Judicial Clerkship Guide: Clerkship Interviews and Offers

Judicial Clerkship Guide: Clerkship Interviews and Offers

This section of the Clerkship Manual discusses clerkship interviews and offers. To download a full copy of the Clerkship Manual, click here.

IX. Clerkship Interviews

Timing: The amount of time between receipt of applications and scheduling of interviews varies greatly judge to judge. Please notify the Career Planning Center as soon as you are granted an interview with any judge. In addition to helping you to prepare, we can also seek out faculty members with connections to the judge or a faculty member who might be willing to shore up your application with a phone call. 
 
Expenses: Unlike law firm interviewing, you will need to pay for your interview expenses. Students may minimize costs by consolidating interviews in a particular city to a single trip or combining interviews with a holiday visit or other professional obligation. But don’t be overly-deterred by these costs. Spending a modest amount of money on the interview process is part of your investment in what is often a special year and in a credential that will serve you well throughout your legal career. 
 
In addition, the Law School has established a fund to help students defray some of the costs associated with applying for clerkships and attending interviews. Historically, the fund has provided a reimbursement (up to $750 per applicant) for expenses related to clerkship applications and travel associated with clerkship interviews. Applicants planning to seek reimbursement from the Judicial 
Clerkship Fund must satisfy all of the requirements of the Clerkship Advising Program in a timely fashion in order to be eligible for reimbursement. 
 
Preparation: You should obviously spend a reasonable amount of time preparing in advance of the interview. You don’t need to read all of the opinions that the judge has written, but you should read some and have a sense of the judge’s basic style and outlook. You also should know the basics: when the judge went on the bench, who appointed him or her, and other biographical information. You should also check the collection of judicial clerkship interview surveys available on the clerkships webpage.
 
In addition to learning about the judge, you should give some thought to what you will say about yourself. You should be prepared to talk about anything on your resume, the substance of your writing sample, and any course you have taken in law school. Additionally, be prepared to answer questions about why you want to clerk, why you want to clerk on that specific court, how clerking will play into your career, and what you feel you can bring to a clerkship. 
 
Dress as you would for a law firm interview. Some clerks routinely dress that way at the office and others wear jeans, but you should be attired professionally. Pay attention to the clerks and secretaries. They will often speak with the judge about their impressions of you, and you should treat your time with them as part of the interview. Clerks often can veto an applicant whom they do not like. It is standard procedure to send a thank you note to each individual with whom you interviewed within 24 hours of the interview.

X. Offers

You should not accept an interview if you would not accept an offer, if given, from a particular judge. Unlike firms and other legal employers, judges do not follow the NALP (Association of Legal Career  Professionals) guidelines for timing of offers and acceptances. As a result, students do not have the freedom to gather multiple offers and then decide which to accept. In fact, it is considered impermissible and bad form to turn down one offer in hopes of obtaining another or to “shop” around offers. Certain judges actually will impose informal sanctions directed at the applicant (e.g., rescinding an offer and blacklisting with other judges) or at the Law School as an institution (e.g., judge resolves never to hire a clerk from the University of Connecticut School of Law). While not all judges take advantage of their power in this way and are kind enough to give applicants a few days to consider an offer (time to contact 13 other judges in which the applicant has an interest), many judges require that you accept an offer on the spot or within twenty-four hours. 
 
One option is to try to schedule the interviews in order of preference – scheduling your interview with the judge you are most interested in first. You should be aware, however, that this strategy has some risk associated with it. Talk with a Career Planning Counselor or your faculty advisor about whatever strategy you intend to employ. 
 
Once you accept an offer, your decision is final. It is extremely bad form for you to renege on the acceptance. Your actions will reflect badly on future UConn Law applicants, and it is possible that the second offer that you accepted will be revoked when the other employer learns of your actions. 
 
If you accept an offer (or if you decide not to clerk), you should withdraw your pending applications. For chambers that have not been in touch with you, the standard procedure is simply to write a letter withdrawing your application. For judges with whom you have interviewed (or with whom you are scheduled to interview) but who have not yet gotten back to you with their decisions, you must immediately call their chambers, say how honored you were to have been considered, but report that you must withdraw your applications because you have accepted another offer.