Useful Links and Resources
Register as a Clerkship Applicant
If you want to receive clerkship-related emails, log in to Symplicity and select the Clerkships module. Then select “Yes” under “Clerkship Search Active.”
Clerkships @ CLS Blog
The blog contains lots of useful information about clerkships, such as judges' hiring timelines, OSCAR postings, and information based upon phone calls that we and our peer schools make to judges' chambers. Alumni should contact the Clerkship Office for log in information.
Log on to create a merge file and browse interview and clerkship evaluations.
Alliance for Justice: Judicial Selection Project
Generate various reports about the federal judiciary. Users can create a report of, for example, judges appointed by a particular president, or the demographics of judges on a particular court.
Federal Judicial Center
Contains biographies of federal judges as well as descriptions of various federal courts.
Federal Judiciary Website
Contains extensive information about the federal court system, including descriptions of various Article III courts, federal salary tables, a link to OSCAR, a description of the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan, and information about judicial vacancies, nominations, and confirmations.
Just the Beginning Foundation
Celebrates diversity within the federal judiciary. Contains information about programming as well as lists of African American, Asian American, Latino/a American, Native American, and women judges in the federal judiciary.
Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR)
Information about all federal judicial clerkship openings as well as an online interface to apply electronically to those judges who wish to receive applications in this format. All applicants must register with OSCAR in order to access the system and receive periodic updates about clerkship openings.
Senate Nominations Website
Current listings of recent judicial nominations and confirmations. Click on "civilian nominations" pending or confirmed.
The Leadership Library
Provides useful biographical information about federal and state judges. Please note: Due to licensing restrictions, you can only log on automatically from a computer connected to the Columbia network.
Vermont Law School Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures
Detailed application guidelines for all of the state court systems in the United States. Click on "Access the Guide" to access information. This site is password protected; please contact [email protected] for credentials.
Insight and Information: How to select a State Court Clerkship →
NALP brings you some helpful hints and thinking points to ponder about State Court Clerkships
Federal Administrative Law Judges' Post Graduate Clerkship Hiring Information →
This Guide summarizes information from various Office of Administrative Law Judges within federal agencies regarding post graduate clerkship hiring.
Q. What is OSCAR?
OSCAR (The On-Line System for Clerkship Application and Review) is the single, centralized resource for notice of available clerkships, clerkship application information, and law clerk employment information. OSCAR is the place where applicants should begin the process of researching clerkship positions and building judge lists (although you can also do so in conjunction with Symplicity). Judges advertise clerkship positions on OSCAR and students can use the system to electronically upload their materials and submit on-line applications to these judges. Access the OSCAR Quick Guide for help setting up your profile, upload application materials, research clerkship vacancies and submit on-line clerkship applications.
OSCAR Official Applicant Tip Sheets contain comprehensive instructions on how to use different aspects of the OSCAR system. You can access the OSCAR tip sheets by logging intoOSCAR, clicking on the Resources tab, and then selecting the Applicant Resources tab.
Q. What’s the best way to begin researching judges?
It is important that you view this effort as a true research project and dedicate sufficient time in this process that will yield the kind of well-thought out application strategy that will land you interviews with judges for whom you would enjoy working and who would appreciate your unique background and contributions.
As you begin your research of the many 100s of judges to select from, you should focus your search by deciding on particular jurisdictions (although you should be flexible in doing so), courts and judges, keeping the following observations in mind when selecting the judges to whom you will submit applications.
As you might suspect, judges more likely to grant interviews to Columbia Law applicants are those who have (1) hired CLS graduates as clerks (see the Handbook’s Historical Clerk List); (2) graduated from CLS (see the Handbook’s List of CLS Alumni Judges); and (3) interviewed CLS applicants in the past, even if they have not made offers to them (see in “Interview Evaluations” and ‘Clerkship Evaluations” tabs in the Clerkship module in Symplicity).
The best way to access basic information for a judge, including his or her court address, phone number and list of current clerks is to use the Leadership Library. You can also obtain and share information about judges by consulting the clerkship module in Symplicity, which contains both interview evaluations and clerkship evaluations of CLS classmates and/or alumni/ae who have interviewed and clerked with judges you may be interested in. Before and after you secure a clerkship, please consult with and add information to the Symplicity clerkship module! Of course, online resources such as Ballotpedia and Ravel_law are also very helpful in helping you consider clerkship opportunities and/or prepare for interviews. There are many online resources available, but these are just a few links to get you started.
Q. What else can I do to prepare of a clerkship interview?
You must at least do three things to prepare for your interview:
- study basic biographical and career background about your judge
- find key decisions by your judge
- review recent legal news about your judge
For more in-depth research, consider:
- getting an overview of your judge's (or the court's) current caseload or docket
- finding topical analysis and news coverage of your judge's decisions
- doing in-depth background research on your judge, such as finding articles or books written by your judge
- learning more about the jurisdiction's characteristics (e.g., caseloads – criminal versus civil)
Q. What’s the best way to research state court clerkships?
There is no one comprehensive source for information about state court judicial clerkships. That said, some potentially useful resources include:
- The 2017 Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures, which lists contact information and application requirements for clerkships in each of the fifty states. To access the guide online, enter “maple” as the user ID and “leaf” as the password when prompted. It contains links to state court websites — these websites (and not this guide) contain the most current information on state court clerkship opportunities.
- Insight_and_Inside_Information_for_Select_State_Court_Clerkships contains detailed state court clerkship hiring information on a select number of states. This resource was compiled based on information submitted by judicial clerkship counselors from law schools located in the states referenced in the guide.
Q. I have outside recommenders, how do I process those recommendation letters?
When you have a non-faculty recommender, they will fall into 1 of 2 categories: either an adjunct professor who taught at CLS at one point or a recommender with no affiliation (previous school, study abroad professor, employer, etc). For an adjunct professor, please send the merge file to Doribel Rodriguez and instruct your recommender to send a copy of the letter to her, for an outside recommender please send merge file and letters to Courtney Woodards.
Q. The deadline for an application is approaching, how can I get an app out immediately?
Please do your best to avoid this situation. Delays can happen as the clerkships process has many moving pieces, and missed opportunities can rise. However, if this situation does occur, there are things you can do to maximize your success.
- Send the office (i.e., to Courtney Woodards) a clearly worded email (or call) explaining your circumstances.
- Keep in regular contract with recommenders (or FAs) in order to get the letters to Courtney Woodards as soon as possible.
- For extremely urgent applications, speak to Courtney about a possible FedEx option.
Q. I’m not sure I’ll do “BigLaw” or any litigation in the future, are clerkships still for me?
A number of your common questions regarding securing a clerkship or integrating a clerkship into your career path have likely been explored in very helpful and oft-cited articles that we would highly recommend. For example, you may be curious about the relationship between clerking and transactional careers; additionally, you may be certain that you will pursue a transactional career (including securities work), and therefore you may also want to consider the New Jersey Tax Court, the Delaware Chancery Court and the Delaware Supreme Court. Click here for an article on the utility of Delaware state court clerkships for aspiring corporate lawyers. Others may be interested in whether clerkships and public sector jobs are compatible. These links can get you started.
Q. Is Judge X still hiring?
Many times the answer to this question is on OSCAR or on the website of the court on which your prospective judge sits. You should first check these sources to see what information is available – including whether calls to chambers are permissible -- before requesting that Courtney call chambers (or calling yourself). As we approach the application surge months of January and June, you should also check the Clerkships @ CLS Blog for information about particular judge’s hiring preferences and whether they have openings.
Q. What do I do after I finalize my Judge List?
After finalizing your judge list, create your merge file and have it sent to the faculty assistants and to Courtney Woodards as soon as possible. It is essential that you send your merge file to all necessary parties so that your application can be processed immediately.
Q. I’m ready to think “out of the box” about securing a clerkship. How do I get started?
There is a wealth of information online regarding how to secure strong clerkship recommendations, how to leverage a judicial externship into a clerkship, and how to target newly- or nearly-confirmed federal judges for clerkships. Click on these links to get started.