In the last couple of years, an increasing number of students and alumni have sought clerkships for a term not immediately after graduation. The majority of these "alumni-clerks" are only a year or two removed from law school and have deferred clerking for a time to give themselves a competitive edge in the clerkship process. This can be particularly helpful for graduates who need some time to shore up their legal skills or some time to establish ties in a particular area of the country. A clerkship may also be a graceful way to transition to a new employer or a new practice area. While a year or two of work will not suddenly make you competitive for a position that was far above your reach in law school, it may give you a leg up for a clerkship that was a little ambitious for you as a 3L.
Happily, increased alumni interest interest in clerking has corresponded with increased interest in alumni-clerks on the part of judges. In some circuits, as many as half of the new clerks hired for the 2009 term were alums.
If you think you might be interested in applying to clerk as an alum, here are some important points to keep in mind:
1. Once you graduate, information on clerkships can be found through the alumni portal on the alumni clerkships web page. Access is granted with your LAC username and password. This same username and password can be used for CARS, our internal judicial clerkships database. Instructions for how to use CARS can be found here.
2. Judges often review alumni applications earlier than 3L applications. It is best to apply in the spring a year ahead of your desired term. For example, plan to apply in April or May 2009 for a September 2010 clerkship.
3. Off-cycle clerking opportunities may be available to alumni when a judge loses a clerk unexpectedly. If you are able to start a position in the spring or on short notice, you may be more competitive. To keep track of these opportunities, make sure you have created an OSCAR account and sign up to be notified as openings occur. Also consider applying to newly appointed judges, who often hire off-cycle and prefer experienced clerks for their first term.
4. Notify firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to apply - we sometimes hear of clerkship opportunities through the grapevine and can pass these along to you. We are also happy to review resumes and cover letters for alumni applications.