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Judicial Clerkships: Moritz Graduates' Advice to Current Law Students

  • "Look at the Judge's political views. If you're a liberal, you may not like working for an arch conservative or vice versa. Don't limit yourself to Ohio. Judge Huy sat in Reno, Nevada. Save your spring break to try to interview with judges. If you do not get written responses, a follow-up call to a Judge's secretary, asking if you can stop in for an interview may be appropriate. Be assertive (not pushy) to get interview opportunities. Be very nice to any secretary or clerk you speak with. A Judge's secretary gives the Judge input on whether she would like to work with the clerk. DO NOT underestimate the powers of the Judge's secretary."
  • "Do not be discouraged by application deadlines - do your own investigating (often things open up); your most important skill for many judges is your personality and self-motivation; get a clerkship in the city you wish to practice - it's a wonderful springboard into the legal community."
  • "Don't limit yourself geographically. Follow-up with phone calls to current law clerks, if possible. They are usually the ones screening the resumes."
  • "Apply to a lot of different judges and, if possible, talk to former clerks before interviewing."
  • "Consider a judicial internship during your 2nd or 3rd year of law school, particularly if you are not on law journal. You will obtain valuable writing experience and the opportunity for a reference which may open doors for you."
  • "Leave no stone unturned."
  • "Apply to Judges who have previously hired OSU grads or [grads] from top public university law schools."
  • "Apply to as many judges as possible."
  • "Pursue if enthusiastic about the law - particularly the researching of and writing about the law."
  • "Some think that clerking for a U.S. Court of Appeals is more prestigious. However, you learn a lot more by clerking for a federal district court and you get much more hands-on, practical experience. Judge Aldrich, as many other federal district judges, also sits by designation on the 6th Circuit of Appeals, so as a clerk you get to see both federal district court and appellate work. My advice - go for the district court position."
  • "Do it!"
  • "Apply often and to Judges you have taken a little time to learn about."
  • "Definitely pursue it. You have the rest of your life to earn lots of money. The benefits of a clerkship greatly outweigh any negatives. You cannot possibly get the type of training you receive while a law clerk if you are working at a firm."
  • "Do not pass up the opportunity if you believe you can work well with the particular judge."
  • "Regardless of the type of practice you intend to pursue, a clerkship is a valuable experience. I would encourage all students to apply."
  • "Start your research early - getting a clerkship can take a lot of work."
  • "Be patient and do your homework. It does take some effort to secure a clerkship, but the experience is well worth your efforts in applying. Think expansively! The clerkship is temporary and gives you a chance to apply to anywhere in the country where you can live for a year or more."
  • "Depends on your goals - if you know where you want to be, location, size of firm, practice area, I am not sure that it is as beneficial because it will set you 1-2 years behind; otherwise highly recommend."
  • "Start early and cast a wide net. Don't disdain state courts. Contact the judge directly to find out when and if openings exist; don't wait for the Placement Office to do it for you. Read the judge's opinions before the interview."
  • "Do not limit yourself to a particular level of court or area of the country."
  • "Choose your judge wisely and ask his clerks how they like their jobs."
  • "If you have the opportunity, take it; but realize what the job is and isn't. Different courts and chambers within a court, vary widely."
  • "Do it, no matter which court. The perspective a clerkship provides is invaluable."
  • "Learn something about judges before applying."
  • "Find a judge from whom you truly believe you can learn. The one-on-one contact is the most valuable part of experience."
  • "Explore the possibility of a clerkship your second year!"
  • "Ask questions about: 1) if clerkship term is extendable upon mutual agreement even if you are not interested in that at the time of the interview; 2) what kind of feedback the judge will give you. Some judges will return your work for revisions, others will revise it themselves with no feedback; and 3) how pro-active the judge will be in helping you secure a post-clerkship if you do not have one or are not sure you want to accept it. This is more important if you will not have much exposure to the attorneys practicing before the court you are clerking for."
  • "Make frequent follow-ups to applications."
  • "I highly recommend it!"
  • "Do not feel limited to the traditional advice of keeping your resume to one page. Judge Norris would complain that he could tell nothing about the person in a one-page resume."
  • "Just do it!"
  • "Do it! It was the most fun I've had in practicing law. I'd recommend it also for the educational value - you pick up a lot that they don't teach you in law school."
  • "Judges (and employers afterward) look for writing skills. Stress non-legal writing that you've done, (in addition to law review or moot court, if applicable), such as work for a college newspaper, etc. Also, let them know that you want the clerkship for the experience - it's not just a job to work for a couple of years because you don't know what you really want to do."
  • "Work hard to be sure your resume and cover letter are both well written. Be prepared to discuss your writing sample - some judges will ask hard questions about it. Your political views (and everybody has them) should not come across in your interview or your clerkship."
  • "I found my clerkship through OSU law professor Morgan Shipman - plus my judge used to be an OSU law professor. Look for an OSU alum that's now a judge."
  • "Students intending to engage in a litigation practice should give strong consideration to a District Court clerkship rather than an Appeals Court clerkship."
  • "Choose a clerkship in a locale where you will want to practice law when the clerkship is over. The contacts you will make with lawyers, other clerks, and courthouse personnel will be invaluable."
  • "Definitely apply."
  • "Take the opportunity if you can - it will enhance your career prospects in the long term as well as the short term, and it will raise the standing of our law school among judges."
  • "Look past the low salaries for judicial clerks to the payoffs down the road. The nature of the education received in a judicial clerkship cannot be duplicated, and the insights you develop will be very beneficial in a litigation practice."
  • "Keep at it, one will come."
  • "Get good grades, get good letters of recommendation, call the chambers personally for interview - make the Judge look at your resume."
  • "Apply broadly. Strive to gain membership on a law journal or moot court team. Spend a great deal of time on writing sample."
  • " Apply in variety of places. If you will be in an area, call all judges nearby to advise them and see if they'd also like to interview you."
  • "Send out a lot of applications. Be prepared for rejection, but don't give up. All should apply for a clerkship; there are no "best" candidates."
  • "Go for it!" It is a great learning experience and-I think- well worth any short-term decrease in salary."
  • "Keep at it-one will come!"
  • "Do not limit yourself to just one type of court-apply to federal, state levels, trial level, appellate level, magistrate level. Follow-up on your applications-show your interest."
  • "Although grades and things like law journal are important, most judges at the district court level are looking for someone that has a good personality and who will be able to deal well with the lawyers who are always calling in. Also, arrange interviews so that you interview for clerkships that you want the most, first. Because in most circumstances once a judge offers you a job, you have to take it."