They are the newest -- and youngest -- old-boy network in town: the former law clerks of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Robert H. Bork.

Bork, President Reagan's nominee to the Supreme Court, joined the bench just five years ago. But among his six sets of law clerks are a remarkable number who have gone on to important political positions or other prestigious jobs at the Justice Department, the White House, and elsewhere in government.

Clerking for a federal judge, particularly one as well-known as Bork, and serving a prestigious court such as the D.C. Circuit, is often the icing on the resume for top graduates of the best-known law schools.

During the Carter administration, clerks to liberal D.C. circuit judges or Supreme Court justices regularly went on to plum political positions such as special assistant to the attorney general.

In the Reagan administration, one of the prime routes to such jobs is through a Bork clerkship.

Seven of the 18 former Bork clerks now work at the Justice Department. One is an associate deputy attorney general, three are among the elite corps of lawyers in the solicitor general's office -- including a former associate deputy attorney general -- and three work in the Office of Legal Counsel under Assistant Attorney General Charles J. Cooper, including one who is currently compiling material for the Justice Department to use in the imminent Bork confirmation battle.

Further down Pennsylvania Avenue, Peter Keisler -- whose two fellow clerks from 1985-86 work at the Office of Legal Counsel -- is associate counsel to the president. Steven G. Calabresi, a former Bork student at Yale Law School who left his Bork clerkship in 1985 to serve as a special assistant to Attorney General Edwin Meese III, has stopped off at the White House to work for presidential aide T. Kenneth Cribb Jr., Meese's former counselor. Later this month, Calabresi starts his clerkship for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Calabresi's fellow clerk for Bork, Brent O. Hatch, worked as senior special assistant to Assistant Attorney General Richard K. Willard before becoming general counsel for the National Endowment for the Humanities last October. At age 28, Hatch, the son of Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), is the youngest general counsel in the federal government.

Clerking for Bork, the prime intellectual architect of the Reagan administration's philosophy of judicial restraint, is something of a seal of approval in the Reagan administration.

"I don't think it's entirely an accident" that there are so many Bork former clerks at the Justice Department, said Associate Deputy Attorney General Gregory S. Walden, one of Bork's first clerks. "The people at Justice, they look at references, and a recommendation from him, I'm sure, carried a lot of weight."

Said Keisler, 26, "They think, 'Well, he spent a year working for Judge Bork, maybe he's picked something up' . . . . People who know him and admire him tend to, rightly or wrongly, impute some of that to me."

Although not all of Bork's clerks shared his conservative judicial philosophy -- one now works for Democratic New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo -- many are Reagan Republicans who in law school joined the Federalist Society, a conservative group cofounded by Calabresi.

"The department has a way of looking at the law that is close to Bork's," said Richard G. Taranto, a lawyer in the solicitor general's office who clerked for Bork in 1982-83 and went on to clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. "Clerks who are sympathetic to his view of the law would naturally be interested in joining the Justice Department."

Bork clerks tend to discount the importance of their network. "In the traditional sense of an old-boy network . . . obviously we all know each other; we get together once a year with the judge," Hatch said. However, he said, "Regrettably, I have to say that none of us have risen to such a level of prominence and prestige that we're able to have much effect on each others' careers."

Still, as in so many other Washington jobs, who you know plays at least a subtle role.

Last year, for example, Bork clerk John Manning decided to take a job at the Office of Legal Counsel. His fellow clerk, Brad Clark, was planning to work for a New York law firm, but Manning convinced Clark to join OLC.

"I persuaded him he would have a lot more fun here than going to {the New York firm} and doing deals," Manning said.

Clark in turn encouraged Columbia Law School classmate Dan Troy, who had clerked for Bork the year before, to quit his job at a New York firm for OLC.

"It's difficult for somebody who's worked for a person like Judge Bork to go and work doing document production in a law firm," Manning said of the lure of continued government service. "The contrast . . . is just immense."