Farewell to the Law Clerk Hiring Plan

The Law Clerk Hiring Plan is kaput. Officially. Last week, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit hammered the final nail in the Plan’s coffin, declaring that the judges will no longer adhere to the Law Clerk Hiring Plan that tried in vain to hold judges to a consistent schedule for hiring law clerks.

The Plan died a very slow death that began, really, at its inception. Judges bucked. More judges bucked. Until finally, the second most powerful court in the land came clean: poo poo on this plan – we’ve been hiring on our own schedule and will continue to do so.

Though not surprising, this is certainly a depressing development for those concerned about diversity of all kinds – race, gender, law school, region, background – in the law clerk ranks. The Plan at least offered some semblance of fairness in an otherwise unbalanced game. Time will tell whether federal judges ultimately will work together to replace the Plan or whether clerkship hiring will go back to the days of old, when it was a free-for-all and judges all clamored for the same applicants with the same credentials from the same schools in the same areas of the country. In the meantime, I will be crossing my fingers that we haven’t completely thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

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Allison R. Brown, Esq. is the founder and principal of Judicial Clerk Review. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Howard University. After graduating from law school, Allison returned to her hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, and served two judicial clerkship terms – first for the Indiana Supreme Court and then for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Allison has worked as an associate at the law firm of Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C., and as a Trial Attorney for the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section. Currently, she is also the President of Allison Brown Consulting (ABC), an education equity advisory group in Washington, D.C.

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