These Law Schools Dominated Federal Clerk Hiring Market In 2023

Law school rankings clerk hiring

The American Bar Association’s new data reveals that the University of Chicago Law School has regained its top position as the law school sending the highest percentage of graduates into federal clerkships.

In 2023, 25.35% of its juris doctor graduates secured federal judicial clerkships, marking a significant achievement in a competitive field. Previously, the Chicago law school held the top spot in both 2020 and 2021 but slipped to third place in 2022 with a clerkship rate of 20%, overtaken by Stanford Law School and Yale Law School.

In 2023, Yale Law School claimed the second position with 24.11% of its JDs landing federal clerkships, followed closely by Stanford Law School at 20.77%.

The University of Notre Dame Law School and the University of Michigan Law School rounded out the top five, with 18.18% and 14.01% of graduates, respectively, securing federal clerkships.

Law school rankings clerk hiring

Federal clerkships remain scarce

Federal clerkships, coveted for their prestige and importance in securing other sought-after positions such as judgeships and law professorships, remain relatively scarce. Only 3.4% of the 35,215 JD graduates nationwide in 2023 obtained federal clerkships, with a few law schools dominating the market.

The top 10 law schools with the highest percentage of 2023 JDs in federal clerkships produced a third of all such clerks nationwide. Despite Harvard Law School having the largest number of federal clerks in 2023 at 66, this accounted for only 11.58% of the graduating class due to its large size.

Conservative federal circuit court judges James Ho and Elizabeth Branch announced that they would not hire Yale and Stanford law students as clerks following protests of conservative speakers in late 2022 and early 2023, respectively.

However, these boycotts did not affect law students who graduated in 2023, as most federal judges had already made clerk hiring decisions for those students in the summer of 2022. Ho and Branch clarified that their boycotts would apply only to newly enrolled students at Yale and Stanford.