Judicial Clerkship

A judicial clerkship provides direct insight into the judicial process and is a valuable and enriching experience.

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 law clerk gains practical experience by:

  • Attending judicial proceedings
  • Performing legal research
  • Drafting memoranda
  • Providing other assistance to the judge

Law clerks also are exposed to the methods and customs of practitioners, including the quality of their written work and oral advocacy. Many former law clerks find the prestige and experience associated with service as a judicial law clerk broadens their future employment opportunities.

CPD Clerkship Guides

Timing

It is important for students to note that some federal and state court judges begin hiring as early as fall or spring of 2L year, so it is never too early to begin thinking about and researching judicial clerkship opportunities.  Judges throughout the country have also begun hiring experienced attorneys in recent years, and therefore there are many opportunities year-round for alumni who wish to pursue a judicial clerkship.

The New Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan And How It May Affect You

In February 2018, a group of federal judges announced a new law clerk hiring plan. While the parameters and timing of the new hiring process have been laid out, the potential effects are still largely unclear. The classes of 2020 and 2021 are the classes immediately affected by the new hiring plan.

A New Plan

Since the breakdown of the last federal clerkship hiring plan in 2014, there has been no coordinated effort among federal judges to organize clerkship hiring procedures. In response to concerns from law school faculty and deans, the Chief Judges of the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Seventh, Ninth and DC Circuits developed a new two-year pilot Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan, which was announced through OSCAR in February of 2018.

Here's an Overview of the Plan:

FEDERAL LAW CLERK HIRING PLAN, 3rd AND 4th PILOT YEARS

Updated October 2, 2020

Starting with students who entered law school in 2017, the application and hiring process will not begin until after a law student's second year.

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  • For students who entered law school in 2019 (graduating class of 2022)

    Judges will not seek or accept formal or informal clerkship applications, or seek or accept formal or informal recommendations, before 12:00 pm EDT on June 14, 2021. Judges also will not directly or indirectly contact applicants, or schedule or conduct formal or informal interviews, or make formal or informal offers, before 12:00 pm EDT on June 15, 2021.

  • For students who entered law school in 2020 (graduating class of 2023)

    Judges will not seek or accept formal or informal clerkship applications, or seek or accept formal or informal recommendations, before 12:00 pm EDT on June 13, 2022. Judges also will not directly or indirectly contact applicants, or schedule or conduct formal or informal interviews, or make formal or informal offers, before 12:00 pm EDT on June 14, 2022.

A judge who makes a clerkship offer will keep it open for at least 48 hours, during which time the applicant will be free to interview with other judges.

This is a two-year extension of the original pilot plan. Participating judges will reconsider their participation after June 2022. After June 2021, participating judges will reconsider the length of time a clerkship offer must remain open.

OSCAR Access Dates

Applicants from the graduating classes of 2022 and 2023 gain access to OSCAR to register for an account, upload documents, search for positions, and build applications on the dates listed below:

  • For students who entered law school in 2019 (graduating class of 2022) - Applicants gain access to OSCAR on February 3, 2021 at 8 am EST.
  • For students who entered law school in 2020 (graduating class of 2023) - Applicants gain access to OSCAR on February 2, 2022 at 8 am EST.
  • For students who entered law school in 2021 (graduating class of 2024) - Applicants gain access to OSCAR on January 9, 2023 at 8 am EST.

Which Judges are Participating?

The new federal law clerk hiring plan is completely voluntary: individual judges or groups of judges may choose to participate but are not required to do so. As of now, the DC Circuit, First Circuit ("majority" of judges), Second Circuit, Third Circuit, Seventh Circuit, Ninth Circuit, District of Connecticut, and District of Massachusetts will participate. It is unclear at this time whether the district, magistrate, and bankruptcy court judges within the above circuits will also be signing on. We expect judges in other circuits will also elect to participate in the new hiring plan in the coming months. We will continue to keep you updated on the judges who sign on and any other developments related to the new plan.

Choosing a Clerkship

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.

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For More Information

For students interested in working as a judicial law clerk after graduation, please contact Amy Perez, Interim Assistant Dean, Career Development aperez@law.miami.edu.