Judicial clerkships allow young lawyers the opportunity to work closely with a judge for a year or two after graduation, providing valuable insight into the judicial process and exposure to numerous areas of the law. Clerkships are available in federal and state courts, at both the appellate and trial level.
What Do Judicial Clerks Do?
Basically, a judicial clerk does what the judge does. A clerk for an appellate court judge will spend a great deal of time researching and writing, often writing the first draft of opinions. Clerks at the trial court assist the judge in managing all phases of litigation, including motion practice, discovery issues, settlement conferences, jury selection, and conduct of trials.
Considering a Judicial Clerkship?
When considering a judicial clerkship, keep in mind that there are many different types of judges who hire clerks, and consider the wide range of opportunities available from various courts.
- U.S. Supreme Court (candidates for the ultimate clerkship have already completed a clerkship at a federal appellate court)
- U.S. Court of Appeals
- U.S. District Courts (including Magistrates)
- State Supreme Courts
- State Appellate Courts
- State Trial Courts
- Special Federal Courts (Bankruptcy Court; Tax Court; Veteran Appeals; Court of Federal Claims; International Trade; Immigration)
- Staff attorney positions
Finding a Judicial Clerkship
A large part of finding a judicial clerkship is doing the research. Procedures and timing can vary for each judge to whom you may want to apply, so it is important that you prepare yourself well in advance for the application process.
If you are considering a federal clerkship, please note that as of May 2, 2008, the Federal Law Clerk Information System (FLCIS) merged with the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR). To view the OSCAR website, please visit https://oscar.uscourts.gov.
If you are considering a clerkship in Missouri courts, please visit http://www.courts.mo.gov. From this site, you can gather information on the Supreme Court, appellate court, and circuit court judges. If you are considering state clerkships outside of Missouri, please visit the official state website of the state(s) that interest you.
If you would like to discuss the clerkship process, please feel free to stop by Room 103. We can also connect you to alumni who have served as judicial clerks. Please also feel free to discuss judicial clerkships with Professor Douglas Abrams, Chair of the School of Law’s Judicial Clerkship Committee, or any member of that committee.