*Judicial Clerkships

Judicial clerkships are generally available to law school graduates for a set term, usually one to two years. Although a judicial law clerk’s responsibilities vary greatly depending on the judge and the level of the court, most judicial clerks perform a great deal of research and analysis, which they then present to the judge, either orally or in writing. Some judges’ law clerks may also perform certain administrative tasks.

Applicants are encouraged to have their application documents reviewed by the Career Services Office prior to submitting them via OSCAR or mailing them to judges.  Sample resumes and cover letters are available in The CSO Handbook (available at www.duqlawblogs.org/cso).  Candidates are encouraged to do a mock interview and to review the list of questions that are typically asked during a clerkship interview, which can be found in the Appendix of The CSO Handbook.

Students who intend to apply for federal or state clerkships are encouraged to contact Maria Comas (comas@duq.edu or 412-396-6279) so we may work together to identify potential clerkships and as you draft your application materials.

(Note – this information pertains to post-graduate clerkship positions; students should consult the Law Clinic for information about externships with judges.)

Federal Court Clerkships

❖The Administrative Office of the Federal Courts has created an online application resource called OSCAR (Online System for Clerkship Application & Review) where some federal judges post information regarding their open law clerk or staff attorney positions and where applicants may apply for these positions.  Additional detailed information about the application process can be found on OSCAR (www.oscar.uscourts.gov).

❖Judicial clerkship applicants must be proactive in their pursuit of a clerkship.  Information on OSCAR may be updated at any time as needed by judges, so students should either check the website on a regular basis or create a search agent in order to receive email notifications about new postings.   Keep in mind that OSCAR is a good resource to consult, but it is not the only avenue to pursue regarding federal clerkships.

❖Student applicants may apply during their 2L (2D, 3E, 3P) or 3L (3D, 4E, 4P) year. Some federal judges will accept applications from students during the fall or spring of their 2L year, and rising 2L students may access OSCAR on July 1.

❖Some federal judges do not use OSCAR to post their open clerkship positions or to collect application materials.  Students must review the judicial profile information that is provided by the judges on OSCAR.  In some cases, you will see application instructions for open positions; in others, you will see an advisory note that the judge is not hiring new law clerks; and in others, you will not see any information at all.  In the latter case,

students should consult the judge’s biography on his or her court website in order to see if the judge has posted any clerkship application information there (this occurs in rare instances).

❖If OSCAR and the judge’s court website are silent as to a judge’s open clerkship positions, students are advised to apply via U.S. Mail.  Some judges will not post their open clerkship positions because they receive many unsolicited applications and interview from that pool of candidates.

❖When applying via OSCAR, applicants must create a free account and complete all necessary sections before an application is considered finalized.  Students are encouraged to watch the videos on OSCAR before starting their applications.  OSCAR has proven to be very confusing to many applicants, and the videos can be helpful in navigating the application process on OSCAR.

❖Unless otherwise directed, applicants should submit the following application materials:

*cover letter
*resume
*writing sample (10-15 pages)
*letters of recommendation (3)
*law school transcript (unofficial)

❖Apply to only those judges from whom you are prepared to accept an employment offer.  When a judge selects his or her law clerk among numerous applicants, the judge assumes that the offer will be accepted almost immediately.  Failing to do so could adversely impact your professional reputation and that of future applicants from Duquesne University School of Law.

 

State Court Judicial Clerkships

❖Students interested in applying for state clerkships must research the hiring practices of judges in each state.

❖The majority of information on this handout will pertain to judicial clerkships in Pennsylvania.  Resources containing detailed information about clerkship applications in state courts, including Pennsylvania, include:

*Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures, by the Vermont Law School.  Links to the websites for each state court system can be found in this resource.  (This is password protected site to which the Career Services Office subscribes.  Duquesne Law students’ log-in information is available on DuqLawConnect under the “Shortcuts” section.)

*Insight and Inside Information for Select State Court Clerkships, by the NALP Judicial Clerkship Section.  (Available on DuqLawConnect under the Resources tab.)

*2016 Pennsylvania Judicial Directory & County Courthouse Guide. (Available in the CSO Resource Library.)

*The Career Services Office created a database that includes the names and mailing addresses of many members of the Pennsylvania judiciary.  This document was created to assist students who do a targeted mailing for judicial internship or clerkship positions.  (Available on DuqLawConnect under the Resources tab.)

❖In many instances, judges in Pennsylvania will not post their judicial clerkship openings.  Students must take the initiative to submit applications directly to the judges with whom they are interested in clerking.

❖Absent a job posting with a specific deadline, there are no steadfast application deadlines for these positions in Pennsylvania.  Student applicants should apply for clerkships in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Superior Court, and Commonwealth Court in the spring of the 2L year (2D, 3P or 3E), and applications to Courts of Common Pleas should be submitted by the fall of the 3L year (3D, 4P or 4E).

❖Unless otherwise directed, applicants should submit the following application materials:

*cover letter
*resume
*writing sample (10-15 pages)
*letters of recommendation (3)
*law school transcript (unofficial)

❖Apply to only those judges from whom you are prepared to accept an employment offer.  When a judge selects his or her law clerk among numerous applicants, the judge assumes that the offer will be accepted almost immediately.  Failing to do so could adversely impact your professional reputation and that of future applicants from Duquesne University School of Law.