A judicial clerkship is a post-graduate opportunity to work directly with a member or members of the judiciary. The duties and functions of a judicial law clerk are determined by the judge, however in most chambers a law clerk's duties consist of conducting legal research, preparing bench memoranda, drafting orders and opinions, verifying citations, communicating with counsel regarding case management and procedural requirements, and assisting the judge during courtroom proceedings.
The clerkship experience provides an invaluable opportunity for new lawyers to view the inner workings of the judicial process. A clerkship is a continuation of one's legal education, providing the recent law graduate with many of the tools necessary for a successful legal career. A judicial clerk will not earn a large law firm salary during the clerkship, but everyone who has clerked agrees that the experience outweighs any brief monetary loss.
Nationally, about 9% of all law graduates accept judicial clerkships each year. If you are interested in working as a judicial law clerk after graduation, please contact the Career Development Office's Director of Judicial Clerkships, firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that the deadlines for some federal and state court clerkships fall in May through the beginning of September of your third year of law school. State court clerkship deadlines vary so please read the complete Judicial Clerkship Guide for more information.
There are hundreds of judicial clerkships available each year in federal and state court. With regards to subject matter, the caseload in federal court will involve issues dealing with federal constitutional and statutory law. A number of general common law cases arising under diversity jurisdiction will also form part of a federal judge's docket. State courts, in contrast to federal courts, tend to have a broader variety of cases. A state court clerk may research issues ranging from child custody or involuntary manslaughter to water rights and contracts.
Federal Judicial Clerkships: Federal judicial clerkship opportunities include United States Courts of Appeal, United States District Courts (Trial and Magistrate Judges), United States Bankruptcy Courts, Administrative Law Judges and specialty courts such as United States Claims Court, United States Tax Court, United States Court of Military Appeals, United States Court of Veterans Appeals and United States Court of International Trade. The Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR) is helpful in researching judges who are hiring clerks (however, not all federal judges participate on OSCAR). For information on how to apply to federal judicial clerkships, please see Steps to Follow When Applying for a Clerkship for students and alumni in the Judicial Clerkship Guide.
State Court Clerkship: State court clerkship opportunities include Highest State Courts, Intermediate Appellate Courts and Trial Courts. For more information on applying to state court clerkships, please see the Vermont Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures available online and in the Career Development Office Resource Room. For online login information, please contact Amy G. Perez.
Staff Attorneys: In addition to clerks hired for a specific judge, many state and federal courts employ lawyers to clerk for the court, usually on the appellate level. The "staff attorneys," also known as "court clerks" often assist in the screening and pre-oral argument stages of the process. Information regarding federal staff attorney hiring can also be found on OSCAR.
02-24-11: Judicial Clerkship Panel