UM law school grads 15th nationally in landing federal clerkships

Students, family and friends celebrate during Saturday’s law school graduation ceremonies at the University of Montana. The school ranks among the top in the nation for its placing of graduates in federal judicial clerkships. (Photo courtesy of the University of Montana)

By Missoula Current

The American Bar Association has ranked the University of Montana’s law school among the top in the nation for its high placement of graduates in federal judicial clerkships.

The ranking, based upon three years of data, placed the Alexander Blewett III School of Law 15th in the nation and ahead of other prominent law universities, including Cornell, Notre Dam and New York.

The program’s success also places UM fourth overall in the West, just behind law schools at Stanford University, UC-Berkeley and UC-Irvine.

“From my perspective, one of UM’s greatest strengths is its relationship with Montana judges,” said Caitlin Aarab, a recent alumna who completed two clerkships after graduating. “State and federal judges expect and require competent law clerks, and the fact that they consistently hire UM grads is a testament to the quality of the legal education the school provides.”

The law school placed 7.5 percent of its graduates between 2014 and 2016 into federal judicial clerkships within 10 months of graduation, according to the American Bar Association’s most recent employment data.

The past two graduating classes saw more than 25 percent of each class land a state or federal clerkship positions within the same window.

The law school attributes much of its success to good communication with Montana judges and strong student candidates. The development of a faculty clerkship committee to advise students students has also helped.

“I have a confidence in navigating both (state and federal) court systems and have an appreciation for many areas of the law that I might not have developed otherwise,” Aarab said of her clerkships. “Clerking is an unparalleled opportunity for a new lawyer to develop a lasting relationship with a judge.”

The School of Law is on track to further the placement trend, with nearly 10 percent of the 2017 graduating class landing a position as a federal clerk, according to UM.