If you’re about to begin—or have
already begun—an externship or clerkship with a judge, you might be nervous
about tackling new writing assignments like bench memos and appellate opinions.
But fear not: there are a lot of resources out there to help you prepare.
This post has collected a
variety of articles and books about writing during clerkships and judicial
externships. If you’re interested in broader resources about working for a
judge or finding clerkships, check out our Libguide.
Abigail Perdue, The
All-Inclusive Guide to Judicial Clerking (2017).
This book – as the title indicates
– is about all aspects of clerking. However, chapters 13-17 deal specifically
with drafting a variety of judicial documents like orders, chamber
correspondence, and bench memos. It is available online via West
Debra Strauss, Behind the
Bench: The Guide to Judicial Clerkships (2017).
This book is also a more general
guide to clerking, but chapter ten includes research and writing tips. It is
also available via West
Federal Judicial Center, The
Law Clerk Handbook: A Handbook for Law Clerks to Federal Judges (2017).
This handbook, available online here,
has a specific chapter on judicial writing assignments beginning on page 98.
Georgetown University Law
Center, In Chambers: Effective Writing Tips for The Judicial Interns and Law
from Georgetown Law, this helpful handout lays out six central issues to
keep in mind when working on an assignment in chambers: audience, timing and
process, type and scope of assignment, prewriting, writing basics, and
Federal Judicial Center, Judicial
Writing Manual: A Pocket Guide for Judges (2013).
While this manual is written for
judges, it is helpful for gaining insight into how judges write and what
they’re looking for. There is also a section on “Using Law Clerks” beginning on
page 10 that might help you understand the role of a clerk better. It is
available online here.
Ruth C. Vance, Judicial
Opinion Writing: An Annotated Bibliography, 17 Legal Writing: J 197 (2011).
This helpful resource is if you’re
looking for even more books and articles on judicial writing, including
helpful annotations. It is available on HeinOnline.
Gerald Lebovitz & Lucero
Ramirez Hidalgo, Advice to Law Clerks: How to Draft Your First Judicial
Opinion, 36 Westchester B.J. 29 (2009).
This article includes lots of
practical tips, including a helpful “Do’s and Don’ts” section. It is available online here.
Jennifer Sheppard, The
“Write” Way: A Judicial Clerk’s Guide to Writing for the Court, 38 Univ.
Balt. Law Rev. 73 (2008).
This article goes extremely
in-depth on all phases of the writing process including preparation, formatting,
and tone. It is available for free online here.
Rebecca A. Cochran, Judicial
Externships: The Clinic Inside the Courthouse (1999).
This book is about the broader
experience of clerking, but includes a specific chapter on judicial opinion
drafting. You can find it in the UNC catalog.
Posted by Andrew J. Wisniewsky on Fri. July 2, 2021 2:00 PM