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Application Process

The application procedures and timelines vary depending on the type of clerkship you are applying for. 

Federal Clerkships: You should begin researching federal clerkship opportunities by the spring of your 2L year.  Most federal clerkship positions are listed on OSCAR (Online System for Clerkship Application and Review) which is a single, centralized resource for notice of available clerkships, clerkship application information, and law clerk employment information. 

  • OSCAR. This system indicates which judges are hiring and which judges are not, as well as the application materials each judge requires, and the method they wish to receive your application (e.g., electronically through OSCAR or hardcopy via U.S. Mail).  If you have any questions about the OSCAR system, please contact OCP or the OSCAR Help Desk at oscar-support@ao.uscourts.gov.
  • Timing.  Federal judges typically follow the timeline set forth in the “Federal Judges Law Clerk Hiring Plan,” which sets the critical dates for application submissions, when candidates can be contacted for interviews, when interviews can begin and offers made.  All of these dates typically occur within the first couple of weeks in September.  Be prepared for a fast-paced clerkship application process.

Remember to apply only to clerkships that you are prepared to accept.  Unlike other offers of employment, there is an expectation that if you are offered a position in a judge’s chambers you will accept that position.

State Clerkships: Unlike federal court judges, state court judges typically do not follow a nationally defined outline for clerkship applications, and may accept applications at any time during the year. 

State judges hire clerks one of two ways:  You apply (1) directly to the individual judge, or (2) centrally to an office that facilitates hiring for judges.  Deadlines vary from court to court and state to state, from the spring of your 2L year to the fall of your 3L year and beyond.  Consult the “Vermont Guide to State Judicial Clerkship Procedures” for hiring practices and deadlines (contact OCP for online access), and also check court websites and call court administrators.

Federal Staff Attorney Positions: Circuit courts now use OSCAR and announce open staff attorney positions on their websites.  Application deadlines vary from court to court.   

Judicial Clerkship Timeline




Keep your grades as high as possible.

Look for opportunities to develop your research and writing skills, and craft a great writing sample.

2L Fall & Spring

Research clerkships and determine application deadlines and materials required.

2L Spring

Attend OCP Judicial Clerkship programming, and speak to an OCP Director about your application plans and materials.

Start applying for state judicial clerkships with spring deadlines.

Familiarize yourself with the federal clerkship application process (OSCAR).

Ask professors and employers to write your letters of recommendation, and work with the Faculty Services Office to facilitate the processing of your faculty recommendations.

2L Summer

Work on your state and federal clerkship applications.

Check OSCAR and federal circuit court websites for staff attorney application deadlines and apply.

3L Fall

Complete federal clerkship applications and upload to OSCAR for distribution by the deadline (usually the day after Labor Day), or send applications via U.S. Mail to be received by this date.

Continue to apply to state judicial clerkships with fall deadlines.

Check federal circuit court websites for staff attorney application deadlines and apply.

3L Winter & Spring

Continue to apply to any remaining clerkship opportunities.