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Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer Applauds The Introduction Of Daniel Webster Congressional Clerkship Bill by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and the Bill's Recent Passage in the House

Publication Date: 
October 09, 2008
Politics & Government Week

Dean Larry Kramer is quoted in Politics & Government Week commenting on a new Congressional clerkship program for recent law graduates. The House version of the bill (H.R. 6475) on September 9 to establish two-year clerkship positions for 12 highly qualified law school graduates to serve an equal number of members in both the House and the Senate.

"I applaud Senators Schumer and Clinton for supporting this bill in the Senate and for the collective efforts of Representatives Lungren, Lofgren, Giffords, and Woolsey to get the Daniel Webster Congressional Clerkship Program bill passed in the House," said Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer. "The legal profession serves a critical role in helping to educate the public about government and government action. Whether the question is about judicial appointments, constitutional amendments, legislation affecting civil rights, or national security, the media and public turn to leaders in the legal profession for guidance and commentary. At present, our profession is heavily court-centered. It would be enormously beneficial for the profession and for the public if young lawyers developed an equal sense of the national legislature."

Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer first envisioned the idea in 2005 of creating a congressional internship program modeled after the federal judicial clerkship program, which provides new law school graduates with an invaluable insider's understanding of the judicial decision-making process, because there was nothing similar for educating young lawyers in the legislative process. He spent the ensuing years rallying support from within the legal profession, including from law school deans across the country.

"Part of the reason the legal profession in this country tends to emphasize litigation and the judiciary over legislation and the lawmaking process is because legal education has traditionally been tilted toward the courts," Kramer said. "What's more, the top law graduates in the nation go on to begin their careers as judicial clerks. Those former clerks then go on disproportionately to assume leadership positions in the bar and in the profession. At a time when this nation faces momentous challenges, it is vital to engage the most gifted of our future leaders in the legislative process at the outset of their careers. To have leaders of the profession whose first, formative experience was in Congress would do much to improve understanding and appreciation of the legislative process."