Judicial Externships

Judicial externships allow students, beginning the summer after their 1L year, to work in the chambers of a state or federal judge.  These externships provide an opportunity for students to experience intellectual property practice in a real-world setting.  They are also a chance for students to utilize their legal skills by assisting the Judge and his/her law clerks with legal research and the preparation of draft briefs for use in court.  Most students who extern for judges can get academic credit for their work and will get their placement with a judge by applying for the for the placement (and credit) through the Clinical Program.  So, watch for information from the Clinical Program on the summer Judicial Clinic! 

Other judges may not get student-externs directly through the Clinical Program, but accept applications or inquiries from students who are interesting in externing. This can be especially true for judges who are out of Utah.  For instance, Judge Randall Rader, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., is very open to judicial extern applications from both Utah & BYU.  On Wednesday, PDO, SIPLA & Whit Johnson (an attorney with Stoel Rives, LLP), will host a panel on Careers in IP with a focus on judicial externships.  The panelists will provide tips for students on judicial externships with the Federal Circuit, including those with Judge Rader.  Here are some tips based on past panels:

  • Be in contact with the Clinical Program if you think you want to get academic credit for externing with a judge.  
  • Apply or contact desired chambers early if you know you are interested in a specific judge—especially out of state judges–apply as soon as you can beginning in January! 
  • A judge’s clerks play an active role in the hiring process—this is true for judges on the Federal Circuit—so if you can talk to a current or former clerk about what to highlight, all the better.
  • Define in your cover letter exactly when you are available.  Some judges offer 4-6 week externships, allowing you to complete both an externship as well as a legal opportunity elsewhere during the same semester.
  • For Federal Circuit Judges, indicate on your resume and/or cover letter if you have taken the Patent Bar.