Reexamining the Market for Judicial Clerks and other Assortative Markets
For many decades, scholars have puzzled over why the market for judicial clerks has been characterized by increasingly early bidding, with interviews and offers extended at progressively early points in a student's law school career. An important article published recently by Jolls, Avery, Judge Posner and Alvin Roth reported the results of a study the authors conducted of judges and clerks documenting the many ways in which the market operated inefficiently. In their view, the clerk market corresponds to other markets studied chiefly by Roth that show timing disturbances claimed to be market failures. The authors recommended adoption of a modified matching program, similar to the program that matches medical residents with hospitals. This paper reanalyzes the clerkship market and the other markets studied by Professor Roth from the standpoint of the costs and benefits of information acquisition. It shows that, far from market failure, the use of time as a currency in the market, represents the working out of market forces where other, more traditional terms of trade - in particular, price - are unavailable. The paper also shows that virtually all of the other markets studied by Roth that show timing peculiarities are characterized by restraints on the use of price to clear the market.
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