Happy New Year!!
I have conducted informal interviews of several former law clerk friends of mine, and the results are in: judicial clerkships rank as one of the best law jobs most of us have ever had. We enjoyed our experiences, learned an incredible amount about the practice of law from a law veteran, and developed tremendously as attorneys.
So, what should you do to position yourself to become a law clerk after you graduate from law school? Here are a few tips…
1. Think strategically about your career and professional development opportunities. Take some time to chart out your ideal career trajectory and then decide how a clerkship can help get you there. Do you want to litigate, do appellate work, negotiate transactions, enforce administrative regulations? Do you want to live in the northeast, southwest, Midwest? Interested in being a key player in local politics and culture, or is the national stage calling your name?
All of these questions and more are key to determining how to apply for clerkships. If you are interested in establishing a local presence, you should be applying to judges in that local area. Consider whether you want to use one clerkship as a stepping stone to another higher-level clerkship. Think about the jurisdictions that will give you exposure to the areas of law that most interest you. New York and Delaware courts will provide a huge window into the laws that govern corporations; Texas and Arizona courts will provide exposure to immigration cases. Be strategic in how you apply for clerkships.
2. Research. You have to do your homework. Before applying for clerkships, you have to research the local area(s) you are targeting, the courts in the area, and the judges who sit on the courts in that area. This will help you tailor your cover letter to each particular judge to the greatest possible extent rather than blanketing the earth with generic template cover letters. Once you accept an offer to clerk for a judge, research will identify for you the lawyers who appear before the judge and help you begin to make connections.
3. Network. Many clerkship opportunities are out there but are not publicly posted on OSCAR, the online clerkship database for federal court clerkship openings, or elsewhere. Particularly for judges who are new to the bench and have been appointed and confirmed outside the usual clerkship hiring timeline, networking is how they fill much-needed clerkship slots. Join your local and national bar associations, bar affinity groups, and other law-related membership organizations. Attend their events. Shake hands. Don’t hand out resumes at a cocktail party or reception unless there is a career fair component, but do get to know people and, most importantly, let them get to know you.
4. Make sure your clerkship application package is flawless. Your cover letter, resume, and writing sample can have absolutely NO mistakes and must accurately and compellingly represent you. You should practice and prepare for clerkship interviews before you sit down for the real thing. You don’t want to give judges any reason to easily discard your application.
Judicial Clerk Review can assist you in applying for a judicial clerkship, the best law job. Let us be your concierge through the application process.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.