If you are invited
to interview, respond to the judge immediately.
Most judges require a personal interview, although a few may permit
telephone or video interviews. Remember,
you are responsible for the associated costs for travel, and neither judges nor
the law school will be able to reimburse you for those expenses.
may vary in length from 15 minutes to two hours, and the format will differ
depending on the judge. Interviews can
range from informal, personal conversations to intense formal examinations with
As with any other
interview, this is your time to shine, and show the judge (and his or her
staff) that you are a good fit with their office and the right candidate for
the job. For general interview tips, see
the OCP’s “Interview Skills” handout (available on USFLawlink.com under Resources). Here are some specific pointers for clerkship
Before the Interview
- Do your research! Research the judge so that you are familiar with his or her opinions, dissents, and personal history. Try to
anticipate areas that the judge may be interested in discussing.
- Prepare thoughtful questions for the judge. For instance, ask about the selection
process, timetable, nature of the judge’s docket, scope of the law clerk’s
responsibilities and time spent on each.
- Talk to others. Talk to faculty, former clerks and
externs with knowledge about the judge.
- Bring materials. Bring extra copies of your application
materials, and any documents the judge may ask for at the interview.
During the Interview
with your materials. Be familiar with
your resume, cover letter and writing sample, as the judge may ask
specific questions about your materials.
and current events. Be prepared to
answer questions about your favorite class or area of law, as well as
legal issues you feel strongly about, and recent or noteworthy opinions
that have been widely publicized or are from the judge’s court.
- Self-awareness. Your answers should express a genuine,
enthusiastic interest in the specific clerkship and should show that you
have done your research on the judge and court. Expect questions about how the clerkship
fits into your short and long-term career goals.
with court staff. Be courteous to
all clerks/staff, as they have input.
The interview might include other members of the judge’s staff. Judges are often sensitive to a
candidate’s ability to get along with the rest of the staff because of the
close personal working relationships in most chambers. Prove to the judge that he or she can
have confidence in your professionalism in interacting with staff, counsel,
litigants and the public.
the position. Be prepared to
accept the position. Many judges,
federal judges in particular, will make offers on the spot.
After the Interview
Immediately following the interview, send a
tailored thank you letter that references something specific that came up
during your discussion and reiterates your enthusiasm for the position.
is an expectation that if you are offered a position in a judge’s chambers you
will accept that position. Once you
accept, withdraw all other outstanding applications, preferably by phone. DO NOT later withdraw your acceptance in favor
of an offer from another judge.
your references, and inform them about the results of your application. Please also inform the OCP about your