Job prospects for former Supreme Court law clerks have radically changed in recent years. Beginning in 1986, skyrocketing law firm signing bonuses caused a transformation from the natural sorting system, where clerks chose among private practice, government, academic, and public interest positions, to a Bonus Baby Regime where former clerks almost always choose to work in private firms after they leave the Court. This development is a result of both financial and ideological factors. While the more conservative clerking corps of recent years has been increasingly drawn to private practice, the firms themselves hire along ideological lines. Still, while former clerks have largely eschewed non- law-firm positions at the start, most clerks are not shackled by golden handcuffs and leave their first jobs after two years. Thus, the new breed of bonus babies has unprecedented career options—both lucrative and prestigious—in a way that their predecessors never had.
Artemus Ward, Christina Dwyer, and Kiranjit Gill,
Bonus Babies Escape Golden Handcuffs: How Money and Politics Has Transformed the Career Paths of Supreme Court Law Clerks,
98 Marq. L. Rev. 227
Available at: https://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/mulr/vol98/iss1/12