Notre Dame Law School ranked #4 in federal clerkship placement for second year

Author: Denise Wager

Photo of a courthouse

For the second consecutive year, Notre Dame Law School ranks #4 nationally for placing graduates in federal clerkships. According to recent data from the American Bar Association, 18.18% of Notre Dame Law’s 2023 graduates secured federal clerkships for the 2023-24 term. Overall, there were 33 graduates who secured 42 federal clerkships, including subsequent terms.

Two clerkships are for future terms at the Supreme Court of the United States. Additional clerkships include 14 in federal courts of appeal and 20 in district courts. Six are in specialty courts, such as the Court of Federal Claims, bankruptcy courts, and the Court of International Trade. These positions are for judges in 15 states, plus the District of Columbia.

Federal clerkships are prestigious, competitive, year-long roles that serve as valuable credentials for various career paths, often leading to coveted Supreme Court clerkship opportunities.

Nicole Stelle Garnett, Associate Dean and John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law, who chairs the clerkship committee, said, “We are so proud of our graduates who are clerking. We work hard to ensure that students interested in clerking have the opportunity to do so - and to make sure that they will succeed as law clerks. Clerkships are an incredibly valuable experience for young lawyers as they embark upon their legal careers.”

Dominique Marino
Dominique Marino

Dominique Marino ‘23 J.D. is currently clerking for Judge John “Jack” Blakey ‘88, ‘92 J.D. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

"Serving as a judicial law clerk has been an honor. In less than one year, I have gained valuable behind-the-scenes insight into judicial decision-making, and developed skills I will take with me through my entire career. More importantly, I have gained a lifelong mentor in my judge for whom it is a privilege to clerk. I pursued a clerkship for all of these reasons, but it has been even more rewarding than I imagined. I did not understand what clerking was or its benefits when I was initially encouraged to apply,” said Marino. “I will forever be grateful to the faculty at ND Law, who both educated me and guided me throughout the application process."

Upon completing her clerkship Marino will join Jones Day in New York as an associate in the Business and Tort Litigation group.

Shane Coughlin
Shane Coughlin

Shane Coughlin ‘23 J.D. is currently clerking for Chief Judge Lance E. Walker of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine. He will then do a second clerkship for Judge Thomas M. Hardiman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

“I applied for a clerkship after interning with a U.S. district judge because I wanted to continue developing my research and writing skills by working in diverse areas of the law with a judge,” said Coughlin. “As a first-generation college student, I value the mentorship that judges provide to law clerks. With the assistance of Notre Dame Law School's faculty throughout the clerkship application process, I am grateful for the opportunity to clerk for and learn from two federal judges.”

The Law School's Career Development Office and faculty-led clerkship committee provide robust support to students pursuing clerkships throughout the application process. Faculty members assist students in assessing if a clerkship aligns with their goals and provide insight into the benefits of clerking, especially for students who may not have considered it as an option. Additionally, faculty members aid students with tailored application strategies to maximize their chances of success, conduct mock interviews for invited students, and offer personalized advice for those who secure clerkships.

With 14 out of 40 tenure-track faculty members having clerked at the U.S. Supreme Court and 70% having clerked for federal courts, students benefit from their extensive expertise and experience. This firsthand knowledge helps students understand judicial processes and prepares them effectively for clerkship interviews.

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