Judicial Clerkships: Popular Among 2014 Graduates

by Jaime Welsh

UConn Law graduates have been successful in securing clerkships despite the recent downturn in the legal market.

 The majority of UConn Law gradates clerk for local state courts, which offers graduates an inside perspective on how judges make decisions, participate in the judicial process, and learn the law from inside a courtroom.  An individual serving as a clerk will typically work a one-year term assigned to either a specific judge or justice, or the entire court.

Thus far, students have secured positions to clerk in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia state courts, as well as Connecticut and New Jersey district courts. Michele Hoff from the Career Planning Center said that some clerkship applications are still pending and so the number of students who have secured clerkships for the 2014-2015 term is only tentative.

This year, the Connecticut Appellate Court hired twelve UConn Law graduates to fill sixteen of its open positions (not all twelve are from the current class of 2014).  And two 2014 graduates will clerk in the Connecticut Supreme Court.  Hoff was unable to give numbers for students clerking at the Connecticut trial courts, as the Career Planning Center was still waiting for final numbers and a more robust response from graduates in reporting their employment plans. Historically, there have been an average of four to five opportunities in Connecticut trial courts and some offers have been extended after graduation, Hoff said.

As for Article Three federal courts, two 2014 graduates will be clerking at the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, and one 2014 graduate will be clerking at the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.  Only two of these clerkships will begin in the immediate 2014–2015 term, however.

As for how these numbers compare to recent years, Hoff stated that she thinks we will “see the percentage [of students securing clerkships] go up. She qualified that this “doesn’t necessarily mean more than two or three more bodies” securing clerkships due to class sizes getting smaller.  However, Hoff stated that her “sense is that overall we’re going to have higher number of students” in clerkships than in recent years past.

The Law School’s Graduate Report for the Class of 2013 states that 10.5 percent of graduates were employed in a judicial clerkship, and the Graduate Report for the Class of 2012 states that 8.3 percent of graduates were employed in a judicial clerkship.

“Hopefully the trend [upwards] will continue,” said Hoff.