Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Academic Feeder Judges

Howard Wasserman (Florida Int'l), Academic Feeder Judges:

This paper identifies “academic feeder judges”—the federal judges (especially from courts of appeals) for whom law professors clerked at the beginning of their careers and the judges who “produce” law professors from the ranks of their former clerks. The study is based on a summer 2019 review of publicly available biographies and c.v.’s of full-time faculty at ABA-accredited law schools, identifying more than 3000 “academic former clerks” and the judges for whom each clerked. From this, the paper identifies:

  • 101 lower federal judges with the most academic former clerks,
  • 52 federal trial judges,
  • 53 federal judges appointed since 1995,
  • top state-court judges, and
  • SCOTUS justices, current and past.


For each judge within each grouping, the study examines appointing presidents, biographical information such as former career, numbers of academic former clerks, rankings of the schools at which former clerks teach, and a projection of how many academics newer judges might produce over a 35-year judicial career. The study closes with some comments and conclusions from the data. (Spoiler alert: The leading academic feeder judge is Guido Calabresi (Second Circuit), followed closely by Stephen Reinhardt (Ninth Circuit, died in 2018), Stephen Williams (D.C. Circuit), and Dorothy Nelson (Ninth Circuit)).

Karen Sloan (, Want to Be a Law Prof? Clerk for These Judges

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As a strong plurality - almost a majority - of 21st century professors have come from just two law schools (no points for guessing which!), this all seems a bit overdone. Want to be a law prof? Better go to one of those two law schools.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Feb 5, 2020 12:30:51 PM