Clerkship Update

Clerkship Update Quicklinks

Upcoming Deadlines


State Clerkship Deadlines

Monday, July 22, 2013

  • Request an official transcript from the Registrar's Office on the St. Paul Campus (
  • Email Dan Winterlin at to request an official letter certifying your class rank is sent to the Court.
  • Request that your letters of recommendation be mailed to the Court.
    • If you have already requested letters of recommendation for federal clerkships you still need to talk to your recommender and let them know you are applying for state clerkships. Letters will need to be mailed to the Court so check with your recommender if they would like to mail the letter or if Dan should mail the letter. 
  • Notify Dan Winterlin at who your recommenders are and who is responsible for mailing the letters to the Court.
    • The Courts prefer that recommenders send letters directly to the Court. However, applicants may send letters if the letters are in envelopes sealed and signed by the recommender.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

  • Deadline to apply for the Minnesota Supreme Court and Court of Appeals 

The Value of a Judicial Clerkship

A judicial clerk works with a judge in his/her chambers after earning a J.D.  The judicial clerk essentially acts as the judge’s personal attorney

There are two types of judicial clerks:

  • Career clerks are hired by a judge for a permanent position.
  • The most common types of clerks are generally recent law school graduates who accept a clerkship for a term of one to two years.

Judicial clerkships are available at all levels of the state and federal court systems.

It is important to note that judicial clerkships are different from judicial externships.  Judicial externs may work for a judge while still in law school.  In fact, this is an excellent way to get hands on experience in a judge’s chambers if you are thinking about clerking after graduation.  You can earn class credit while gaining a glimpse of what it might be like to be a judicial clerk.  In addition, judicial externships allow you to make a connection with a judge and his/her clerks which often leads to future clerkship opportunities.  To learn more about judicial externships, visit the judicial externship webpage.

Responsibilities of a Judicial Clerk

A judicial clerk’s responsibilities can vary from court to court, but the law clerk generally acts as a liaison between the judge and the attorneys or litigants.  Other typical responsibilities of a law clerk include:

  • Conducting legal research
  • Crafting bench memoranda for pretrial motions and advising the judge on the resolution of these issues
  • Assisting in drafting of opinions and the conducting of conferences, hearings and trials
  • Depending on the judge, law clerks are responsible for various administrative and clerical duties 


With the costs of attending law school rising, many students wonder about the financial aspects whether they can afford to do a clerkship.  Before placing too much emphasis on the bottom line, consider the non-monetary benefits as well.  One approach is to view a judicial clerkship as another year of law school – a year that will likely give you a permanent boost to your career.  Employers highly value judicial clerks and a clerkship may open doors to employment options or jobs that would not otherwise be available to you.  Think of a clerkship as an investment in your career. 

Compensation varies between courts.  The following link is a resource detailing compensation for judicial clerks: 

What Judges Are Looking for in a Law Clerk

Strong academic performance is important, but the clerkship process is not focused exclusively on grades.  However, it is a very competitive process and it is important to be realistic about your application strategy.  Different courts have different criteria for judicial clerks, some more competitive than others.  The higher the court, the more competitive the clerkship application process.

Federal clerkships tend to be more competitive than state clerkships.  Considerable weight is typically given to the applicant’s academic record and writing ability evidenced by law journal membership, other opportunities that allowed the applicant to develop his/her writing skills, e.g., courses that require papers or briefs, research assistant positions, participating in a writing competition, etc.  Given that judges set their own hiring criteria and each applicant is considered individually, it is difficult to give a definitive grade or experience cutoff.

To be a federal judicial clerk, an applicant must have completed his or her J.D. degreed and be a U.S. citizen.  A non-citizen of the United States may be employed by the federal judiciary to work for courts located in Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaii.  For additional information regarding the employment of non-United States citizens consult the US Office of Personnel Management website

Information on the hiring criteria for a number of federal judges is available at the OSCAR page on [insert link] for federal law clerks. 

If you are interested in applying for a clerkship, make an appointment with CPD ( to discuss specific questions about qualifications. 


Minnesota Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Required Materials

Application Form                                    

You'll need to apply online directly at the MN Courts Employment website. You'll fill out an application form and attach your resume and writing sample to it.

You will need to submit two applications if you'd like to be considered for both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.


Don't forget, you are always welcome to have your resume reviewed at CPD!  Email or call 651-962-4860 to set up an appointment today.


The Courts require an official copy of your transcript.  You will need to fill out a transcript request form and request that it is sent directly to the Court.  Information can be found at the UST Registrar's Office website.

Two official transcripts should be sent, one to each of the Courts.

Class Rank Letter

Please email Dan Winterlin at by July 22, 2013 to request an official letter certifying your class rank be sent to the Court.  Be sure to indicate clearly that you are requesting your class ranking be sent to the MN Supreme Court, MN Court of Appeals or both for your clerkship application. Once completed, the letter will be sent directly to the Courts for you.

Legal Writing Sample

When choosing a writing sample, your top goal should be to select the best sample of your writing.  Law school assignments are acceptable, but if you have a sample from a law job, you can use that as well.  Generally, writing samples should be 8-10 pages in length.  Be sure to include cover sheet with a heading and introduction to your writing sample.

Minnesota Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Optional Materials

Cover Letter

Though cover letters are not required, please consider including one indicating what you are applying for, the materials you are including and any components that are arriving separately.

It is up to you whether to provide more detail in the cover letter.  Deborah Straus in Behind the Bench recommends that cover letters be short, sweet and to the point.  Not all judges and justices agree with this.  Some, such as Justice Paul Anderson, suggest you can use your cover letter to explain yourself and "come alive."  Whatever you decide, make sure it is well written.  You are better off with a well-written brief letter than one that is slightly longer but poorly written.

Write one cover letter per court, and address it either "Dear Honorable Judges" for the Court of Appeals or "Dear Honorable Justices" for the Supreme Court.

Recommendation Letters

Even though letters of recommendation are not required, they are preferred. Only one copy of each letter per court is required.  You'll need separate letters for each court, addressed "Dear Honorable Justices" to the Supreme Court Justices or "Dear Honorable Judges" to Court of Appeals Judges as appropriate.  The court administration will make the necessary copies and distribute them to each judge or justice.

The Courts prefer that recommenders send letters directly to the Court. However, applicants may send letters if the letters are in envelopes sealed and signed by the recommender.

Letters to the Minnesota Court of Appeals should be sent to:

Minnesota Judicial Center
Human Resources Department, Rm G30
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, MN 55155 

Letters to the Minnesota Supreme Court should be sent to: 

Minnesota Judicial Center
Human Resources Department, Rm. G08
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

Contact Dan Winterlin at or 651-962-4995 to request to have your letters sent to the Minnesota Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.