Daniel Webster Congressional Clerkship Act – Empirical Support

The Daniel Webster Congressional Clerkship Act is again winding its way through Congress (H.R. 151 and S. 27).   This legislation would create a law clerk program in Congress much like judicial clerkships for recent law school graduates.

In the Washington University Law Review, Dakota S. Rudesill, who has written on this topic before, argues for this legislation with new empirical support.

In “Closing the Legislative Experience Gap: How A Legislative Clerk Program Will Benefit the Legal Profession and Congress,” Rudesill writes:

“[T]his legislation may die in the Senate as it did last session, unless the legal profession and Congress come to a better and more broadly held understanding of a congressional clerkship program’s potential benefits.

One is that over time it would begin to correct the profound comparative lack of legislative work experience among the legal profession’s leaders that my empirical research has identified. Here, I present new data demonstrating that the incidence of legislative work experience among the profession’s top 500 lawyers, as ranked by Lawdragon.com, trails badly behind experience working for courts, government executive bodies, in private practice, and in academe. These empirical findings supplement my study in this publication in 2008, which focused on federal appellate jurists and law professors at Top 20 law schools.

I argue that closing the legislative experience gap ultimately will benefit the profession and Congress by helping both of these key legal players better understand-and take more seriously-an under-appreciated reality: legislative work is legal work. I conclude by refuting objections, and encouraging lawyers to engage with Congress in support of the bill.”

The comment has some fascinating statistics.  For example, “less than 4 percent” of the “legal superstars” (from lawdragon.com) have worked inside a legislature.   “Academic experience is more than four times as common, private practice and judicial experience are nearly six times as common, and executive branch government experience is nearly seven times as common.”

The article closes with a plea to contact your Senator and ask for their support of S.27, along with a single page download that summarizes the legislation.

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