Clerkship Study Tables 27-45

Courting Clerkships:
The NALP Judicial Clerkship Study

Table 27. Demographics of Students Who Did and Did Not Apply for a Clerkship
Table 28. Comparisons of Application and Offer Rates
Table 29. Law School Activities (Reported by Students Receiving an Offer for a Judicial Clerkship)
Table 30. Importance of the Following Factors in Judges' Selection of Law Clerks
Table 31. Assessment of Reason(s) for Unsuccessful Applications
Table 32. Factors Influencing Decision to Apply for a Clerkship
Table 33. Clerkship Application by Career Plans
Table 34. Reasons for Not Applying for a Clerkship
Table 35. Factors Influencing Decision to Apply to Particular Courts
Table 36. Factors Influencing Selection of Judges to Whom to Apply
Table 37. Effect of Perception of Grades or Any Other Aspect of Law School Record on Selection of Courts and Judges
Table 38. Experienced Difficulties with Mechanics of the Clerkship Process
Table 39. Obtaining References
Table 40. Degree of Usefulness of Programs in the Clerkship Application Process
Table 41. Degree of Usefulness of Resources in the Clerkship Application Process
Table 42. Outcomes of Applications by Type of Court
Table 43. How Much Time Given by Judges to Respond to a Clerkship Offer
Table 44. Declined Clerkship Offer
Table 45. Perception of Overall Application Process


Table 27. Demographics of Students Who Did and Did Not Apply for a Clerkship

 

APPLIED

DID NOT APPLY

Percent

Number

Percent

Number

Overall

48.2%

796

51.8%

855

Gender

    Women

55.5

441

55.3

473

    Men

44.5

354

44.7

382

Age

    20-25 years

42.9

340

39.8

339

    26-30 years

43.1

341

41.4

352

    31-35 years

8.2

65

11.5

98

    36 and older

5.8

46

7.3

62

Sexual Orientation

    Heterosexual

94.2

729

94.9

807

    Other

5.8

45

5.0

43

Race/Ethnicity

    American Indian/Alaska Native

0.1

1

1.0

8

    Asian/Pacific Islander

6.7

51

7.2

59

    Black/African American

4.7

36

5.0

41

    Caucasian

84.8

647

81.3

662

    Hispanic/Latino

2.6

20

3.6

29

    Other

1.0

8

1.8

15

Disability Status

    Not Disabled

98.0

745

97.2

791

    Disabled

2.0

15

2.8

23

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Table 28. Comparisons of Application and Offer Rates

 

Total #

% Applying

% Not Applying

Of Those Applying % Receiving Offer

Overall

1,651

48.2%

51.8%

69.5%

Gender

    Women

914

48.2

51.8

66.0

    Men

736

48.1

51.9

73.7

Age

    20-25 years

679

50.1

49.9

72.6

    26-30 years

693

49.2

50.8

69.8

    31-35 years

163

39.9

60.1

67.7

    36 and older

108

42.6

57.4

47.8

Sexual Orientation

    Heterosexual

1,536

47.5

52.5

69.5

    Openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual

74

52.7

47.3

69.2

    Other

13

46.2

53.8

66.7

Race/Ethnicity

    American Indian/Alaska Native

9

11.1

88.9

100.0

    Asian/Pacific Islander

110

46.4

53.6

80.4

    Black/African American

77

46.8

53.2

66.7

    Caucasian

1,309

49.4

50.6

68.9

    Hispanic/Latino

49

40.8

59.2

80.0

    Other

34.8

65.2

62.5

Disability Status

    Not Disabled

1,536

48.5

51.5

69.9

    Visually Impaired or Blind

5

60.0

40.0

66.7

    Hard of Hearing or Deaf

3

66.7

33.3

100.0

    Learning Disabled

10

10.0

90.0

100.0

    Other

19

47.4

52.6

55.6

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Table 29. Law School Activities (Reported by Students Receiving an Offer for a Judicial Clerkship)

Have top grades/high class rank

53.7%

On the law review/law journal

53.7

Have been a teaching or research assistant

52.8

Have significant prior work experience

45.0

Participated substantially in a law clinic

37.6

Did summer/academic year judicial intern/externship

31.1

Participated in another journal in the law school

30.9

Member of moot court team/barristers union

22.6

Hold other advanced degrees

15.4

Other

13.7

Have some special connection to a judge

8.3

None of the above

0.2

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Table 30. Importance of the Following Factors in Judges' Selection of Law Clerks

Factor

Extremely Important

Moderately Important

Not Very Important

Academic Record

83.6%

15.8%

0.6%

Cover Letter

12.9

46.7

40.4

Demographics (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation)

9.6

45.4

45.0

Evaluation of the interview

81.6

17.0

1.4

Faculty recommendations

46.0

46.8

7.2

Geographic/regional factors

15.5

47.0

37.5

Law clinic experience

5.3

33.0

61.7

Law journal membership

57.5

33.6

8.9

Law school attended

67.4

28.3

4.3

Moot court participation

9.9

49.9

40.3

Prior work experience

18.5

56.3

25.2

Personal character traits

62.9

30.6

6.5

Personal connection to judge

33.4

35.5

31.0

Summer or academic year judicial internship/externship

13.4

39.7

46.9

Writing sample

42.2

46.9

11.0

Other

41.7

10.7

47.6

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Table 31. Assessment of Reason(s) for Unsuccessful Applications

Reason

All Responses

Men

Women

Minority

Non-Minority

Application was not competitive enough

81.4%

80.7%

81.9%

81.4%

81.3%

    Grades/academic record were not strong enough

69.1

70.3

67.9

79.2

66.8

    Did not have the right connections to acquire a clerkship

40.8

41.4

40.4

33.3

42.4

    Disadvantaged by law school's reputation

35.7

35.7

35.7

31.3

36.6

    Was not competitive in some other respect

16.0

14.9

17.1

13.5

16.6

    Did not have adequate writing sample

9.1

10.0

8.2

3.1

10.4

    Did not have adequate prior work experience

5.9

5.6

6.1

5.2

6.0

Was disadvantaged by some aspect of selection process

55.4

54.3

56.4

50.9

56.3

    The timing of the process

61.8

40.2

43.6

36.5

43.1

    The arbitrary nature of the process

54.0

34.5

38.6

31.3

37.8

    Geographic location/judges preferred local candidates

26.5

14.9

20.8

17.7

18.0

    Race/ethnicity

8.4

9.2

2.5

17.7

3.0

    Age

7.5

5.22

5.0

3.1

5.5

    Gender

7.2

4.4

5.4

5.2

4.8

    Sexual orientation

3.3

1.6

2.9

1.0

2.5

The interview(s) did not go well

17.7

18.0

17.5

17.0

17.9

Did not have adequate support/faculty clerkship committee

10.6

10.3

10.8

9.3

10.8

Did not have adequate support/career services office

9.6

9.7

9.4

10.2

9.5

Do not have any theory as to the reason(s)

9.5

9.3

9.7

9.3

9.5

Unable to obtain strong enough recommendations

8.7

8.4

9.1

7.6

9.0

Reason

All Responses

Age 20-25

Age 26-30

Age 31-35

Age 36 and Older

Application was not competitive enough

81.4%

83.9%

80.8%

70.0%

82.4%

    Grades/academic record were not strong enough

69.1

70.5

71.4

58.8

53.6

    Did not have the right connections to acquire a clerkship

40.8

38.5

42.9

32.4

50.0

    Disadvantaged by law school's reputation

35.7

34.2

33.8

55.9

35.7

    Was not competitive in some other respect

16.0

18.0

15.2

8.8

14.3

    Did not have adequate writing sample

9.1

9.4

8.7

5.9

14.3

    Did not have adequate prior work experience

5.9

8.6

4.0

26.5

7.1

Was disadvantaged by some aspect of selection process

55.4

55.4

54.2

56.0

61.8

    The timing of the process

61.8

43.2

41.6

55.9

21.4

    The arbitrary nature of the process

54.0

36.8

37.2

26.5

35.7

    Geographic location/judges preferred local candidates

26.5

19.7

17.3

11.8

17.9

    Race/ethnicity

8.4

3.9

7.4

5.9

3.6

    Age

7.5

3.0

0.9

5.9

57.1

    Gender

7.2

3.4

5.2

5.9

10.7

    Sexual orientation

3.3

0.4

3.5

8.8

10.7

The interview(s) did not go well

17.7

16.1

19.2

16.0

20.6

Did not have adequate support/faculty clerkship committee

10.6

10.4

10.1

8.0

17.7

Did not have adequate support/career services office

9.6

9.6

10.1

8.0

8.8

Do not have any theory as to the reason(s)

9.5

8.2

11.2

12.0

2.9

Unable to obtain strong enough recommendations

8.7

11.8

8.0

46.0

2.9

Reason

All Responses

Disabled

Not Disabled

Heterosexual

Other Sexual Orientation

Application was not competitive enough

81.4%

81.8%

81.3%

81.7%

77.6%

    Grades/academic record were not strong enough

69.1

75.0

68.6

69.1

68.9

    Did not have the right connections to acquire a clerkship

40.8

36.1

41.1

40.6

42.2

    Disadvantaged by law school's reputation

35.7

36.1

35.6

35.7

35.6

    Was not competitive in some other respect

16.0

16.7

16.0

15.3

24.4

    Did not have adequate writing sample

9.1

8.3

9.1

9.3

6.7

    Did not have adequate prior work experience

5.9

11.1

5.5

6.4

68.9

Was disadvantaged by some aspect of selection process

55.4

50.0

55.7

55.5

53.5

    The timing of the process

61.8

30.6

42.7

42.7

33.3

    The arbitrary nature of the process

54.0

27.8

37.3

36.7

35.6

    Geographic location/judges preferred local candidates

26.5

13.9

18.2

18.6

11.1

    Race/ethnicity

8.4

5.6

5.7

5.8

4.4

    Age

7.5

13.9

4.5

5.2

4.4

    Gender

7.2

8.3

4.7

5.0

4.4

    Sexual orientation

3.3

8.3

2.4

2.5

26.7

The interview(s) did not go well

17.7

18.2

17.7

17.3

22.4

Did not have adequate support/faculty clerkship committee

10.6

13.6

10.3

10.4

8.6

Did not have adequate support/career services office

9.6

13.6

9.3

10.0

6.9

Do not have any theory as to the reason(s)

9.5

4.6

9.8

9.6

8.6

Unable to obtain strong enough recommendations

8.7

9.1

8.7

8.4

12.1

Based on 654 responses. Percentages add to more than 100 because respondents could check more than one item. The secondary reason percentages (indented) are percentages of those who checked the primary reason.

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Table 32. Factors Influencing Decision to Apply for a Clerkship

Reason

Percent Responding

Desire to gain work the work experience of a clerkship

87.1%

Impact of clerkship on future career

80.5

Prestige of clerkships

69.4

Discussions with others

64.1

    Lawyers in practice

58.1

    Law students

46.9

    Other faculty member

36.0

    Career services professional

24.6

    Other person (parent, mentor, friend)

22.1

    Member of faculty clerkship committee

15.4

Academic performance in law school

21.4

Journal/moot court membership

4.5

Programs in the law school

1.6

Based on 793 responses. Percentages add to more than 100 because respondents

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Table 33. Clerkship Application by Career Plans

Choice

# Checking This Choice

% Not Applying

Of Those Applying % Receiving Offer

Of Those Applying % Not Receiving Offer

Private Practice/Law Firm

1,215

55.8%

70.7%

29.3%

Public Interest Law

241

39.0

74.7

25.4

Government

410

34.9

73.8

26.2

Academia

157

25.5

83.3

16.7

Non-law

119

74.0

51.6

48.3

Other

74

68.9

72.7

27.3

Undecided

116

39.7

66.2

33.8

Note: Respondents could check more than one choice.

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Table 34. Reasons for Not Applying for a Clerkship

Reason

Percent Responding

Preferred a different post-graduation option

61.3%

Did not think application would be competitive

43.4

    Thought academic record not strong enough for clerkship in which interested

86.8

    Did not think had right connections to acquire clerkship

32.6

    Did not have an adequate writing sample

17.8

    Felt disadvantaged being from law school given competitiveness of clerkship

15.1

    Felt record was not competitive in some other respect

10.0

Lacked the finances to sustain a clerkship term (salary differential)

33.8

Discouraged by some aspect of the application process

30.3

    Timing of the process

66.4

    Arduousness of the process

61.8

    Felt entire process was unfair

13.5

    Fairness of hiring relative to race/ethnicity

9.3

    Fairness of hiring relative to age

6.9

    Fairness of hiring relative to sexual orientation

3.9

    Fairness of hiring relative to gender

3.5

Did not believe a clerkship would benefit in future career

29.2

Did not feel had adequate support or assistance from career services office

10.9

Did not feel able to make a job commitment that far in advance

7.5

Lacked the finances to apply or interview for a clerkship

6.1

Did not feel had adequate support of faculty clerkship committee or administration of school

5.1

Was unable to obtain sufficient recommendations

3.9

Note: Based on 855 responses. Percentages add to more than 100 because respondents could check more than one item. The secondary reason percentages (indented) are percentages of those who checked the primary reason.

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Table 35. Factors Influencing Decision to Apply to Particular Courts

Factor

Percent Responding

Geographical considerations

73.0%

Level of court — trial/appellate

53.7

Type of court — federal/state/local

52.8

Prestige of court

32.8

Future career plans

20.7

Specialized subject matter (e.g., bankruptcy, tax, military)

8.8

Financial (e.g., salary, differential in future clerkship bonus)

6.8

Based on 792 responses. Percentages add to more than 100 because respondents could check more than one item.

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Table 36. Factors Influencing Selection of Judges to Whom to Apply

Factor

Percent Responding

Reputation of the judge

43.7%

Length of clerkship term (one year vs. two years)

39.4

Atmosphere in chambers/working conditions

37.7

Judge hired clerks from law school before

23.9

Judicial ideology

20.2

Mentor relationship

20.1

Political affiliation of the judge

13.8

Personal connection to judge

8.4

Judge is a graduate of law school

8.2

Race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability status of the judge

7.9

Special status of the judge (e.g., chief, senior, new appointee)

7.5

Status as a "feeder judge" for U.S. Supreme Court

4.1

Based on 748 responses. Percentages add to more than 100 because respondents could check more than one item.

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Table 37. Effect of Perception of Grades or Any Other Aspect of Law School Record on Selection of Courts and Judges

 

PERCENT WHO SAID:

Yes

No

# of Responses

Overall

60.5%

39.5%

787

Men

61.4

38.6

350

Women

59.6

40.4

436

20-25 years

64.8

35.2

335

26-30 years

58.3

41.7

338

31-35 years

55.3

44.6

65

36 and older

55.6

44.4

45

Heterosexual

59.9

40.1

721

Other sexual orientation

66.7

33.3

66

Non-minority

61.9

38.1

640

Minority

54.4

45.6

147

Disabled

57.1

42.9

49

Not disabled

60.7

39.3

738

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Table 38. Experienced Difficulties with Mechanics of the Clerkship Process

Experienced Difficulties

Percent Reporting

Yes

44.9%

No

55.1%

Difficulty

Percent Reporting

Determining application requirements and deadlines of each judge

53.4%

Timeliness of the application

50.9

Arranging or prioritizing the interviews

32.5

Researching background of the judges

26.3

Obtaining letters of recommendation

26.0

Obtaining names and addresses of judges

16.1

Assembling the application package

13.3

Preparing writing sample

10.7

Preparing cover letters

9.9

Preparing resume

1.4

Based on 354 responses. Percentages add to more than 100 because respondents could check more than one item.

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Table 39. Obtaining References

Person Requested From

Percentage Requesting Response From

Professor(s) for whom I wrote an exam only

25.9%

Professor(s) for whom I wrote paper(s) or essay(s)

21.5

Lawyers in practice

18.5

Professor(s) for whom I was a research assistant or teaching assistant

14.1

Professor(s) for whom I did work in a legal clinic

5.3

Dean

3.1

Other professor

2.7

Faculty Clerkship Committee member/advisor

1.9

 

Percent indicating difficulty finding references

33.1%

Percent indicating problems with content of letters

36.1

Percent indicating problems with timeliness of letters

30.8

Based on 789 responses. Percentages add to more than 100 because more than one item could be checked.

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Table 40. Degree of Usefulness of Programs in the Clerkship Application Process

Program

Very Useful

Moderately Useful

Not Useful

Not Available/
Did Not Attend

Introduction/overview of clerkships

23.2%

46.5%

8.7%

21.7%

Mechanics of application process

21.7

33.8

7.3

37.2

Interviewing for clerkships

5.6

15.5

7.7

71.0

Preparing for clerkships(3Ls)

1.7

2.0

3.0

93.4

Panels of third-year students

8.0

18.8

5.2

68.0

Panels of alumni law clerks

8.9

19.4

4.0

67.7

Panels of faculty members

6.8

20.4

5.7

67.1

Lectures by judges

7.8

13.2

3.6

75.4

Specialized informational/support programs for women

0.6

0.9

0.9

97.6

Specialized informational/support programs for students of color

2.4

0.9

0.4

96.3

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Table 41. Degree of Usefulness of Resources in the Clerkship Application Process

Resource

Very Useful

Moderately Useful

Not Useful

Not Available/
Did Not Use

Law school's judicial clerkship handbook

30.9%

42.9%

9.1%

17.1%

Judicial clerkship section of law school's web site

5.6

6.7

9.1

78.6

Law school's judges database

24.2

21.6

6.6

47.7

Written feedback from alumni law clerks

9.0

18.5

8.3

64.3

Written comments from faculty

1.3

3.8

6.9

88.3

Postings of letters from judges seeking law clerks

13.7

21.5

14.1

50.7

Almanac of the Federal Judiciary

29.0

27.5

3.6

39.8

BNA's Directory of State and Federal Courts, Judges and Clerks

11.5

17.5

4.3

66.7

The American Bench

3.8

5.6

4.1

86.6

Judicial Yellow Book

14.0

17.5

3.8

64.7

Judicial Staff Directory

5.9

10.3

4.9

78.9

Wants Federal-State Court Directory

0.7

1.3

1.7

96.3

Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures (Vermont Law School)

1.7

2.6

2.4

93.3

NALP Judicial Clerkship Directory

13.6

21.9

3.1

61.4

Directory of Minority Judges of the United States

1.3

2.1

1.9

94.7

WESTLAW®/LEXIS®

21.9

37.9

7.0

33.8

Web sites

6.4

7.3

2.9

83.5

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Table 42. Outcomes of Applications by Type of Court

 

Number of Applications Sent

% of Applications Resulting in Invitation to Interview

% of These Invitations Resulting in Interview

% of Interviews Resulting in Offer

Federal Appellate

8,948

10.0%

59.8%

36.4%

Federal District

16,085

11.2

50.0

33.6

Federal Other

1,240

13.2

66.5

33.0

State Appellate

1,571

24.9

74.7

43.2

State Trial

2,671

24.4

62.3

37.1

Local Appellate

13

46.2

83.3

20.0

Local Trial

556

19.1

52.8

14.3

Other

13

69.2

77.8

57.1

Based on 763 responses.
Note: Figures in this table provide a gauge of chances of success at each stage of the process. However, because of the variety of individual circumstances, such as instances of receiving a clerkship without going through the application process, having multiple interviews as the result of one letter of application to a pool of judges, and withdrawing other applications upon receiving an offer, these figures should not be viewed as precise quantities.

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Table 43. How Much Time Given by Judges to Respond to a Clerkship Offer

Least Amount of Time Given by Judge to Respond to Offer

Percent Responding

Most Amount of Time Given by Judge to Respond to Offer

Percent Responding

On the spot

21.2%

On the spot

12.3%

Less than 24 hours

11.8

Less than 24 hours

6.8

24-48 hours

22.8

24-48 hours

21.5

2 days to 1 week

29.1

2 days to 1 week

31.3

1-2 weeks

9.6

1-2 weeks

15.9

2 weeks to a month

3.6

2 weeks to a month

7.2

More than 1 month

1.9

More than 1 month

5.1

Note: A number of people did not answer this question, noting that they accepted on the spot and withdrew all
other applications.

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Table 44. Declined Clerkship Offer

Declined Offer

Percent Responding

Yes

32.3

No

67.7%

Reason for Declining

Percent Responding

Accepted offer from another judge

82.0%

Did not wish to clerk for this particular judge

6.9

Did not wish to do a judicial clerkship after all

2.5

Felt constrained financially (i.e., by educational and consumer debt)

0.6

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Table 45. Perception of Overall Application Process

 

PERCENT WHO WERE:

Satisfied

Dissatisfied

# of Responses

All who applied

57.7%

42.4%

765

Those receiving offer

64.4

35.6

540

Those not receiving offer

40.0

60.0

215

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