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The New Market for Federal Judicial Law Clerks

  • Christopher Avery
  • Christine Jolls
  • Richard Posner
  • Alvin E. Roth

In the past, judges have often hired applicants for judicial clerkships as early as the beginning of the second year of law school for positions commencing approximately two years down the road. In the new hiring regime for federal judicial law clerks, by contrast, judges are exhorted to follow a set of start dates for considering and hiring applicants during the fall of the third year of law school. Using the same general methodology as we employed in a study of the market for federal judicial law clerks conducted in 1998-2000, we have broadly surveyed both federal appellate judges and law students about their experiences of the new market for law clerks. This paper analyzes our findings within the prevailing economic framework for studying markets with tendencies toward "early" hiring. Our data make clear that the movement of the clerkship market back to the third year of law school is highly valued by judges, but we also find that a strong majority of the judges responding to our surveys has concluded that nonadherence to the specified start dates is very substantial -- a conclusion we are able to corroborate with specific quantitative data from both judge and student surveys. The consistent experience of a wide range of other markets suggests that such nonadherence in the law clerk market will lead to either a reversion to very early hiring or the use of a centralized matching system such as that used for medical residencies. We suggest, however, potential avenues by which the clerkship market could stabilize at something like its present pattern of mixed adherence and nonadherence, thereby avoiding the complete abandonment of the current system.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13213.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13213.

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Date of creation: Jul 2007
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Publication status: published as Avery, Christopher, Christine Jolls, Richard A. Posner, and Alvin E. Roth. "The New Market for Federal Judicial Law Clerks." University of Chicago Law Review 74 (spring 2007): 447–486.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13213
Note: LE LS
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  1. Posner, Richard A. & Avery, Christopher & Jolls, Christine & Roth, Alvin, 2001. "The Market for Federal Judicial Law Clerks," Scholarly Articles 2623748, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Guillaume Frechette & Alvin E. Roth & M. Utku Ünver, 2004. "Unraveling Yields Inefficient Matchings: Evidence from Post- Season College Football Bowls," Microeconomics 0404001, EconWPA, revised 24 Sep 2004.
  3. Muriel Niederle, 2007. "Competitive Wages in a Match with Ordered Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1957-1969, December.
  4. Li, Hao & Rosen, Sherwin, 1998. "Unraveling in Matching Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 371-87, June.
  5. Jeremy Bulow & Jonathan Levin, 2006. "Matching and Price Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 652-668, June.
  6. Roth, Alvin E & Xing, Xiaolin, 1997. "Turnaround Time and Bottlenecks in Market Clearing: Decentralized Matching in the Market for Clinical Psychologists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 284-329, April.
  7. Muriel Niederle & Alvin E Roth, 2003. "Unraveling Reduces Mobility in a Labor Market: Gastroenterology with and without a Centralized Match," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000428, David K. Levine.
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