These are trying times for clerkship applicants. The Law Clerk Hiring Plan is pretty much dead, at least in its strictest version, and it seems like every judge is going his or her own way.
The best applicants can hope for, in the absence of any standardized approach to law clerk hiring, is transparency. Ideally judges should provide clear and comprehensive information about their own particular approaches to hiring clerks. Thanks to this nifty thing called the internet, it’s not that hard.
As in many things, the Southern District of New York provides a model for other courts to follow….
The S.D.N.Y. has created a single webpage that collects the law clerk hiring practices of many (but not all) of its judges. You can check out that page here.
This is a step that every court ought to take. It’s easy to do, and it’s extremely helpful to applicants to have all of this data collected in one place.
The S.D.N.Y. page currently has law clerk hiring information for 23 judges (a mixture of district judges and magistrate judges). We skimmed through the profiles, just to get a sense of what judges are doing, and grouped the judges into the following categories:
1. The Law Clerk Hiring Plan Adherents
The following judges are following the (voluntary) Law Clerk Hiring Plan to the letter. They want all applications routed through OSCAR, the online application system, and they won’t review applications, conduct interviews, or make offers until June 28, 2013. This approach seems popular among magistrate judges (noted parenthetically with an “M”).
- Debra Freeman (M)
- Gabriel W. Gorenstein (M)
- Frank Maas (M)
- Sarah Netburn (M)
- Andrew J. Peck (M)
2. Adopters of the Modified Law Clerk Hiring Plan
Last week, we wrote about several S.D.N.Y. judges who have made a fairly sensible tweak to the Plan. They’ll accept applications anytime, but they won’t interview or make offers until the Plan date of June 28, 2013. This respects the spirit of the Plan while reducing application-related chaos.
Because OSCAR doesn’t release electronic applications until the 28th, these judges ask for applications to be submitted to them through other channels. It looks like Gmail is as popular with the federal judiciary as it is with law students.
- Ronnie Abrams
- Paul E. Davison (M)
- Paul A. Engelmayer
- Katherine P. Failla
- James C. Francis IV (M)
- Jesse M. Furman
- Thomas P. Griesa
- Alison J. Nathan
- Robert P. Patterson Jr.
- Jed S. Rakoff (note his tag-team hiring with Judge Katzmann (2d Cir.))
- Edgardo Ramos
- Cathy Seibel
- Richard J. Sullivan (note that he will conduct interviews before June 28)
- Laura Taylor Swain
3. Judges Requiring Post-Graduate Experience
The Law Clerk Hiring Plan isn’t relevant to these judges because the Plan by its terms relates only to the hiring of rising 3Ls, and these judges require at least some post-law-school experience (such as another clerkship or experience in practice):
- James L. Cott (M)
- Colleen McMahon (note that she doesn’t even use OSCAR)
- Lorna G. Schofield (note that she also has a volunteer position)
4. Off the Plan
Interviews will be conducted and offers will be extended on a rolling basis.
- John G. Koeltl
So there you have it: a quick survey of the law clerk hiring practices of 23 judges in one of the most coveted courts in the country. This is just a summary; if applying to a judge, you should be sure to read his or her hiring guidelines in full. You can access the S.D.N.Y. information here. Good luck to both applicants and judges in this very interesting and important process.