Law Clerk Schools and Colleges in the U.S.
A law clerk assists a judge in various legal matters, such as opinion drafting, research and court preparation. Typically, students must have completed law school with either a master's degree or a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in order to work as law clerks. These programs are available through many U.S. law schools in traditional, online and hybrid formats.
How to Select a Law Clerk School
In most cases, aspiring law clerks must have graduated from an accredited law school, either with a master's or J.D. Students interested in becoming a law clerk may earn a Master of Studies in Law, Master of Laws or other specialized legal master's degree. Those who would like to eventually pursue a career as a lawyer may benefit from earning a Juris Doctor degree, also known as a Doctor of Jurisprudence. These programs are available in law schools within colleges and universities.
Summary of Important Considerations
- Dual degree programs
- Networking and fieldwork
Dual Degree Programs
Some colleges offer joint degree programs allowing students to obtain a J.D. as well as a specialized law degree. Degrees typically offered in this capacity include a Master of Public Health, Master of Business Administration or Bachelor of Laws. Gaining specialty in an area of law may help students in obtaining jobs with judges whose interests and legal perspectives align with their own.
Networking and Fieldwork
Externships and memberships with various law journals could also be helpful in preparation for a career as a law clerk. Researching potential experience offered through a college's affiliation with courts, judges and legal firms present networking opportunities that may help when seeking postgraduate employment. Additionally, the school's faculty members may also provide valuable relationships with possible employers.
Law Clerk Program Overviews
Master's Programs for Law Clerks
A master's degree in legal studies does not qualify students to sit for a bar examination or practice law in a trial setting. However, graduates meet educational eligibility requirements for a position as a law clerk. A thesis is typically required for the completion of master's degree programs.
Studies may be comprised of subjects in the field of law specified by the program, such as public policy or international law. Coursework in a master's degree program may include:
- Constitutional law
- Administrative law
Juris Doctor for Law Clerks
A J.D. degree qualifies students to sit for a state bar exam and become practicing lawyers. Prior to beginning a career as a lawyer, graduates of a J.D. program may gain experience and familiarity with the legal practices of a law clerk. Students within a J.D. program may have the opportunity to specialize in multiple areas of the law, such as education, public interest, tax, family or environmental law.
Students may find online and hybrid programs that offer scheduling flexibility and the convenience of studying from home. Common courses in these programs include:
- Legal writing
- Legal procedures
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