The One Question That Will Improve Any Résumé

Light bulbWe can talk all day about résumé formatting, or what should be included, but there’s really only one question you should be asking (repeatedly) to make your résumé shine for any occasion.

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Judicial Clerkships: Is Clerking Really All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Supreme Court hallwayIn general, clerking is a great job!

One NALP study found that a remarkable 97% of judicial clerks would still opt to clerk, if they could go back in time and make the choice again.

It is important to understand, however, that there are potential downsides, as with any situation where a small number of people work closely together!

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Judicial Clerkships: I Didn’t Get a Clerkship, Now What?

No Entry SignApplying for a clerkship can be one of the most fraught experiences of law school. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

You’re Not Alone

Plenty of talented, well-qualified people apply for clerkships each year, and come up empty handed.

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Judicial Clerkships: What Actually Happens at a Clerkship Interview?

Exploding BombAfter the chaos of setting up your interview schedule, going to the actual interviews should be rather relaxing!

Or not. Judges can be intimidating people.

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Judicial Clerkships: What You Need to Know About Scheduling Clerkship Interviews

Do NOT Answer the Phone

ArrowsThe most critical piece of advice for managing your interview schedule is simple: do not answer the phone!

Let all of your calls go to voicemail, at least temporarily. If you are a competitive candidate and have applied to fast-moving locations, it would not be uncommon to receive between five and ten calls in the first few minutes judges are allowed to schedule interviews under the Guidelines.

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Judicial Clerkship Interviews: What You Need to Know

Old Phone

Ring, Ring, Ring…

If all goes well, one morning your phone will start ringing with judges who would like to meet you.

Plan Ahead to Optimize Your Results

While receiving calls is certainly exciting, it can also be stressful, especially if you’ve applied in more than one geographic area.

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Make Your Clerkship Application Shine: Letters of Recommendation

The Ideal Recommender

Letter AThe most desirable recommender is someone who:

  • knows you well on a personal level
  • thinks that you are nice, intelligent, and hard-working
  • can write a convincing letter on your behalf

In a perfect world, this person would also be a rock star professor with amazing connections, but you’ll have to take what you can get!

Who Should I Ask?

Most judges ask for three letters of recommendation and prefer at least two of the three be from law school professors. The final letter could be from a professional reference, or from another professor, perhaps an adjunct.

But I Don’t Know Any of My Professors!

You may be concerned that you don’t have any obvious recommenders. This is a common problem in law school, where relationships between professors and students are often formal and somewhat distant.

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Make Your Clerkship Application Shine: Cover Letter

MapAlthough each judge will receive a personalized cover letter via the magic of mail merge, it is rather unrealistic to think that you’ll write a completely personal letter to each judge.

Name Drop If You Can

If you have a particular connection to a judge, you should mention it in the cover letter. Did you work closely over the summer with a law firm partner whose childhood best friend happens to be a federal judge?

This is the time to name drop (with permission, of course).

Tell the Judge Why You’re Applying

It’s advisable to offer some rationale for why you are applying for this particular clerkship, in terms of the type of court and the geographic location.

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Make Your Clerkship Application Shine: Writing Sample

Hand with pencilPutting together a writing sample can be difficult.

What Should I Use?

Reasonable people disagree about:

  • how long the writing sample should be (opinions on ideal length range from 4-5 pages to 25-30)
  • what type of writing it should be (legal brief, seminar paper, journal work, etc.).

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Make Your Clerkship Application Shine: Résumé

PencilsYour clerkship application résumé will be very similar to the one you used when applying for summer jobs or even for law school. The key difference is that your clerkship résumé should further emphasize your writing and research skills.

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