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Fifth Circuit Federal Clerkship Application Period Approaching

By Robyn Hagan Cain on August 18, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Beyoncé tells us that it's girls who run the world.

The repetitiveness of Miss B's declaration over the course of four minutes at the gym this morning prompted us to consider who really runs a number of different institutions, like Congress, dog shows, child beauty pageants, and the DMV.

At least we know who runs the federal courts: clerks. Sure, judges make the decisions, but clerks do the legwork on most opinions. A federal clerkship is an opportunity to leave an indelible mark on justice... just without your name anywhere to be found.

It's once again that time of year when every 3L is scrambling for a federal clerkship, the powdered sugar atop the beignet of legal academia. (Sure, we could have gone with the cherry/ice cream sundae comparison, but it's a tired analogy, and this is a Fifth Circuit blog. Go N'awlins!)

Here's what you need to know about the federal clerkship application.

First, if you are still a law student, you have to be in your third year to apply.

Second, the clerkship application period opens on September 6, 2011 under the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan. Considering that the hiring plan states three times that no applications or materials should be submitted to the circuit before September 6, 2011, we suspect that judges who use the hiring plan are serious about September 6.

Judges can start contacting applicants to schedule interviews three days later on September 9, and you could be interviewing for a federal clerkship as soon as September 15. If you really impress a judge, you could have a job offer the same day.

Now about those judges who don't use the hiring plan.

Judges may hire off-plan, and it frequently happens in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Six judges on the Fifth Circuit hired at least one clerk off-plan between 2009 and 2010, according to Law Clerk Addict. For more information on hiring practices with a specific judge's office, check out the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR) or contact the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

What does this mean for you? If you don't already have your cover letters, resumes, recommendations, transcripts, and writing samples assembled for your clerkship application, you need to move quickly. A federal clerkship could be the start of something big, so don't miss this opportunity.

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