A summer clerkship provides an opportunity for a law student to experience the working environment at a legal firm. Firms accept a limited number of clerks each year in competitive positions. Each clerk is typically assigned an attorney as a mentor and supervisor. The experience can depend on the firm and how it runs its clerkship program, but may include chances to interact with clients, see trials in action, and perform support for working attorneys. Students who want to be competitive in clerkship applications typically need to have excellent grades, extracurricular accomplishments, and letters of recommendation.
Legal firms are not the only option for a summer clerkship. People can work for judges as well as public defenders and prosecutors. Legal aid organizations and advocacy groups may also hire people for summer clerkships. The kind of position to apply for may depend on the sort of law a student intends to practice. Someone who wants to be a corporate attorney, for example, would likely want to seek positions with firms offering these kinds of services, while a future public interest lawyer might work for a nonprofit.
Typically a summer clerkship starts with an orientation. Clerks are assigned mentors and familiarized with the organization. They may be given keys, passcodes to the network, and other tools they need to work. Some organizations partner or group clerks and encourage them to work together, while others may facilitate more independent work. Clerks may also be given information about privileges like access to a company gym or car service.
During a summer clerkship, many organizations rotate clerks through a variety of positions. This allows people to experience a range of work environments and learn more about different kinds of law. Clerks may be asked to perform legal research and prepare written discussion and documentation. They can also sit in on depositions, client meetings, and similar events. Clerks may accompany attorneys to court, attending meetings with judges and filing legal paperwork.
Clerks are typically encouraged to be independent as much as possible, but questions during a summer clerkship are preferred if someone is not sure about how to do something or needs assistance. Law libraries and other resources are available, along with employee manuals and guides to help people with activities like drafting legal documents. People who excel during a summer clerkship may be offered an opportunity to return in the following year, or could be invited to apply for positions with the firm or organization after graduation.