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Judicial Clerkships

What are the benefits of a judicial clerkship?

A judicial clerkship is a highly beneficial post-law school experience.   For one to two years, a law clerk will spend honing key skills they gained in law school in preparation for entering the practice of law.  The experience of working as a law clerk provides a critical access to and knowledge about the entire judicial process.  At the end of a judicial clerkship experience, former judicial law clerks emerge as extremely marketable candidates sought for their knowledge of the law, and keen critical thinking and analytical skills.

What are the job duties of a judicial clerk?

Essentially, a judicial clerk’s duties and responsibility will depend upon the individual judge and the type of court where the clerk will be working.  However, a standard component of any clerkship will include conducting research, and drafting documents such as memoranda or opinions.  Additionally, clerks will often be assigned with various administrative tasks related to their respective judge’s responsibilities.

As indicated above, the clerk’s duties will vary based upon the specific judge.  They will also vary based upon court type.  Judicial clerkships are available on state and federal levels and are could be with a trial court or an appellate court.

A trial court clerk will conduct research a broad variety of substantive and procedural legal matters and, draft opinions, motions and orders.  Additionally, clerks will review files, evidence, depositions, pleadings motions and briefs to assist/advise the judge.  Trial court clerks will typically interact with attorneys and witnesses associated with cases before the court.

The crux of an appellate court clerk’s duties will revolve around researching and annotating laws, opinions, briefs and case law in order to assist their respective judge in drafting an opinion or making a necessary legal determination.  They also spend a great deal of time reviewing and edit documents for accuracy.

What’s the difference between a federal clerkship and a state clerkship?

Federal Clerkships are often deemed as the most prestigious clerkship opportunity.  As a result they are highly competitive.  There is a specific timeline related to federal clerkship hiring.  It can be found at https://oscar.uscourts.gov/drupal/content/federal-law-clerk-hiring-plan.  Please see Robyn Rucker in the Career Planning Center for assistance with the federal clerkship process.

State court clerkship procedures and protocol varies from state-to –state.  To access details about state courts, go to the National Center for State Courts website at http://www.ncsc.org/

For more details on judicial clerkships, including information on how to apply and prepare application materials, please contact Robyn Rucker, Assistant Director of Career Advising, at 219.465.7972 or via email at robyn.rucker@valpo.edu