FedSoc Blog

Are the Voluntary Federal Law-Clerk Hiring Guidelines Dead?


by Publius
Posted January 30, 2013, 4:09 PM

David Lat comments at Above the Law:

When it comes to the Law Clerk Hiring Plan, the voluntary set of guidelines to put federal law clerk hiring on a standard timetable, one might say, “The ship be sinking.”

Actually, scratch that. The ship be sunk, and barnacles are growing all over its hull.

We declared the Plan dead last June, when at least two top schools decided not to participate in it. But now the Plan is, well, dead and growing cold and decomposing.

Yesterday brought word that an über-prestigious court, one that gunners across the land would sacrifice body parts to clerk for (who needs a pinky finger anyway), is abandoning the Plan….

The court in question: the Most Holy D.C. Circuit, second only in prestige to the U.S. Supreme Court. Even though its docket, heavy on administrative law, might not make for the most fun clerkship experience, the prestige more than makes up for it. Four out of nine SCOTUS justices are former members of the D.C. Circuit, and current members of the D.C. Circuit include several leading feeder judges.

Yesterday the D.C. Circuit announced that its judges won’t be participating in the Law Clerk Hiring Plan. . . .

From the notice just posted to the D.C. Circuit’s website:

Although the judges of this circuit would uniformly prefer to continue hiring law clerks pursuant to the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan, it has become apparent that the plan is no longer working. Because participation in the plan is voluntary, a significant percentage of all United States circuit judges must agree to follow it if it is to work appropriately. During the past few years, a significant and increasing number of circuit judges around the country have hired in advance of the plan’s interview and offer dates, and it is likely that they will continue to do so. As a result, continued adherence to the plan is no longer fair and equitable to either students or judges. . . .

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