Types of Employment: Judicial Clerkship

Last updated: July 7, 2013

Georgetown University Law Center Career Book
Edited By Abbie Willard, Ph.D.

If you think it is difficult to choose among law school courses, seminars, and clinics wait until you see what is available after law school. A variety of alternatives are open to an individual who seeks to practice law or to combine law with other areas of interest and expertise. Among the more traditional types of practice, the following are most common.

Nationally, about 10-12% of all law graduates accept judicial clerkships each year. Georgetown in recent years has had a larger percentage - 15-16%. Many faculty members believe that a judicial clerkship upon graduation provides an incomparable learning experience. Clerkships are either for one or two years and are highly competitive depending on the level of the court, the location and the judge.

Because some judges notify the Law Center of openings, the Placement office maintains a binder of Judicial Clerkship Opportunities. Most clerkships, however, are not listed in this fashion. Students who have an interest in working for a particular judge or in a particular location should investigate possibilities on their own.

Georgetown University Law Center faculty members are very important in your judicial clerkship application process. Faculty members serve students in several ways. First, many faculty members have been judicial clerks and/or are very familiar with specific courts and judges. Therefore, they are excellent sources of information about those courts and judges with whom they are familiar. (A Georgetown Professor Counseling List is available in the Placement Office.)  Faculty members also act as "sponsors" - to advise you on where to apply and to write letters of recommendation. A letter of recommendation from a faculty members is a required part of your application for any judicial clerkship.

Early in the second semester the Clerkship Committee holds a general information meeting for second year and third year evening students interested in clerkships. The Placement Office also arranges a panel program in which present clerks come to the Law Center to share their personal views and strategy suggestions. A tape of this panel programs is available in the Placement Office. Dates and times of these two clerkship programs are announced in the Law Weekly.

Federal Courts

Federal judges are listed in the U. S. Court Directory, The American Bench, and The Almanac of the Federal Judiciary.

The major portion of the law clerk's time is spent in research and writing, particularly for a judge on a U. S. Court of Appeals. When a case comes before the Court of Appeals many of the legal questions have already been resolved in the district court. Therefore, the questions before the appellate court may be narrow in scope. A federal district court clerk's duties include the traditional research and writing of draft opinions as well as exposure to varied pretrial and trial procedures and evidentiary problems. Depending on the judge, a district court clerkship may offer relevant experience for the student interested in litigation.

State Courts

Clerking positions are available for all of the highest level state courts and, depending on the particular state, for many of the intermediate level courts. State judges are listed in The American Bench and in U. S. Lawyer's Reference Dictionary. For further information, check with each state's Court Administrator, available in State Administrative Officials Classified by Function. An NALP-conducted survey of state courts as well as a survey of volunteer judicial internship opportunities are also available in the Placement Office.

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