NOTICE: The Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan has been discontinued, and no further dates are being set. Each judge determines his or her own recruitment and hiring schedule, although judges may wish to coordinate hiring activities and efficiencies, such as setting court-wide interview dates. The OSCAR Working Group judges developed a list of best practices, listed below, for judges' consideration.

Federal Law Clerk Hiring Best Practices

The Federal Law Clerk Hiring Best Practices provide voluntary guidelines for judges when recruiting and hiring clerkship applicants:

  • Support a transparent recruitment process by maintaining OSCAR judge profiles that identify hiring practices and preferences.
  • Examples of hiring preference are available in the sidebar. To register for an OSCAR profile, visit the OSCAR registration page.
  • Consider coordinating hiring activities and efficiencies such as setting court-wide interview dates. Post interview dates in each OSCAR judge profile.
  • Use video conferencing or electronic face-to-face interviews in lieu of in-person interviews when feasible. Judges may wish to consult with their clerks of court regarding the video conferencing process and cost.
  • Inform applicants of clerkship offer policies or practices and do not require an applicant to accept an offer immediately without reasonable time to weigh it against other viable offers. This does not prohibit an applicant from accepting an offer on the spot.
  • Choose online, fax, or paper application methods rather than requiring applications submitted by email due to the hardship emailing applications places on law schools and applicants.
  • Consider visiting law schools with a minority student population to share recruitment practices and insights about the law clerk hiring process. These visits may encourage more minority law school students to pursue federal clerkships and further the Judiciary’s goal of reflecting the communities it serves.

Frequently Asked Questions About Law Clerk Hiring Best Practices

Q: What are the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Best Practices?
A: The Federal Law Clerk Hiring Best Practices (Best Practices) are voluntary guidelines for all federal judges, including circuit judges, district judges, bankruptcy judges, and magistrate judges.  The Best Practices do not involve Supreme Court Justices.

Q: How can applicants determine whether a judge has a clerkship vacancy or if a judge is currently recruiting law clerks?
A: OSCAR allows prospective law clerk applicants to search a national database of federal law clerk vacancies.  All federal judges are encouraged to list their vacancies on the site and indicate if they do not have a vacancy and are not accepting applications.  Users may obtain a list of OSCAR participating judges and their application methods.  The OSCAR judge profile lists a judge’s hiring practices and preferences, including whether or not the judge is currently recruiting law clerks. 

Q: When is the law clerk hiring period?
A: Each judge determines his or her own recruitment and hiring schedule, although judges in a court may collectively choose to conduct interviews during an agreed-upon period.

Q: May judges hire law students or law graduates for law clerk positions for years beyond the next immediate court term?
A: Yes.  Judges can post future positions in OSCAR and both law school students and law graduates can apply to such positions. 

Q: When can a judge make an offer to an applicant and how much time does an applicant have to respond to an offer?
A: Judges may offer positions at any time according to their own schedules.  Judges individually decide their clerkship offer terms and post their hiring preferences and practices in their OSCAR judge profiles.  Judges using Best Practices do not require an applicant to accept an offer immediately without reasonable time to weigh it against other viable offers.  This does not prohibit an applicant from accepting an offer on the spot.  Law schools remind their students that they need not accept the first offer that they receive; rather, applicants are counseled to weigh any offer against other viable options that remain open to them.