Applying for a Judicial Clerkship
What to include in your application packet:*
Ten Tips to a Top Clerkship
1. Make your grades and a strong academic record your priority.
2. Make an effort to get to know a few faculty members well by taking small seminar classes and/or serving as a research assistant.
3. In your course selection, keep in mind and be guided by the need for at least some of the useful subject matter (more black letter law content such as Evidence, Civil and Criminal Procedure, Business Organizations, First Amendment/Constitutional Law issues). Choose at least a couple of classes in which you will have the opportunity to write in class, rather than all exam courses. If possible, take at least one small class, as noted above.
4. Develop your legal research and writing skills early in your law school career (and over the summer), through writing class papers, briefs, memoranda, and/or a journal note. Doing so will serve three purposes: getting to know a professor who will be familiar with your writing (i.e., for letters of recommendation); developing a possible writing sample for clerkship applications; and fulfilling a graduation requirement early – plus, it’s just plain good for you!
5. Try to work on a law journal. For prestige, the top journal of your school is the best, but if not “the” journal, then try any journal that interests you. The journal experience of writing and editing is valuable in and of itself, and may help you with a writing sample. Activities such as moot court, barristers union, and trial advocacy are also beneficial for a clerkship and judges do look for them.
6. Pursue a judicial externship/internship, for exposure to the judiciary, to see what a judicial clerkship would be like, and to gain the potential support of a judge and his or her law clerks.
7. Be open-minded and flexible as to judges, types of courts and clerkships. Continue to expand your horizons – do not fall into the trap of limiting your options by thinking it has to be Judge X or the Xth Circuit.
8. Research early and continue to gather information through a variety of sources – printed, on-line, and people! This includes remaining aware of particular judges and courts, available law clerk positions, and on the alert for judicial clerkship issues, during your summer job as well as throughout law school.
9. To this end, attend any lectures, events and functions that expose you to members of the judiciary. Nothing substitutes for the opportunity to mingle and exchange information directly with a judge!
10. Of course, attend the programs on judicial clerkships offered by your law school and be sure to explore any and all judicial clerkship resources and law clerk information you find there!
Most of all, for more strategies on applying for a judicial clerkship, as well as valuable information on judicial law clerk positions, the master handbook – Behind the Bench: The Guide to Judicial Clerkships – is an essential resource! [Click here to learn more]
Remember to check our Blog for updates, including the latest on the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan, the Federal Law Clerk Information System, and OSCAR. . .
See also the links to these and other offical court sites.
*This is a general guideline only. Individual judges may have different preferences or additional requirements for the contents of an application for a judicial clerkship in their chambers. For more on each of these elements of the application, as well as the rest of the clerkship application process, see Behind the Bench. Be sure to consult the resources and further guidance detailed in the Book!