Federal & State Judicial Clerkships | Pace Law School

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Federal & State Judicial Clerkships

Judicial clerkships offer new graduates unparalleled insight into the judicial decision-making process and broad exposure to various facets of the law. The work is exciting and intellectually stimulating. As a clerk, you will be exposed to the methods and customs of practitioners and the level of professional behavior expected of lawyers, as well as experience with the full range of legal styles and abilities presented in the court. A clerkship provides direct insight into the judicial process, a unique opportunity for those interested in litigation or teaching. In addition, clerkships often open doors for post-clerkship employment. Some large firms will hold an offer of employment open during the clerkship and will give class credit for the time spent in a clerkship. Thus, someone who has done a clerkship may be given a year’s credit toward partnership and start as a second year associate after the clerkship.

In addition, some large firms give signing bonuses to individuals who have clerked for a federal judge or a judge in a state’s highest court. Perhaps most importantly, graduates who do not have an offer of employment prior to graduation take a post-graduate clerkship position upon graduation, often find that the clerkship experience makes them a stronger candidate for post-graduate positions and opens doors in directly and indirectly (through networking opportunities) for post-clerkship employment.

A note on judicial internships and externships: Judicial clerkships are distinguishable from judicial internships and externships, which are full-time summer positions or part-time school year positions for law students. Incidentally, judicial internships and externships are a good way to gain exposure to the judicial world prior to graduation and potentially to lead to a clerkship following graduation either with the same judge or one who appreciates the recommendation from another judge and prior experience in a courtroom.

If you are seriously interested in improving your odds of obtaining a clerkship following graduation, you should seek to be selected for Pace’s competitive year-long Federal Judicial Honors Program which typically is administered during one’s second year of law school. You should also look into the State Judicial Externship program that is offered through John Jay Legal Services every spring semester. Applications are typically due in November