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Clerkship Interviews

Responding To An Offer

Surprisingly, less than one-third of interviewees send thank-you letters to judges. Yet, according to judges, these letters can make all the difference when there is a tie. Immediately after the interview mail a brief formal thank-you letter to the judge. It should be typed, though a handwritten note at the bottom is a nice touch. If you also met the judge's staff, send them thank-you letters as well. A good, error-free thank-you letter will often convince the judge to choose you over other candidates. Most judges say that even a brief thank-you letter is better than no letter at all. But, ideally, it should be personalized by mentioning something that was discussed at the interview.

Despite whatever you may have heard to the contrary, you can decline a clerkship offer. But only do it if you have compelling reasons or if a judge encouraged you to think about the offer. In all other circumstances, if you receive an offer from a judge it is a good idea to accept immediately, even if you are expecting offers from other judges. Keep in mind that a judge may be busy or simply impatient, so if you must ask for an extension, be extremely diplomatic and do so promptly. Return his or her calls right away and, if you are traveling during the interviewing season, remember to state as much on your voicemail message. Some judges are afraid of losing the best candidates and may grow impatient if you take too long to respond.

While Ryan was on his way to a second clerkship interview, he received a voicemail from a judge who interviewed him a few days before, extending an offer. Because Ryan was still in midair, however, he could neither check nor respond to the judge's message. Growing impatient, the judge called back an hour later and rescinded the offer. So, by the time Ryan landed, he had two messages—one giving him an offer and one notifying him it had expired.

Getting a clerkship is important, but there is only so much you can do to get one. Although it is advisable to be thoroughly prepared for your clerkship interviews, do not agonize excessively over the interviewing process. Your priority is to be likeable, genuine, and professional. To some judges, “professional” means “comfortable enough to sit on a couch during an interview”; to others, it means “extremely formal.” The only way to figure this out is by doing your homework and by trusting your intuition.


  • • Make your clerkship application easy to read, and remember to include your GPA on your resume.
  • • Send letters of references together with your application packet.
  • • Ask your recommenders to say one or two personal things about you.
  • • Only call the judge's chambers if you will be traveling to the area and want to ask for an interview.
  • • Prepare for your clerkship interviews thoroughly, using all possible resources.
  • • Do not share your views on politics and controversial subjects unless you are invited to do so.
  • • Know everything there is to know about the judge and his or her opinions, and do your best to demonstrate how prepared you are.
  • • Send personalized thank-you letters immediately after the interview.

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsClerkship Interviews - Make Your Application Stand Out, Calling The Chambers, Timing, Preparing For A Clerkship Interview