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The federal judicial clerkship application process has opened for the 2017-2018 term. For 2Ls requesting recommendation letters and researching judges and courts, here are some tips from 2014 graduates who were successful in securing federal clerkships:

Recommendation Letters

“My best advice would first be to pick professors who can say something substantive about you personally. Make sure your recommendation is from a professor who can speak to your work performance outside of a typical classroom setting (e.g., as a research assistant). Ask professors early for recommendations so they have sufficient time to prepare. Reach out to faculty and Valerie L’Herrou for inside advice on specific judges before an interview.”
— Julie Hoffmeister (L’14)

“Make an appointment to ask professors in person for a recommendation. Then follow up with an email thanking them and attaching your resume and grade list, and any requested information such as a writing sample. Give them lots of time to complete the letters (one month or more) and a hard deadline of when you plan to send out applications. Then send a reminder e-mail a week or ten days before the letter is due.”
— Ashley Peterson  (L’14)

“I included references on all of my applications, and this was huge in getting my clerkship. My judge’s career clerk immediately recognized the name of one of my references as someone she had worked with years before. As soon as I was offered the interview, my reference called the judge’s chambers the same day, which impressed the clerk and gave her once less thing to do. It still seems like everyone knows everyone else in the legal community, so if you have people who are willing to be a reference for you, get their names out there, because you never know what doors they’ll open.”
— Brooke Conkle  (L’14)

Research Judges and Courts

“I found the library’s copy of the judicial yellow pages very useful. It includes biographical information about judges that might be harder to find online. It also has information about their clerks that can be useful, for example, if you are not sure how to spell their last names for thank you notes.”
— Jonathan Tan  (L’14)

“It was really helpful to meet with recent Richmond Law alums and 3Ls who had gone through the process to ask about the application process, what judges are looking for, etc.”
— Brooke Conkle  (L’14)