Federal judges around the country will feel the belt-tightening that has cut into other areas of the judiciary in a rule change that limits their ability to hire permanent, career law clerks, rather than cheaper, fresh from school, term clerks.
The cost-containment move, approved Sept. 18 by the judiciary’s 27-member policy body, the Judicial Conference of the United States, is predicted to save tens of millions of dollars in salary costs over the next decade, according to an internal report by the Committee on Judicial Resources.
Many judges are done hiring their law clerks for next year. We’re happy to report that several of our friends, whom we were informally advising on the process, landed clerkships with their top picks.
For those of you who are still going through the process, this gossip might be of interest:
Rumor check: word on the street is that a raft judges have made a decision to only hire graduates for clerkships. One person told me that means there are about 60% less positions open for 3L applicants. The end result is that a number of schools are having their worst clerkship hiring year in memory (at least for their 3L’s). Have you heard the same?
We haven’t heard this specific rumor until now. But we do know that some judges have started hiring more graduates simply because the hiring of grads — e.g., junior associates at firms — isn’t controlled by the elaborate timetable of the law clerk hiring plan. With the possible exception of feeder judges, who have no choice but to try and snag top recruits early, most judges probably think it’s less viciously competitive — or at least less of a hassle — to hire recent law school graduates (who come with the added benefit of practical experience).
So, readers, any thoughts? Earlier: Clerkship Hiring: Today’s the Day
After we did a post about foreign clerkships, we received a number of follow-up inquiries. Readers wanted to know whether any firms pay clerkship bonuses to (1) staff attorneys and (2) administrative law judge clerks:
“I was wondering if there are bonuses offered for ALJ clerkships – you can clerk in D.C. for, among others, the EPA, the FERC, the Department of Labor . . . It seems like some firms carefully excludes these from their bonus policy, but others are a bit less clear on the question.
It seems to me, though, that if you’re going to a firm that does a lot of regulatory work, a clerkship with the appropriate agency would be quite valuable.”
“What about former administrative law judge clerks? For example, how much would one of the clerks coming from a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission judge this past summer pull from a DC energy firm?”
“Do you have information on whether firms pay clerkship bonuses to staff attorneys at circuit courts?”
We’re don’t know of such firms, but we’re not omniscient. If you know of any, please share your info in the comments. Thanks.
Last week we asked, “What’s going on with clerkship salaries and benefits?” Now we have some answers.
Yesterday the Judicial Conference issued a press release that discussed law clerk salaries, among many other subjects. Here are the money (haha) quotes:
The Conference today also voted to continue implementing its cost-containment program by adopting a series of recommendations relating to law clerks and the Judiciary’s Court Personnel System in general….
[T]he Conference agreed that each judge will be limited to one career law clerk. Those 291 career law clerks now in chambers where more than one career law clerk is employed will be able to retain their career status in those chambers, with the assent of their judge, or with another judge if their judge dies, retires, resigns or is otherwise unable to retain a law clerk. Most federal law clerks are “term” clerks and typically serve one or two years. “Career” law clerks are expected to serve four or more years. This new policy limits a term law clerk’s term of employment to no more than four years, to be applied prospectively for current term law clerks. Another step replaces law clerk salary matching with a system aimed at achieving salary parity between those law clerks who gain their work experience within the Judiciary and those who gain their experience outside the Judiciary.
For those of you who might be interested in this subject — e.g., people interviewing for clerkships this week — additional commentary appears after the jump.
Here’s a twist on clerkship bonus news, from a reader:
With all the talk about rising bonuses for domestic clerkships, I was wondering if any firms were extending bonuses for foreign clerkships. I am clerking at a major foreign supreme court in a common law country and my BigLaw firm says it only offers bonuses for US or Canadian clerkships.
So, does anyone know if firms that provide bonuses for foreign clerkships? We’re not really aware of any. But if anyone can help out this reader, please pass along info in the comments.
Since we’re smack dab in the middle of clerkship application season, let’s turn the spotlight to clerkly compensation and benefits. We hear that some changes may be in the works. From a tipster:
[H]ave you heard anything about progress on a proposal to end/limit/change the salary “matching” program for federal clerks with private sector experience? Several judges I interviewed with mentioned that the salaries for clerks coming from jobs in the private sector (e.g., after a year or more working for a firm) are in flux pending a proposal to eliminate or change the bump that clerks coming from (higher paying) private sector jobs traditionally receive. My understanding is that these clerks traditionally received an increase in their step level within the applicable salary grade. Supposedly a decision on this issue was expected in September.
As a matter of fact, yes, we have. Nothing definitive. But more discussion appears after the jump.
As noted yesterday, we’re smack in the middle of clerkship hiring season. Perhaps some of you are applying to judges based in Miami. Clerking in a tropical paradise — what’s not to like?
Possibly deadly toxic mold, that’s what. From an article by Julie Kay in the Daily Business Review (via SDFLA Blog):
Two studies performed at the historic David W. Dyer federal courthouse in downtown Miami show there are significant mold and air safety issues at one of Miami-Dade County’s oldest courthouses and suggest parts of the building are beyond repair.
The studies… were commissioned by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida after U.S. Magistrate Judge Ted Klein became ill and died last year of a mysterious respiratory illness, and his fellow magistrate judges raised concerns about the building’s environment.
It’s September, which means that it’s clerkship application season. According to the law clerk hiring plan — which some judges follow, and some judges don’t — today’s the first day federal judges can call to set up clerkship interviews with current law students.
You can find out where various courts and judges are in the hiring process over at the Clerkship Notification Blog. But they may be having some issues, according to one tipster:
[T]he Clerkship Notification Blog appears to have no posts on it today at all. People on XOXO are saying that the clerkship blog started moderating comments just yesterday, meaning that no comment shows up until the blog owners approve it first. See here and here.
Kind of defeats the whole point of getting information out there quickly, doesn’t it? What the hell are they thinking over there?
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
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Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
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