Federal Appellate Judicial Clerks 2008 reports some very interesting data about federal appellate clerkships. Note that the site has information only about 452 clerkships, and between active judges (165, with 3 or 4 clerks each) and senior judges (104, with 0 to 3 clerks each, I think), there are considerably more jobs out there than that. Still, the data is the best I've seen, and strikes me as likely at least reasonably representative. Particularly interesting tidbits:
1. The Long(ish) Tail: Though 77.2% of the clerks come from the top 18 schools (top 18 rather than top 20 because the top 18 has been unusually stable in the U.S. News rankings over the years), that means that 22.8% come from below the top 18, 13.1% from below the top 30, and 8.1% from below the top 50.
2. Yale: 26.5% of the Yale class is clerking for circuit judges; that doesn't even count the district court clerks. The runners-up are way behind (Stanford at 15.2%, Chicago at 13%, and Harvard at 9.9%).
3. Successes: Northwestern, #5 on the list of most appellate clerks placed (as a percentage of the class), does considerably better than its U.S. News ranking (#12). Same for Chicago (#3 / #6), Duke (#6 / #10), UCLA (#9 / #15), Vanderbilt (#11 / #16), Texas (#12 / #18), and Notre Dame (#14 / #28). I exclude from this list schools which placed 3 or fewer clerks; if you want to see them (e.g., Richmond [U.S. News #77], which placed a higher percentage of its class than Cornell [U.S. News #13] and USC [U.S. News #16]), go to the site.
4. UCLA: Did I mention how well we did? In 2008-2009, 18 federal court of appeals clerks will be from UCLA, which amounts to 5.4% of our class (note that some of them will be from classes other than the class of 2008, but likewise some of our 2008 graduates will likely get clerkships for future years). Woohoo! Not the percentage of Yale, Stanford, Chicago, or Harvard, but within 1.5% of everyone else, and #9 in the rankings (maybe tied for #8, or at least very nearly so, with Michigan).
5. Notes: (A) Much of this may be based on law school culture; some excellent law schools who routinely place their graduates in excellent jobs might simply not urge their graduates to get clerkships as much as some other schools do. (B) There is some random variation in these numbers from year to year. (C) The numbers may change if other schools report more data to this site. So take these statistics for whatever you feel they are worth.