About the Federal Judiciary

Federal Judiciary

The United 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.

Court of appeals judges, district court judges, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges work to ensure equal justice under the law. Article III of the Constitution governs the appointment of court of appeals judges and district judges. These judges, known as “Article III judges,” are nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Bankruptcy judges are judicial officers appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the district where they preside exclusively over bankruptcy proceedings and cases. Magistrate judges are judicial officers of the district court appointed by the district judges of the court to handle a variety of judicial proceedings.

Learn more about the United States Courts and federal judges.

Federal law clerks and staff attorneys support federal judges in helping safeguard the constitutional rights and liberties of the public. Duties of law clerks and staff attorneys include reviewing case records and filings, conducting legal research, providing judges and panels with legal advice, preparing bench memos and orders, proposing disposition of cases, drafting opinions for panels, and more.

Learn more about the duties of federal law clerks.



The Judicial Conference of the United States established the minimum qualifications for law clerks and staff attorneys.

Learn more about qualifications.



Salaries are determined by the Judiciary Salary Plan for law clerks and the Court Personnel System for staff attorneys.

Learn more about salary.



Benefits depend upon type of appointment for law clerk and staff attorney positions.

Learn more about benefits.


Citizenship Requirements

Citizenship requirements apply to federal clerks and staff attorneys.

Learn more about citizenship requirements.