Top Ten Ranking Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings
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 ¶  Supreme Court Clerkship Placement, 2000 Through 2007 Terms
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Writing Essays

Posted April 13, 2007

Earlier studies of Supreme Court Clerkship placement covered longer periods of time (1991-2005, then 1996-2006); this study covers the 2000 through 2007 terms, and so permits some sense of which schools are increasing their success at securing Supreme Court clerkships for their best graduates, and which are having less success.

Because of the small number of clerks chosen in a given year; because clerks are only chosen from the very top of any law school’s class; because current clerks participate in the process of selecting new clerks; and because the Justices themselves have particular school loyalties,[1] gross numbers are probably more informative, and so the ranking below is based on the total number of clerks placed on the Supreme Court. The class size (rounded to the nearest 25) is taken from the most recent ABA guide data on matriculating students. This is misleading in one important respect, since class size may have been different over the period of time during which the clerks were selected. The total number of clerks divided by recent class size is not a measure of the likelihood of getting a Supreme Court clerkship, but rather some indication of the relative success of schools in placing graduates as Supreme Court clerks taking into account their size.

This includes all clerks on the Supreme Court from the 2000 term through the upcoming 2007 term. The late Chief Justice Rehnquist’s clerks were accepted by the new Chief Justice John Roberts, and so are counted; the clerks C.J. Roberts brought with him from the D.C. Circuit were not counted, since they were selected in a less competitive process; the same applies to those Judge Samuel Alito brought with him from the Third Circuit, but not those he chose for the 2006 Term and after.

The changes in rank from the 1991-2005 inclusive ranking of placement in Supreme Court clerkships give some indication of which schools are becoming more successful, and which less successful, at placing their graduates in these highly competitive (though also increasingly politicized) positions.

Rank School Total number of clerks Recent Class Size (rounded to nearest 25) Total Number of Clerks Divided by Recent Class Size (rounded to two places) (the higher the number, the better the success rate) Rank Based on Total 1991-2005 Clerkships
1 Harvard University  74 550 .14 1
2 Yale University  54 200 .27 2
3 University of Chicago  30 200 .15 3
4 Stanford University  19 175 .11 4
5 Columbia University  17 375 .05 5
6 New York University  14 450 .03 8
7 University of Virginia  12 375 .03 7
8 University of California, Berkeley  11 275 .04 9
9 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor   9 375 .02 6
10 Northwestern University   6 250 .02 11
11 Georgetown University   4 575 .01 12
  University of Texas, Austin   4 450 .01 10
13 Brigham Young University   3 150 .02 18
  George Washington University   3 525 .01 15
  University of Georgia   3 200 .02 23
  University of Notre Dame   3 175 .02 14
  University of Pennsylvania   3 250 .01 15
18 Duke University   2 200 .01 12
  University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign   2 200 .01 21
  University of Kansas    2 150 .01 18

The following schools each graduated one student who secured a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship between 2000 and 2007: Boston College; Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University; Cornell University; Ohio State University; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Missouri, Columbia; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Vanderbilt University.

[1] Justice Stevens, for example, graduated from and taught at Northwestern, and often hires Northwestern clerks. Justice Breyer is partial to Harvard, where he taught; the same is true of Justice Ginsburg and Columbia, and Justice Scalia and Chicago. All the BYU graduates were hired by Justices Alito and Thomas.

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