Keepers of the U.S. Code: The Case for a Congressional Clerkship Program
9 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2008 Last revised: 8 Feb 2014
Date Written: November 5, 2008
Congress drives the federal lawmaking process. Yet every year our best new lawyers focus their competitive energies not on jobs with the nation's legislature but rather on judicial clerkships and other prestigious apprenticeships with executive agencies, law firms, and academe. Congress should be concerned. But it needs to understand that this demand deficit has grown in part from a supply problem of its own creation. Unlike the courts, agencies, firms, and academe, Congress lacks an apprenticeship program.
For the first time in the literature, I set out the case in full for a congressional clerkship program. After explaining Congress's current comparative inaccessibility, and identifying the immediate benefits of a program to Congress and young lawyers, I argue that a congressional clerkship program would be a vital first step toward correcting the profound, previously unrecognized dearth of legislative experience among the profession's elite demonstrated by my new empirical analysis.
I conclude by urging the Senate to approve a bill passed by the U.S. House that would create a pilot program, and explaining what Congress needs to do to make its clerkship program successful over the long run.
Keywords: legislation, clerkships, judicial clerkships, legal apprenticeship, congressional clerkships, legislative clerkships
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