Not all clerkships are filled through the regular hiring cycle. Some judges prefer to hire later in the process so that applicants have a more developed record. Others develop openings unexpectedly when, for example, a person previously hired becomes ill or otherwise unable to assume his/her duties as a clerk. Additionally, new judges are appointed to the bench periodically and need clerks without much lead time for hiring. At least at the federal level, many potential judges start to consider applicants for clerkships, at least informally, in the period between when they are nominated by the President and when they are confirmed by the Senate (particularly in the more narrow period between their committee hearing and their full vote by the Senate). During this period, they obviously have no official authority to hire clerks, so be aware that they have to be very careful and hypothetical about considering potential clerks. Indeed, some nominees never are confirmed, so any clerkship plans they make may become moot.
You can track federal judicial vacancies, nominations, and confirmations through the following websites:
- http://www.law.yale.edu/outside/scr/library/nom/index.asp (Yale Law School): This site is great for tracking nominations and confirmations. The site also links to the Senate Judiciary Committee site and the site of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. If you click on the "DOJ Status Page" at the bottom of the page, you will be taken to the Office of Legal Policy site, which posts biographical information and endorsements (e.g., newspaper editorials) for pending nominees. The site also contains a link to the THOMAS (Library of Congress online) search engine for nominations.
- www.senate.gov/~judiciary/nominations.cfm (U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary): This site is best for watching the progression of nominees through the various steps. Note that pending nominations are listed after confirmed nominations.
- www.usdoj.gov/olp/judicialnominations.htm (U.S. Department of Justice): The main page is good for an overview of judicial action nationally. Follow the link for "nominations" to find bios of nominees.
- www.uscourts.gov/vacancies/judgevacancy.htm (Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts): This site is good for an overview of vacancies, categorized by circuit. Note that district court vacancies are listed under each circuit.
- www.law.umich.edu/currentstudents/careerservices/nomdb.htm (University of Michigan Law School): This site is good for tracking both nominations and confirmations, and to find out the mailing addresses of newly-confirmed judges.
For state court vacancies, you may want to try each court's web site.
Many judges are also quite interested in hiring clerks with a few years' work experience after they graduate. Therefore, if you decide that you want to clerk at a later date, be sure to check all the resources mentioned in these clerkship materials, along with the Career Services on-line Job Bank. A clerkship may be a wonderful way for you to transition from one job to another. In addition, for bar-member graduates with a few years' experience, salaries at the federal level can be $20,000 or more higher than for new graduates!