Are you considering a judicial clerkship and wonder which courts are considered most prestigious? I’ve talked with attorneys at large firms, court clerks, and professors. Below is the result of my small (unscientific) survey listing the most prestigious first.
Judicial Clerkships Ranked by Prestige
1. U.S. Supreme Court
2. Circuit Court of Appeals
3. Federal District Court — tied with — State Supreme Court
5. Federal Magistrate Court — tied with — State Court of Appeals
7. Federal Bankruptcy Court
8. State District Court
Please note, some clarifications are required. First, not everyone will agree with this list. In particular, people have different opinions about whether one tied item is actually higher than the other.
Second, the list doesn’t take into consideration an individual student’s plans. For example, a student seeking a career in bankruptcy or state court practice would probably prefer Federal Bankruptcy Court or a state court, respectively, over a Federal District Court.
Third, any ranking of these opportunities may be unfair. Clerkships at any type of court have great educational value. I understand that clerking for a trial court is extremely valuable because trial court clerks experience the mechanics of court, motions, evidence, and the excitement of litigation at its most fundamental level.
Finally, I talked to under ten people, so these could be wrong. If you have a different opinion, please leave a comment here so other law students can benefit from your advice.