In September of 1998, the Judicial Conference of the United States abandoned as unsuccessful the attempt—the sixth since 1978—to regulate the dates at which law students are hired as clerks by Federal appellate judges. The market promptly resumed the unraveling of appointment dates that had been temporarily slowed by these efforts. In the academic year 1999-2000 many judges hired clerks in the fall of the second year of law school, almost two years before employment would begin, and before hardly any information about candidates other than first year grades was available. Hiring dates moved still earlier in the Fall of 2000 and 2001. The present paper explores proposed reforms of the market, experimentally in the laboratory, and computationally using genetic algorithms. Our results suggest that some of the special features of the judge/law-clerk market—in particular the feeling among many students and judges that students must accept offers when they are made--present obstacles to the success of the proposed reforms, including the latest reforms proposed by the judges, in 2002 and 2003. Unlike markets in which the inability to make binding contracts contributes to market failure, in the law clerk market it is the ease with which binding contracts are forged that harms efficiency.
Hiring Period Data
Welfare DataOnline appendix for "The Dynamics of Law Clerk Matching: An Experimental and Computational Investigation of Proposals for Reform of the Market,"