Explore Your Legal Career

with the United States Courts

Explore Federal Judicial Clerkships and Staff Attorney Positions

As you begin your legal career, consider gaining valuable experience through a judicial clerkship or staff attorney position with the United States Courts.

The Unites States Courts are composed of 13 circuits and 94 districts across the country, including appellate courts, district courts, bankruptcy courts, and courts of special jurisdiction, as well as probation and pretrial services offices and federal public defenders' offices. The federal courts have jurisdiction over cases involving the United States government, the Constitution or federal laws, and controversies between states, between citizens of different states, or between the United States government and foreign governments. As a law clerk or staff attorney with the United States Courts, you can play an important role in helping safeguard the constitutional rights and liberties of the public.

Law clerks and staff attorneys:

  • Review case records and filings
  • Conduct legal research
  • Provide judges and panels with legal advice
  • Prepare bench memos and orders
  • Propose disposition of cases
  • Draft opinions for panels

Citizenship Requirements

Current law for employment in the judiciary requires paid employees to be:

  • A U.S. citizen;
  • A person who owes allegiance to the U.S. (i.e., nationals of American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and nationals who meet other requirements described in 8 U.S.C. 1408);
  • A person admitted as a refugee or granted asylum who has filed a declaration of intention to become a lawful permanent resident and then a citizen when eligible; or
  • A lawful permanent resident who is seeking citizenship as outlined in 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3)(B).

To comply with the requirement in the fourth bullet above and for more information, see Citizenship Requirements.


Law Clerks

Law clerks work for one judge as a member of the chambers staff, or on behalf of the court for pro se, death penalty, or bankruptcy appellate panel cases.

Duties and Qualifications

Salary and Benefits

Learn more about salaries and benefits for law clerks here.

Staff Attorneys

Staff attorneys work for multiple judges in an appellate staff attorney office in a court of appeals.

Duties and Qualifications

Salary and Benefits

Learn more about salaries and benefits for staff attorneys here.


Many former law clerks and staff attorneys find that the prestige and experience associated with service as a law clerk or staff attorney broadens their future employment opportunities.

"This is the best experience I could possibly have right out of law school."

"It's the most rewarding experience I can imagine as a young lawyer."

"Ask anyone who’s ever been a law clerk for a federal judge and I think they’re likely to tell you it’s the best job they’ve ever had."

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