Judicial Clerkship Guide: The Application Process

Judicial Clerkship Guide: The Application Process

This section of the Clerkship Manual discusses the clerkship application process. To download a full copy of the Clerkship Manual, click here.

VII. The Application Process

A. Federal Clerkships

Federal court judges typically accept application through OSCAR, in hard copy, or both. Students should start by registering with OSCAR, which is a federally-run online application system for federal clerkships (Online System for Clerkship Application and Review). Every federal judge may be listed on OSCAR, but not all accept applications through OSCAR. Most judges indicate on OSCAR whether they accept paper applications, e-mailed applications, OSCAR applications, or faxed applications.

As of November 2013, judges can post an opening on OSCAR at any time. We recommend that students check OSCAR for information about each judge’s hiring preferences and apply as soon as a vacancy is posted. Check with the Career Planning Center and your clerkship advisor for additional information about particular courts, especially in Connecticut.

Even after the peak season clerkship hiring season ends, some clerkship opportunities will remain. Keep your recommenders, the Career Planning Center, and the Clerkship Committee aware that you are on the market, and they may be able to let you know of suitable opportunities. Clerkship opportunities will be posted to OSCAR and occasionally to Symplicity throughout the year.

Judges whose nominations are pending, or who have just been confirmed, will need clerks when they take the bench. For judges nominated in the spring of your final year, you might be the perfect candidate to be a clerk when they open chambers. To track new nominations, you can consult the Office of Legal Policy website or take advantage of the websites maintained as a public service by various schools. You may apply once the judge is nominated. Many nominees, however, will not make clerkship decisions until they are confirmed, so apply again when the judge is confirmed.

B. State Clerkships

State court application procedures do not follow a uniform system. Most state courts do a good job publicizing application guidelines and timing requirements via their web sites and other communication vehicles. The Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures, published by Vermont Law School (http://forms.vermontlaw.edu/career/guides), is also an excellent resource for state court clerkship information. The Guide is password protected; login information is available in the Internet Resources Booklet which can be found under the Resources tab on Symplicity.

Most applicants will submit their application materials for state court clerkships in hard copy. It is critical to research each court’s or judge’s application requirements to ensure that you are submitting all requested materials in the proper format. Generally, state court judges will receive materials in one of three ways:

Direct Application: Applicants will address materials to each individual judge.  This method tends to be the most popular among state court judges.

Packet Application: Applicants will submit materials to a centralized contact at the court and application materials will be circulated to all the judges on the court who are hiring. In this method, the applicant may be asked to submit multiple copies of all applications materials to the court. Usually the central contact will be the Chief Judge or a Court Administrator who oversees the hiring process. The Connecticut Appellate Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court both use a form of this method for their judicial clerkship hiring.

Interview Program Application: Applicants will be required to submit their materials through a job fair, formal interview program or on-campus interview process. Applicants will then be asked to schedule an interview with court representatives through the interview program. Many state trial level courts, including those in Connecticut and Massachusetts, use this method.