Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Deferred First-Year Associates May Serve as Law Clerks

Due to the current fiscal crisis, the Massachusetts courts are unable to hire law clerks for next year. The Chief Justice for Administration and Management asked for an ethics opinion on whether the courts could "accept as volunteer interns law firm associates who have had their September 2009 start dates deferred and who will be receiving stipends and/or health benefits from their respective law firms during the deferral periods."

The SJC Committee on Judicial Ethics issued an opinion on June 9, 2009, indicating that first year associates of law firms whose employment has been deferred would be permitted to serve the court as volunteer law clerks under a double-blind system. Judges would not know what firm employs the law clerk, the law firm could not acknowledge their participation in the program, and the law clerks themselves could not share the name of their employer, "in print or electronically, including on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, during the period they work for the judges of the Trial Court."