A Demographic Profile of Judicial Clerks - 2006 to 2016

NALP Bulletin, October 2017

In recent years, judicial clerkship jobs taken by law school graduates have been fairly evenly split between men and women, as have the graduating classes as a whole. However, despite increased minority representation among judicial clerks in 2016 compared with either 2011 or 2006, their share does not match their share among law school graduates, which is about 29% based on demographic information reported to NALP for the Class of 2016.

Further, the overall equivalence between men and women does not hold for Federal clerkships, where men take over half of these positions, as has been the case over the span of years covered here. Women take over half of state and local clerkships, though the differential between men and women was larger for the Class of 2006 compared with the Classes of 2011 and 2016.

Finally, figures for representation of specific racial/ethnic groups by gender reveal that minority groups remain generally under-represented, some more so than others. Differences are also evident by level of court. For example, African-American and Hispanic men remain the most under-represented relative to their share of the class. For the Class of 2016, just 1.8% and 1.9% of clerkships were obtained by African-American and Hispanic men, respectively, whereas they accounted for about 3% and 4%, respectively, of graduates. Nor has representation increased much since 2006, especially for African-American men. Representation was even lower for African-American men among Federal clerks, and at 1.3% is lower than in either 2006 or 2011.

Hispanic and African-American women have fared better in terms of increased representation, though they remain underrepresented compared to their presence in the class as a whole. The exception is for African-American women among local court clerks. Among minority men, Asian/Pacific Islander men started at a higher point in 2006 compared with African-American or Hispanic men, and remain at that higher level. Asian/Pacific Islander women are the most well represented minority group among clerks as a whole from t he class of 2016, and among Federal and state clerks specifically. This group comes closest to proportional representation among Federal clerks, at 4.4% compared with 4.8% in the class as a whole.

In conclusion, representation of women improved between 2006 and 2011, whereas overall representation of minorities improved between 2011 and 2016. Among minority groups, Asian/Pacific Islander and African-American women have consistently obtained the largest share of clerkships, but gains have been greater for Hispanic women.


Demographic Profile of Judicial Clerkships Taken by the Classes of 2006, 2011, and 2016

  Class of 2006 Class of 2011 Class of 2016
Percent of Clerkships
Obtained by:
All Clerkships Federal Clerkships State Clerkships Local Clerkships All Clerkships Federal Clerkships State Clerkships Local Clerkships All Clerkships Federal Clerkships State Clerkships Local Clerkships
 Men 46.9% 54.4% 43.2% 37.0% 49.2% 52.4% 47.1% 49.3% 49.5% 53.4% 47.5% 45.7%
 Women 53.1 45.6 56.8 63.0 50.8 47.6 52.9 50.7 50.5 46.6 52.5 54.3
 Minorities 16.2 16.7 16.1 14.3 16.4 16.4 16.4 14.2 21.1 20.6 21.4 20.7
 Non-minorities 83.8 83.3 83.9 85.7 83.6 83.6 83.6 85.8 78.9 79.4 78.6 79.3
 White men 36.5 42.5 33.8 28.9 39.2 40.2 38.4 41.4 38.8 40.0 38.1 38.1
 White women 39.4 32.0 43.3 48.2 38.0 34.5 40.6 39.6 34.9 30.5 37.6 36.0
 African-American/Black men 1.5 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.5 2.0 1.2 1.4 1.8 1.3 2.2 1.0
 African-American/Black women 3.7 3.1 4.1 4.2 3.2 2.3 3.6 3.9 3.5 2.2 4.0 7.1
 Hispanic men 1.2 1.9 0.9 0.6 1.5 1.4 1.6 1.4 1.9 2.0 1.9 1.5
 Hispanic women 1.9 1.4 2.2 2.0 1.7 1.2 2.1 1.1 3.1 2.6 3.3 3.6
Asian/Pacific Islander men 2.3 2.5 2.3 1.1 2.2 2.5 1.8 2.5 2.4 2.6 2.5 0.5
Asian/PacificIslander women 3.2 3.9 2.9 2.5 3.1 3.2 3.1 2.1 3.8 4.4 3.5 2.5
Total number of clerkships reported 3,587 1,347 1,852 359 3,315 1,258 1,752 282 3,300 1,195 1,894 197

*Counts include all clerkships, including those for which demographic information was not reported. All percentages are based on clerkships for which the appropriate demographic information was reported.

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