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How to Describe a Judicial Clerkship in a Resume

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Every year, scores of law students and graduates work as clerks for city, state and federal judges across the United States. Working for a judge is a high honor that adds instant credibility to your resume for future employment positions, particularly in the legal realm. Keeping track of the various duties you carried out during the clerkship is a good way to have this information at hand when you need to add it to a resume.

Identify whether you work for a trial judge or an appellate judge. The duties of the clerks in these courts differ. Trial courts hear civil and criminal cases, while appellate courts review the decisions made by lower-level trial courts. Because the appellate court is focused on research and writing, the duties of an appellate court clerk are more narrow than those of a trial court clerk.

Write down a list of duties that you carried out during the court of your clerkship. For example, if you work for an appellate court, you are likely engaged in a large number of research and writing projects, leading to written appellate briefs. You also may have reviewed records from the trial court, looked at each parties' briefs, researched applicable laws and drafted memorandums of law or judicial opinions. If you clerked for a trial court, you likely helped settle discovery disputes, helped with settlements conferences and assisted with trials. You also likely drafted trial briefs and opinions, along with communication with attorneys and witnesses.

Describe these activities in your resume in simple, plain language. No matter how you choose to format your resume, include the most important tasks. Include enough detail for a prospective employer to understand the significance and reach of your work. For example, you may have conducted legal research and drafted numerous memorandum opinions for a chief judge. Describe this position in a format similar to the following: "Conducted research and drafted eight memorandum opinions for the court's chief judge."


Nicholas Smith has written political articles for, "The Daily Californian" and other publications since 2004. He is a former commissioner with the city of Berkeley, Calif. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California-Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from St. John's University School of Law.

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