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Monday, October 21, 2002 has an article by Tony Mauro about how more of this year's crop of Supreme Court clerks have not gone directly to the Court from their lower clerkship. Personally, I am a little suspicious of the premise of this article. First of all, statistics are of dubious meaning when the sample size is 35 individuals, so the fact that 60% of the current clerks have had experience after their first clerkship seems to say more than it really does. Second, of the four current clerks I know, three (75%!) have had at least one year of firm experience before clerking for the Court. Of these, one (33%) received the offer for last year and had to delay one year, while the other two (66%) received their offer during their appellate court clerkship and had a year to kill, which they spent at a firm. Staying employed while waiting for one's clerkship to start hardly qualifies as a "detour" in my book.

Given that my sample size is 1/7 (14%) of the 21 clerks the article says took a detour, and that the extra year for 100% of my sample says nothing meaningful about who the Court is hiring, I doubt whether this represents any kind of trend.

On the other hand, thanks to Tony Mauro for writing any article about Supreme Court clerks at all. I have so little to feed my obsession that any information is greedily and gratefully accepted.


This blog has additional reflections on the article. (Thanks to Howard Bashman for the link.) The comments center on the asserted pros and cons of having lawyers with a little real-world experience before clerking for the Court, particularly in that the clerks might recommend to grant cert in cases that are less sexy but would result in more widely ranging real-world consequences.