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Researching Judicial Clerkship Opportunities

Updated May 22, 2012 (minor update Feb. 22, 2014)
Prepared by Mary Whisner. Updated by Mary Whisner, Alena Wolotira, & Sherry Leysen (2012).

This guide covers U.S. (federal), Washington State, and other state court clerkships.

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University of Washington School of Law Judicial Clerkships Program

Note: Some databases noted below are UW Restricted.

General Information

What do law clerks do? How do I get a clerkship?

Aliza Milner, Judicial Clerkships: Legal Methods in Motion (2011).

KF8771 .M55 2011 at Reference Area.

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Mary L. Dunnewold, Beth Honetschlager, & Brenda L. Tofte, Judicial Clerkships: A Practical Guide (2010).

KF8807 .D6 2010 at Classified Stacks.

  • Comprehensive guide. Discusses the duties of clerks, gives suggestions for how to write court documents, how to apply for clerkships, different types of clerkships, and the ethical duties of clerks.

 

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Debra M. Strauss, Behind the Bench: The Guide to Judicial Clerkships, 2d ed. (2016).

KF8771.S77 2016 at Reference Area

  • Comprehensive guide.  The author's website, www.judicialclerkships.com, has links to other resources. Includes forums for current and former clerks so you can see what they have to say about the experience. Note that the book was published before the current hiring guidelines were established, so be sure to check the website and other, more current sources.

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Joseph L. Lemon, Jr., Federal Appellate Court Law Clerk Handbook (2007). From the American Bar Association

KF8807 .R86 2007 at Classified Stacks

Calvert G. Chipchase, Federal District Court Law Clerk Handbook (2007). From the American Bar Association.

KF8807 .C48 2007 at Classified Stacks


Louis J. Sirico, Judging: A Book for Student Clerks (2002).

KF8807 .J94 2002 at Reference Area.

  • Readings about judging and the clerk's role. Aimed at externs, but equally applicable to clerks.

Law Clerk Handbook: A Handbook for Law Clerks to Federal Judges (Sylvan A. Sobel ed., 2d ed. 2007).

KF8807 .R83 2007 at Classified Stacks.

Available as a PDF from the Federal Judicial Center.

Massey Mayo Case & Jill E. Tompkins, A Guide for Tribal Court Law Clerks and Judges (Univ. of Colo. Law School, 2007)

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Specifics & Details

Where can I find information specifically about clerkships? Who's hiring, how many clerks, salary, and so on?

State & Federal Clerkship

Northwest Consortium Judicial Clerkship Database

  • Provides detailed information about clerkship and externship opportunities with judges in the western United States. Information is compiled by eleven participating law schools, and is available to students from these schools. Also contains a Judicial Clerkship Handbook and links to other judicial clerkship websites. Students from the Consortium schools may request login information from their career services office.

Vermont Law School Judicial Clerkship & Internship Resources

JTBF Externships

Federal Clerkships

OSCAR (Online System for Clerkship Application and Review)

  • OSCAR is the central online resource for federal law clerk and appellate court staff attorney hiring. Applicants can locate federal clerkships, create and submit applications, and generate electronic requests for recommendation letters. Its website features include a list of Applicant FAQs and a Glossary.
  • The Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan includes application deadlines and a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the Law Clerk Hiring Plan.
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JTBF Share the Wealth Judicial Law Clerk Program

  • The Just the Beginning Foundation aims to increase diversity in the legal profession. The Share the Wealth Judicial Law Clerk Program coordinates interviews for seven judges. Students still apply to the judges individually.
Washington State Clerkships

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Directories

Where can I find basic directory information - judges' names, addresses, and phone numbers?

State & Federal

In addition to the sources noted below, see also the Gallagher guide on People-Finding.

BNA's Directory of State and Federal Courts, Judges, and Clerks, KF8700.A19K56, latest edition at Reference Office | Bloomberg Law
  • Provides addresses and telephone numbers for federal, state, and local judges
  • Includes diagrams of state court systems
  • Lists judges by state and court
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Federal-State Court Directory, KF8700.A19 W35, latest edition at Reference Office.

  • Provides addresses and telephone numbers for federal and highest-state-court judges
  • Includes diagrams of state court systems
  • Lists judges by court

Directory of Minority Judges of the United States (4th ed. 2008). KF8700.A19D57 at the Reference Office.

  • Developed by the ABA Judicial Division Standing Committee on Minorities in the Judiciary
  • Provides addresses and telephone numbers for minority judges at the federal, state, and local court levels
  • Lists judges by ethnicity, state, and court
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U.S. Court Locator
  • Official directory of official U.S. federal courts and their web sites
  • Note that it takes several clicks to get full information (e.g., to get addresses for 8th Circuit judges, you choose Courts of Appeals and Search by Circuit (Eighth Circuit), then you click on a link for the St. Louis headquarters, then click on the court website link, then click on the sidebar link for Eighth Circuit Judges, ... then each judge's address is listed separately). In other words, this is not the easiest way to get addresses for a lot of judges at once.
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Directory of court websites from the National Center for State Courts NatCtrStCt.JPG
Washington State

Washington State Court Directories.

Washington State Yearbook. JK9230.W38 at Reference Area & Reference Office.

  • Provides biographical information for Washington State Supreme Court justices
  • Provides names and addresses for all state and local judges

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Biographical Information

What about something more than just directory-type information? Where can I find biographical information too?

Federal & State
The American Bench - Judges of the Nation. KF8700.A19A47 at Reference Office
  • Provides addresses and telephone numbers for federal, state, and local judges
  • Includes biographical information for some judges
  • Lists judges by state

West Legal Directory - Judges (WLD-JUDGE).

  • Profiles of individual full-time judges from federal courts and from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
  • Includes magistrates and local judges not found in some other directories.

Judicial Profiles (ALM) - LexisNexis ALMJDG

  • information about federal and state judges in California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas
Who's Who in American Law. KF372.W48 at Reference Office
  • Provides biographical information for judges listed
Federal
Almanac of the Federal Judiciary. KF8700.A19 A45 at Reference Area
  • Very useful for pre-interview research
  • Volume 1 includes district court judges, bankruptcy judges, and magistrates; Volume 2 includes the U.S. Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges
  • Provides addresses, biographical information, publications, noteworthy rulings, media coverage, and lawyers' evaluations
  • This directory is available on Westlaw (AFJ), but note that the online version does not include the sections of lawyers' evaluations of judges and media coverage that are available in print
Federal Judicial Center, Biographical Directory of Federal Judges
  • Biographical information about all Article III federal judges, from 1789 to present
  • Search by name or search by category (e.g., race, gender, nominating president, court)

The Just the Beginning Foundation, which aims to increase diversity in the legal profession, produced a document in 2010 that lists:

  • African-American, Latino, Asian- and Pacific-American, and Native American Article III judges, both historically and currently (2010)
  • Current (2010) African-American, Latino, Asian- and Pacific-American, and Native American federal magistrate judges
  • Current (2010) African-American, Latino, and Asian- and Pacific-American bankruptcy judges

To bring the lists up to date, use the Federal Judicial Center's Biographical Directory of Federal Judges.

Washington State
Washington Judges Books. KFW515.W37 1998 at Reference Area
  • Provides extensive biographical information and pointers for practice before each judge for superior, district, and municipal courts in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. Also covers Supreme Court and Divisions I and II of the Court of Appeals
  • No longer updated

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Recent Judicial Nominations & Appointments

How can I find out about recently nominated or confirmed judges?

Federal
Washington State

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Background Research

What if I want to do more research about judges' backgrounds, positions, cases, and so on?

News, Voters' Pamphlets, Ratings

Sample searches in news databases on LexisNexis and Westlaw:

  • justice /5 richard +2 sanders
  • justice /5 charles +2 johnson & "death penalty"
  • judge +2 james +2 robart
  • spokane or (division +2 3 or iii) w/10 appeals or appellate

Washington Voters and Candidates Pamphlet. JF495.W2A3 at Reference Office (current) & Reference Area (prior years), includes judicial candidates' statements. Available online at the Washington State Secretary of State website, Archived Voters' Pamphlets.

VotingforJudges "is a nonpartisan, impartial source of information about judicial elections in the state of Washington. The site was established in 2006 to provide information to voters in connection with the judicial candidates running for election that year." Includes ratings, endorsements, campaign finance statements, and news stories.

King County Bar Association, Judicial Ratings
Includes current ratings and candidate questionnaires, surveys about local judges (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005), and links to other resources.

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Record on the Bench

Sample searches in LexisNexis and Westlaw:

Type of Opinion LexisNexis Westlaw
all opinions writtenby(fletcher) op(fletcher)
majority opinions opinionby(fletcher) ju(fletcher)
dissenting opinions dissentby(fletcher) op(fletcher /s dissent!)
concurring opinions concurby(fletcher) op(fletcher /s concur!)
opinions reversed or affirmed
sy(fletcher /p revers! affirm!)

To find out what a judge did before the bench, check old editions of Martindale-Hubbell, KF190.M3 at Compact Stacks.

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Networking

What are some networking resources?


University of Washington School of Law Career Planning Judicial Clerkships page (UW NetID required)

  • Lists of alumni, faculty, and staff who have clerked
  • Using Symplicity, you can read feedback about clerkship interviews and clerkships

UW Law Graduates on the Bench

Martindale-Hubbell on LexisNexis, sample search for UW School of Law graduates who have clerked for Judge Pechman:

  • law-school("university of washington") and clerk w/5 (pechman)

West's Legal Directory (WLD) on Westlaw, sample search for UW School of Law graduates who have clerked in the Western District of Washington:

  • In the Law School field type: "university of washington" and in the Narrative field type: clerk & western district w/3 washington

See Sample Searches for Networking and Informational Interviews.

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Further Reading

See Mary Dunnewold et al., Judicial Clerkships: A Bibliography, 8 Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD 239 (2011). Covers I. General Resources about Judicial Clerkships, II. Court Guides and Directories, III. Selection – Employment; IV. Judicial Clerk's Role, V. Judicial Role, VI. Writing and Citation, VII. Opinions, VIII. Jury Instructions, IX. Academic Clerkship Classes, X. Ethics.

Student Lawyer, the magazine of the ABA's Law Student Division, has had a number of articles about clerkships. If you're a member, you can read past issues online; whether or not you're a member, you can read them on HeinOnline (UW Restricted) or use the library's print copies: KF287.S77, current issues at Reference Area; older volumes at Classified Stacks.

  • Judicial Clerkships for All: Tips for the Other 90 Percent, Nov. 2011, at 14, available on LegalTrac.
  • Get Your Resume Noticed with a Judicial Clerkship, May 2009, at 5, available on HeinOnline.
  • Debra M. Straus, Judge for Yourself, Student Law., Mar. 2004, at 25, available on HeinOnline. "Regardless of what you might assume, judicial clerkship opportunities are available to all students. Find out how to begin pursuing one, whether you're in your first, second or final year of law school - or even beyond."
  • 10 Simple Rules for Applying for a Judicial Clerkship, Student Law., Sept. 2003, at 22, available on HeinOnline.
  • Debra M. Strauss, 6 Simple Rules for Judicial Clerkship Interviewing, Student Law., Oct. 2003, at 32, available on HeinOnline. "You've mailed your judicial clerkship applications and are waiting for a reply. Before the judge's chambers calls, it's a good idea to start thinking about the next step in your clerkship search--the interview."
  • Judicial Clerkships: An Alternative Route, Student Law., Nov. 2002, at 28, available on HeinOnline. "There's still time to apply if you want the unparalleled experience of clerking for a judge, but you may have to look in places that aren't obvious."
  • The Clerkship Club, Student Law., Oct. 2001, p. 18, available on HeinOnline. "Clerking for a judge can be an excellent way to gain a mentor and obtain direct experience with the courts and the law."
  • The Lowdown on Landing a Judicial Clerkship, Student Law., Oct. 2000, at 36, available on HeinOnline. "Although I don't offer this article as the single definitive source on how to obtain one of these coveted positions, I hope that reading about my experience helps you in your quest."

 

 

 

 

 

More advice

Social scientists look at clerkships
  • Courting the Clerkship: Perspectives on the Opportunities and Obstacles for Judicial Clerkships, Judges J., Spring 2001, at 10, available on HeinOnline. Excerpts from a NALP report.
  • Todd C. Peppers et al., Inside Judicial Chambers: How Federal District Court Judges Select and Use Their Law Clerks, 71 Alb. L. Rev. 623 (2008), available on HeinOnline. Presents results of a survey conducted in fall 2006.
  • Stephen L. Wasby, "Why Clerk? What Did I Get Out of It?,56 J. Legal Educ. 411 (2006), available on HeinOnline. How do students decide which judges to clerk for, how do students evaluate their clerkship experience, and what is the effect of the clerkship on the students' careers? Article based on political scientist's interviews of people who clerked for Judge Alfred T. Goodwin (Ninth Circuit).

The National Association of Law Placement (NALP) reports

 

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Court Systems

Where can I find information about court systems generally?

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Non-clerkship Court Jobs

Where can I find out about court jobs other than clerkships?

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