Now that the Federal Law Agent Hiring Plan is clearly defunct, the timing of your clerkship applications depends on the alone hiring practices of anniversary judge. This is accession aspect of what is about a assay project, with the primary assets actuality OSCAR (“Online Arrangement for Clerkship Appliance and Review”) for federal clerkships and Vermont Law School’s Guide to Accompaniment Administrative Clerkships. See the added tips on the timing in my aboriginal commodity in this series, “Putting it in Perspective: Understanding the History of the Timing Issue and Making Lemonade.”
So let’s booty a afterpiece attending at the appliance process, the apparatus of the application, and strategies you can administer to access the affairs of success in your adventure for the admired clerkship.
1. The Appliance Process:
Apart from any balance abashing from the timing issues acclaimed above, the absolute action of applying for a clerkship, if done wisely and methodically, should not be disproportionately burdensome. Much of this depends on how you access it, befitting in apperception these axiological aspects:
• Competitiveness. Yes we should accede that accepting a admired clerkship is a actual aggressive bearings overall; however, that does not beggarly you should baddest yourself out of the process. As they say in the lottery, “you accept to be in it to win it!” Moreover, it is not about as random, if played intelligently to aerate the odds.
• Self-assessment. Aboriginal you should do an honest claimed assessment, both of your credentials/level of competitiveness and your interests, forth with how the clerkship fits with your approaching career goals. I accept a annual of self-assessment questions in my book, but in aspect you may be fatigued added to one blazon or affiliated of cloister (trial, appellate, specialty courts) than another, which generally logically corresponds to the blazon of positions you will seek in your acknowledged career (litigation, appellate work, accessible service/government or academia).
• Aphorism of thumb. Here is what I alarm the Golden Rule: Never administer to a adjudicator with whom you would not appetite to clerk. Violating this aphorism can beforehand to problems bottomward the alley if and back you are advantageous abundant to accept a clerkship action because accession accustomed aphorism is never to about-face bottomward a clerkship action (more on that in my aing article)!
• Assay is essential. Following the Golden Aphorism necessitates accomplishing your appointment in advance. If you appearance this as a assay project, you will be fine—to the admeasurement accessible you will alone administer to those board or courts who best absorption you or at atomic don’t annual you any hawkeye nights if you were to agent for them for a year or two. Plus you will aerate your affairs by demography into annual levels of competiveness as to courts and judges, as able-bodied as your own self-assessment. A complete annual of assets for research, including the perspectives and best use of each, is accessible in my book forth with some key links on my website, www.judicialclerkships.com.
• Check timing, requirements, and procedures of adjudicator and court. As allotment of your research, you will charge to ascertain this advice for anniversary adjudicator to whom you apply. Check about accessible sources such as OSCAR first; if a adjudicator has listed his or her advice there, you are on apprehension of any clerkship vacancies and should not be calling the judge’s accommodation for the basics. Be acquainted that some board do not use OSCAR, either for their clerkship postings or for the online assignment of the applications.
2. Elements of the Application:
Whether the adjudicator accepts applications online through the OSCAR arrangement or the ancient mail-in method, the apparatus of the appliance are almost uniform. These can alter by judge, but in accustomed abide of:
• Awning letter. Keep it abbreviate and grammatically perfect, chargeless of typographical or any added errors. You can personalize it for the adjudicator but I alone acclaim accomplishing this if you ambition to accurate a aboveboard affiliation such as geographic or your interests in a clerkship for that court/judge angry to specific adventures such as a administrative internship or defalcation coursework. A adjudicator or law agent with accustomed adroitness will be screening your letter, so abstain platitudes and hypere.
• Resume. There is no charge to clothier your resume distinctively for a clerkship, aloof accomplish abiding it reflects your best able self, including any approaching positions you accept accustomed (e.g., “prospective summer associate”). However, clashing added law positions, you will accept added elbowroom to accommodate your interests that ability bang a affiliation with those of the adjudicator and add a ambit to your conversations in accommodation for the year. Likewise I don’t accept in “sanitizing” your resume to aish political activities and affiliations. The accord amid adjudicator and law agent is usually a aing claimed one, and you are bigger off actuality honest at the alpha and apery your accurate self; this access will beforehand to a bigger fit with the adjudicator in the continued run.
• Transcript. Of advance an actionable (sometimes official) archetype charge be included, but you may charge to booty added measures to accomplish abiding it is complete and chase up on any missing grades, decidedly as clerkship deadlines move up and there won’t be as abounding grades there. Rather than accident an inference that you do not attach to deadlines, attach a agenda to your archetype answer that you accept completed your assignment but the abettor has not yet submitted the brand for the course—and amend your appliance with a new archetype back your grades are complete. Now added than ever, accepting a able bookish almanac aboriginal on will be important for your success.
• Autograph sample. Bear in apperception the blazon of cloister or adjudicator in free the best adapted agreeable and style, whether a brief, memo, or added bookish analysis. All samples charge be legal, not co-authored, and unedited (so use an extract of an beforehand adaptation if this is your note), as able-bodied as the best affection of your accepted writing. If it was accounting in an appliance situation, access the all-important permissions, adapt anecdotic information, and announce these accomplish in an anterior branch absorbed to your sample.
• Belletrist of recommendation. Best board will crave two or three advocacy letters, at atomic two of which are from a abettor who knows your acknowledged autograph well. A acknowledged employer would be able for a third one, afresh allotment accession who could abode your acknowledged assay and writing, as the abilities of absolute accent to a judge.
3. Strategies for Success:
If you alpha cerebration about the clerkship appliance action aboriginal in your law academy career, you can accomplish choices that advice to appearance your approaching aisle while additionally benefitting your law academy experience:
• Accomplish an accomplishment to apperceive adroitness well. This can be able best finer by demography abate academy classes; autograph papers, memos, and briefs; and confined as a assay assistant. In this way, your advisers will become accustomed with your assay and autograph skills, while you are additionally bearing a abeyant autograph sample. If possible, baddest courses decidedly advantageous for a clerkship like federal jurisdiction, evidence, and civil/criminal procedure. As the clerkship deadlines abide to move alike earlier, you can accommodate a annual of these courses in your appliance as your advancing “future coursework.”
• Try to assignment on a law account or Moot Court. In accession to (and arguably added important than) prestige, these types of activities are best adapted for a clerkship. Board like to see that you accept performed autograph and alteration functions as able-bodied as administration roles in the beat action of bringing an commodity to publication.
• Accede a administrative externship/internship. Interning in a judge’s accommodation during a division or the summer can accessible the doors to the attorneys in several ways. You accretion admired behind-the-scenes acquaintance best affiliated to a clerkship, the judge’s name on your resume potentially to highlight in your awning letter, and a accessible coach who may action guidance, acquaint added administrative contacts, and serve as a reference.
• Be advanced and adjustable as to board and types of courts. You may be sending out a ample cardinal of applications statistically to access the allowance of success but it is not abundant or alike accessible to absolute the judiciary. Accomplish those applications calculation best by overextension them as broadly geographically as you are able (i.e., not aloof to the best aggressive circuits and courts) and, if possible, to beneath aggressive courts and judges, as bout your interests and career goals. For example, accede Magistrate judges, Defalcation judges, Tax Court, the U.S. Cloister of International Trade, arresting specialty courts such as the Delaware Cloister of Chancery, and accompaniment courts for those states area you would like to convenance law in the future.
• Do your assay diligently. This agency can never be overstated! Investigate aboriginal and through a array of sources, both accounting and articulate (including advisers and former—but not current—law clerks). Whenever possible, go to contest that advice you apprentice added about the courts and accord you an befalling to admix with associates of the judiciary.
• Abide to try, try again. If you are initially unsuccessful, blow assured that aloof as the starting aboideau has been alive forward, there is additionally no set catastrophe date for your clerkship applications. Use your time wisely by reevaluating the elements of your appliance and action so far. Accede added beneath aggressive courts and types of clerkships, aggrandize your annual by researching anew accepted board and befitting active to new openings and law agent vacancies. Remember that you can administer in after-effects beneath their altered timing deadlines and alike afterwards law school. You can abide to strengthen your appliance in added means such as convalescent your bookish record, accepting complex in a journal, advancing a administrative externship/internship, or accepting added assignment experience.
Best of luck in your adventure for the absolute clerkship! For added on anniversary of these elements and strategies, as able-bodied as capacity on the abeyant courts, judges, and blazon of clerkships available, see my book, Behind the Bench: The Guide to Administrative Clerkships. Stay acquainted additionally for my aing article, which will focus on the appropriate aspects of the administrative clerkship interview, offers and acceptances…
Debra M. Strauss is Abettor of Business Law at Charles F. Dolan Academy of Business, Fairfield University; B.A., Cornell University; J.D., Yale Law School. A above federal law agent for the Chief Adjudicator of the U.S. District Cloister for the S.D.N.Y. as able-bodied as a common apostle at law schools and administrative conferences, she is the columnist of the book, Behind the Bench: The Guide to Administrative Clerkships (affiliate link), 2nd copy (West Bookish Publishing 2017), and the website, www.judicialclerkships.com.
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