HELENA – The Supreme Court Fellows Commission recently announced the appointment of Carroll College alumna Victoria Nickol as a 2023-2024 Supreme Court Fellow. Ms. Nickol, a graduate of the class of 2016, has been selected to serve a one-year term beginning in September 2023.
Established in 1973, the esteemed Supreme Court Fellows Program provides mid-career professionals, recent law school graduates, and doctoral degree holders in law and political science with an unparalleled opportunity to deepen their knowledge and expertise in the judicial system. By immersing participants in the intricacies of federal court administration, the program offers a unique platform for intellectual growth and professional development.
The program selects four individuals for year-long positions within four federal judiciary agencies in Washington, D.C.: the Supreme Court of the United States, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Federal Judicial Center, and U.S. Sentencing Commission. Fellows engage in practical experience in judicial administration, policy development, and education, while also having the chance to pursue academic research agendas.
As the 2023-2024 Supreme Court Fellow, Victoria Nickol has been assigned to the Supreme Court of the United States, serving in the Office of the Counselor to the Chief Justice.
Prior to her appointment, Ms. Nickol worked at a private practice in Missoula, Montana. She brings valuable experience as a former law clerk for the Honorable Sidney R. Thomas of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Honorable Donald W. Molloy of the United States District Court for the District of Montana. In addition to her B.A., summa cum laude, in Political Science from Carroll College, Ms. Nickol holds a J.D., with high honors, from the University of Montana School of Law, where she served as the Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Montana Law Review.
Originally from Helena, Montana, Victoria “Tori” Nickol graduated summa cum laude through the Honors Scholars Program at Carroll College with a major in Political Science and minors in English Writing and Constitutional Studies. Additionally, she participated all four years in track and field as a 400-meter hurdler and served as track team captain. Tori received an Apgar Foundation constitutional studies fellowship grant and the Bishop Gilmore Award for Outstanding Scholarship awarded to seniors who have attained the highest grade-point average after four years at Carroll.
“Tori Nickol continues to make us at Carroll proud to know her,” said Associate Professor of Political Science, Dr. Alex Street. “She was an exceptional student and, since graduating, has also been generous with advice to other Carroll students who are interested in legal careers.
“At Carroll, with our small classes and our focus on undergraduates, we really get to know the students, and it is one of the great pleasures of our work to see smart former students go on to success after success. In our pre-law training we guide students as they take on their own research projects so that they aren't just picking up information, they are adding new knowledge. Our expectations for this work are unusually high and it is great preparation for law school, for other graduate programs, and for fruitful careers. Clearly, Tori keeps on rising to the challenge as she pursues her ambitions. We are excited for her future,” shared Street.
In sharing this most recent accomplishment of being appointed a Supreme Court Fellow, Ms. Nickol said, “My time at Carroll prepared me for my career in the law in all the expected ways: the Honors Scholars Program immersed me in challenging material and demanded excellent work product; the Political Science Department pushed me to think critically and analytically, particularly about the role of institutions and individuals within society; and the English Department sharpened my writing and molded me into a discerning reader.
“But maybe more important are the ways Carroll prepared me for a legal career in less obvious ways. I was never the smartest person in the room, and my classmates and professors helped me grow into a better advocate and listener through their generous exchanges and feedback. Being a part of Carroll’s track team ingrained in me the importance of camaraderie and balancing individual success against the success of something greater than myself. Participating in internships aimed at serving vulnerable groups required me to confront difficult scenarios and grapple with big issues, which has inspired me to pursue work that benefits the public’s interest.
“I am incredibly grateful for the friendships, lessons, and opportunities I’ve enjoyed as a result of my time at Carroll and the ways those things have prepared me for my career ahead.”
As the Fellow assigned to the Office of the Counselor to the Chief Justice, Ms. Nickol’s primary responsibility will be briefing foreign jurists, court administrators, and other dignitaries on the operation, procedures, and history of the Court. In her role, she will gain exposure to foreign legal systems, including those in developing nations, through direct contact with foreign judges and court officials. She will also assist in the general activities of the Counselor’s Office, which supports the Chief Justice in his administrative and policy functions as head of the judiciary. As part of her fellowship, Ms. Nickol is also expected to produce an article for publication on a topic of international or comparative law and will present it to U.S. judges.