A judicial clerkship is a post-graduate position with a judge (or sometimes a court) where the law clerk assists the judge with legal research, writing and decision-making. Duties of a law clerk often include conducting legal research, drafting bench memoranda, assisting in the drafting of opinions, acting as a liaison between the judge and the attorneys or litigants and various other administrative and clerical duties.
Clerkships are available with federal, state, and administrative law judges. Most clerkships are designed to last one or two years and begin in the fall immediately following graduation. There are, however, judges who prefer to hire clerks who have been practicing law for one or two years. A clerkship can provide valuable experience, regardless of the area of law in which you choose to practice. You will strengthen your research, writing and analytical skills, learn the rules and procedures of a particular courthouse, and have contact with attorneys and litigants that may help you develop your professional network. Your judge may also become a valuable mentor and your fellow law clerks will often remain some of your closest professional colleagues.
If you are interested in a judicial clerkship, you should review the Career Strategies Office Judicial Clerkship Guide. Copies are also available in the office.
We support the Federal Judges Hiring Plan. Under this plan, third year applications and faculty recommendations may not be received in Judges’ Chambers until after Labor Day of a student’s third year. Graduates do not have to adhere to the hiring plan and may apply for federal clerkships at any time.
Many federal judges accept online applications only through OSCAR: The Online System for Clerkship Application and Review. OSCAR permits applicants to electronically file federal clerkship application materials. Participating federal judges and staff will be able to review and manage applications online. A list of federal judges participating in OSCAR is available in the clerkship database on Symplicity and OSCAR.
The federal government gives a very strong hiring priority to U.S. citizens; however, non-citizens have been hired in certain circumstances. Click for information on Federal Employment for Non-citizens.
For state clerkships, application deadlines vary widely. The first place to look for ascertaining the timing for state clerkships is the Vermont Law School's Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures. Login and password are available on Symplicity.
Clerkships with Administrative Law Judges
For information regarding a clerkship with an Administrative Law Judge, see the ALJ Contact Information and Hiring Practices Survey presented at the NALP Annual Education Conference, Washington, D.C., Sept. 2010.
Symplicity Judges Database
A database of judges is located under the Clerkship tab when students and alumni log into their Symplicity accounts. It can be used by students and alumni interested in applying for summer internships and post graduate clerkships with federal judges. This database allows applicants to select “favorites” and export the contact information of these judges from Symplicity as an Excel spreadsheet that can be mail merged for a cover letter.
Information about Judges
Click here for a list of federal and state judges who have hired our graduates.