For recent law school graduates, to be hired as the clerk for a federal judge is a real plum in their resume.

The UM Alexander Blewett III School of Law has been ranked 15th in the nation in the percentage of its law school graduates who have become clerks in federal courts.

UM’s percentage exceeds federal clerkship placement for other prominent national law schools such as the University of Notre Dame (No. 16), Cornell University (No. 19) and New York University (No. 23). It also places UM fourth overall in the West, behind only the law schools at Stanford University, UC-Berkeley and UC-Irvine.

Career Services Director Lori Freeman explains the importance of a judge's clerk.

"A clerk works very closely with the judge," Freeman said. "They'll go to court with the judge and ultimately they end up writing the first draft of judge's opinions. They get to see the inside workings of the court and follow cases from start to finish, and they're very helpful in helping the judges write opinions."

Freeman said becoming a clerk in federal court is a highly sought after resume builder.

"Many law firms who hire students encourage them to clerk first because they learn the inside workings of the court," she said. "It's a super jumping-off point for graduates to land those jobs they really want after graduation. If they clerk for a year, the develop a really good relationship with the judge and then the judge knows most practicing attorneys in the state and they can help those students get good jobs."

Freeman said, in addition, being a clerk in a federal court is not just being an unpaid intern.

"They're being paid competitive salaries," she said. "That's about $50,000 a year to start."

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