Overview of Judicial Clerkships
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The Judicial Clerkship Alumni Survey Database provides feedback from alumni who have clerked with federal judges, state judges/justices, and administrative law judges around the country.
Overview of Judicial Clerkships: Trial & Appellate Court Clerkships
Trial Court Clerkships
These clerks are involved in the decision-making process through all stages of litigation. Clerks are actively involved in resolving discovery disputes, conducting pre-trial and status conferences, rendering opinions for dispositive and other pre-trial motions, facilitating settlement negotiations, handling cases through trial, and more. These clerks have frequent contact with litigants, constant exposure to courtroom proceedings, and often juggle tasks for numerous cases within a normal day. Although trial court clerks spend time researching and drafting opinions, these opinions are more informal and less lengthy than appellate court opinions as a result of the time-sensitive nature of the trial court's decisions and the court's other case management responsibilities.
Appellate Court Clerkships
These clerkships are more academic and focused on researching and drafting formal opinions. Clerks spend the majority of their time in chambers or the court's library reviewing the trial court record and researching and analyzing the legal issues on appeal. On a periodic basis these clerks have the opportunity to observe oral arguments before a panel of judges. Appellate court clerks are expected to spend more time on a fewer number of cases and therefore these clerkships are less hectic and hurried than trial court clerkships. Appellate court clerks have little or no contact with the litigants, but have frequent contact with the other judges and clerks as opinions are circulated and discussed. As a result, these clerks witness and participate in the court's collective decision-making process while advising his or her judge on the merits of draft opinions.
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