Judicial clerkships are a great way to start your legal career - they can also be helpful if you are looking to get started in a new geographic area. Opportunities will be available at all levels, from federal appeals and district courts as well as state and county courts. The timelines to apply for state and county clerkships will parallel firms, while federal clerkships will be much earlier. Many local postings can be found on Symplicity, but if you have a specific clerkship in mind you will want to be proactive to find that posting. Tip: most applications will require that you provide supporting materials such as writing samples and letters of support - take a look at these tips for Requesting Letters of Recommendation and References.
State Court Clerkships
The Iowa Judicial Branch posts the Iowa Judicial Branch hiring information (2021) guide on hiring for district courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.
Drake also subscribes to a detailed guide on state clerkships across the country through a password-protected Guide to State Court Judicial Clerkship Procedures - you can access the password through our Online Resources, Subscriptions, and Passwords - contact CDO if you would have difficulty. You also have access to Bloomberg Law's Judicial Clerkship search tools.
Federal Court Clerkships
Many federal clerkships will be posted on the federal OSCAR hiring website, although opportunities can also be found on an individual court's judicial site for judges who may not use OSCAR, in which case students would apply directly to the court.
Students generally cannot access OSCAR until second semester of their second year - students in the graduating class of 2022 can access OSCAR on February 3, 2021 to register for an account, upload documents, search for clerkship positions, and build online applications. (Students in the Class of 2021 can already set up their accounts, while the Class of 2023 will gain access in February 2022.) For judges using the federal hiring plan (which not all do), OSCAR applications are not released to judges until June. OSCAR has many helpful online tools, including an Applicant Prep Kit and an Applicant Quick Reference Guide. The CDO staff can help with OSCAR and can also upload letters of recommendation for your application. On March 26, 2020 OSCAR posted an applicant training webinar online to view at your convenience. Tip: contact CDO if you would like help formulating a list of clerkships prior to your access date.
Diversity Clerkship Opportunities and Resources
There are also diversity programs aimed at exposing students of color to judicial clerkships, including Just The Beginning: A Pipeline Organization and the ABA Judicial Clerkship Program. Additional program and mentor resources include the Appellate Project and Law Clerks for Diversity. Come see us to discuss!
In 2021 we have three panels to introduce you to judicial clerkships plus a short video on how to use OSCAR.