Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The 7th Most-Hated Job in America: Judicial Law Clerk

CNBC, The 10 Most Hated Jobs in America:

7. Law Clerk

Clerkships are among the most highly sought-after positions in the legal profession. A law clerk assists judges as they write opinions, and the ones who get the job are almost always near the top of their class at law school. Six justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, including Elena Kagan and current Chief Justice John Roberts, were all law clerks early in their careers.

The job clearly beefs up a resume. Yet law clerks still report high levels of dissatisfaction. The hours are long and grueling, and the clerk is subject to the whims of sometimes mercurial personalities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported the job brings in a median salary of $39,780 a year—not exactly striking it rich—and those looking for advancement within the position simply will not find it.

(Hat Tip: Tom Smith.)

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don't be sad, because 2 out of 3 (6 out of 9) ain't bad. clerking is a very individualist experience in many ways. each chambers is an island of its own where the king or queen reigns supreme. Whether Machiavellian, Stalinistic, Mother Teresa-like you can have a good or bad experience with any kind. The kind Judge may leave you with crappy work. The hell on wheels judge may give you great stuff to work on and provide you with post-clerkship opportunities. Each clerkship is it's very own, and even clerking for the same judge can change over time (clerking for a green judge can be very different than clerking for that same seasoned judge).

but i guess this once again proves the point of the millennial generation of wanting everything now because they think they are entitled to it. This entitlement generation is worse than the baby boomers, the grasshoppers of the world, who are responsible to a great degree to the economy we see now.

Gen X has bent over decade after decade and is now the meat being swished between the baby boomers and millennials. we're not the rich or millionares, we the people who can't afford to raise a family, save (enough) for college, or buy a home.

so if this is based on millennial responses rather than baby boomer, and even Gen X responses, then the stat is not worth a pile of dung

Posted by: tax guy | Sep 24, 2011 6:41:43 AM

Re: "those looking for advancement within the position simply will not find it"

That's because clerkships are by definition 1-2 year jobs, in contrast to career civil service law clerks, which should be counted separately. Also I think the 6 SCOTUS justices who clerked will probably disagree about the lack of advancement thing.

Posted by: lawyer | Sep 21, 2011 3:22:52 PM

"The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported the job brings in a median salary of $39,780 a year"

Yes, rather than take the clerkship you should go for a job as a lawyer, which the BLS claims makes a median of $120,000. Everyone cancel your clerkships and start sending out resumes!

^ Example of why bad data can lead to terrible decisions.

Posted by: anon | Sep 21, 2011 9:16:06 AM

Based on my own experience and that of others with whom I've spoken, clerking for a trial judge is more rewarding than an appellate clerkship, even if it is less potent resume filler.

Posted by: Jake | Sep 21, 2011 7:41:54 AM

My clerkship was the best job I ever had.

Posted by: Reader | Sep 21, 2011 6:29:39 AM

I had a friend who interviewed with a notoriously tough judge on the Second Circuit. While she was waiting for the interview, one of the clerks screamed "I can't stand it anymore," stormed out, and quit. She took the job, anyway.

Posted by: mike livingston | Sep 21, 2011 3:09:53 AM