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Getting a Federal Clerkship at this Law School, Chances Are High -- Very High

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 05, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Yale Law School consistently ranks at the top, giving law graduates a degree that can land jobs at high-paying law firms just about anywhere.

So why do more Yale law students go for federal clerkships than from any other law school? Before you answer that, remember clerks make only a fraction of what first-year associates make at BigLaw firms.

Yes, we know that law students typically apply for clerkships. But post-graduates who can make $200,000 right out of law school to go to BigLaw?

Still Number One

U.S. News & World Reports ranks Yale first among American law schools -- again. That's an obvious reason a Yale student can get a coveted clerkship.

It is less obvious why Yale sends nearly a third of its graduates to the federal courts. According to Law School Transparency, 29.5 percent of Yale's graduates in 2017 went to work for federal judges.

Rather than speculate about causation, we could just ponder one word: experience. Yale puts it this way:

"YLS graduates should not limit themselves in their considerations of pursuing judicial clerkships, and should be aware that judges are regularly open to hiring individuals who are several years out of law school," the school says. "In fact, a number of judges prefer, and some require, one or more years of post-graduate experience."

Post-Graduate Experience

It's a great job, if you can afford it.

A clerk with no prior legal experience makes about $50,000 a year. With two or more years experience, a lawyer/turned clerk makes a little over $72,000.

With crushing law school debt, not everybody can do that. Unless you're one in three Yale graduates.

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