Although everyone is aware of the benefits of clerking for a federal judge, too many students overlook the tremendous opportunity of being a clerk in the New Jersey state courts. First, the opportunities for a judicial clerkship are plentiful, with over 400 trial and appellate Superior Court judges in New Jersey compared to just 35 federal district court and magistrate judges in New Jersey.
Finding outside scholarships was much easier than I expected. I was surprised to learn how much funding is available for current students. Each scholarship has a different criterion. Sometimes scholarships are geared towards students pursuing an area of law, such as health law, criminal law or public interest. Sometimes scholarships are geared towards a category of students such as women, first generation law students, or New Jersey residents.
College students considering law school often ask which major will prepare them for success in law school. The answer is simple: choose a major that challenges you, requires you to think deeply, broadens your horizons, and sparks your passion.
Congratulations! You have a judicial clerkship interview. You studied hard, earned good grades, wrote a stellar judicial clerkship cover letter, and submitted an application that rose to the top of a very large pile. Now what? How do you land that coveted clerkship? These tips will help you stand out for all the right reasons:
Students planning to attend law school have a variety of success indicators they should consider when choosing where to apply, and many resources with which to consult. Most of these are based on raw data: location, numbers, scholarship retention, rankings, and employment rates. But one is not. It’s a factor that no internet source, brochure, or twitter feed can give you information about, and may, in many cases, be the most important factor. Let’s get to the data first:
One of the most sought-after credentials for students currently in Law School, is Journal membership. How many Journals a particular Law School may host varies considerably, but Seton Hall Law School is home to only three: The Seton Hall Law Review, Seton Hall Circuit Review, and the Seton Hall Legislative Journal. All three Journals are tremendously prestigious, and the small number ensures that only truly worthy members will be invited to join.
I was a member of the Interscholastic Moot Court Board while I was a student at Seton Hall Law, and I competed in three moot court competitions during that time. Moot Court enables students to compete against other schools to learn how to present issues and mock arguments before panels of practitioners and real judges. The students get scored on their performance. Through Moot Court, we learned the essential skill of presenting our case, speaking persuasively and clearly before an appellate panel. The process involves getting questions from professors and practitioners, who probe the issue that the students are to present before the mock appellate panel.
Students walk out of law school, for the most part, in a similarly privileged position: with one of the most respected degrees and earning potential beyond what most of the country could dream. We do not all walk into law school so privileged. At Seton Hall, I know just as many students whose parents are attorneys as students whose parents never received a Bachelor’s degree (a group which I am included in). Accordingly, the journey through law school looks different for each student: some enjoy the ability to work non-paid internships, while others work weekends at coffee shops and restaurants.
Attending law school is equally challenging and fulfilling. Speaking as a (very) recent alum of Seton Hall Law’s evening program I understand the pressures and uncertainty that every student feels, especially in today’s legal market.
There is always that nagging feeling you aren’t doing quite enough to ensure the journey ends with whatever success you hope to achieve. These challenges are daunting enough to a full-time student whose primary responsibility is to go to class and do the reading. Evening students, like myself, feel the same anxiety; we just happen to have career or family obligations on top of it.
(Post updated August 24, 2017)
Welcome to the third post in my series intended to provide guidance to law school applicants looking to submit a standout application. Once you have tackled your personal statement and secured outstanding letters of recommendation, it is time to stand back and look at the “pieces” of your law school application objectively. It is helpful to view your application as a puzzle to be understood by the readers (those evaluating your potential for success in law school and in a legal career).
In most cases the readers will only get to know you from the items in your application file. There will be no interview and no other way to assess your potential. So, stand back and objectively determine – with everything that will be seen in my admissions file, what raises questions? What are the missing puzzle pieces to understanding why I am a good candidate for admission?