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
STANFORD, Calif., September 22, 2008—Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer today thanked Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and his co-sponsor Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for their leadership in introducing a bill to establish the Daniel Webster Congressional Clerkship Program. The House version of the bill (H.R. 6475) passed earlier this month [September 9] and would 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. The bill was championed in the United States House of Representatives by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and additionally co-sponsored by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif).
“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.”
The proposed clerkships are being named for Daniel Webster, the great American orator, secretary of state, and senator who also helped establish constitutional precedents as a lawyer. Under the program created by the Senate bill, clerks will be chosen from a pool of exceptional law school graduates who have demonstrated a commitment to public service and a strong interest in public policy. No fewer than six clerks will be chosen for each chamber and clerks will be divided equally between the parties. Clerks will receive the same pay and equivalent benefits as a first year law clerk serving in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
About Larry Kramer, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean
Larry Kramer has written and taught in such varied fields as conflict of laws, civil procedure, federalism and its history, and most recently, the role of courts in society. His book, The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review, sparked renewed interest in the ongoing debate about the relationship between the Supreme Court of the United States and politics. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Law Institute. Before joining the Stanford faculty in 2004, Dean Kramer served as Associate Dean for Research and Academics and Russell D. Niles Professor of Law at New York University School of Law; professor of law at the University of Chicago and University of Michigan law schools; and consultant for Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP. Early in his career, Dean Kramer clerked for Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Dean Kramer has appointments (by courtesy) with the Stanford University Department of History and Graduate School of Business.
About Stanford Law School
Stanford Law School () is one of the nation's leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, and write books and articles for academic audiences, as well as the popular press. Along with offering traditional law school classes, the school has embraced new subjects and new ways of teaching.