What is a Judicial Clerkship?
A judicial clerkship is a full-time position working for a federal or state judge that often (but not always) starts right after you finish law school. Clerkships may be with any level of court (supreme, appellate or trial court). In addition to the traditional courts, consider special federal courts such as the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, U.S. Court of International Trade, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s EOIR Immigration Courts.
Law clerks research and draft opinions and orders for the court. They also participate in many phases of the court’s decision-making process. There are “fixed-term” clerkships, which generally last one or two years, and there are “permanent” law clerks, also called “staff attorneys” or “research attorneys”, whose terms are indefinite. Most of the opportunities we are discussing here are fixed-term, though our graduates have been hired directly from law school into permanent Appellate Court Attorney positions with the California Court of Appeal recently.