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Each judge appoints his or her own personal staff, including law clerks, subject to the qualifications standards adopted by the Judicial Conference of the United States. Law clerks are appointed for a period of at least one year, but not more than four years*. The average appointment is for a two-year term.

The law clerk provides assistance to a judge with administrative and legal tasks. A broad range of duties include legal research, preparing bench memos, drafting orders and opinions, editing and proofreading the judge's orders and opinions, verifying citations, and performing other duties as assigned.

To qualify for the position of law clerk on the personal staff of a federal judge, a person must be a law school graduate (or be certified as having completed all law school studies and requirements and merely awaiting conferment of a degree) from a law school of recognized standing, and have one or more of the following attributes:

  • Standing within the upper third of the law school class from a law school on the approved list of either the American Bar Association or the Association of American Law Schools;
  • Experience on the editorial board of a law review of such a school;
  • Graduation from such a school with an LLM degree; or
  • Demonstrated proficiency in legal studies which in the opinion of the judge is the equivalent of one of the above.

For specific opportunities with individual judges, please consult the hiring policies delineated by the judges on their respective pages of this site or at the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR).


For specific opportunities with individual judges, please consult the hiring policies delineated by the judges on their respective pages of this site.


* Four-year Limitation on Term Law Clerk Service - The Judicial Conference has approved a recommendation that no individual be permitted to serve in the Judiciary for more than (4) years (whether full-time or part-time) in a term law clerk capacity. This is a lifetime limitation; therefore, once a law clerk has served four years as a term law clerk, he or she may not be re-employed within the Judiciary as a term law clerk.

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