OSCAR: Frequently Asked Questions
The Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR) is a project funded by a grant through the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. OSCAR's web address is www.oscar.uscourts.gov. For participating federal judges and participating federal Circuit Court staff attorney positions, OSCAR will offer an internet-based application system for the 2012 hiring season permitting applicants to upload their federal clerkship application materials online. Some preliminary questions regarding Version 6.1 are answered below.
Q. How many judges will be participating in OSCAR this year?
A. All federal judges will be listed initially at least by court and name, but the judges will retain the freedom to decide whether to post clerkship information. For those judges who do not post clerkship information, a notation of "no information available" or "not hiring" will be displayed. In recent years, approximately 65% of federal judges input some hiring information via OSCAR. Because of different administrative structures, the U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the U.S. Supreme Court never have been included in OSCAR, and that will not chance in the immediate future.
Q. What does it mean if I can't click on a listed judge or Staff Attorney's Office in OSCAR?
A. If a judge or Staff Attorney's Office (SAO) is "grayed out," it means the judge or SAO does not participate in OSCAR. Applicants should apply by other means, general via U.S. Mail.
Q. How do I determine if a participating judge or SAO is hiring?
A. If a judge or SAO has posted an available position, the judge is hiring. If no available position has been posted, check the "expired" postings to determine if hiring is already complete. Also check whether the judge has indicated specifically that he or she is not hiring for the 2013 term or has only career law clerks. If none of this information is available, check with the judge's chambers or with Kira I. Epstein in OCPD to determine the course of action – the judge may be late in posting the 2013 clerkship position, or may prefer to accept applications via U.S. Mail.
Q. When filling out my profile, it asks for my class rank. What do I put here?
A. Each summer, the Registrar's office estimates students' class rankings and posts them on this website: www.wcl.american.edu/registrar/classrank.cfm. You determine your class rank based on the GPA you have earned through the spring semester; do not include grades received over the 2012 summer session. If you create your profile before the Registrar's Office releases class rankings for the year, you must update your profile before finalizing your applications in September.
Q. How will applicants create cover letters on the system?
A. Applicants will be able to upload individualized cover letters for specific judges (in PDF format only), as well as creat general letters for the remaining judges. For general letters, OSCAR will provide mail merge fields to allow applicants to automatically insert each judge's name and address information.
Q. How do I upload resumes, writing samples, and other documents to the system?
A. All resumes, writing samples, and other documents uploaded to the system (except for cover letters, which may be typed in) must be uploaded as PDFs. To save a document in PDF format, select the "save as PDF" option in Microsoft Word. Check the document after you have uploaded it to ensure that the formatting appears proper.
Q. Why can't I upload my transcript?
A. Per judges' requests, OSCAR does not allow you to upload any transcripts. Instead, OSCAR provides a Grade Sheet Form that converts the entered grades into a PDF document for the applicant. The Grade Sheet Form may be viewed as a PDF, so that you you may see it just as the judge will see it. You may then edit the form and re-save it if necessary. Judges are aware that these are unofficial transcripts, and you may be asked to provide an official transcript later the interview or application process.
Q.What are my responsibilities with respect to letters of recommendation?
A. OCPD is handling the uploading of letters of recommendation from professors and recommenders outside the school. By August 21, applicants must "Create" and "Save" applications for the judges they intend to apply to and list/choose the recommenders (names and email addresses) for each judge. Applicants should also inform their recommenders that they needto send the general text of the letters of recommendation to email@example.com by August 21 or soon thereafter. If these deadlines are met, applicants' letter will be uploaded by the OSCAR release date (September 4, 2012).
Q. May I add more applications after August 21?
A. Yes, but please be aware that all requests for letters of recommendation made after the August 21 deadline will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, and might not be completed before the OSCAR release date (September 4, 2011). Even if your recommeder has already processed letters for some judges, OSCAR does not automatically associate recommendation letters to new applications.
Q. How do I determine the status of my letters of recommendation?
A. To determine whether letters of recommendation have been uploaded for a particular application, go to the "My Recommendations" tab, and click on "Status of Recommendation Letters." Completed letters will display a green check mark in the "Complete" column. If you have created and saved your applications for the judges to whom you intend to apply and chose the recommenders for each judge by the August 21 deadline, you will receive an email from Kira I. Epstein, the judicial clerkship advisor, later that week updating you on whether she has received the letters from your recommenders, or whether you need to follow up with them.
Q. When will participating judges have access to applicants' uploaded materials for the 2012 application season?
A. Judges will have access to applicants' materials on September 4, the OSCAR release date, provided applicants "Finalize" their applications by that date.
Q. What do I do if I am no longer looking for a clerkship?
A. If you have accpeted another position or are no longer seeking a clerkship for any reason, you must withdraw you applications in OSCAR. You can do this either by withdrawing each individual application or by making yourself "unavailable." To withdraw your applications, click on the "My Applications" tab, then select "Clerkship Applications." For each application you wish to withdraw, click the "Withdraw" button in the Options column on the far right. To mark yourself unavailable, go into your account and click "yes" next to the button "I am unavailable." This will result in all your applications being withdrawn for the period, including the application you have submitted to the court that hired you.
* For more detailed instructions about how to use OSCAR, see the Applicant User Guide posted online at https://oscar.uscourts.gov/drupal/files/Applicant_User_Guide.pdf (and accessible from your OSCAR home page). You can also view a webcast detailing the application steps by visiting this link: OSCAR Training Session Webcast.
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