The Dynamics of Law Clerk Matching: An Experimental and Computational Investigation of Proposals for Reform of the Market
54 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2001
Date Written: October 2001
In September of 1998, the Judicial Conference of the United States abandoned as unsuccessful the attempt - the sixth since 1978 - to regulate the dates at which law students are hired as clerks by Federal appellate judges. The market promptly resumed the unraveling of appointment dates that had been temporarily slowed by these efforts. In the academic year 1999-2000 many judges hired clerks in the fall of the second year of law school, almost two years before employment would begin, and before hardly any information about candidates other than first year grades was available. In an attempt to stop the further unraveling of appointment dates, a reform that has been implemented for the 2001 market is a web based public database of judges' hiring plans. Another reform that has been debated is a centralized clearinghouse modeled on the medical match. The present paper explores both these potential reforms, experimentally in the laboratory, and computationally using adaptive agents learning through genetic algorithms. Some of the special features of the judge/law-clerk market - in particular the feeling among many students and judges that students must accept offers when they are made - present potential obstacles to the success of both of these reforms.
Keywords: Law clerks, Market design, Experiments
JEL Classification: D40, C92, J44
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation