State Court Trial-Level Clerkships

In the past few years, several graduates have accepted judicial clerkships in state trial-level courts in Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, New York and other states.  Below are some details on these clerkships—including some current openings.  

Many trial level judges in state court systems hire recent law school graduates as law clerks.  Sometimes, these clerks are shared amongst multiple judges, as is the case in Utah.  In other states, clerks are essentially assigned to one judge.  Sometimes, these trial court clerkships are for an indefinite time period—this is often the case in Utah’s state courts.  Thus, these clerkships in Utah come open any time a current clerk leaves or if there is budget approval to hire an additional clerk.  In other states, they may be for a term or 1, 2, or more years, and postings are often seen in the early part of the spring, or when a current term clerk finds another job.  The time frames for state court, trial level clerkships are generally not as far in advance as appellate clerkships.  In Utah, these jobs are posted like other state jobs, on the state of Utah website, http://statejobspostings.utah.gov/. 

Trial level clerkships may offer the unique opportunity to see ‘day to day’ lawyering –motions argued, trials litigated, and a wide variety of administrative issues.  Clerks often are assigned to conduct research and draft memoranda for their judges.  In addition to substantive work, these clerkships offer the opportunity to make career connections in varied geographical areas while the search for a permanent job continues.  Future employers may find this type of clerkship to be a very practical and appealing background for practicing law.

If this sounds interesting to you, keep these clerkships in mind as you seek post-graduate employment.  Also, read the “How I Got My Job” features on 2011 SJQ alumni Clifford Gravett and Tee Spjute.  Both recently completed state court clerkships—in Pahrump, Nevada and the Second Judicial District in Utah, respectively.  Thus, there are current job openings for clerks in both those areas.  You can find the Pahrump posting on Symplicity right now, and the Second Judicial District posting can be found by going to http://statejobspostings.utah.gov/law-clerk-courts/job/3372856  –it closes August 22.