Judicial externships allow students, beginning the summer after their 1L year, to work in the chambers of a state or federal judge. These externships provide an opportunity for students to experience intellectual property practice in a real-world setting. They are also a chance for students to utilize their legal skills by assisting the Judge and his/her law clerks with legal research and the preparation of draft briefs for use in court. For instance, Judge Randall Rader, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., is very open to judicial extern applications from both Utah & BYU. Recently, PDO, SIPLA & Whit Johnson from Stoel Rives, LLP, hosted a panel on Careers in IP with a focus on judicial externships. The panelists—practicing IP attorneys and Professor Amelia Rinehart—provided the following tips for students regarding judicial externships with the Federal Circuit, including those with Judge Rader:
- Students should apply early—for summer, apply as soon as you can beginning in January!
- Clerks play an active role in the hiring process for judges on the Federal Circuit, so if you can talk to a current or former clerk about what to highlight, all the better.
- Indicate whether you have taken the Patent Bar.
- Define in your cover letter exactly when you are available. Some judges offer 4-6 week externships, allowing you to complete both an externship as well as a legal opportunity elsewhere during the same semester.