A law clerk assists a judge in various legal matters, such as opinion drafting, research and court preparation. In most cases, aspiring law clerks must have graduated from an accredited law school, either with a master's or J.D., which are available in law schools within colleges and universities.
10 Law Schools
Here's a list of schools with applicable programs:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition (2015-2016)*|
|Yale University||New Haven, Connecticut||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctorate||$38,700|
|Harvard University||Cambridge, Massachusetts||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctorate||$41,832|
|Stanford University||Stanford, California||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctorate||$45,729|
|Columbia University||New York, New York||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctorate||$42,280|
|University of Chicago||Chicago, Illinois||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctorate||$51,624|
|New York University||New York, New York||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctorate||$38,592|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctorate||$31,068|
|Duke University||Durham, North Carolina||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctorate||$47,590|
|University of California - Berkeley||Berkeley, California||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctorate||In-state $11,220
|University of Virginia||Charlottesville, Virginia||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctorate||In-state $14,518
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
The following are some important considerations when choosing the right program:
- Choosing a dual degree program in an area of law may help students in obtaining jobs with judges whose interests and legal perspectives align with their own.
- Externships and memberships with various law journals could also be helpful in preparation for a career as a law clerk.
- 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.
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.
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.
Students seeking law clerk degree programs can find options at numerous 4-year public and private schools, but they should make sure that the coursework matches their career aspirations and that externships are available. At minimum, a master's degree is acceptable to become a law clerk, while a Juris Doctor propels students to become lawyers.