Selecting Judges

How Do I Select the Courts and Judges to Which to Apply?

Before you even begin the clerkship application process, you should spend time thinking about the type of clerkship that best fits with your ultimate career goals, and where you hope to eventually practice (e.g., if you are interested in immigration law, you should focus on courts located at ports-of-entry or boarder states; if you are interested in administrative law, you should focus on courts in the District of Columbia). Also consider the differing experiences provided by the various types/levels of court and which experiences best fit your personality and interests (e.g., an appellate court in a more cloistered environment involving intensive research and writing versus a trial court in a more dynamic environment involving contact with attorneys and litigants, factual issues, juries and bench proceedings).

You should also think about the type of person for whom you would like to work, particularly because the working relationship between judge and clerk tends to be close. For example, do you want to work for a judge who provides a lot of oversight and feedback or one who is more hands-off and allows you to be relatively independent? Does it matter to you if a judge is liberal, conservative, or moderate?

There are no comprehensive written resources to help you discover this type of personal information about judges. However, you can find out a great deal about a judge's style and philosophy by asking professors, attorneys whom you know or with whom you work, and/or current and former clerks. It is particularly important to do as much of this advance investigation as possible before you apply; unlike most employers, judges frequently require you act upon an offer quickly – sometimes on the spot or within one or two days – and you do not want to be placed in an uncomfortable and awkward position if you ultimately receive an offer from a judge for whom you later determine you do not wish to work.


  • Print
  • Personal
  • On-line

Miscellaneous Considerations

  • Prestige
  • Locale
  • Term Length
  • Senior Judges
  • Chief Judges
  • Ideology
  • Personality

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