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Judicial Clerkships

​​​A judicial clerkship is a post-graduate position in which an attorney works directly under a judge, usually for a one or two year term. Judicial clerks at all court levels obtain unparalleled access to and knowledge about the judicial process. Additionally, judicial clerks are exposed to a wide variety of legal issues and are able to make hands-on contributions to the judicial decision-making processes. The duties of judicial clerks include reading briefs and attending court proceedings, drafting bench memoranda analyzing parties' arguments, advising judges on the disposition of cases and assisting with drafting opinions.

Judicial clerkships are among the most prestigious and competitive employment opportunities available to recent law school graduates and alumni, and former clerks often describe their clerkships as one of the defining moments of their legal careers. 

If you are thinking about exploring judicial clerkship options, schedule an appointment with Ashley Leo  in Law Career Services.​

Federal Judicial Clerkships

A federal clerkship is typically considered the most prestigious and competitive type of judicial clerkship. Students may complete a federal clerkship with a:

  • U.S. District judge
  • U.S. District Magistrate
  • U.S. Bankruptcy or U.S. Tax Court judge
  • Federal Appellate Court judge
  • Judge for a specialty federal court such as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, or the U.S. Court of International Trade

Applicants typically begin applying for federal clerkships before their 3L year. Many federal judges use the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR) to post openings and review applications. Federal clerkships usually require three or four letters of recommendation and a strong writing sample.​

Resources for Federal Clerkships:

State Judicial Clerkships

A state judicial clerkship can be a great opportunity to get hands-on mentorship from a judge, network with the local bar and receive invaluable access to the inner workings of the court. Students may clerk for a state supreme court, state appellate court or a state trial court. State trial courts can cover a variety of areas of law including chancery, criminal and domestic relations. DePaul law alumni have clerked for the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois Appellate Court, and many Cook County Circuit Court judges.

Students typically apply for a state judicial clerkship during their 3L year, and state courts usually hire students during their last semester of 3L year or after graduation. ​

Resources for State Judicial Clerkships:

-NALP Insight and Inside Information for Select State Court Clerkships

Judicial Externships

DePaul also offers students a chance to receive academic credit in exchange for clerking for a judge during law school. Please visit the Externship Program website for program information and available positions. 


DePaul offers a variety of opportunities throughout the year to educate and encourage students who are interested in judicial clerkships, including:

  • Resume collect for students and alumni interested in a post-graduate judicial clerkship
  • “Judicial Clerkships for Alumni and Recent Grads" GroupMe, where judicial clerkship opportunities are frequently posted, and current/former judicial clerks offer advice and answer questions for potential clerkship applicants
  • Informational panels for students consisting of judges and current/former judicial clerks
  • A robust network of DePaul alumni judges and faculty members who were judicial clerks
  • Frequent networking opportunities for students to meet with judges
  • A dedicated folder of resources for students and alumni who want to learn more about this unique career path
  • ​​Judicial externship opportunities where students receive academic credit for working in a judge's chambers