Congress Needs a Clerkship Program

Article I of the U.S. Constitution establishes Congress as the federal government’s “first branch” and the primary author of federal law. Congress is, appropriately, also the branch most accountable to the people. Of the three branches, however, Congress is by far the least influential on the legal community’s constitutional perspective.

One major reason is that Congress is the least accessible to new lawyers in their formative first years: Congress lacks a program similar to the judiciary's clerkship program, or the Honors programs at executive branch agencies.

The legal community is also missing out on the opportunity to have its rising stars learn about legislation--the bread and butter of federal legal practice--from the inside. In contrast, the consistent flow of lawyers through apprenticeship programs in the courts and executive branch agencies has given the legal community a deep and constantly renewed grounding in judicial and administrative lawmaking.

Congress is missing out, too. Basic legal legislative work--statutory research, drafting, and analysis--often gets short shrift in busy Capitol Hill offices, reflected in shortcomings in Congress’s legal product. Congress would benefit from the fresh perspective, energy, and legal training of these temporary hires in their first years after law school, focused on the legislative branch’s legal work.

Legislation has been moving in Congress in recent years to establish a legislative law clerk program. This website provides a focal point for these efforts, and explains how you can help make this program a reality.

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The Coalition is working with supporters in Congress and throughout the profession on a strategy to see the bill enacted.  We anticipate re-introduction in the Senate soon.

In the 113th Congress, Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Pat Leahy (D-VT) sponsored the bill, S. 1458.  The Coalition has assembled a sizable list of bipartisan supporters in the House.

Sign the National Petition and Write to Congress urging your Senator or House Member to cosponsor the bill!  


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Read about our efforts at:

The Hill, a legendary Capitol Hill publication

The Ohio State Moritz College of Law Sidebar

The New York Times

Georgetown Law Alumni Magazine Res Ipsa Loquitur

Point of Order Blog

Wall Street Journal Law Blog

National Law Journal - Educators: Congress Needs Law Clerks

ABA Law Student Division - 11th Circuit Newsletter

Stanford Law School News Blog

Georgetown University Law Center News

Work Studies Blog

First One @ One First

Georgetown Federalist Society Blog