Making Judicial Clerkships Happen

I’ll be honest: applying to clerkships is stressful. (Or “not unstressful,” as your future boss-judge may prefer.)[1]

There may be more than a little truth to the joke; a certain Ninth Circuit judge told the New York Times several years ago that he begins recruiting “at birth.” How are you supposed to send along a writing sample if you don’t write anything at all the first year of law school? Who cares about your two semesters of grades? (Especially if there are ones you’d like to dilute with better ones in the future, now that you have a better handle on the insanity of law school exams?)

Once you get past that, there’s still the opaque process of actually getting an interview. Should you apply online, or through the mail (really?), or both? Where do you buy that special off-white (ecru? eggshell?) paper that you print your résumé on? Is it really OK to ask a professor to pick up the phone and call some distant judge on your behalf? If you do get an interview, how do you possibly prepare?

20161219_152157Don’t panic! The Judicial Clerkship Office is there to help. The office of two is small but mighty; Michelle Cherande ’97 (yes, an alumna herself) and Jim Nesbitt run a full-service shop. They take everyone from 1Ls jumping the gun to alumni looking for resources a few years after graduation. They can help figure out a timeline and which courts and judges might be right for you, look over your application, put you in touch with alumni who clerked for a judge you’re interested in and/or interviewing with, and prepare you for the interview itself. (Michelle once responded to an email of mine when she was on vacation.) They are immensely helpful.

20161219_152250Which is to say, if you’re even remotely interested in clerking—

  1. Do get in touch with them (nothing to lose!).
  2. Don’t worry too much if you’ve followed step 1.

[1] George Orwell’s sepulchral brow darkens every time a judge employs a double negative. “Banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of the not un- formation,” he wrote in “Politics and the English Language.”