Justice Goodwin Liu is a co-author of the recently published study, “Law Clerk Selection and Diversity: Insights from Fifty Sitting Judges of the Federal Courts of Appeals.” With him on the detailed paper are Jeremy Fogel, retired U.S. District Court judge and current executive director of the Berkeley Judicial Institute at the Berkeley School of Law, and Pepperdine Law School Professor Mary Hoopes.

The study is discussed in Ruth Marcus’s Washington Post column, “Are federal judges violating the Constitution when they hire their clerks?”

It’s a long study, but it says, “in short, diversity among judges affects diversity among clerks.”

The study’s summarized findings:

1. With few exceptions, appellate judges hire clerks as an “ensemble” and assign positive value to diversity, although judges vary in the dimensions of diversity they seek.

2. Most judges disclaim any interest in ideological alignment when hiring clerks; we situate this finding in the context of factors that contribute to ideological segmentation of the clerkship market.

3. Republican appointees, compared to Democratic appointees, more often reported socioeconomic diversity as the primary dimension of diversity they seek.

4. Judges who graduated from law schools outside the U.S. News & World Report top twenty are significantly more likely than other judges to hire clerks from schools outside the top twenty.

5. Almost all judges in our sample consider gender in clerkship hiring, and many have specific goals for gender balance. Republican appointees reported more difficulty drawing women into their applicant pool than Democratic appointees.

6. Most judges in our sample assign positive value to racial diversity and consider race to some degree in evaluating applicants, although it is important to note that some judges believe strongly that such consideration is inappropriate.

7. Many judges who view racial diversity positively nonetheless reported difficulty hiring Black and Hispanic clerks. [Footnote omitted.] The judges with the most robust records of minority hiring are those who make affirmative efforts to draw minority candidates into their applicant pool or place greater emphasis on indicators of talent besides grades and law school rank, or do both.

8. Black judges are particularly successful in hiring Black clerks; we estimate that Black judges, who comprised less than one-eighth of active circuit judges during our study, accounted for more than half of the Black clerks hired each year in the federal courts of appeals.