Time to Get Busy on Federal Court Clerkship Applications

The season for pursuing the perfect federal court clerkship is right around the corner.  Well, sort of.  Even though the high season is not until the Fall, do you remember Fall?  It is hectic and overwhelming.  So, work in some time now before you become like a deer in headlights in the Fall.  You will be glad you did.

It also now appears that rising 2Ls can apply for federal court clerkships in the summer before their second years in the new judicial application system known as OSCAR.  PLEASE check with your Career Services Department to make sure this is correct.  If it is, you had better get started soon gathering as much information as possible about the application deadlines and related matters.

Federal court clerkships are highly coveted, and they are worth every sacrifice, including reruns of “Boardwalk Empire” and “Parenthood.”  In addition to the Career Services folks at your law school,  spend some time with graduates who currently have federal court clerkships before the demand for these people’s time gets crazy competitive.  Soon the current clerks will be looking for jobs with law firms and AUSA, and they will not have time to talk to you.

Clerking in the federal court is not only excellent resume value, but it also is very valuable experience. You will perfect your research and writing skills more than you ever thought possible.  You will be writing draft opinions for review by a judge, and that review process will be helpful to you for the remainder of your career.

You also will observe various styles of advocacy and perfect your own style just by watching.  If you clerk in a trial court, you will have the opportunity to observe all kinds of litigators — the good and the bad and, occasionally, even worse. If you are in the appellate court, you will become VERY familiar with the appellate briefing process and see some excellent and some not-so-excellent oral advocates.  With those stark examples, you will know what to emulate and what to avoid.  There is nothing like watching it and filing those images away for future use.

There also is the practical side.  It is not uncommon for young lawyers to be given additional salary or signing bonuses when they join firms after completing clerkships with the federal courts.  That is how valuable these experiences are perceived to be by lawyers in senior positions in law firms.  Just knowing that you have had that experience also may bring more interesting and high-level work to you.  The presumption is that you, the former federal court clerk, can handle it.

So, here is an article that will help you decide how to go about applying for a federal court clerkship and why you might want to do that.  The article is a few years old, but the concepts are still good and well laid out.  It is all stuff you need to be thinking about.  Sooner rather than later.

Here are some highlights:

*Tips for resumes;

*Preparing for interviews;

*Interview tips, including being very clear on what you have to offer the Judge; and

*Distinctions between types of federal courts and the experience you are looking for.

And, here is another article for good measure.  This one is a little more current and addresses the OSCAR application system.  You can never have too much of this good information.

Start early and be prepared!  Good luck!




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