Judicial internships and judicial clerkships are not the same. A judicial clerkship is a post-graduate clerk position (usually a term of 1 – 2 years). A judicial internship is a summer position, that does not lead to a post-graduate position with the judge.
Are summer judicial internships beneficial? Absolutely! 1L summer is the best time to consider a judicial internship. Consider your long term career goals when deciding which judges you should apply to for a summer position. We will help you navigate these decisions and the process. We will help you prepare your application materials. Impress your summer judge and you may find that doors open for post-graduate clerkships with other judges. Apply over winter break.
Are summer judicial internships paid? No. Never. You should simply feel grateful for a great opportunity. However, the 1L summer public interest program at WashULaw does fund summer internships. More information is coming soon. Also, some organizations, like the ABA, will fund a judicial internship.
Many judges still prefer paper applications. Schedule a time to print, sort and prepare your paper applications in the Center for Career Development. We can help you print, proof read, and assemble your cover letter, resume, writing sample, transcripts, letters of recommendation and any additional application materials requested in one packet. We will pay the postage and mail the application for you.
Bev Owens, Assistant Director for Faculty Support, will provide sealed letters of recommendation for paper clerkship applications. Try to allow at least 5 business days for letters of recommendation. However, if it is an emergency, let us know. (If you need to mail the application before the letters of recommendation are completed, Ms. Owens can mail the letters separately).
Schedule a time through Tanya Bishop!
Clerking is not only a fantastic stepping stone to a successful career, but clerking itself can be a rewarding career. Please drop in the CCD on Tuesday (10-24) to meet career clerk Michelle Akinsiku Hayde (2006) from 12:15-1:00 for Attorney Tuesday.
Michelle is career clerk for Judge Staci M. Yandle. She began her legal career as a litigator- first with the Attorney General’s office and then with litigation firms. Since March 2015, Michelle been clerking with the Southern District of Illinois. She completed a temporary clerkship with Judge Rosenstengel from March 2015-August 2015 and then began a clerkship with Judge Yandle in August 2015. In March 2016, Michelle accepted a career clerkship with Judge Yandle and has found clerking to be a wonderful and rewarding position.
The OSCAR Program Office has put together several resources for applicants. Topics covered in the blog posts below include how applicants can manage their documents (resumes, cover letters, writing samples, etc.) within their OSCAR accounts, how to best manage recommenders for applications, and how to utilize the search features to find open positions that fit their needs.
- Information for Applicants: Managing Documents
- Information for Applicants: Managing Recommenders
- Information for Applicants: Searching for Positions
In addition, OSCAR also provides the following helpful resources for applicants:
Now is the time to get ready to apply for clerkships! The faculty and CCD have put together the information that you need to apply in this post. Every judge is looking for something slightly different, so we can’t cover everything here. But if you work through the Clerkship Application Checklist, you’ll be ready to apply to most judges as soon as you have your spring grades. Your goal should be have your application ready to send out as soon as you receive your spring grades since many judges have recently started hiring in early summer.
If you have any questions, you should email Professors Richards, Sachs, Epps, or D’Onfro! We’ll update this blog with FAQs as they come in and we’re always happy to answer individual questions as well. We want you to put together the best application possible.
Resume. You should have a resume that is in good shape from your summer job hunt. Now, just add your summer position(s) and any new honors or activities, such as journal membership. Once you have lined up a job for your 2L summer, add that as well. Unless you have significant pre-law school work experience, keep it to one page. If you’d like an example, this is Prof. D’Onfro’s resume from when she applied for clerkships.
References. You should plan to ask 2-3 people for references. Some positions only require two references, but more competitive judges, especially at the federal circuit level, typically prefer three. Ideally, two of your references will be faculty members from your first-year or upper-level substantive classes. We ask that you fill out the Judicial Clerkship Reference Request Form and include that when you ask faculty for a reference. Once you have confirmed your faculty recommenders, email their names to firstname.lastname@example.org along with copies of your Judicial Clerkship Reference Request Forms.
Cover Letter. You will send a short, generic cover letter to most judges. It should convey the basic information about you, but it isn’t a personal statement about why you want to clerk. And it won’t impress the judge for you to extol your virtues in the letter. Here is a sample of what we recommend. For judges where you have some real connection—most importantly, a personal geographic connection to where the judge sits—you should add a sentence or two explaining that fact. Your goal in including this information is to make the judge realize why you might be particularly interested in clerking in, say, Wyoming—and thus why you’re likely to accept an offer. Bringing in potential clerks for interviews is a lot of work. Some judges care that you intend to stay in their geographic region after clerking so you should mention that where applicable.
Transcripts. Make sure you have a few official undergraduate transcripts on hand for the judges who request them (we only know of a handful of state clerkships that ask for official transcripts, but since these can take a few weeks to get from your prior institutions, get them now). Spend time now making an unofficial law school transcript and getting the data into OSCAR so that you don’t have to do it later.
Writing Sample. Make sure you have something that has not been edited by anyone else. If you’re a 1L, your legal writing assignments are probably your best bet until you have a chance to develop a better writing sample though your summer position, a clinic, moot court, or a seminar paper. Pay attention to what judges on your list are asking for, since some ask for persuasive writing while others prefer law review-style notes. Fortunately, most don’t have a preference.
List of Judges. To maximize your chances of success, apply broadly—a list of 50+ judges is a good start, but you can even go broader than that. We’ve had students in the top half of the class get federal district court clerkships and students in the top quarter get federal court of appeals clerkships, but these aren’t hard cutoffs. If you have strong recommendations and interview well, quite a bit is possible—and, for better or for worse, luck plays a significant role.
Given that, it’s not a good idea to limit your search to a narrow geographic area. Even if you want to practice long-term in, say, San Diego, it isn’t a good strategy to only apply to San Diego-based judges. That will significantly limit your options—and make it a lot less likely you’ll get a clerkship. A clerkship anywhere is a credential that carries value everywhere in the legal profession.
You should also consider state court clerkships, which are often somewhat less competitive than federal clerkships but no less rewarding. We have some excellent resources for researching state court opportunities here.
But don’t stop there! If you love criminal law or crave trial experience, consider federal magistrate clerkships. If you see yourself working in banking, securities, consumer, or commercial law down the road, consider federal bankruptcy clerkships. And don’t overlook the other specialized courts like the Federal Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the United States Court of Federal Claims, and the various administrative courts. NALP has a great guide covering opportunities with ALJs.
In short, no matter where you are in the class, there is a clerkship for which you’re a viable candidate. Make an appointment with one of us to discuss your best strategy if you are not sure.
Once you have a list, fill out the State and/or Federal Judicial Clerkship Applications Spreadsheet and send it to email@example.com. June 15, 2017 is the deadline for priority handling of applications over the summer. All other requests will be processed in the order they are received. You can make changes to this spreadsheet after you submit it, but please be considerate of the administrative staff.
Applying for a judicial clerkship? Want to stand out in your interview? Take the time to learn about the judge’s case load by pulling and reviewing their dockets. Your familiarity with their current cases will give you relevant subjects to discuss during the interview. Also, be sure to demonstrate your passion for the legal profession by brushing up on hot topics, current legal issues, and the latest legal news. Check out Bloomberg Law’s Judicial Clerkship Resource page for access to all of these resources.