Preparing for the Judicial Application Process
Getting ready to apply for clerkships requires not only preparing application materials but some serious thought about why to clerk, where to clerk, when to clerk and to whom to apply as well as considering whether there are steps you could be taking to make yourself a stronger candidate. Here are some suggestions:
- Speak with your professors and members of the clerkship committee to get their insight and advice
- Set up an appointment with our clerkship advisor, Chris Fritton, who can help you assess your credentials and decide on recommenders
- Determine how a clerkship fits in with your career goals
- Think about whether a trial or appellate court better suits your career plans and personal preferences or whether you want to do both
- Consider whether clerking right after graduation or after working a year or two makes better sense for you
- Decide where geographically you are willing to go
Judges accept applications in one of three ways: via the online system OSCAR used by many federal judges; by mail; or via email. Some state courts also have online application systems. To find resources for researching judges, click here.
Typically, to apply for clerkships, you will need to prepare or obtain the following materials:
- a short, well written cover letter
- law transcript
- a concise, interesting, and sophisticated writing sample
- in some cases, your college transcript
- letters of recommendation
Specifics about each of these are below.
- Many judges like to see a detailed cover letter that shows you have thought carefully about why you are applying to them. For other judges, a detailed cover letter is viewed as a writing sample. Keep in mind that detailed does not mean longer than one page. Highlight a few key points - ties to the area, particular skills you bring and reasons why you want to clerk for that particular judge. Be sure to include the names of and contact information for your recommenders in case the judge wants to contact them.
Here are several samples of cover letters:
- Short letter - if you have no details to add
- Bad letter example
- Detailed letter - background
- Detailed letter - courses
- Detailed letter - geography
- Detailed letter - research and writing background
For a template of the mail merge fields to use with your Symplicity created judge list, click here.
- Keep it simple. Use a traditional format and font, such as Times New Roman or Arial.
- Have sufficient margins and white space to make it easy to read, at least 3/4 of an inch.
- The font size should be no smaller than 11.
- Your resume can be more than one page but does not have to be.
- Put dates on the right, not the left. You want the more important part of the entry, i.e. employer name, position held, to be the first thing read.
- Emphasize any writing you’ve done, e.g. journal work, a research paper, an undergraduate thesis.
- List honors one under another as opposed to stringing them separated by semicolons.
- Membership on any journal which was the subject of the writing competition is an honor, not an activity. Put your journal position at the top.
- In your job descriptions, highlight research and writing and specify the legal issues you have worked on.
- Include community service. Judges are public servants and appreciate applicants who give back to their community.
- Put in an “Interests” section. Be specific. They often spark conversation at an interview.
Unofficial copies are expected. Although OSCAR now allows you to upload an official version of your transcript, there have been issues due to watermarks or encryption so we recommend you create your own version from Penn-in-Touch or use the attached template. If you choose the latter, consider omitting course numbers and listing courses which are ungraded or co-curricular after your graded courses. You can also list the semesters in reverse chronological order. Be sure to include the full names of your professors whom the judges may know.
Do not list a GPA - it’s against law school policy to do so. Also get a copy of your undergraduate transcript which some judges request. If your college grades were particularly strong, you may wish to include your undergraduate transcript even if it is not requested. Again, it may be helpful to create your own version of your undergraduate transcript to avoid issues with OSCAR.
Most judges ask for one writing sample but a few do ask for two. Choose something that is interesting and shows your skill at analyzing a complex legal issue. Circuit court judges may prefer to read a lengthier, more academic work (e.g., a journal comment or paper), while district court judges may be more interested in seeing a brief or a detailed memo.
Keep in mind these tips:
- Work produced for another judge: Remember, the judge, not you, is the author of an opinion. Do not send a final opinion that you helped draft for a judge as your work product. If you would like to submit work you produced in chambers, get the judge’s approval then include a cover sheet which states that you have permission to use it as a writing sample.
- Work produced for a client: Get your employer’s permission before using work produced for a client as a writing sample. Delete any names, titles and case numbers to preserve confidentiality in a way that enhances, rather than impedes, clear reading of the redacted text (for example, use “Company X” instead of blacking names out).
- Long writing samples: You may want to send a longer work (e.g., a comment) with a note explaining that a reading of pages 10 to 20 will give a good sample of your writing ability. Alternatively, you may excerpt a longer piece and include an introductory note.
Obtaining recommendation letters from professors and employers who know you and your abilities is a vital part of the clerkship process. We recommend students obtain three recommendation letters, typically two from faculty members and a third from a work reference.
Keys to getting a good recommendation from professors:
- Avail yourself of opportunities to get to know them. Go to office hours.
- Volunteer in class.
- Take more than one class with a professor.
- Take a small seminar.
- Work as a research assistant.
- Stay in touch after you have completed a course.
- Ask “Do you think you know me well enough?” It will serve as an indirect way of finding out whether the professor thinks you would get a better letter from someone else.
Help your professor by providing:
- A resume
- A transcript
- A preliminary judge list or thoughts on what courts you plan to apply to
- What geographic regions are of interest to you
- Why you are interested in clerking and how that fits into your hoped for career path
- What qualities would make you a good clerk
- Other information about your background which might be useful to raise in the recommendation
Stay in touch with your recommenders:
- Consult them about judge selection.
- Seek their advice on the type of writing sample you should use.
- Let them know of any interviews you arrange before the interview and see if they have any information about the judges.
- Let them know how things turn out.
- If you have had significant contact with your professor since she or he wrote the recommendation, please ask the professor to update it.
OCS handles the formatting, uploading, emailing and printing of all faculty letters. It’s important that you list the names of your recommenders on the Clerkship Registration page in Symplicity. OCS will email all faculty recommenders you’ve identified there and ask that they send their letters to email@example.com. You do not have to remind professors of any deadlines.
OCS is willing to process outside recommendation letters, include them with your faculty letters in your paper applications and upload them to your OSCAR applications. If you would like us to handle these letters, please have your outside recommenders send to firstname.lastname@example.org a signed PDF on letterhead addressed to “Your Honor”, “Dear Judge” or “Dear Honorable Sir or Madam” along with an email giving OCS permission to send it out.
Devising an Application Strategy
In deciding which judges to apply to, consider the following factors:
- Do you prefer appellate or trial court?
- Which particular judge or judges are right for you?
- What “type” of judge, intellectually, temperamentally, politically, and personally, are you looking for?
- Are you open to less popular geographic areas where clerkships may be more available?
- How competitive a particular clerkship is and what your chances are.
A well-researched judge list pays off. Chances are that judges you are more interested in will be more likely to be interested in you. We have several resources listed in Researching Judges. There, you will also find a list of judges who have hired Penn clerks. However, do not limit yourself to these judges. Every year, judges who have not hired from Penn before do so.
In addition to our online resources, speak with 3Ls who will be clerking after graduation, recent graduates who are clerking or have clerked, your professors and lawyers at your summer employment. Ask them about the judges they clerked for and other judges they recommend who could provide an excellent clerkship experience. Some questions you might ask are:
- What is the judge’s personality like?
- How is the judge viewed in the legal community?
- Does the judge prefer clerks who agree with her or are willing to argue different views?
- Does the judge have personal or political beliefs that affect his/her judging?
- Is the judge close to or standoffish from his clerks?
- What are the best/worst things about working for the judge?
- How extensively does the judges edit and comment on the clerks’ writing?
- What is it like living in (town/city/area)?
- What hours do the clerks work?
For details on clerkship vacancies with particular federal judges, visit the Online System for Clerkship Application & Review (“OSCAR”). Be aware, however, that not all federal judges use OSCAR to post clerkship openings. If there is a federal judge you would like to apply to who has not posted any information, we suggest you call chambers, Be sure to mention that you first checked OSCAR and ask if the judge is hiring for the term.
Evaluate the Competitiveness of Particular Clerkships
Circuit court clerkships are highly competitive, particularly in such traditionally esteemed courts as the Second, Third, Ninth, and District of Columbia Circuits. While a number of credentials, skills, or talents may spark a Circuit Court Judge’s interest, strong academic success is an essential.
District court clerkships are quite competitive, though this varies from one court to another, and often from one judge to another. Some judges, particularly in the Northeast Corridor, California, and Chicago, receive hundreds if not over a thousand applications per year.
Several states’ highest level appellate courts are extremely competitive because of the reputation of the judges; Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York are included in this group. Typically, a clerkship with the highest level appellate court is more competitive than one with the state’s mid-level courts, which are in turn more competitive than a trial court clerkship.
To increase your chances of success, look at:
- Clerkships in geographic locations that do not attract an influx of candidates from top-tier law schools (i.e., non-Chicago Mid-West, South, Northwest, Southwest, or “up-state” locations in New York, Pennsylvania or other competitive states).
- Clerkships with federal magistrate judges and bankruptcy judges, which are generally less competitive.
- Specialty courts, such as the Tax Court, the Court of International Trade, or the Federal Circuit. Here, taking courses in the areas of these courts’ jurisdiction can improve your chances.
Newly appointed judges may attract fewer applications and thus offer better opportunities.
You can track judicial nominations and confirmations on the following websites:
How Many Judges?
The Faculty Clerkship Committee expects that you will keep the number of your applications at a reasonable level and that you will do appropriate research before adding a judge to your list. Our hope is that you will not apply to a judge for whom you would not be willing to clerk (based on what you can discern from the paper record). We recognize, however, that learning about a given judge is a process. There may be important things about a given chambers that you might not be able to discern from initial research and that you only learn as you conduct more focused research and outreach. Thus, we would like to underscore that you should not hesitate to withdraw your application or, if given an offer, to decline the offer, if during your research or in your interview itself you develop cause for concern about the workplace experience in a particular judge’s chambers. For further thoughts on this, please see the Interviews and Offers section.
In recent years, the number of judges to whom our students apply has averaged around 60-70. If you do your research carefully, you should feel comfortable applying within this range. In deciding on a specific number of judges for you, you will need to consider your competitiveness, your flexibility, and the cost of printing, mailing and potentially traveling to interview in one or more locations.
There are several factors to consider when deciding when to apply and for what term you’d like to apply:
- How strong are your credentials now or would another year of grades strengthen them
- Do you want to clerk right after graduation or work for a year or two first
- Do you currently have good recommenders or do you need more time to develop relationships with professors and employers
- Do you have a good writing sample
- Are you sure now that you want to clerk
Keep in mind that judges at both the federal and state level hire at different times and for various court terms. You will see some judges who hire several years in advance and others who hire only one year ahead.
Under the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan, federal judges will not seek or accept applications from the class of 2022 until June 14, 2021 and from the class of 2023 until June 13, 2022. This plan does not affect hiring from any classes prior to 2022.
To find out the timing of hiring by state court judges, a good place to start is with the Vermont Guide to State Court Clerkships (username yellow password birch).
Students who are not subject to any timeline restriction should expect to apply to judges in a continuous fashion as you learn they are hiring.
After you find judges you wish to apply to (please see the Devising an Application Strategy section), we will ask you to create your judge list using the database in the clerkships section of Symplicity. This database updates the federal judges monthly and is a reliable resource, but no system is perfect. If you find any mistakes in the system, please let us know. Moreover, proofread each letter carefully to make sure there are no errors in the address fields and that the salutation matches the judge to whom you are applying.
Symplicity also contains information on many state court judges which we manually update in the system once a year. It contains all state supreme court judges, intermediate appellate judges and some lower court judges in NY, PA, DE and NJ. Before applying to state court judges you should check with the court’s website.
Do not assume all judges hire term law clerks. Check the Judge Details tab in OSCAR and the Notes box in Symplicity. For state courts, please see the Vermont Guide to State Law Clerkships (username yellow password birch).
Once you have created your judge list, download those who require paper or email applications by checking their names and clicking “Export to Excel.” Save your spreadsheet exactly as Excel creates it (we need the fields unchanged to mail merge your recommendation letters) and email it to email@example.com.
Once you hear from a judge, things will move quickly. Judges often expect very quick responses to their offers; some have even been known to extend offers at the interview and to expect an answer then and there. It is important to be prepared for what may become a pressured decision making process. We encourage you to reach out to any member of the Clerkship Committee and Chris Fritton if you need advice.
As discussed in Devising a Judicial Clerkships Application Strategy before applying to a judge you will have researched the judge, court, and location, and you will have concluded that, based on what you know from this basic research, you would happily accept a clerkship with that judge. Once a judge offers you an interview, deepen your research about that particular judge. Talk with people who know what this judge is like including fellow students, mentors from a summer job, Penn alums or others who have clerked for this judge, or who have clerked for a judge in the same courthouse, and your faculty recommenders.
The work environment for clerking is different from most other employment settings, as you will be working in a relatively closed environment with a small number of colleagues. The tone and culture of your workplace is heavily influenced by the judge and his or her personality and expectations. This makes it all the more important to learn about these less tangible but important aspects of your work experience.
Tips to keep in mind:
- If you receive multiple invitations to interview, you should try (diplomatically) to schedule the interviews with your most-preferred judges earlier than those with other judges.
- Once you get one interview call other judges in the same area to whom you’ve applied to let them know you will be traveling to that location. Knowing you will be in the area may cause a judge to offer you an interview.
- Expect to meet with judge’s staff and clerks before talking with the judge. In many cases the staff and clerks have a good deal of say in the decision-making process. They are meeting with you not as a confidante but rather as an evaluator.
A word about harassment in the workplace - The vast majority of clerkships provide wonderful work experiences, but even the judiciary is not immune from bad actors. We want to emphasize that you should not hesitate to withdraw your application or, if given an offer, to decline the offer, if during your research or during or after your interview you develop cause for concern about the workplace experience in a particular judge’s chambers. And in the event that you encounter harassment or other abuse, either during the application process or in a clerkship itself, please remember that that Penn Carey Law stands ready to be a resource to you. In addition, in the federal courts, the Office of Judicial Integrity has information on reporting harassment and the contacts for several circuit courts for reporting harassment are here. Many state courts have comparable processes as well.
Preparing for Interviews
Be prepared for your interview!
- Contact Penn grads and other contacts who clerked for the judge or on the same court or in the same courthouse. Contact information for former Penn Carey Law clerks and interview surveys can be found in the Researching Judges section.
- Read some of the judge’s opinions.
- Gather information about the judge’s interests and be prepared to speak about them. Bring out any ties you may have to the judge — undergraduate school, law school, interest in the same legal field (e.g. he or she was a prosecutor before going on the bench).
- Be prepared for classic interview questions (see below), Expect open ended questions that allow you to display your thoughtfulness and maturity.
- Use the question “do you have any questions for me” wisely (see below).
- Avoid answers that focus on why the clerkship would be good for you. You need to spend every moment in the interview trying to sell your candidacy.
- Keep your answers short and have a conversation. Dialogue is more interesting than monologue. Follow the lead of your judge’s interviewing style. If she’s formal and business like, act the same. If he’s relaxed and informal, relax yourself (but not too much).
- Many judges like to discuss a substantive area of the law. They usually pick something you purport to know about. Go through your resume and remind yourself of your note topic, moot court topic, college theses and any other major writing.
- Questions like “what was your favorite class” are opportunities for you to steer the conversation to an area of strength.
- Resumes are often museums of items that you have forgotten are there. Go through each line and make sure that you have at least a 2-3 sentence comment on each one.
- Set Google alerts
- Listen to oral arguments
- Review confirmation hearings materials
- Review Prof. Yoo’s A Highly Opinionated View of How to Prepare for Clerkship Interviews
Lastly, find out during the interview what the judge’s timetable is for making a final decision. Sometimes the judge will ask you not to accept another job without calling first. This is not an offer, nor will it necessarily lead to an offer, although it sometimes does. If you agree to phone the first judge, and are then offered a clerkship by a second judge, you should honor your agreement to call the first judge before accepting the second. Should this happen, you can allay any concern of the subsequent judge that you are not truly interested by explaining your interest in honoring your commitment to call the first judge before accepting the second judge’s offer.
Questions You May Be Asked
- What drew you to law school?
- Why do you want to clerk?
- Why do you want to clerk on this (level/type) court?
- How does a clerkship fit into your future goals?
- Where geographically do you want to practice?
- Do you have any ties to this community?
- What do you hope to gain from a clerkship?
- What areas of law interest you?
- What interests do you have outside of the law?
- What has been your most difficult law school class?
- What has been y our most/least favorite course?
- What other courses do you plan to take?
- Have you participated in moot court, trial advocacy, clinics?
- What type of research and writing have you done in law school and in your work experiences?
- How do you approach researching an issue you know nothing about?
- Tell me about your journal experience.
- Why did you choose the topic you did for your comment/paper? What was your thesis/position?
- Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice and why?
- What is your most/least favorite Supreme Court decision and why? How would you have decided it?
- Do you prefer to work with others or independently?
- Are you comfortable under pressure and juggling many tasks? What experiences have you had like this?
- If I asked you to write a draft opinion with which you disagreed, how would you handle it?
- Why do you want to work for me?
- To what other judges/courts have you applied? Why did you choose them?
- What qualities do you have which will make you a good law clerk?
- Why are you the best candidate for this clerkship?
- Do you fell you could evaluate cases impartially given your personal views?
- Tell me everything you know about me.
- Have you read any of my opinions? Which ones?
- Do you have any questions for me?
- I’d like you to clerk for me. Do you accept?
Questions To Ask the Judge or Clerks
When asked “Do you have any questions for me?” take the opportunity to steer the discussion in a particular direction. Think in advance of questions that would highlight aspects of your candidacy that may not have come out in the interview. Ask questions:
- that highlights a point of commonality between you and the judge
- initiates a conversation on a subject about which you are knowledgeable and in which you know the judge is interested (such as asking about an opinion the judge wrote)
- signals to the judge your long-term career goals (particularly if you aspire to a career path similar to the one followed by the judge with whom you are interviewing)
You should not use these questions to obtain information about the clerkship or about the judge. Every moment in the interview should be used to further your candidacy and focused on why hiring you would be good for the judge, not why clerking would be good for you. You should also avoid questions that any applicant could be asking of any judge, as these will do nothing to further your candidacy.
Financial Support for Interview Travel
Financial support for travel to interviews is available for current students based on financial need.
- For car, bus, or train travel, the school will reimburse up to $90 for each trip.
- For interviews that require air travel, the school will reimburse up to $300 for each trip.
- We expect that students will use less expensive means of travel whenever feasible, and will reserve trips in advance to keep costs to a minimum.
- Funding will not be available for any interviews with federal judges which do not comply with the Federal Law Clerking Hiring Plan.
Please note that Penn Carey Law’s ability to reimburse for travel expenses, as stated in this paragraph, is subject to any restrictions that the University is imposing on university-related travel in light of the pandemic. For details on university policy, please see Penn’s Covid-19 Travel Guidelines. If the availability of reimbursement affects your decision to travel for a clerkship interview, please check with us in advance to determine whether reimbursement will be possible.
The federal judiciary has an online application tool for clerkship applications, Online System for Clerkships Application & Review (“OSCAR”). OSCAR:
- Provides information about clerkship openings and the application method preferred by the judge.
- Allows candidates to apply to judges who accept applications online.
Not all judges post openings on OSCAR. If OSCAR does not contain any information about openings, you may call chambers, state you first checked on OSCAR and inquire whether the judge is hiring for the term.
You will need to register in that system (separately from the Symplicity registration) and “apply” to judges who accept online applications:
- Open an account by clicking on the Register button.
- Input the names of your recommenders in the My Recommenders tab. If a Penn Carey Law Faculty member is not listed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it.
- Upload a cover letter, resume and writing sample in the My Documents tab. Cover letters can be handled in two ways:
- Create a cover letter in OSCAR using their mail merge fields (preferred). OSCAR will insert the address information of the judge for each application your create.
- Upload PDFs of individual letters to each judge.
- You can upload different variations of your documents if you choose.
- Input your law school and undergraduate grades.
- Either put “n/a” or “Penn Carey Law does not provide GPA information” in the Cumulative GPA box for your law grades. It is against law school policy for students and alumni to list a GPA.
- Penn Carey Law’s Grading System Description can be found below.
- If you don’t know the names of your undergrad professors, leave that field blank but do list your law professors’ names.
- If your grades improved since 1L year, consider organizing your OSCAR transcript in reverse chronological order.
- Click on each judge to whom you wish to apply, click the Clerkships List tab, then the View & Apply button. Attach the requested documents and select your faculty recommenders from the list in the Build an Application box on the right. Then select the “Create Draft Application” button at the bottom of the box. Do not finalize applications at this point!
- Recommendation letters cannot be uploaded until you have draft applications pending. CP&P checks OSCAR regularly and uploads letters to draft applications.
- You can view how your application will look to the judge by clicking on the envelope icon in the Documents column on the My Applications tab. You can tell when recommendation letters have been uploaded when the names of your recommenders in the Recommendations column have a green checkmarks next to them.
- When, and only when, you are sure everything is accurate and complete, finalize your applications. You can do them all at once using a batch option or individually by selecting the “Finalize Application” button in the application box.
- ONCE APPLICATIONS ARE FINALIZED, YOU MAY NOT MAKE ANY CHANGES.
If a judge accepts online applications, you must apply to him or her via OSCAR. We will not mail paper letters of recommendation to judges who only accept online applications.
In order to prepare paper applications, we will need you to email email@example.com a spreadsheet made in the clerkship section of Penn Carey Law’s Symplicity (not OSCAR). We use this to mail merge letters and labels.
PLEASE NOTE, until staff returns to the law school, the below process is suspended. Applicants will need to mail their paper applications directly to judges. CP&P will mail recommendation letters to the judges once we have received the Symplicity spreadsheet.
We provide some materials to assist students with paper application.
What You Need to Prepare
What We Will Prepare*
Personalized Cover Letter to each paper Judge (Resume Paper)
Resume for each Judge (Resume Paper)
Unofficial Transcript(s) for each Judge. (Plain Paper)
Collated, stapled copy of your Writing Sample (Plain Paper)
Recommendation Letters (in sealed envelopes with the Judges’ names on the label.)
File Folders in which to place all of your materials.
File Folder Labels with your name and the names of the Judges to whom you are applying.
Once these materials are prepared, we will set up a time for current students to come into CPP’s office to assemble applications or coordinate with alumni candidates to mail out the recommendation letters when the alumni mail out their applications.
Some judges ask for email applications. The best practice is to email your application as one PDF to Chris Fritton in the Office of Career Planning and Professionalism along with a spreadsheet from Penn Carey Law’s Symplicity for the judge (used to mail merge your recommendations) and the email address at which the judge is receiving applications. She will add your letters of recommendation to your PDF and email the application to chambers.
Be respectful of a judge’s time. You should not apply to a judge, and most certainly not accept an interview with a judge, unless you are prepared to accept an offer. To ask for time to think about an offer or to decline an offer (other than because you are accepting a clerkship with another judge) may damage the law school’s relationship with the judge and hurt future Penn Carey Law applicants’ ability to obtain a clerkship with that judge. That said, it is always appropriate to decline an interview or offer if during your research or during or after your interview you develop cause for concern about the workplace experience in a particular judge’s chambers. The vast majority of clerkships provide wonderful work experiences, but even the judiciary is not immune from bad actors. For more information see Scheduling Interviews in Interviews & Offers.
Be sure to thank the judge and staff. After an interview, please take a moment to send a brief email to the judge, clerks and other staff members you met to thank them for the opportunity to interview with them. You can mention an item or two you enjoyed conversing about and reiterate your interest in the clerkship.
Withdraw your applications after accepting an offer. As soon as you accept a clerkship, be sure to withdraw all of your outstanding applications. On OSCAR, it’s a simple process to withdraw them. For your paper and email applications, a quick phone call or email will do.
Stay in touch with your recommenders. Recommenders put in time and effort to write effective letters on your behalf. To keep them informed about your progress is not only appropriate, it may also get them more invested in your search.
- Every few weeks, let them know whom you’ve applied to (send a Symplicity spreadsheet with the judges’ names, courts, emails and phone numbers). Some recommenders also may have advice to share about particular judges, and in such instances you may find it helpful to share a draft list of judges with the recommender before you actually apply.
- Be mindful when asking them to reach out to judges. Don’t ask for such outreach unless you’d happily accept an offer from the judge in question. Also, bear in mind that while recommenders should find such requests helpful a recommender may not be in a position to commit to contacting a given judge on your behalf. Recommenders have to balance support for several candidates or may know that you do not meet the qualifications some judges expect. Thus, it is more diplomatic to state that you would appreciate any outreach the recommender is willing to make to a few highlighted judges. If there is a specific reason that you think you would be a particularly good candidate for a judge or judges on your list, it is helpful to let your recommenders know the reason.
- Be sure to let your recommenders know of any interview you receive before the interview. That way they will be prepared if a judge calls them. Moreover, knowing you have an interview may cause them to reach out to the judge on your behalf.
- Let them know right away when you accept an offer! You would not want them to hear the good news from someone else first.
- Lastly, a simple thank you in person, via email, or via an old fashioned note is always appreciated.
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. These gap year clerkships 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:
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.
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.
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.