Even the most diligent clerkship applicant – one who has scoured every on-line resource available – will eventually be faced with the very real fact that there’s some hiring information which is only available directly from the judge’s chambers. This realization often stirs up more than a bit of fear and anxiety in even the most intrepid clerkship seeker. “You want me to call…the judge? And ask questions? …do I have to?”
You can do it, and your preparation is crucial. Just like an interview or a presentation in class, a little bit (or a lot) of preparation will help smooth out the bumps and assure that you’ll be able to put your best foot forward. Check below for your step-by-step plan to prepare yourself for success:
- Get the judge’s phone number. First things first. This can be more challenging than it seems since many judges’ phone numbers are pretty darn difficult to find. The very best resource is the Leadership Connect. Students have access to this gargantuan database via Cornell. Alumni – if you can’t access it through your employer or your local library, please get in touch and we’ll send you the numbers you need.
- Write a script. That’s right – write it out. Every word. Know how you’ll introduce yourself and how you’ll inquire about the information you’re looking for. Here’s a sample script to get you started.
- Tailor the script. Sometimes you’ll find incomplete or old information online that you want to verify or update. That’s a great reason to make a call. Be sure to tell the person on the other end of the line that you’ve done your homework and just have a quick question or two. (e.g., “I read on OSCAR that the judge has been reviewing applications for the last six months. Are there any positions still available?”)
- Create a system to record the information you gather and keep track of who you’ve already reached out to. We’re big fans of Excel spreadsheets here in the Clerkship Office, but you can use any system that you like.
- Schedule the calls. Carve out a time in your day when you have the mental energy to get started. Be sure that you will call from a location which isn’t noisy and has good cell service. Make an appointment with yourself and stick to it – this is too important to leave to chance. Judges have mentioned that they’re not huge fans of getting calls from Starbucks. Yes, this happens, and yes, they don’t like it!
- Remember – 99% of the time the phone will be answered by an administrative assistant or a law clerk (who was once in your shoes). Calling the judge doesn’t mean that you’ll be speaking with the judge. So relax, take a deep breath, and you’ll be just fine.
Questions? Give Liz Peck, Assistant Dean for Judicial Engagement, a call (607-255-9057). No script required!