The federal judiciary saw a huge spike in online applications for clerkships from last year, according to a release from the judiciary.
The Web site used by about two-thirds of all federal judges to find clerks saw 401,576 electronic applications between Oct. 1, 2008 and Sep. 30, 2009. That’s a 66 percent increase from that time period last year, when 241,529 applications were turned in.
The applications came from only 10,722 applicants this year, meaning each applied for an average of about 38 clerkships. That’s a 42 percent increase over last year’s applicant pool, which was 7,556. Last year, each clerk hopeful applied for an average of about 31 jobs.
The increases make sense, said Kirsten Solberg, a Harvard Law School clerkship advisor. She said law firms and public-interest employers have been slashing positions because of the state of the economy.
“Clerkships have been relatively stable as an alternative and are attracting people who had not previously considered them,” Solberg said. “Given the increased competition, applicants have cast wider nets in their search for clerkships, applying to various types of judges in various locations.”
Fifty-two percent of this year’s applicants were law school graduates and 48 percent were third-year law students. But 68 percent all the applications were generated by third-year law students, meaning they applied for more clerkships on average than their graduated peers.
It’s definitely not an increase in the number of participating judges that accounts for the spike, said Dick Carelli, a spokesman for the federal courts. There were 1,244 clerkships advertised this year. While that’s more than last year, the rise was modest compared to the boost in applications.
The online application system has been in use since 2005, when it saw 94,693 applications from 4,902 applicants. In 2006, 5,614 applicants submitted 174,363 applications and the next year 7,556 applicants submitted 180,832 applications.