• “Clerking has made me a better lawyer, by broadening the areas of law to which I have been exposed and providing me the opportunity to work closely with experienced judges and bright young lawyers. It also improved my writing ability by requiring me to write and re-write drafts until they were ready for publication. Clerking permitted me to see litigation in many different fields of the law, which helped me decide which area I wanted to work in.”
• “My clerkship made a palpable difference even before I started. I worked at a firm after my third year. When I did my job search, the same firms who had turned their noses up at me after my first year were pursuing me – the only real difference on my resume was the clerkship . . . Now, I feel like I know what bad lawyering works like, so, hopefully, I can avoid doing it; and I have seen examples of wonderful lawyering which I hope to emulate!”
Some different clerkship experiences by court . . .
• A state appellate clerk: “While we were very busy and had lots of appeals, I had much more time to research, think about the issues and write the opinion. I feel that it was a perfect first job out of law school - I was able to concentrate on my research and writing skills while taking advantage of the close working relationship with a judge.”
• A federal appellate clerk: “Appellate clerkships have the virtue of allowing you to see more different areas of the law because you deal with each case for a relatively short period of time.” Said another: “Minute per minute it provided the most intellectually stimulating work of my career.”
• A federal district clerk: “I loved being at the district court because, while I obtained the same basic research and writing skills obtained by the Circuit Court clerks, I additionally obtained skills directly related to the nuts and bolts of litigation – skills regarding privilege issues, document production, motion practice, depositions, remand and removal, arbitration, hearings, trials and settlement.”
Leading to a wide variety of future career paths . . .
• A future career in government: “Clerking has been completely and utterly invaluable for my (and my husband’s) legal career. I don’t think we could have gotten the first and second jobs we got after law school . . . Given the fact that judges are so well established in the legal community, they can open up further post-clerkship, post-law school opportunities.”
• The value to law firms: “Employing former judicial law clerks at a law firm is a fairly reliable means of ensuring a high quality of representation by a firm, especially in sophisticated litigation or transactional practices. A lawyer with clerkship experience is likely to possess strong writing and analytical skills, and her work product will reflect those capabilities in almost any area of practice. A law clerk’s exposure to federal trial or appellate practice, moreover, often facilitates a comfort level in the courtroom and provides helpful insider knowledge about a particular court’s or judge’s practices.”
• An essential credential for academia: “My experience as a law clerk has provided with me with extremely valuable skills that enable me to perform my work as a college professor with great ease. The skills I developed in research, writing and organization have assisted me immensely, as well as the opportunity to frankly discuss all points of view of a legal issue to really know all aspects of a case and theories of law and perhaps politics. This has assisted in all aspects of my academic profession, especially in the classroom with my students.”
• Value to in-house counsel: “I learned how to litigate a case – what worked and what didn’t. I watched skillful and not so skillful lawyers argue motions and participate in bench and jury trials. I learned the benefits of early dispute resolution and how wasteful to the parties and to the court an unchecked litigation process can be. I also learned the strategy of litigation management and resolution and developed organizational skills that permitted me to manage a docket of literally hundreds of matters, all at various stages of activity. All of these skills are ones I continue to use on a daily basis as an in-house counsel for a major corporation.”
Judicial Clerkships Blog:
This website provides a forum for judicial law clerks to exchange information about their judicial clerkship experiences, talk about their pre- and post- clerkship lives, and provide advice to those who seek to enter the world of judicial clerkships as a law clerk. For further judicial clerkship information and more on the law clerk selection process, go to the Blog.