If you are interested in a specialized legal area, consider doing a judicial clerkship with a specialty court. You will not only reap the benefits of doing a judicial clerkship (enhanced research and writing skills, mentor relationship with a judge, insider knowledge of the courts), but you will also gain expertise in the specialty area of the court. Below is a list of specialty courts adapted from the March issue of the NALP bulletin.
U.S. Bankruptcy Courts: tax, commercial and consumer law (Note: 3L Ryan White will be doing a judicial clerkship with Judge Robert Opel II in the Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He is willing to be a resource to students considering judicial clerkships with bankruptcy courts.)
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces: reviews court martial convictions
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit: IP
U.S. Tax Court
U.S. Court of International Trade: international trade and customs issues
U.S. Court of Veteran Appeals: appeals involving benefits
U.S. Court of Federal Claims: claims against U.S., including claims for money damages and disputes over federal contracts
State specialty courts, such as Delaware’s Court of Chancery or the Tax Court of New Jersey
Administrative Law Judges (ALJs): used by over 30 federal departments and agencies to conduct formal hearings and issue decisions. Agencies using ALJs include the National Labor Relations Board, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, and many more. For more information on the agencies using ALJs and their contact information, see www.faljc.org
If you attended the Clerks on Clerkships panel that PDO sponsored last month, you know that the panelists recommend that you carefully research a judge before applying. This not only prepares you for potential interviews, but it also helps you to avoid applying to a judge from whom you would not want to accept a clerkship. (Remember, if you are offered a clerkship, protocol strongly suggests that you accept.) Standard resources for researching judicial clerkships include Oscar, the Northwest Consortium Judicial Clerkship database, and state court websites. Another helpful research tool is the “Courtlink” database available through Lexis/Nexis, which has search components in the areas of nature of suit, court profile, and judicial profile.