Search the Lounge


« Filling Gaps On The Supreme Court | Main | iPad v. Kindle »

April 14, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I would bet that Steve Williams (DC Circuit) is the number one non-SCOTUS feeder judge into academia.


Posner has to be very high, since it seems almost half of his clerks end up teaching, and since he's been on the bench for over 25 years. Calabresi is also likely high.

Alfred Brophy

All three judges that anon & anon mention are former academics. So, just thinking about other academics who're on the federal bench, I'd imagine that Frank Easterbrook, Gerald Lynch, John Noonan, James Dickson Phillips, Jack Weinstein, J. Harvie Wilkinson, and Diane Wood (we're hearing her name in a lot of contexts these days, obviously) have a disproportionately large number of clerks in the legal academic business.

Tim Zinnecker

How about some hard numbers?

E.g., I know of at least six former Jones clerks in academia. So "six" is the number to beat (which should be easy for some of the names mentioned above, plus throw in Justices Stevens and Scalia).

Alfred Brophy

If you're measuring total number of clerks in the academy, then the older judges will have a big advantage, obviously. Part of my thinking -- particularly with Judge Lynch (and I might add Judge Debra Livingston, also a former Columbia law professor) -- is that academics have a disproportionately high number of former clerks in the academy. Though this is just speculation on my part.

I'd be interested in some summary statistics on faculty background and on what happens to clerks ten, twenty, thirty years out....


Justices and some judges have an advantage by taking four clerks, so even if (say) 50% of Easterbrook's clerks were profs (I doubt it), the fact that he has had two clerks per year means he wouldn't have more than 14 clerks-turned-profs.

So relevant factors include 1) academic judges, 2) years on the bench, 3) number of clerks per year, and perhaps 4) instrumental value of the clerkship in obtaining an academic position. On this last point, Supreme Court clerks have a much easier time getting academic jobs (or used to at least, and JPS has been around a while) than district court clerks.

Alfred Brophy

6:57 Anon--I agree with much, probably all, of what you say in the second paragraph. One simple way of correcting for some of this is to see if the clerks are disproportionately highly representing in the academy.

I'm confused with the first paragraph, though. Easterbrook's been on the seventh circuit since 1985, so even if he has only two clerks per year (I don't follow this stuff closely, so I'm taking your word for this), he's had something on the order of fifty clerks, I think. (His clerks don't stay for two years, do they?)


Yes, double that. Bad at math. 25 times 2 is 50, not 25.


If 6 is the number to beat, then Judge Jones's own next door neighbor, Judge Jerry Smith, has her beat: 10 of his former clerks are law profs.

But 10 is definitely not the number to beat, especially if we're including Supreme Court Justices in the equation.

The more interesting question may be which judge has the most former clerks who are academics who did NOT clerk on the Supreme Court as well? That may take away quite a few of the clerks for judges like Judge Posner, Judge Williams, etc.


There was a time (recently) when there were at least 11 tenured faculty at Harvard alone who clerked for Justice Marshall, 1 or 2 more if you count visitors (Vicki Jackson and Dan Kahan, though I don't recall if they visited at the same time). Sunstein and Kagan though are either gone or on leave at this point.

Here's who I was thinking of: Sargentich, Tushnet, Sunstein, Minow, Wilkins, Fisher, Jackson, Randy Kennedy, Kagan, Steiker, and Brewer. That's a pretty good group, with two HLS deans (at least one interim dean in Jackson), and both the most cited law prof if he were a prof (Sunstein), the most cited prof currently on the faculty (Tushnet), and the most cited woman on the faculty (Minow).

Other distinguished faculty elsewhere who clerked for Marshall include Seidman, Frickey, Stephen Carter, Pildes, Revesz, Eben Moglen, Elizabeth Garrett, Sheryll Cashin, Jordan Steiker, Paul Mahoney, Jonathan Weinberg, Stephen Saltzburg, Thomas Grey, Barbara Underwood (Yale for a while, now NY SG), Doug Ginsburg (HLS now CADC), and Paul Gerwitz.

I obviously could have missed a few, but I'd say the number to beat right now is Marshall's "29 or more." That's assuming I counted well, which is doubtful.


Posner has at least 22 at this point out of about 60 (he had 2 clerks until recently, when he started hiring 3), though unlike Marshall, he has many clerks that are either currently fellows or at firms and may transition to the academy in time.

Elizabeth Weeks Leonard

More hard numbers from the 5CA -- Judge Wiener, with 20 years on the bench, has 8: Ethan Yale (Virginia), Monica Hof Wallace (Loyola New Orleans), John Lovett (Loyola New Orleans), Erin Donelon (Tulane), Adam Mossoff (George Mason), Pratheepan (Deep) Gulasekaram (Santa Clara), Finbarr McCarthy (Temple), and Elizabeth Weeks Leonard (Kansas).

The comments to this entry are closed.



  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad