Judicial clerkships are a prestigious option for the first year or two out of law school. These are graduate positions for which you apply during your second or third year of law school. Clerkships are available with the federal and state courts, at both the trial and appellate levels. Clerkships are extremely competitive. Conventional wisdom is that the higher the court, the higher the prestige and, therefore, the better the credentials of the applicants.
The duties of a clerkship are defined by the needs of the individual judge and depend on the nature of the cases that are before the court. Typical clerk duties might include performing legal research, preparing memos and draft orders, and writing draft opinions. A clerk works closely with the judge and will often be used as a sounding board to prepare for arguments or discussions. A clerk may also sit in on trials, hearings or conferences.
Most judges hire recent law school graduates to fill clerkship positions. A clerk position may last one or two years, depending upon the court.
The CPDC Resource Room has a number of directories and books about judicial clerkships. We also have a Judicial Clerkship notebook containing additional information about current hiring for clerkship opportunities. For more information about judicial clerkships, consult your CPDC manual. As a Willamette student you also have access to Northwest Consortium Judicial Clerkship Database. (Contact CPDC for login information).