About the Course


The course, which pertains to  judicial clerking at the participating courts, is taught by Professor Abigail Perdue, a former employment law attorney and law clerk at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Before the Externship Commences:

During the spring semester prior to the externship, students attend a comprehensive orientation that provides a detailed overview of confidentiality, professionalism, etc.  At this time, students are provided with a comprehensive reading list of key cases and court rules relevant to the court’s jurisdiction, which they must complete prior to commencement of the externship.  This reading list is prepared by Professor Perdue in conjunction with the participating judge or special master.  Students also undergo a research session aimed at effective research strategies for the practice areas of the participating court.

During the Externship:

The summer course will meet one weekday evening per week.  Students will explore relevant topics, such as professionalism, courtroom decorum, confidentiality, judicial ethics, docket management, bench memo writing, oral argument preparation, and judicial opinion drafting.  Each session will be interactive. Students will engage in simulations and complete short writing exercises.  Guest speakers will occasionally visit the class, including judges, practitioners, and former law clerks.

The course also includes some fun and interesting field trips.  For example, students attend oral argument at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and draft a judicial opinion on the case argued.  They visit the Supreme Court of the United States and have lunch with a current Supreme Court clerk.  Students enjoy informal lunch meetings with federal judges and a Clerk of the Court.  They also meet a federal prosecutor, in-house counsel, a partner at a prominent law firm, and attorneys from various practice areas.

How will the course be graded?

The course grade depends on participation, short writing assignments, and a long academic paper.  The short writing assignments require students to apply lessons learned in the weekly session to the externship experience. They include an ethics hypothetical, a short memo, a bench memo, a list of questions for oral argument, and a judicial opinion on a real, pending case. Students also complete a lengthy paper that is due several weeks after the Program concludes.  Students are also graded on participation in class discussion.

How many credits will I receive?

Students will receive 6 credits, including 3 pass/fail credits for the externship and 3 graded credits for the classroom component.