About the Blogger

Dean Yelnosky's picture

Michael J. Yelnosky became the dean of Roger Williams University School of Law on July 1, 2014.

Dean Yelnosky is a founding member of the RWU Law faculty. He served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for four years, and he was named Distinguished Service Professor in 2011. He has also...

Dean Yelnosky's Post

RWU Law's Clerkship Pipeline

Posted by Michael Yelnosky on 05/03/2016 at 11:18 AM

Sotomayor on Clerkships

One hallmark of an RWU Law education is our remarkable connection to the bar, the bench, other branches of government, and businesses – both profit and non-profit.  During a student’s three years at the law school this means unparalleled externship opportunities, superb adjunct faculty, and programs that regularly bring leaders in the bench, bar, government, and business to the law school.  These connections also translate into increased market power for students when they graduate and enter the job market.  Having interned for a federal judge while in law school, for example, is a credential that can make a graduate’s resume stand out. 

One of the most direct connections between these opportunities and the job market is the substantial number of RWU Law graduates who are hired as judicial law clerks in the years following graduation. These are some of the most sought after jobs among law school graduates. 

Why?  According to one source:

A clerkship allows a lawyer to view the system of justice from the perspective of the judiciary at the beginning of one's career. . . . To witness, and take part in, the judicial decision making process and the writing of court opinions is simply an invaluable asset to anyone interested in understanding the law thoroughly and becoming an effective legal advocate. . . .

A judicial clerkship can be a valuable stepping stone for one's career. You will be working closely with a distinguished member of the legal profession, from whom you can learn a great deal. Usually a judge develops a great deal of affinity for his or her clerks, and is eager to serve as a mentor for years to come. Further, few employers – firms, government, public interest, and the academy – are insensible to the educational benefit and the perspective gained from the clerkship experience. Many large law firms offer monetary bonuses to individuals who have previously clerked.

This is why we are so proud of the large number of graduates who secure judicial clerkships after graduating from RWU Law.  Nineteen members of the graduating class of 2015 - 14.6% - are currently in judicial clerkships in Rhode Island, Nevada, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Connecticut.  This is one of the highest percentages among all law schools in New England, and it is dramatically higher than most of our peer schools.    

Clerkship Chart

Moreover, 2015 was not a fluke.  For many years our students have been landing important clerkships.  For example, during this year our 2015 graduate cohort was joined by nine earlier graduates in judicial clerkships with the Rhode Island Supreme Court; the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands; a federal magistrate from the Northern District of New York; the Department of Justice Immigration Court in Dallas, Texas; and the Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Virginia. 

Finally, seventeen members of the Class of 2016, which has yet to graduate, have already secured judicial clerkships in Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Maryland, and a graduate of 2012 and 2013 will be clerking next year with the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, respectively.   

Our students’ success in the judicial clerkship market is a testament to their talent, training, and hard work, but they are ably assisted in their searches by Professor Jane Rindsberg and her colleagues on the RWU Law Clerkship Committee, and Assistant Dean for Career Development Veronica Paricio and her staff.

Connecting students and graduates to the profession is another way in which RWU Law is leading the way in revitalizing legal education.