Which Law Schools' Grads Get the Most Judicial Clerkships?

Yale Law School has the highest percentage of 2011 grads in federal clerkships by a wide margin.

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Judges at federal, state and local levels say that their clerks play a very important role in their chambers. Judicial clerkships are highly coveted by law school graduates since they have such important career implications. Federal clerkships are the hardest to get, but can be very rewarding for one's legal career.

It is also widely accepted that a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship remains the most difficult and competitive to obtain. Clerking for the Supreme Court is viewed by many law school graduates as the ultimate achievement, and it can be the catalyst for a highly successful legal career. Some law schools have a culture that greatly encourages their graduates to get a clerkship at either the federal, state or local level.

Judicial clerkships can also help newly minted lawyers obtain an advantage in today's highly competitive job market. According to the Judicial Clerkship Handbook from Cornell University Law School:

Judicial clerkships are an outstanding learning experience and provide a good bridge between law school and the practice of law. A judicial clerkship provides the opportunity to hone research and writing skills while being exposed to a wide variety of legal issues. Furthermore, a clerkship offers insight into the judicial process and provides practical familiarity with the litigation process. Because law clerks have the opportunity to observe a large number of attorneys in practice, the experience exposes them to a wide range of legal styles and abilities. It may also give insights into local legal employers that can inform decisions about permanent employment."

With that in mind, U.S. News has just published two exclusive clerkship rankings of law schools using data from our recent 2014 Best Law Schools rankings for the 2011 J.D. graduating class.

The first list shows which law schools have the largest proportion of their employed 2011 graduates working at judicial clerkships with federal judges. The second list shows which law schools have the largest proportion of their employed 2011 graduates working at clerkships with judges at the state and local levels.

The federal clerkship rankings have Yale Law School, not surprisingly, first by a significant margin, with 34.5 percent of employed graduates holding clerkships, followed by Stanford University and Harvard University.

At the state and local level clerkship rankings, the law school at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey—Camden came out on top, with 38.7 percent holding clerkships. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey—Newark came in a close second with 37.6 percent, and Seton Hall University, also in New Jersey, came in No. 3.

Federal Judicial Clerkship Rankings

Law school (name) (state) 2014 Best Law Schools rank Percent of 2011 employed J.D. grads with federal judicial clerkships Percent of 2011 employed J.D. grads with state and local judicial clerkships
Yale University (CT) 1 34.5% 2.0%
Stanford University (CA) 2 24.1% 1.6%
Harvard University (MA) 2 17.1% 4.7%
Duke University (NC) 11 12.7% 4.1%
New York University 6 11.4% 2.7%
University of Michigan—Ann Arbor 9 11.1% 4.7%
Vanderbilt University (TN) 15 11.1% 4.2%
University of Virginia 7 10.8% 5.7%
University of California—Berkeley 9 10.3% 2.4%
University of Pennsylvania 7 9.9% 5.7%
University of Notre Dame (IN) 23 9.8% 12.6%
Washington and Lee University (VA) 26 9.7% 10.6%
University of Chicago 4 9.5% 0.5%
University of Alabama 21 9.2% 4.6%
College of William and Mary (Marshall-Wythe) (VA) 33 9.2% 11.0%

State and Local Judicial Clerkship Rankings

Law school (name) (state) 2014 Best Law Schools rank Percent of 2011 employed J.D. grads with federal judicial clerkships Percent of 2011 employed J.D. grads with state and local judicial clerkships
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey—Camden 91 3.5% 38.7%
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey—Newark 86 1.5% 37.6%
Seton Hall University (NJ) 64 2.8% 37.3%
University of Hawaii—Manoa (Richardson) 80 2.4% 35.3%
University of South Dakota RNP 4.9% 26.8%
University of Baltimore 134 0.4% 19.8%
Pennsylvania State University (Dickinson) 64 0.7% 19.3%
University of Colorado—Boulder 44 5.0% 18.8%
University of Wyoming 113 1.9% 18.5%
University of Maryland (Carey) 41 4.0% 18.2%
University of Nevada—Las Vegas 68 3.5% 17.7%
University of South Carolina 98 3.9% 17.7%
University of Montana 113 2.9% 17.6%
University of Arizona (Rogers) 38 0.7% 17.2%
Drexel University (Mack) (PA) 126 1.0% 15.5%
University of Idaho 134 1.2% 15.5%