office of career services
Judicial Clerkships offer new graduates the opportunity to work for a judge for one or two years. Clerkships are available in both federal and state courts and at both the trial and appellate levels. Clerks at all court levels obtain an unparalleled insight into the judicial decision-making process and a broad exposure to various areas of the law. Clerks develop strong research and writing skills, which future employers value. Judicial clerkships at any level court may open up a wide variety of career opportunities, both in the private and public sectors.
Thinking about applying for a clerkship? A clerkship listserv is created each year to assist with this process. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the Spring clerkship listserv.
If you are interested in applying for a clerkship, please contact the Career Cervices Office at 617-552-4345 to schedule an appointment with Chris Teague.
Boston College Law School supports the federal judges' hiring plan. For detailed information on the plan and a federal application timeline, see the Federal Judges Law Clerk Hiring Process.
The Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR) is a project funded by a grant through the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Federal Judges may use OSCAR to post notices of openings. OSCAR also offers an internet-based application system permitting applicants to file their federal clerkship application materials online and designate those judges to whom they wish to apply. Federal judges and chambers staff will be able to read, sort, and manage those applications on-screen; they will also be able to download and print those applications. OSCAR will allow letters of recommendation to be placed confidentially in applicants' online files, either directly by the recommender, or through the applicant's law school. All federal judges, (except those on the Supreme Court, the U.S. Tax Court, and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces) are listed on OSCAR, although not all of these judges will accept applications electronically through OSCAR.
Although there is no central database listing all openings and deadlines for state court applications, the Vermont Law School publishes a comprehensive Judicial Clerkship Guide each summer at http://www.vermontlaw.edu/x1101.xml. Choose the Judicial Clerkship Guide link on the page, choose "Access the Guide" from the dialog box, choose to access either the Guide or individual sections of the Guide. Please contact the Career Services Office for the username and password.
Rules and Procedures
You should not apply for a clerkship which, if offered, you would not accept. Before applying for a clerkship, consider carefully the reputation of the judge, the length of the clerkship (1 or 2 years) and the location.
You pay for your own interview expenses. You may contact other judges in the same area once you receive your first callback to see if you can consolidate interviews.
Once a Judge extends an offer to you, you should accept. You will not be able to collect offers and make your decision based on full knowledge of all your clerkship opportunities. Most applicants accept the offer on the spot. You must have a very good reason not to accept the offer. If something changes during the process and you are no longer interested in the clerkship, the proper etiquette is to withdraw your application before the judge extends an offer. Once you accept a clerkship, you must withdraw all other pending clerkship applications.
Eligibility: In general, applicants for paid federal judicial clerkships (in the continental U.S.) must be U.S. Citizens. There are exceptions, however. Please see http://www.uscourts.gov/Careers/CareerCitizenshipRequirements.aspx for more information.
If you feel there is a question of your eligibility, you should submit an application as usual and inform the judge's clerks or secretary of your concerns. They will be able to give you an official answer. Also, the general public information number for the State Department is (202) 647-6575
Citizenship requirements for applicants to state courts depend on the individual state's laws. You should contact the administrator of the specific court for information.
Judicial Appointments and Nominations: LEXIS has an extensive library of legal and non-legal trade papers, magazines and newspapers and is an excellent source of articles abut a particular judge, curt, or case. It is particularly helpful in finding information on newly appointed or nominated judges
To search for recent appointments and nominations use the following search in the News, All database: judicial pre/2 (nomin! or appoint! or confirm!). Consider adding a date restriction to narrow your results.
Judicial Legal Writings (Besides Opinions): Judicial legal writings can be found in the U.S. Law Reviews and Journals, Combined database. Use the AUTHOR segment to search for articles written by a specific judge.
Judicial Opinions:Lexis allows a researcher to find opinions written by a specific judge. To find opinions: Locate the database with the narrowest coverage for the court. Run a terms and connectors search using the WRITTENBY segment.
Judicial Profiles: West Legal Directory (WLD - Judges) offers office profiles and profiles of individual full-time judges from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Judicial Legal Writings (Besides Opinions): Judicial legal writings can be found in the Journals & Law Reviews (JLR) database. Use the Author - AU ( ) field to search for articles written by a specific judge.
Judicial Opinions: Westlaw allows a researcher to find opinions written by a specific judge. Locate the database with the narrowest coverage for the court. Run a terms and connectors search using the Judge - JU ( ), Concurring - CON ( ), or Dissenting - DIS ( ) fields.
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO STATE JUDICIAL CLERKSHIP PROCEDURES: http://www.vermontlaw.edu/x1101.xml. Published by the Vermont Public Interest Action Project, Vermont Law School. This GUIDE includes current information on the application procedures, timing, salary and hiring process for judicial clerkships in all fifty states. To receive the username and password you must contact the Career Services office.
JUDICIAL YELLOWBOOK: Who's Who in Federal and State Courts, published each Spring and Fall: This resource contains the names, addresses and biographical information about judges on the US Supreme Court, US Court of Appeals, US District Court, and US Courts of Limited Jurisdiction. It also contains information on state supreme courts and courts of appeals. Also review older volumes for historical purposes. Available in the Career Services Office or online.
FEDERAL JUDICIAL CENTER, HISTORY OF THE FEDERAL JUDICARY: Biographies of the judges of the US Courts, courts of the federal judiciary, landmark judicial legislation, topics in judicial history and historic courthouses. www.fjc.gov.
BEHIND THE BENCH: The Guide to Judicial Clerkships. Debra M. Strauss, Esq. Published by The BarBri Group, Inc., 2002. This book is available in the Career Services Office. The companion website is: www.judicialclerkships.com. See also "Six Simple Rules for Judicial Clerkship Interviewing," Student Lawyer, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 32-36 (American Bar Association Publishing, October 2003), available through the ABA Law Student Division. http://www.judicialclerkships.com/JudicialClerkshipInterviewing.htm
JUDICIAL CLERKSHIP QUESTIONNAIRES (BC LAW)
Career Services maintains a binder of judicial clerkship evaluations that current and past BC Law Clerks have completed to detail both their clerkship experience and their interview experience.
THE AMERICAN BENCH, Editor-in-Chief, Diana F. Irvine, Editor, Mary Lee Bliss: A comprehensive directory combining biographical information on judges from all levels of federal and state courts with jurisdictional information on the courts they serve. Includes state trial court and specialized information that is not available online. Published yearly. Available in the Law Library.
THE THIRD BRANCH: BULLETIN OF THE FEDERAL COURTS: This monthly newsletter contains information on Federal judicial nominations, confirmations, appointments and evaluations and status changes in the Judicial Milestones section of each edition. www.uscourts.gov/ttb
THE LAW CLERK HANDBOOK, Second Ed., 2007. See particularly Chapter 4, "Chambers and Case Management," which describes in some detail the operations of district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts. http://www.fjc.gov/library/fjc_catalog.nsf/autoframepage!openform&url=library/fjc_catalog.nsf/DPublication!openform&parentunid=CE672ECA2F716852572D000751A75
JUDICIAL CLERKSHIP INFORMATION BINDERS: Letters from judges and courts requesting clerkship applications. These BINDERS are organized by state. There is also information in the judicial clerkship crates. Available in the Career Services Office.
USEFUL WEB SITES:
www.nalp.org under Resource Center > Toolkit for Career Services (and also under Career Paths > JD Jobseekers) - online brochure to "The Courts: An Excellent Place for Attorneys of Color to Launch Their Careers"
- https://oscar.uscourts.gov:On-line System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR)
- http://www.uscourts.gov/ --Web site of the Federal Judiciary.
- http://www.fjc.gov --Federal Judicial Center
- http://judiciary.senate.gov --United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary - tracks judicial nominations and confirmations
- http://www.fedjudge.org --The Federal Magistrate Judges Association
- http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/lawclerk --Provides information on the Law Clerk Hiring Plan.
- http://www.mad.uscourts.gov/ - Homepage for USDC Massachusetts
- http://www.uscourts.gov/cfapps/webnovada/CF_FB_301/index.cfm?fuseaction=Reports.ListReports - Check on status of judicial openings and new appointments
- http://www.vermontlaw.edu/x1101.xml --Guide to State Judicial Clerkships - Contact the Career Services Office for the password.
- http://www.ncsc.org/default.aspx--National Center for State Courts.
- http://www.state.ma.us/courts --The MA Judicial Branch