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Students can apply to as many judges as they wish. "There are great judges all over the country," says Roosevelt. "What you get out of the clerkship depends primarily on the kind of relationship you form with your judge. It certainly doesn't depend on the prestige of the court."

And clerkships are not the sole province of newly minted J.D.'s, notes Diane Downs, associate dean for Career Planning and Placement. "Some lawyers use clerkships after a year or more to transition from one position to another," she says, noting her own career path. After earning her J.D. at Harvard Law, Downs clerked for the state courts of New York and Iowa and decided on law school administration.

At least 10 Penn Law alumni apply for and obtain clerkships each year. Judges appreciate the knowledge and experience that a more seasoned lawyer can bring to a clerkship, says Downs, a member of the National Association of Law Placement and its judicial clerkship committee.
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