Judicial internships and clerkships are excellent ways to gain experience in the legal profession. Judicial clerkships are usually one-to two-year positions in which law school graduates work closely with judges. These positions are available at all levels from county trial courts to the United States Supreme Court. The hiring criteria vary by level and, generally, the higher the court, the more competitive the positions become. Judicial clerkships are excellent positions because you become familiar with the trial process and gain valuable hands-on experience early in your career. These are great positions for students looking to transition into smaller and larger firms after the clerkship. It also allows the opportunity to take a position while you await bar exam results.
Appellate and trial courts provide different types of work and you should meet with a counselor to research these before you apply. Traditionally, law clerks who work in trial courts gain significant opportunities to engage in the trial advocacy process and observe courtroom proceedings; whereas law clerks in appellate courts spend most of their time researching and writing briefs. Competition for clerkships, especially at the higher state court and federal level, is very fierce and you should meet with a counselor in the fall of your second year to discuss your clerkship strategy.
Judicial internships are an excellent way for first-year students to gain exposure to the court system in their first summer and many second-year students also work with judges during the school year. Almost all of the courts in Maryland and the DC Superior Court, as well as many of the federal courts take first-year students as judicial interns. We recommend that you apply for those positions in early in the spring semester. Students seeking school-year judicial internships with judges should apply at least three months before they wish to work with the judge.