Explore Your Legal Career with the United States Courts

As you begin your legal career, consider gaining valuable experience through a judicial clerkship or staff attorney position with the United States Courts.

The Unites States Courts are composed of 13 circuits and 94 districts across the country, including appellate courts, district courts, bankruptcy courts, and courts of special jurisdiction, as well as probation and pretrial services offices and federal public defenders' offices. The federal courts have jurisdiction over cases involving the United States government, the Constitution or federal laws, and controversies between states, between citizens of different states, or between the United States government and foreign governments.

Want to be a part of the United States Courts?

As a law clerk or staff attorney with the United States Courts, you can play an important role in helping safeguard the constitutional rights and liberties of the public.

Law Clerks and Staff Attorneys:

  • Review case records and filings
  • Conduct legal research
  • Provide judges and panels with legal advice
  • Prepare bench memos and orders
  • Propose disposition of cases
  • Draft opinions for panels

Citizenship Requirements

Current law for employment in the judiciary requires paid employees to be:

  1. a U.S. citizen;
  2. a person who owes allegiance to the U.S. (i.e., nationals of American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and nationals who meet other requirements described in 8 U.S.C. 1408);
  3. a person admitted as a refugee or granted asylum who has filed a declaration of intention to become a lawful permanent resident and then a citizen when eligible; or
  4. a lawful permanent resident who is seeking citizenship as outlined in 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3)(B).

To comply with requirement number 4 above and for more information visit Citizenship Requirements on the OSCAR website.

So what's the difference between a law clerk and staff attorney?

Law Clerks

Law clerks work for one judge as a member of the chambers staff, or on behalf of the court for pro se, death penalty, or bankruptcy appellate panel cases.

Duties and Qualifications of Law Clerks

Salary and Benefits

To learn more about salaries and benefits for law clerks, click here.

Staff Attorneys

Staff attorneys work for multiple judges in an appellate staff attorney office in a court of appeals.

Duties and Qualifications of Staff Attorneys

Salary and Benefits

To learn more about salaries and benefits for staff attorneys, click here.

Sounds good, right?

Many former law clerks and staff attorneys find that the prestige and experience associated with service as a law clerk or staff attorney broadens their future employment opportunities.

This is the best experience I could possibly have right out of law school."
It’s the most rewarding experience I can imagine as a young lawyer."
Ask anyone who’s ever been a law clerk for a federal judge and I think they’re likely to tell you it’s the best job they’ve ever had."

Want to search and apply for a law clerk or staff attorney position? Create an account in OSCAR!

More Information

Additional Resources

Contact the OSCAR Program Office

Social Media

This page is maintained by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts on behalf on the Federal Judiciary.


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