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07 March 2006


Todd Peppers

I'm bemused that my comments regarding law clerks, confidentiality rules, and response rates have caused a highly respected law school professor to break down and "confess" under my withering cross examination - if I'd had this much success in cracking witnesses while a litigator, I would have never left private practice!

Granted, my response rate on a one page survey regarding law clerks and their professional backgrounds was fairly high (40%). Then again, the first survey contained no questions about the clerkship itself. While I don't have exact figures on the acceptance rate for my interview requests (the interview covered the clerkship experience), I would estimate that it was less than 10% - not including the seven sitting or retired Supreme Court justices who repeatedly declined my requests to be interviewed (only Justices Stevens and Scalia agreed to speak with me, and Justice Scalia's comments were off-the-record). If I eliminated those clerks whose justices were deceased, I guess that the acceptance rate would fall to less than 5%.

Chris raises an interesting point that I don't know the answer to - are Congressional staffers or other similar young professionals bound by comparable written codes of professional ethics? Would interview requests meet with a similar fate? I would imagine not, if only because nobody believes that Senators are sitting in their offices and writing their own legislative proposals.

Finally, I did not receive a completed survey, Chris. But don't worry - my law clerk research continues....

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