Statement on the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan

The University of Chicago Law School supports the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan announced by the Ad Hoc Committee on Law Clerk Hiring in February 2018. We thank the Ad Hoc Committee, the federal judiciary, and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for engaging in efforts to improve law clerk hiring for all the parties to the process. As I noted in my letter of support to the Ad Hoc Committee in September 2017 the system in place at that time resulted in many clerkship hiring decisions being made too early and on the basis of too little information, which does not serve the interests of either students or judges.

A clerkship is a tremendous honor and an extraordinary professional opportunity – one that we strongly encourage our students to pursue. We have let our students, faculty, and the Law School community know that the Law School fully supports the Hiring Plan. We have specifically explained to the Class of 2020 our hope and expectation that the structure of the Hiring Plan means that for their class, “the clerkship application and hiring process will not begin until after a law student’s second year,” and that they will be able to access OSCAR to learn about clerkship opportunities and judges on February 6, 2019.

The Law School is pleased that the federal clerkship hiring process has moved to the summer of a law student’s second year. This timing allows students to have a more robust law school record, deeper faculty relationships, a stronger sense of their career goals, more opportunities to gain legal writing experience before applying for clerkships, and more time to learn about clerkships. In turn, this provides benefits to judges, who will have a better-informed and more experienced pool of clerkship candidates. We will take all necessary steps to ensure that judges who adhere to the Hiring Plan are not disadvantaged as a result.

The Federal Law Clerk Hiring Best Practices encourages judges to “[s]upport a transparent recruitment process by maintaining OSCAR judge profiles that identify hiring practices and preferences.” OSCAR is a valuable resource for transparency and access for the clerkship hiring process, allowing all students who wish to pursue a clerkship to do so with the same information about opportunities. We sincerely hope that as many judges as possible use OSCAR to clearly indicate their participation in the Hiring Plan.

The Law School is hopeful that the Hiring Plan will result in a better process for students and judges alike, and we are committed to supporting this new process.

Thomas J. Miles
Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics