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Clerkship Advice for the Public Interest Applicant

Spending a year or two in a judicial clerkship is a great learning experience and a credential many public interest and government employers look for in applicants. In recent years, judges have increasingly been making offers to students for terms beyond the graduation year leaving a gap of a year or two between graduation and the start of the clerkship.  For law firm bound students this poses no problem as they simply start their firm jobs then leave for their clerkships. These gap year clerkships, however, may pose challenges to public interest students who do not have post-graduate jobs in hand. As you begin your clerkship search, please keep these considerations in mind:

  1. Getting a clerkship for your graduation year is best so:
    • Be geographically open.
    • Don’t limit yourself to judges of a certain background or political leaning.
    • Start your clerkship search early in your law school career to capture as many graduation year clerkship openings as possible.
  2. If you are open to accepting a gap year clerkship and you plan to apply for fellowships:
    • Check to see how long the fellowships you are targeting are - some are two years, others one year.  Click here for more information on post-graduate fellowships.
    • With the assistance of our public sector counselors assess how competitive you are for each type of fellowship.
  3. Avoid applying for clerkship openings that do not start in August or September.  Accepting an off-cycle clerkship may:
    • Preclude you from applying for pre-clerkship fellowships.
    • Leave a several months long gap before your post-clerkship public interest job.

Our clerkship counselor, Chris Fritton and our public sector counselors Neta Borshansky and Jamie Reisman are happy to help guide you through both the clerkship and fellowship processes.