The Catholic University of America


Law School's Career Professionals Analyze
Increase in Lateral Judicial Law Clerkships


Jessica Heywood, the director of the Office of Career & Professional Development at The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, and Deborah Kerker Herman, an advisor in the office who focuses on judicial clerkships, have published an article in the January bulletin of the National Association for Law Placement.
“Lateral Judicial Law Clerks: A Brief Analysis of Current Trends” examines the reasons behind the recent increase in the number of attorneys who have at least one year of professional experience who seek judicial clerkships.
Based upon interviews with large national firms in major metropolitan areas, the authors concluded, perhaps not surprisingly, that the unusually challenging legal job market of the past couple of years has played a significant role in the trend.  
“Many applicants were experienced attorneys who had been laid off in the latter part of 2008 and first half of 2009. Indeed, of the more than 400,000 applications submitted via OSCAR (the federal government’s Online System for Clerkship Application and Review), 52% were from graduates,” the report stated, while also noting the judiciary’s increasing desire for experienced attorneys.  
But is leaving one’s employer for a year or two to accept a judicial clerkship always a good idea? Heywood and Kerker Herman advised caution.
“While many judges are seeking experienced attorneys to fill clerkship positions, law firms will not always be in a position to guarantee departing associates a position upon completion of the clerkship,” they write. “Associates should consider the possible ramifications of leaving their firms to pursue a clerkship, particularly if the associate may be interested in returning to the firm.”