In Behind the Bench: The Guide to Judicial Clerkships, Debra Strauss, a former judicial clerk, offers readers insights into the general nature of clerkship positions and the application process for obtaining a clerkship. A copy of this resource is available in the Career Development Office.
The first part of the book gives a simple introduction to the work that a typical judicial clerk performs and some of the benefits and disadvantages of such a job, focusing in particular on the effect that a clerkship can have on future career paths.
The second part begins by introducing the reader to the different types of courts for which a person can clerk (e.g., trial or appellate, federal or state), giving brief summaries of the distinctions between the courts. The author then details the nature of the relationship between judges and clerks and explains how to evaluate various factors to determine whether a certain court or judge would be a good fit for an applicant.
In the third part of the book, the author describes the mechanics of the application process, beginning with a discussion of the elements of a successful application and explaining how certain elements, such as the cover letter and résumé, can vary from applications for other jobs. The book then elaborates on interviewing issues, such as scheduling and communication concerns, preparation, costs, content, and etiquette both during the interview and afterward regarding offers and acceptance of a position.
Toward the end of the third part, the book provides a general overview of salary expectations and how to prepare for working in a judicial chambers environment as opposed to a law firm or other workplace. Finally, part three concludes with a chapter giving more specific information about applying for U.S. Supreme Court clerkships and a chapter consisting of essays about clerkships written by judges.
The final part of the book and the subsequent appendices provide a wealth of resources for applicants, including online, print, in-person, and software tools. After listing each resource, the author provides a brief description of the type of information it contains and how to use it. There is also a section of the book containing information specifically relating to racial, ethnic, and gender diversity within the clerkship process.
Overall, the book is quite comprehensive yet manageable because it is broken up into several different parts that allow a reader easily to consult only the parts he or she wants to. For anyone considering a judicial clerkship, this book offers a simple but informative introduction.