Advice for Students Potentially Interested in Clerkships

For students who are considering judicial clerkships, here are some courses that we recommend and some suggestions regarding research and writing opportunities.

Upper Level Courses:

  • Federal Courts (this is perhaps the one and only “required” course for those contemplating clerking in federal district or appellate courts).
  • Criminal Procedure
  • A course involving the application of a statute/administrative scheme (Antitrust, Securities, Environmental, Tax, Immigration Law, Labor Law, Employment Law--anything involving a complex statute). Similarly, seminars or courses on advanced topics in administrative law.
  • Evidence (this is suggested for those interested in federal district court clerkships).
  • Enroll (early, ideally in your 2L year) in a seminar, colloquium or directed research to complete writing requirements and to have greater opportunities to participate in class discussions, in order to secure a good recommendation from a full-time faculty member.


  • Students will need at least two (and, in some cases, three) recommendations from full-time faculty members. At least one (and ideally two) of the recommenders should be able to comment on the student’s research, analytical, and writing skills. Keep these considerations in mind when selecting seminars or colloquia.
  • Work as a faculty research assistant. A recommendation from a professor for whom you have been a research assistant can be particularly informative and valuable for a judge.
  • Students should aim to write the required Substantial Paper in their 2L year to have a solid writing sample. The Substantial Paper should advance a novel argument on a topic mutually agreed to by the student and professor. Students can write their substantial papers through a seminar, in which case they should sign up for the extra writing credit, or through directed research, which requires that they identify a supervising professor who must approve the paper proposal by a certain deadline each semester.