The first year of law school can be nerve-wracking: lots of reading, being cold-called, and trying to comprehend Pennoyer v. Neff. As if worrying about classes wasn’t hard enough, by the time spring semester rolled around, I needed to start thinking about how I was going to be spending my first summer as a law student. Little did I know, this decision would have the biggest impact on me and only confirmed my passion for the law. Doing a 1L judicial clerkship was the best decision in my law school career thus far.
While it may seem scary to think so far in advance, your first summer as a law student is such an important time. For most people, they are finally getting some hands-on legal experience, and trying to put all of the theoretical concepts they learned during first year classes to work. The Career Services and Professional Development Office here has so many options for 1Ls looking for summer jobs.
A judicial clerkship is a two or three credit hour course, taken pass/fail, over six to eight weeks. You work directly with a judge and the experience is as varied as the people whose names grace the chambers in which you serve. A judicial clerkship gives a law student the experience of clerking for a judge, researching and writing different issues before the court, while also earning class credit. Students have the opportunity to summarize parties’ briefs, research legal issues, search through trial records, write memorandums, discuss their recommendations with the judge, and even work on some published opinions. The research and writing experience gained can be invaluable. To receive credit, you maintain a weekly journal of your observations and research as you complete your mandatory number of hours (150 hours for two credits and 180 hours for three).
Participating in a judicial clerkship can also prove beneficial upon returning to campus for Fall semester. During on-campus interviews, which usually take place at the start of your 2L year, it can be a great topic of conversation with potential employers. As an added bonus, any hours that you work under a judge’s supervision beyond the mandatory requirement for the internship, count toward your pro bono requirement. The judicial clerkship can be a magnificent opportunity to see how the courts function. Clerking, in general, is a great opportunity to learn about the judicial branch, and how judges think.
Melina Garcia, 3L
Michael Hoffman, 3L