Clerkships, Federal Government, Money, Salary Freeze

All Rise: Promotion and Pay Freeze on Federal Law Clerks Has Been Lifted

The freeze is melting away.

A friend who is a federal clerk just texted me: “I’m gonna buy new bras!”

Oh yes, it’s time federal clerks got back to the good life. A memo just went out from Senior Judge Thomas Hogan who heads the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Hogan informed the system that the freeze on promotions, step increases, and cash awards for federal clerks has been lifted for this year.

It’s cool to be a federal clerk again! Well, it’s cool to be a federal clerk on a two-year or long term clerkship, again.

But maybe only for this moment. Austerity could rear her ugly head right around the corner….

Whenever you get a salary thaw memo, you’d think that instead of words, it could just be a bunch of Disney animations of woodland creatures luxuriating in a spring field. But if this memo were a picture, there’d be dark clouds just over the horizon:

Although the final outcome for fiscal year 2012 was better than what we had planned, courts should continue to exercise great caution in the expenditure of their local funds. We have every reason to believe that fiscal year 2013 will be another difficult budget year. If Congress provides the Salaries and Expenses account with the same level of funding in fiscal year 2013 as they provided in this account for fiscal year 2012 (a likely and perhaps “best-case” outcome), this would represent the third year in a row of essentially no growth in appropriations. If this were to occur, actual funding for the courts in fiscal year 2013 would continue to decline, perhaps by as much as 7 percent below fiscal year 2012 levels. Courts should plan for such an outcome when making their local funding decisions, including decisions impacting on-board personnel and their salaries, filling new positions, or backfilling existing positions. Aggressive cost-containment measures, both nationally and locally, continue to be essential to our ability to maintain the
Judiciary’s core mission in this restrained budget climate.

Yes, yes, yes, we get it: don’t buy anything, don’t get anything, nothin’ big. What’s the matter with you?

The memo says final allotments will be issued to the courts on Friday. Enjoy your raises. But don’t spend it all in one place.

If you want to see the full memo (minus the cartoon creatures gamboling in fields of reward), click on the next page.

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