OneLisfun wrote:Just curious, when we know for a fact from people who have federal clerkships that federal clerkships are not a golden ticket to big law, and there are also some federal clerks who say they could not have gotten big law, why we are adding this number in to decide one's big law prospects?
First, I don't think the point of factoring in clerks is "to decide one's big law prospects." Rather, it's to roughly--very roughly--approximate desirable employment outcomes. As others are pointing out, there are desirable PI and government jobs as well. Some of the schools whose graduates focus on those sorts of jobs (e.g., Yale, NYU, Berkeley, Georgetown) are disadvantaged by the BL + FC criteria. But the problem with doing it differently is that, in the absence of better data, we don't have the tools to separate desirable PI jobs from undesirable ones. Federal clerkships, by contrast, are pretty much uniformly desirable.
Second, I think your premise is mistaken. The vast majority of federal clerks have the credentials to get hired at a 101+ attorney law firm. Sure, we hear occasional stories on here from clerks who strike out. (We also hear occasional stories from big law attorneys who quit or get fired after a year and then struggle to find work.) But there's no reason that these exceptions should swallow the rule.
Yes, I get the use of it for deciding the desirable employment outcomes, but I see it being used as a way to give advice to 0Ls when they're asking which law school they should attend to have the best chance at NY big law, or big law in general, so as far as you're saying it's for looking at desirable employment outcomes, I agree that it is a great use for that.
As far as using it for one's big law employment prospects, I understand that a very large percentage of students who get federal clerkships supposedly will get big law after, but in the least rhetorical way possible, I'm asking how high is this percentage and is it really high enough that grouping these two together without any regard whatsoever of what portion the BL + fed clerk number is made up of each of the two criteria makes sense. There are cases where two schools have similar BL + fed clerk placement, yet one of the two schools has a far larger portion of its BL + fed clerk percentage made up of big law than the other. If a large enough portion of federal clerks are not really getting big law (say, 30%), it would make sense for a person looking at these two schools who wants big law to choose the one whose BL percentage is higher, rather than regarding the two schools as having the same big law prospects.
If there is actually some kind of factual data available that says 90% or more of federal clerks move on to get big law after, then everything I've said is moot, and I'm curious to see it. I'm really just trying to ask a question, I apologize if it comes off accusatory.