The number of female Supreme Court justices fell by half with the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But the talk of the court this summer, with the arrival of the new crop of law clerks, is that the number of female clerks has fallen even more sharply, reports the New York Times. Just under 50 percent of new law school graduates in 2005 were women. Yet women account for only 7 of the 37 law clerkships for the new term, the first time the number has been in the single digits since 1994.
Last year at this time, there were 14 female clerks. Clerks play a significant role in screening new cases, and they help their justices in preparing for argument and in drafting opinions. While their pay is a modest $63,335 for their year of service, a Supreme Court clerkship is money in the bank: the clerks are considered such a catch that law firms are currently paying each one they hire a signing bonus of $200,000.