy Superintendent Matt Davidson’s tenets and prayers for students.
The main thing for Taylor was (and continues to be) staying rooted and grounded in his faith, which was nurtured and developed so many years ago at Timothy. He happily calls himself a Timothy “lifer.” “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he says, “I really believe Christian education is fundamental to faith development.”
According to Taylor, Timothy not only helped develop his faith, but also ignited his passion for the law. It all started in middle school, when Taylor signed up for a Mock Trial summer camp. The lure and excitement of Mock Trial, which is part theater, part law, stuck and he became part of the legendary high school team led by history teacher Mr. Scott Roelofs.
“Mr. Roelofs, without question, had a huge impact on my life — probably more than any other teacher or professor,” Taylor explains. “Not only did Mock Trial give me the skill set to do college Mock Trial, but it also gave me social skills, confidence, and a competitive drive that are all important in higher education and as a lawyer.”
After he graduated from Timothy Christian High School, Taylor went to Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He was accepted into the Honors Business program. He graduated as the top-ranked student in the School of Business and with the highest GPA possible — a perfect 4.0.
Taylor says Timothy Christian High School prepared him to succeed in the challenging undergraduate program. “One academic thing I really appreciated about Timothy is I was able to take a lot of math classes with some awesome teachers, like Mr. Snoeyink,” Taylor said. “I was even able to take some classes at Elmhurst College and Timothy gave me the flexibility to do that.”
At Baylor, Taylor was the captain of the Mock Trial team and competed on the National stage — placing 5th in the country his senior year. But that was only his second proudest Mock Trial achievement: the first was convincing a freshman named Wimberly to date him. (Taylor and Wimberly are now married and live with their son, Post Hoogendoorn, in Washington, DC.)
The allure of chasing National Mock Trial titles, and his beloved grandfather’s influence as a lawyer, undoubtedly swayed Taylor to pursue a career in law. So he applied to Yale Law School, which has been ranked as the top law school in the country by US News and World Report for over three decades. It is the most competitive program in the country. Yale Law School enrolls about 200 students a year.
Taylor was one of them.
When Taylor stepped on to Yale’s campus, it was the first time he wasn’t surrounded by Christian friends and he didn’t have Christian professors to mentor him. His faith was challenged in class by professors and students alike.
“Yale Law is full of brilliant professors and students, and it has incredible resources for students,” Taylor explains. “But at the same time, most of my peers and professors had radically different worldviews and beliefs. They were totally inconsistent with many of the things I believe as a Christian. Timothy and Baylor helped develop my moral compass and faith — Yale just taught me the law.”
Even still, Taylor managed to find a good group of Christian friends at Yale and other law schools around the country to keep him grounded. And Wimberly painted a canvas with Taylor’s favorite Bible verse, Micah 6:8: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
It was indeed a daily reminder of why it was important for him as a Christian, in particular, to become a lawyer.
“She made that for me when I was in college and I hung it above my bed in law school,” Taylor explained. “It was a constant reminder of why I do the things I do and what it’s really all about.”
Not only was he in the minority as a Christian, but he also didn’t attend a “fancy schmancy”, as Taylor says, high school or college. “A huge percentage of students at Yale went to exclusive prep schools and colleges before law school—think Phillips Exeter then Harvard, Princeton, Yale, or Stanford,” he explains. “I realized, though, Timothy Christian High School and Baylor University gave me every bit, if not better, preparation, than any of those other schools.”
After graduating from Yale Law School, Taylor served in two different clerkships, each a one year position assisting a judge with his work. After working for appointees of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, Taylor now clerks for Justice Alito, who was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President George W. Bush in 2006.
Taylor’s duties involve sifting through the thousands of petitions the Justice receives and helping him decide whether he should vote to hear a case or not. Taylor also assists the Justice with his merit dockets, which are the cases on which the Court hears oral argument. Taylor reads all the legal briefs, researches the law, and makes recommendations to the Justice about the case.
“Justice Alito is an incredibly brilliant, competent, and independent worker, so his clerks often joke that he doesn’t really need us,” Taylor says. “But it really is an honor to assist him in any small way I can. I’ve learned so much from him.”
The law plays an important role in everyone’s lives. And Supreme Court decisions can directly and substantially affect millions of people. The Justices have a tremendously important job from that perspective. And Taylor believes that working for Justice Alito is part of his calling: “Christians should be actively involved in government and society, it is a basic civic responsibility, and in my view, part of our calling as Christians,” Taylor explains.
Everything for Taylor seems to come back to his favorite verse Micah 6:9: seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly.