State Court Clerkships
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To locate judge and court specific hiring information, please visit the Jobs and Resumes section of CareerLink and search for position type "Judicial Clerkships."
State Court Clerkships: Court Levels
State courts are generally divided into four levels of courts. Note that some states, such as the District of Columbia, do not have mid-level appellate courts or trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
In most states, the highest appellate court is called the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals. This court consists of approximately seven justices and hears criminal and civil appeals from the mid-level appellate courts. It handles the most complex and unsettled issues of state law. Some states (e.g., Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey) have a centralized hiring process for clerkships in this court, but many state courts require separate applications to each justice. The court sits in the state's capitol, but some justices may have chambers in other cities.
Mid-Level Appellate Court
Often called the Court of Appeals or Appeals Court, this intermediate appellate court handles criminal and civil appeals from the trial courts. In several states, this court is divided into departments or divisions by jurisdiction. Some states (e.g., Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York) have a centralized process or hire a central staff to service the entire court, while other states require separate applications to each judge.
State trial courts are usually called Circuit Courts or Superior Courts. These courts of general jurisdiction represent the greatest number of clerkship opportunities within the state judiciary. The trial courts handle civil and criminal cases within a defined geographic area such as a county or city. In some states, judges rotate through civil and criminal calendars. The hiring process varies greatly by state so applicants should research courts of interest. For example, applicants for positions in Virginia should direct their applications to the chief judge of the court, while applicants for positions in Maryland must apply to each judge separately.
Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
Each state also has local courts of limited jurisdiction, often called district courts. These courts adjudicate cases in specialized legal areas such as family and probate, civil actions demanding monetary amounts below certain thresholds, and misdemeanor criminal cases. In some states, judges rotate through civil and criminal calendars. The hiring process varies greatly by state so applicants should research courts of interest.
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