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Sample Solicited Application Letter Without Resume


Sample Solicited Application Letter Without Resume document sample

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									                              JUDICIAL CLERKSHIPS

         Judicial clerkships are normally one- to two-year post graduate positions which provide
invaluable learning experience and serve as a strong foundation for launching a legal career. Clerks
work closely with judges, which is one of the reasons why law firms are so interested in hiring judicial
clerks (in fact, most large law firms will leave open an offer for a permanent position if a student
obtains one of the more prestigious clerkships).

          Federal clerkships are extremely competitive and are based largely on academic credentials
and law review or other journal experience. Some federal judges and state supreme court judges,
however, will consider students without journal experience if they have other special qualities or
experience that demonstrates strong writing ability. Generally, it is somewhat easier to obtain a
clerkship position in state courts, which also provide an excellent learning experience. These clerkships
are still generally very competitive.


        Clerks assist their judges in all aspects of the decision-making process: they conduct legal
research, write memoranda, draft opinions, observe trial proceedings and sit in on conferences. In
large part, however, your responsibility as a clerk depends on the judge with whom you are working.
Certain judges delegate more work, keeping particular work for themselves. Some judges have and give
more administrative tasks to their clerks. Because certain judges have opted to employ a clerk rather
than a secretary, their clerks have a mix of responsibilities. There are judges who involve their clerks
in more judicial activities, including continuing ed programs, conferences, and judges’ meetings.

        What Every Clerk Does:
               1.     Research legal issues.
               2.     Act as courtroom clerk.
               3.     Schedule and communicate with counsel for opposing parties.
               4.     Conduct settlement and discovery conferences with counsel.
               5.     Meet with judges and clerks.
               6.     Write speeches and memos.
               7.     Draft opinions.
               8.     Edit.
               9.     Analyze legal issues.
               10.    Perform cite checks.

        What Appellate Clerks Do:
              <       More research, writing, solitude;
              <       Work on fewer matters for longer periods of time;
              <       Higher expectation for work product;
              <       Draft bench memos, opinions, dissents;
              <       Execute administrative duties;
              <       Screen cases;
              <       Assist judge/sit in on oral arguments;
              <       Gain knowledge of argument, appreciation of record & of compromise of panel
                               of judges

        What Trial Clerks Do:
               <       More time in court, more comfortable in court;
               <       More knowledge of procedure;
               <       More interaction with people, including lawyers, court personnel and witnesses;
               <       Attend oral arguments;
               <       Draft opinions and orders;
               <       Assist judge during trial;
               <       Responsible for more matters - less time to research and to polish writing;
               <       Write jury instructions and jury questions; and
               <       Develop appreciation for effective lawyering.

        Other Specific/Special Court Clerks:
               <       Pro Se clerks: Trial or appellate level, file papers & process claims of pro se
               <       Motions clerk at appellate level
               <       Clerkships comparable to staff attorneys: permanent/long-term positions
               <       Special Courts: limited jurisdiction (i.e. tax court, federal claims court,
                                       bankruptcy court, land court).


Judicial clerkships have inherent value in terms of law career development. As a clerk, you will have
many career development opportunities, such as:
        1.       Meeting and networking with other clerks.
        2.       Mentoring by judges.
        3.       Gaining knowledge of wide variety of cases.
        4.       Developing the ability to handle high volume of cases.
        5.       Learning about legal community.
        6.       Gaining insight into what makes a good brief or persuasive argument.


        <       Clerkships make candidates more valuable, but are not a necessity for firm employment.
        <       Having a clerkship can help in hiring decisions when the employer is on the fence about
                a candidate.
        <       Clerks are viewed as more confident, with more effective writing skills, and may know
                important details about area courts & judges.

       <        Clerks sometimes have a harder time adjusting to junior associate status in firms.
       <        Their experience is only as good as the judge and court in which they clerked.
       <        More than 2 post-graduate clerkships is usually a turn-off to firms. They believe that this
                        1. Candidate may be more focused on academics, not working in firms.
                        2. Candidate may be putting off working at firms.
                        3. Candidate may not last long in a firm.


        Due to the lack of a uniform application process, seeking judicial clerkship positions can be
confusing. The following approach is meant to assist you in finding your way through the maze:

        1.       Identify your preferred geographic region, state, and city.

        2.       Make a chart listing the following information and check off each part of the application
                 as it is completed:
                 A         Names of the judges and courts;
                 B.        Addresses;
                 C.        Initial application date; and
                 D.        Requirements for each court or judge, using the resources available to you in
                           the Judicial Section of the Career Services Office’s Resource Library and on the
                           CSO website.

        3.       Check with the Career Services Office, the Career Advisory Network, and/or members of
                 the Faculty Judicial Clerkships Committee to obtain contact information for NESL
                 graduates who may have served in your preferred court.

        4.       Make an appointment with a member of the Faculty Judicial Clerkship Committee to
                 review your application package (cover letter, resume, writing sample) and possibly to
                 practice interviewing.


                                     UNTIL AFTER LABOR DAY
                                  THEIR LAST YEAR OF SCHOOL.

        Ancient CSO Secret:      Not all federal judges follow this rule, so you should check application
                                 deadlines for judges of interest in the late spring of your 2nd year to
                                 make sure you don’t miss a deadline. Application deadlines vary
                                 dramatically among the courts.

   Where do I find FEDERAL clerkship postings?
        FLCIS - Federal Law Clerk Information System: This website both allows applicants to view
        vacancies posted by federal judges from around the country year-round and provides additional
        insight about employment as a federal judicial law clerk. Both students and alumni can search
        this site for clerkship postings at any time, and applications are to be sent directly to judges of
        interest. https://lawclerks.ao.uscourts.gov/

        OSCAR – On-line System for Clerkship Applications and Review: Students may apply for
        federal clerkships using OSCAR, The On-line System for Clerkship Application and Review. OSCAR

       is a web-based system that enables clerkship applicants to file complete applications and
       recommenders to file letters of recommendation online. Applicants designate the OSCAR-
       participating judges to whom they wish to apply.

       Three hundred eighty-five (385) federal judges initially signed up to use this system in the
       summer of 2005. Students interested in applying to those judges must do so using OSCAR. All
       other judicial clerkships may be applied for using the traditional methods. Students may see a
       complete list of OSCAR-participating judges here: http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/oscar-

              WARNING: Judges participating in OSCAR may or may not be listed in the FLCIS and
                       some judges that are listed in FLCIS may not indicate current clerkships.
                       Participation in both systems is voluntary. Every effort was made to get the
                       judges listed in FLCIS to update their announcements. All the judges listed in
                       OSCAR have at least one vacancy with a few minor exceptions. These include
                       two or three judges that signed up for OSCAR and were loaded into the
                       system, but later indicated that they do not have an open position for this
                       hiring cycle. Theses clerkships will be designated as closed in OSCAR.

       To use OSCAR, visit https://oscar.symplicity.com/ and click on the “Application Registration”
       tab to create a profile with contact, background, and educational information. From that point,
       you can upload application materials, research clerkship vacancies, and submit applications. A
       complete user manual for OSCAR is available here:

WARNING: It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify the relevant date for each court.
                                (See “Information and Resource Material” below.)

How do I find out about STATE court clerkships?

       State courts typically hire their clerks in the mid summer to early fall of the applicant’s final
       year as well, and they do so in two different ways.

       POOL SYSTEM: State trial courts employing a pool system (e.g. all of the Massachusetts state
       courts – Superior, Probate & Family, Juvenile, etc.) put one posting up for that entire court
       system; so, for example, if you wanted to work for the MA Probate & Family Court, you would
       submit one application instead of applying directly to each individual judge. Typically pool
       system applications are solicited during the mid-summer to early fall of the applicant’s final
       year and are generally posted.

       INDIVIDUAL APPLICATIONS: If the state in which you want to work does not have a pool
       system, then you will need to identify each individual judge of interest and contact them
       directly to find out about their application process. Some states, like New Jersey, will provide
       lists of judges who are actively looking for clerks and others will post on jobsites, while most
       leave it to students to fend for themselves. The CSO has numerous state clerkship directories in
       the office and on-line at http://www.nesl.edu/CSO/fedjobs.cfm, such as:
                 The Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures (on-line)
                 American Bench: Judges of the Nation (in CSO)

               Directory of State Court Clerks & County Courthouses (in CSO)
               BNA’s Directory of State and Federal Courts, Judges, and Clerks (in CSO)
               Federal-State Court Directory (in CSO)
               Judicial Yellow Book (in CSO)
               Supreme Court Justices, Illustrated Biographies (in CSO)
               Judicial Staff Directory (on-line)
               National Center for State Courts (on-line)

       Students should call the chambers of the judges in which they are interested in applying to find
       out if those judges are currently hiring judicial clerks. Writing to the courts for this information
       is not recommended.


       The usual application for a clerkship consists of the following (but the applicant should check
       each court’s requirements carefully for possible discrepancies):

       1.      Cover letter emphasizing legal research, writing skills and experience.

               Cover letter format:     The Honorable Elle Woods

                                        RE:     Application for (Position)

                                        Dear Judge Woods:
       2.      Resume

       3.      An official law school transcript- please check your transcript before requesting that it
               be sent to any court. Make sure that all of your courses and grades are accurately
               recorded and that your class rank is current.

       4.      Reference letters- preferably from law school faculty and legal employers.

       5.      Legal writing samples - The samples should be of modest size and should reflect
               technical, analytical, and writing skills. A short memorandum of law (6 to 8 pages)
               covering one or two legal issues is usually considered ideal. A longer document runs the
               danger of not being read. (Most judges would prefer a writing sample that is similar to
               judicial opinions or memoranda rather than a published, edited law review article.)



       Professor Ticcioni and Professor Sorenson and the New England School of Law Judicial Clerkship
Committee members are available to counsel students who are considering judicial clerkships, in such
matters as:

      1.      Targeting appropriate courts;
      2.      Critiquing cover letters and resumes;
      3.      Selecting and packaging appropriate writing samples; and
      4.      Conducting mock interviews.


      *       Get to know law school faculty personally.
      *       Take paper classes, not just exam classes.
      *       Try to make Law Review or Law Journal.
      *       Ask everyone you know about judges they know.
      *       Check CSO hard copy and on-line resources.
      *       Check the status of judicial clerkship postings & deadlines frequently.
      *       Do a summer judicial internship.
      *       Write to judicial appointees with whom you would be interested in working.

      ANCIENT CSO SECRET: Get your application materials together and finalized in the EARLY
                          SUMMER, especially with regard to letters of recommendation (those
                          typically take the longest to gather). If you wait until the last minute,
                          you will most likely not make application deadlines in time due to the
                          extensive nature of typical clerkship applications.


      You will be interviewed in one of two ways:
              For Pool System Applications:
                      First Round: by the Court Clerk
                      Second Round: by a Panel of Judges

              For Individual Applications:
                      First Round: by the Court Clerk or Judge
                      Second Round (optional): by the Judge

          •   Please keep in mind that most judges do not ask questions. (Usually the court clerk will
              hold a more formal first interview with specific questions before you get to see the
              judge for a second interview.) Judges prefer to carry on a conversation.

          •   By thoughtfully preparing for the interviews, the applicant can frequently control both
              the content and the tone of the conversation.

          •   For general interview questions, please review the Successful Interviewing chapter.

          •   The following questions are geared toward a judicial clerkship interview.

              1.      Please give me the arguments to strike down the exclusionary rule.
              2.      Why do you want to be a judicial law clerk? What do you expect to get out of it?
              3.      Why do you want to be a clerk in this particular court?
              4.      What do you know about what clerks do in a trial (appellate, etc.) court?

5.   What can you bring to the position of judicial clerk?
6.   Describe your relevant experience.
7.   What are three legal issues for which you hold strong opinions?
8.   What would you do if you were expected to write a legal memorandum on an
     issue you oppose?
9.   Do you have any questions? (Always have questions!)


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