Judicial clerkships are postgraduate, full-time jobs which typically last one or two years. Clerks work for judges at all levels of the state and federal court systems, from trial courts to the courts of last resort. Duties vary according to the particular judge’s needs, but nearly all clerkships involve reading the parties’ submissions, conducting legal research, and writing memoranda or draft opinions for the judge’s review. Clerks often watch hearings, trials, oral arguments and mediations. Clerks see the inner workings of their judge’s chambers and the court house in which they work, which gives them a unique and valuable glimpse into the justice system. Most former clerks will tell you that their clerkship was one of the best professional experiences of their life.
These are rich and rewarding positions, and yet many people are hesitant to enter the application process, believing that if their academic credentials are not at the top of their class they don’t have a realistic chance of securing a clerkship. The clerkship successes of Cornell students and alumni demonstrate that this myth just isn’t true. While some clerkships are more competitive than others, there are opportunities available for all applicants. We encourage you to talk to Dean Peck or other members of the clerkship committee to learn more about your possibilities and to begin developing an application strategy that will work for you.
Contact us to learn more, or click here to make a Clerkship Counseling appointment.
The Cornell Law School is committed to a policy against discrimination in employment. The facilities of our career-development offices (the Career Services Office, the Office of Public Service, and the Office of Judicial Engagement and Professional Development) may be denied to employers whose behavior contravenes our faculty policy prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, ancestry, sex, gender (including identity or expression), sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, or protected veteran status. We require all employers using our career-development offices to comply with our nondiscrimination policy.