Friday, October 1, 2010

Unraveling and diversity in the market for law clerks

One question about unravelling of markets--in which hiring becomes earlier, more diffuse in time, and characterized by very short duration "exploding" offers, is whether it reduces diversity. The idea is that if you have to hire people far in advance, e.g. when they are still in kindergarten, then you can't tell as much as you would like about individuals, so you had better be hiring from good kindergartens.

I'm reminded of this for two reasons. The first is a recent article on clerks in the Supreme Court:

"There are about 160 active federal appeals court judges and more than 100 more semiretired ones, yet more than half of the clerks who have served on the Roberts court came from the chambers of just 10 judges. Three judges accounted for a fifth of all Supreme Court clerks."

That from Adam Liptak in the NY Times: A Sign of the Court’s Polarization: Choice of Clerks

The second is this graph showing which law schools clerks have been coming from:
That is from a blog post from Dave Hoffman at Concurring Opinions, called The Quickly Unraveling Clerkship Market.

He writes that this year there is even more unraveling than usual, i.e. the plan for regulating the hiring of law clerks may be on its last legs, as the increasing levels of cheating we observed in previous years has apparently continued to increase.
(see 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. )

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