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Justice Kagan Supports the New Clerk Hiring Program

Landing a job as a federal judge's law clerk is a big deal. Unfortunately for many law students, the path to getting hired by any judge is often mired in high level networking, which is beyond the scope of most lawyers, let alone 1Ls, 2Ls, or even 3Ls.

To combat that barrier to entry, a new two-year pilot program was proposed last year and many judges across the country are participating in it. Notably, to encourage even more participation, Justice Kagan recently spoke in support of the pilot program, explaining that she would "take into account" whether judges and schools are complying with the new process when hiring her own clerks.

What Does Justice Kagan Mean?

Likely, what this means is that Justice Kagan may look more favorably upon candidates for a clerkship with her if those candidates have experience from a judge that uses the new clerk hiring process. That process basically limits candidates from applying, and judges from interviewing candidates, until after a law student's second year.

This delay, in theory, will allow those candidates who started law school without any connections in the legal world to have a minimal opportunity to compete against those students who have those connections from the get-go.

The letter to fellow judges drafted by the Ad Hoc Committee on Law Clerk Hiring explains that first generation professionals, students who are the first in their families to go to college, or other less privileged students, are disadvantaged by accelerated clerkship hiring programs. Additionally, the committee notes that the newly proposed process will help judges hire better clerks because the information available to make a hiring decision will be better.

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