Kearney is a nationally recognized scholar whose work has appeared in the flagship law reviews at Chicago, Columbia, Marquette, Northwestern, and Pennsylvania, among other journals. Kearney continues to teach each semester, with classes ranging from advanced civil procedure to a Supreme Court seminar.
From 1990 to 1995 and again from 1996 to 1997, Kearney worked on commercial and regulatory litigation with an emphasis on appellate practice at Sidley & Austin in Chicago.
In 1995-96, he was a law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court.
He also served as a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Portland, Ore., in 1989-90. Kearney is admitted to the practice of law in Illinois, Wisconsin and various federal courts.
Kearney earned a bachelor's degree in classics from Yale University in 1986. He graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa and received the Bishop Berkeley Award, which is awarded to a student in Berkeley College “who has best realized the intellectual potentialities of the university.”
He received his J.D. from Harvard University in 1989, where he graduated cum laude. He was executive editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
Kearney is a native of Chicago and graduated from St. Ignatius, the city's Jesuit high school.