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Old 04-05-2009, 10:37 AM
arw242' arw242' is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 4
Questions About Staff Attorney Position

Is a Staff Attorney position at a federal court of appeals considered a clerkship? Are these positions difficult to get? Are they very prestigious? What sort of job opportunities are likely to be available to an outgoing COA staff attorney?
Old 04-15-2009, 05:07 AM
Clerkship Guru Clerkship Guru is offline
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 404
Yes, Staff Attorney positions are a type of judicial clerkship that work for the court as a whole, unlike the traditional "elbow" clerkship (which is one-on-one in a judge's chambers). They are usually competitive to obtain but less so than an elbow clerkship.

The role of a staff attorney can vary greatly -- some courts divide the cases to specialize by subject matter (i.e., pro se cases) or have the staff attorneys serve a screening function (i.e., reviewing cases to weed out those that have jurisdictional issues or other defects for summary dismissal and passing along others to the judges on the court). In some courts the staff attorneys rotate through the court and work directly with the individual judges while in others they serve more of a clerks' office function. In appellate courts they may write bench memos on substantive issues, emergency motions and the like, which go directly to a panal of judges for decisions. It really varies with the structure and needs of the court. So, depending on the type and level of work, as an "insider" to the court system, these positions can be quite valuable to your future law practice.

For more on Staff Attorney positions and other forms of judicial clerkships -- both traditional and alternative -- as well as information on the courts where these clerkships are available and how to obtain them, see Behind the Bench: The Guide to Judicial Clerkships.

Best of luck,

Clerkship Guru

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