Demographic Profile of Judicial Clerks

NALP Bulletin, July 2003 

Each year, several thousand law school graduates obtain judicial clerkships. The table below provides a ten-year demographic profile of graduates taking judicial clerkships, both overall and at the federal, state, and local levels.

Overall, the percentage of clerkships obtained by Caucasian graduates has decreased by less than five percentage points since 1993. In 2002, Caucasian graduates made up 80% of all graduates, a figure almost four percentage points lower than their representation among 2002 clerks. Looking at specific levels of clerkships, those at the state level show the most consistent increases in minority representation over the ten-year period.

Racial/Ethnicity Distribution of Judicial Clerkships by Level of Clerkship
Ten-Year Profile 1993-2002


1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
All Clerks
Native American 0.2% 0.1% 0.5% 0.3% 0.2% 0.6% 0.5% 0.6% 0.4% 0.4%
Asian/Pacific Islander 3.6 4.3 5.3 4.5 5.0 5.6 5.3 5.7 5.6 5.2
African-American 5.1 5.7 5.8 5.9 5.6 6.0 5.8 6.1 6.5 6.5
Hispanic 1.9 2.8 2.8 2.9 3.3 2.8 3.6 3.4 3.5 3.3
Caucasian 88.5 87.1 85.6 86.3 85.9 85.1 84.9 84.2 83.4 83.9
Multi-racial 0.5 0.6
# of clerks 2,943 3,010 3,115 3,224 3,245 3,427 3,422 3,444 3,471 3,342
Federal Clerks
Native American 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.2 0.4 0.4 0.6 0.3 0.2
Asian/Pacific Islander 3.7 5.0 6.4 4.9 5.9 6.9 6.2 7.4 7.0 5.4
African-American 4.8 4.9 5.5 5.3 4.9 4.9 5.3 4.6 4.3 4.7
Hispanic 2.2 2.6 3.4 3.3 3.7 2.5 4.3 3.2 2.7 4.1
Caucasian 89.2 87.3 84.3 86.1 85.4 85.3 83.7 84.1 85.4 85.1
Multi-racial 0.2 0.5
# of clerks 1,228 1,248 1,263 1,246 1,250 1,296 1,338 1,335 1,336 1,258
State Clerks
Native American 0.3 0.1 0.5 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.5
Asian/Pacific Islander 3.6 3.9 4.5 4.7 4.2 4.8 4.5 5.2 4.4 5.0
African-American 4.7 5.6 5.4 5.9 5.5 6.7 5.7 7.1 7.9 7.8
Hispanic 2.7 2.8 2.1 2.7 3.2 2.9 3.2 3.6 4.0 2.9
Caucasian 88.8 87.6 87.5 86.5 86.7 85.0 86.1 83.6 82.4 83.0
Multi-racial 0.7 0.9
# of clerks 1,460 1,545 1,655 1,709 1,702 1,858 1,775 1,735 1,773 1,744
Local Clerks
Native American 0.0 0.0 1.2 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.2 0.6 0.6
Asian/Pacific Islander 2.8 4.1 5.8 2.0 4.7 4.0 4.8 2.4 5.3 5.2
African-American 10.4 8.8 9.8 8.6 9.4 6.8 8.6 6.2 7.5 6.2
Hispanic 2.9 3.1 4.6 2.7 2.5 3.2 2.2 2.6 3.4 2.6
Caucasian 84.3 83.9 78.6 86.3 83.5 86.1 84.4 87.6 82.6 85.4
Multi-racial 0.6 0.0
# of clerks 178 193 173 256 278 251 269 340 321 308

Note: All figures exclude graduates for whom race or ethnicity was not reported. The Asian/Pacific Islander category includes the East Indian/Pakistani category starting in 2001. The option of reporting more than one race/ethnicity was introduced in 2001.

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