US law firms offer huge signing bonuses to SC clerks

August 16, 2013 Large US law firms are going to huge efforts to recruit supreme court clerks, offering ever larger signing bonuses to attract the best talent.

Skadden Arps and Sullivan & Cromwell have engaged in a bidding war offering signing bonuses of up to $300,000 which, combined with the base salary for a third-year associate and a modest end-of-year bonus, means that supreme court clerks could take home $500,000 in their first year of private employment.

Interestingly, plenty of former clerks will stay at a private law firm only long enough to clear their law-school debts, after which many of them will leave to work in academia or government. According the The Economist, Clerks to liberal judges are especially likely to make a speedy exit from private practice, and so conservative justices’ clerks are more valuable to private law firms.

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