As part our multipart series on the clerkship tournament, here is a simple bar graph for the top placing law schools in the Supreme Court Clerkship Tourney. It is important to note that we do not threshold for the number of graduates per school. Specifically, we do not just divide by the number graduates per school because we have little theoretic reason to believe that placements linearly scale to differences in size of graduating classes. In other words, given we do not know the proper functional form — we just offer the raw data. For those interested in other posts, please click here for the law clerks tag.
Our multipart series on the clerkship tournament continues above with an expanded edition of our underlying dataset. It is important to note that we do not threshold for the number of graduates per school. Specifically, we do not just divide by the number graduates per school because we do not have any particular theoretic reason to believe that placements linearly scale to differences in size of graduating classes. In other words, given we do not know the proper functional form — we just offer the raw data for your consideration. For those interested in other posts, please click here for the law clerks tag.
In the previous circuit/district post, we focused upon the “top” 15 schools as ranked by an older version of US News. When we expand the analysis to consider a wider slice of institutions, two schools standout — Texas and Notre Dame. Basically, the arbitrariness of the prior cut off we imposed did not really do justice to these institutions … this wider view provides a deeper indication of their standing relative to other institutions.
Highlighting underlying data Derek Stafford and I collected for our article Hustle and Flow: A Social Network Analysis of the American Federal Judiciary — here is some additional information on the law clerk tournament. In the original post, we highlighted both Circuit and District Court Clerkship Placements for the 1995-2005 period.
Using only the Circuit Court data, we thought it might be interesting to consider how those placements are distributed across the various circuits. At first glance, observe the regional or home turf bias contained in the placements (Penn 3rd Circuit ; Vanderbilt 6th Circuit). Furthermore, consider institutions whose placements are highly concentrated (Berkeley 9th Circuit) versus institutions with more diffuse placements (Michigan, Chicago).
Judge Wald’s classic article describing the market for judicial clerks reminds us how April was once the cruellest month. Given the Federal Law Clerk Hiring plan has shifted the relevant window of discomfort, we thought it reasonable to ring in the spring season with some of our data on the law clerk tournament. Using underlying information Derek Stafford and I collected for our article Hustle and Flow: A Social Network Analysis of the American Federal Judiciary, here is Federal Court Clerkship data for the period of the “Natural” Rehnquist Court. The current offering is aimed at the US News Top 15 Law Schools. Although this data terminates in the 2004- 2005 clerkship year, we still believe it offers useful empirical insight into the status of the law clerk tournament.
This paper written by CLS Blog Co-Founder Daniel Katz and Derek Stafford from the University of Michigan Department of Political Science representes an initial foray into Computational Legal Studies by the graduate students here at the University of Michigan Center for the Study of Complex Systems. The full paper contains a number of interesting visualizations where we draw various federal judges together on the basis of their shared law clerks (1995-2004). The screen print above is a zoom very center of the center of the network. Yellow Nodes represent Supreme Court Justices, Green Nodes represent Circuit Court Justices, Blue Nodes represent Circuit Court Justices. Here is a wide shot of the broader network visualized using the Kamada-Kawai visualization algorithm:
Here is the abstract: Scholars have long asserted that social structure is an important feature of a variety of societal institutions. As part of a larger effort to develop a fully integrated model of judicial decision making, we argue that social structure-operationalized as the professional and social connections between judicial actors-partially directs outcomes in the hierarchical federal judiciary. Since different social structures impose dissimilar consequences upon outputs, the precursor to evaluating the doctrinal consequences that a given social structure imposes is a descriptive effort to characterize its properties. Given the difficulty associated with obtaining appropriate data for federal judges, it is necessary to rely upon a proxy measure to paint a picture of the social landscape. In the aggregate, we believe the flow of law clerks reflects a reasonable proxy for social and professional linkages between jurists. Having collected available information for all federal judicial law clerks employed by an Article III judge during the “natural” Rehnquist Court (1995-2004), we use these roughly 19,000 clerk events to craft a series of network based visualizations. Using network analysis, our visualizations and subsequent analytics provide insight into the path of peer effects in the federal judiciary. For example, we find the distribution of “degrees” is highly skewed implying the social structure is dictated by a small number of socially prominent actors. Using a variety of centrality measures, we identify these socially prominent jurists. Next, we draw from the extant complexity literature and offer a possible generative process responsible for producing such inequality in social authority. While the complete adjudication of a generative process is beyond the scope of this article, our results contribute to a growing literature documenting the highly-skewed distribution of authority across the common law and its constitutive institutions.