Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Federal Judges Law Clerk Hiring

Today, the day after Labor Day, as law students begin their third and final year of law school, is the time when Federal judges are supposed to begin hiring their law clerks for next year. (A clerkship, particularly with an appellate court judge, is a very career enhancing first job for a new law grad.)

While the very beginning of the third year of law school might seem early to be sorting out the plum jobs, in fact it is quite late by the historical standards of this market. Over the last few decades, hiring has periodically unraveled back well into the second year of law school. And so, not for the first time, judges are trying to restrain themselves. Here's the current plan and it's key dates: Federal Judges Law Clerk Hiring Plan with Critical Dates .

Tuesday, Sept. 8 is the "first date when applications may be received." Judges are then supposed to wait until Friday Sept. 11 before contacting candidates to schedule interviews, and to wait until the following Thursday, Sept. 17, before actually conducting any interviews or making any offers. Offers, often exploding offers that must be answered immediately, can be made at the interview, and so much of the market is over by the end of the first day. (Yesterday's post included my favorite exploding offers story.)

One more thing. Judges cheat. (My coauthors tell me I'm not supposed to say that, rather, some judges do not comply with the guidelines.) So a nonnegligible part of the market is over before it's supposed to be over. Some part of the market may even be over before it's supposed to have begun. In our 2007 Chicago Law Review article The New Market for Federal Judicial Law Clerks, a third of the judges acknowledged that they cheated. But for the time being they were largely cheating by only a few days, so that the Labor Day focal point has remained.

The law blogs are full of contemporary reports about this year's market. See e.g. Getting Your Clerkship Before Labor Day? It's Not Just for Graduates Anymore and Clerkship Application Season: Open Thread

There are also some blogs that will post news in real time, including when particular judges have begun to hire, and when they finish. They open a window on the amount of "non-compliance." See Law Clerk Addict, and Clerkship Notification Blog .

The situation well before the current attempt to organize the clerkship market is described here: Federal Court Clerkships in Roth, A.E. and X. Xing, "Jumping the Gun: Imperfections and Institutions Related to the Timing of Market Transactions," American Economic Review, 84, September, 1994, 992-1044

The more proximate history of the market before the current attempt is here:
Avery, Christopher, Christine Jolls, Richard A. Posner, and Alvin E. Roth, "The Market for Federal Judicial Law Clerks" University of Chicago Law Review, 68, 3, Summer, 2001, 793-902.(online at SSRN)

The just-prior attempt to organize the market is described here, and investigated experimentally:
Haruvy, Ernan, Alvin E. Roth, and M. Utku Unver, “The Dynamics of Law Clerk Matching: An Experimental and Computational Investigation of Proposals for Reform of the Market,” Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 30, 3 , March 2006, Pages 457-486. (With appendices and experimental instructions here.)

And the early experience with the current market organization is described here (with lots of illustrative quotes from clerkship applicants).
Avery, Christopher, Jolls, Christine, Posner, Richard A. and Roth, Alvin E., "The New Market for Federal Judicial Law Clerks" . University of Chicago Law Review, 74, Spring 2007, 447-486.


Padmanaban said...

When you have acquired new skills, it is important to know where to find job openings to put them to work

Unknown said...

Very interesting. I hope you keep the great legal content coming, and if you have some time, please check out my website! We are a personal injury law firm working with clients in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney