Raise your hand if you like prestige. Alright, you can all put your hands down, because we’re about to drop some news on you about one of the most prestigious career paths available in the legal profession. Of course, we’re talking about federal clerkships, which are great opportunities to pursue if you’re lucky enough to be given the chance — not to mention the fact that if you happen to be clerking for a feeder judge, you might just have it made (the going rate for a SCOTUS clerkship bonus is $280K!!!).
In our coverage of career placement statistics from the most recent graduating law school class, we’ve tackled a wide range of career options, from professional couch-sitters to “elite” Biglaw associates. Today, we’re bringing you news on clerkships from the God of Rankings himself, Bob Morse of the U.S. News law school rankings.
So are you ready to see the law schools that had the highest percentages of graduates move on to become federal clerks? Let’s check out the list….
Before we begin, we’ll note that for these lists, Morse used the employment data from the class of 2011 — the same data that was used when compiling the 2014 U.S. News law school rankings. Outcomes from the class of 2012 may have been different, and if you’re interested, you can check out the newest data here and do the math yourself (no, silly, you don’t want me — someone who thought taking on six figures of law school debt was a good decision — to be doing mathematical calculations for you).
Morse drew up a list of the top 15 law schools that had the highest clerkship placements, but we’re going to be even more choosy and show you only the top 10 schools that’ll give you the best odds of landing the one of these lauded positions. If you’d like, you can check out the full list here, as well as a ranking of top schools for state and local clerkships.
Without further ado, here are the schools that had the most federal judicial clerkship placements for the class of 2011:
An obvious point to make here is that these rankings don’t seem to distinguish between prestige of clerkship. Were these feeder judges or non-feeder judges, circuit courts or district courts, Article III courts or non-Article III courts? In the land of law, these things are very important. Considering how coveted clerkships are and how closely we hold U.S. News rankings to our hearts, this is information we’d love to see.
Getting back to the list, it’s no surprise that Yale, Stanford, and Harvard came out on top here (in fact, they basically mimic the U.S. News law school rankings), but all hell seems to break loose thereafter. Chicago didn’t crack the top 10, and Columbia didn’t make the top 15. Perhaps Columbia’s clerkship advisory program could use some improvements. We — and most importantly, your graduates — certainly expect more from you than this poor showing.
We see that Chicago is hedged in 13th place between Notre Dame (U.S. News #23), Washington & Lee (U.S. News #26), Alabama (U.S. News #21), and William & Mary (U.S. News #33). Clean up your game, Chicago! As for the T14 law schools that didn’t make the list aside from Columbia — Northwestern, Cornell, and Georgetown — how embarrassing for you. Maybe this is why GULC decided to abandon the law clerk hiring plan — to get a leg up on clerkship placement in the future.
But enough of this Debbie-Downerism, because congratulations are in order for Duke and especially for Vanderbilt. In a ranking we thought would be dominated by T14 law schools, Vandy sneaked up on the the competition. Maybe it’s time for the Commodores to take their rightful place in the sun to snag a permanent No. 15 slot in the overall law school rankings.
So, readers, are you proud of your alma mater, or are you pissed off? Surely there must be something that could be done to improve the clerkship placement rates at schools like Columbia, Chicago, Northwestern, Cornell, and Georgetown. We’re eager to see what you think.
Which Law Schools’ Grads Get the Most Judicial Clerkships? [Morse Code / U.S. News & World Report]