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Closing the Legislative Experience Gap: How A Legislative Clerk Program Will Benefit The Legal Profession And Congress

Publication Date: 
February 03, 2010
Washington University Law Review
Dakota S. Rudesill

Dean Larry Kramer is mentioned in a Washington Law Review article on the possible creation of a law clerkship program in the U.S. Congress:

This fall, like every fall, is a time of keen competition among the nation’s best third-year law students and recent graduates, as they pursue prestigious legal apprenticeships as federal court law clerks, Executive Branch “Honors” program attorneys, law firm junior associates, and fellows and new faculty at law schools. This year’s round of musical chairs is unusually intense in the wake of the Great Recession’s elimination of countless cushy seats at law firms, great and small.

In this gloomy hiring season there is at least one increasingly bright spark, one that may light the way to a new kind of apprenticeship experience for future participants in the highly competitive national clerkship market.[2] Pending in the U.S. Senate is House Bill[3] 151,[4] and its Senate companion, Senate Bill 27,[5] that would for the first time create a law clerk program in the U.S. Congress analogous to other legal apprenticeship opportunities. Prospects for the program are encouraging, thanks to the House’s overwhelming 381-42 vote in March 2009.


When my findings were published, prospects were good for Congress to create a clerkship program. In 2005, Stanford Law Dean Larry Kramer had organized a supportive letter to Congress signed by the deans of 145 law schools.[16] After several years refining the legislation,[17] in late 2008 the House passed by voice vote House Bill 6475, a bill to create a pilot program with six clerks in each chamber.[18] Under the bill, clerks would be selected competitively for year-long terms, and once placed focus on legislative legal work in committee or Member offices.