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. 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 OSCAR. You can access the OSCAR tip sheets by logging into OSCAR, 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 to this process to yield a 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, 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:

  1. study basic biographical and career background about your judge
  2. find key decisions by your judge
  3. review recent legal news about your judge

For more in-depth research, consider:

  1. getting an overview of your judge's (or the court's) current caseload or docket
  2. finding topical analysis and news coverage of your judge's decisions
  3. doing in-depth background research on your judge, such as finding articles or books written by your judge
  4. 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 Dawn Moore and instruct your recommender to send a copy of the letter to both of them; for an outside recommender please send merge file and letters to [email protected].

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 [email protected]) a clearly worded email (or call 212-854-2859) explaining your circumstances.
  • Keep in regular contract with recommenders (or FAs) in order to get the letters to Justine Ramos as soon as possible.
  • For extremely urgent applications, speak to Justine about a possible FedEx option.

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 George call chambers (or calling yourself). 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 [email protected] 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.