Summer Law Clerks
Every summer the School of Government employs as law clerks students who have completed their second year of law school. We occasionally employ students who have completed their third year of law school and those who have completed one year.
The summer law clerk experience centers on research and writing. Clerks work on legal issues of current interest to School faculty and clients while assisting several faculty members. A clerk works on a variety of assignments, some of which may take only a few hours and others as long as six weeks. The work is real and practical, and it contributes to the School’s mission of serving North Carolina’s public officials. Clerks do not have identical experiences, but each has opportunities to work creatively and independently in several areas of law and to learn about the School and North Carolina local and state government. The program helps clerks understand the School’s mission and the responsibilities of faculty members while providing the faculty with an opportunity to evaluate clerks as possible candidates for appointment to the faculty. Clerks benefit from the supervision provided by faculty members who give feedback on every assignment. A clerk may be asked to rewrite any work, whether a memo for a faculty member or a piece designed for publication. At the end of the clerkship, each clerk will give an oral presentation to the faculty on an issue he or she has researched. The School will offer guidance about the presentation and a subsequent constructive critique.
Research topics undertaken by recent clerks include whether anxiety disorders are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, First Amendment issues in Internet filtering by local libraries, consequences of new judicial interpretations of the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause, rights of students with limited proficiency in English, public participation in environmental decision making, and a review of grandparent visitation rights.
We hope to expose clerks to the overall work of the School and, in particular, help them learn about the daily work of faculty members. Clerks will learn about government at the state and local levels, as well as the many organizations and public officials with which the School is involved. Seminars and informational lunches with faculty and staff are designed to increase understanding of North Carolina and the School. Clerks learn about legislative activities and the Legislative Reporting Service by visiting the General Assembly. Clerks have opportunities to observe different types of teaching by faculty members as well.
Purpose of the Program
The primary purpose of the School’s summer law clerk program is to identify and recruit law students as potential faculty members. A summer law clerk who performs well will be favorably considered for available faculty positions. Because the School often lacks open positions, however, there are many years when employment cannot be offered, even to exceptional law school graduates. Given this limitation, most clerks find the program’s greatest value to be the rigorous research and writing experience described above.
Former clerks go on to many other different kinds of positions as well. They clerk for federal and state judges; work in solo legal practice; work for local, state and federal government; work for nonprofits; become law school faculty members; and work in large North Carolina and national law firms.
Because summer law clerks are potential faculty members, the qualifications for clerkships are the same as those for faculty. We seek candidates with strong academic qualifications and analytical skills. A candidate must be able to write and speak well and have the potential to deal effectively with a wide range of clients--lawyers and those who are not lawyers. The summer program is primarily one about research and writing; we seek candidates interested in this kind of work. A North Carolina connection is not required, but an interest in the School's work in North Carolina is essential. Clerks are hired on the basis of interviews, grades, resumes, and writing samples. Hiring takes place in the fall for second-year students and in the spring for first-year students. The School hires full-time clerks; we do not typically hire students who are attending summer school or taking the bar exam in July. Interested students are encouraged to sign up for on-campus interviews where available.
Recruiting and Applying
Since 2004, summer clerks have come to us from Brooklyn Law School, Duke, Harvard, Florida, North Carolina Central, Notre Dame, South Carolina, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Seattle, Virginia, Texas, Wake Forest, and Yale. The selection process is selective, and many more candidates apply and interview than we can accommodate.
Each fall, School faculty make recruiting visits to interview clerk candidates at a few law schools, typically including Duke, Harvard, Michigan, North Carolina Central, UNC-Chapel Hill, Texas, and Virginia. Arrangements to see our representatives must be made through each law school's placement office. If you schedule an interview with us, we would like to see your transcript and a writing sample. We visit law schools that have provided us law clerks and faculty members in the past, and we seek clerks from other schools. We may conduct more law school visits in the spring to interview first-year law students.
If you are interested in our clerk program but do not attend a school we'll be visiting, please send a letter of interest, resume, transcript, and writing sample to Christopher McLaughlin, Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government, as indicated below. We'll consider your candidacy. You may also make an appointment to interview with us at job fairs we attend. We attend the Equal Justice Works Career Fair in Washington, DC each fall, typically in October. Hundreds of law students and public interest employers from around the country attend. Information about how to sign up for interviews at that Career Fair can be found at the Equal Justice Works web site. We also attend the Southeastern Minority Job Fair in Atlanta. Students from more than fifty law schools interact with about one hundred and forty employers at that Fair.
In 2014 law clerks will be paid $4,250 per month. Ten weeks of work is usual, but arrangements for a longer or shorter time may be negotiated. Six weeks is the minimum acceptable length. Generally, clerkships to take place between mid-May and the end of August.
For further information about the Summer Law Clerk program, please contact:
School of Government
Campus Box 3330, Knapp-Sanders Building
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3330
T: 919.843.9167 F: 919.962.0654
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants will be accepted without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability status, veteran status, or sexual orientation.