The following summaries are based on information gleaned from public sources, subscription resources, law schools and personal correspondences. Because each individual judge controls hiring in his/her chambers, there may be exceptions to all of these generalizations. So, when in doubt, the best way to learn of a clerkship opening with a particular judge is to call his/her chambers. Judges’ phone numbers are listed in the “BNA Directory of State and Federal Courts, Judges and Clerks” and “Leadership Connect.”  Access information for these resources can be found on the Cornell Law School’s OJEPD website.


When occasional clerkship openings become available, the courts may post those positions via the court-system website. Once on the page, click “Current Opportunities,” then “Jobs Statewide,” then “Legal Titles.”

A note on terms of art used in this summary:

“Elbow” clerks work directly for one judge in his/her chambers. This is distinct from “pool” clerks who work with a group of other clerks for the court as a whole. Different jurisdictions call pool clerks by different names including “Central Research Staff,” “Staff Attorneys,” or “Court Attorneys.”

A “term” clerk works for a judge or group of judges for a specific term (usually one or two years), while a “permanent” clerk works for as long as they wish, usually many years.

New York State Court of Appeals

Elbow Clerks

Most judges on this court employ one or more elbow clerks. Some will hire clerks to begin directly after law school while others require their clerks to bring workplace experience to chambers. For detailed information on the judges’ current openings and hiring practices, visit the New York State Court of Appeals’ clerkship website.

A 2011 Cornell Law School graduate, Clark Freeman, clerked for then-Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman until June of 2014 (please note that Judge Lippman moved to private practice in 2015). Clark would be happy to speak with applicants about elbow-clerk hiring in the Court of Appeals. Feel free to email Clark Freeman directly.

Central Legal Research Staff

Each year, the Court of Appeals hires five or six attorneys into two-year clerkships with its Central Legal Research Staff. Central Staff clerks work in Albany and prepare reports on appeals and motions for leave to appeal. Candidates apply between July 1 and September 15 prior to the year that employment is sought.   Historically, the starting salary has been over $76,000 per year plus state employment benefits. This position is posted on Symplicity annually, and further information is available on the New York State Court of Appeals’ clerkship website.  The following alumni who have worked in this position are happy to receive inquiries from interested applicants about their interviewing or clerkship experiences:

New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department (New York City)

Elbow Clerks

Generally, there are no elbow clerkships available in this Department, as all the judges hire permanent clerks. However, when elbow clerk positions become available, they are posted at the New York Court system’s career webpage.

Central Legal Staff

When available, open Staff Attorney positions are posted on the New York Court system’s career webpage.

New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department (Brooklyn)

Elbow Clerks

As a general rule, there are no elbow clerkship openings in this Department, as judges retain personal law clerks on a permanent basis. Again, however, there are exceptions to this general rule, and candidates should monitor the New York Court system’s career webpage.

Central Legal Staff

When available, open Staff Attorney positions are posted on the New York Court system’s career webpage.

Once a position is “open,” obtaining it is a circuitous process. Less than 10% of those who apply are invited to participate in an orientation session and writing test. Those who pass through that screening are interviewed by the Chief Court Attorney and a panel of judges. If they “get the job,” applicants are put on a list of eligible candidates who fill authorized positions.

New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department (Albany)

Elbow Clerks

As in the other appellate divisions, most judges in this Department retain elbow law clerks on a permanent basis. Watch for occasional openings on the New York Court system’s career webpage.

Central Legal Staff

The Third Department’s Law Research Department hires ten Appellate Court Attorneys to one-year terms. These Attorneys will research and analyze legal questions and issues, prepare preliminary reports and confidential memoranda, check for accuracy of citations, and perform other related duties as directed by the Chief Appellate Court Attorney. Salary ranges from $68,800 to $80,850, depending on experience.

The Third Department typically accepts applications between the end of July and the beginning of September. While hard-copy applications are accepted, the court prefers online applications. These positions will be announced on the Third Department’s employment opportunities webpage.

A hiring attorney for the Third Department typically travels to Cornell to interview 3L students for these positions. Interested 3Ls should bid on this interview via the Symplicity system. Alumni applicants may submit their materials directly.

The following alumni who have worked in this position are happy to receive inquiries from interested applicants about their interviewing or clerkship experiences:

New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department (Rochester)

Elbow Clerks

Here again, elbow clerk positions are few and far between, but when they become available, they are often posted on the New York Court system’s career webpage.  

Central Legal Staff

The Fourth Department regularly hires eight Appellate Court Attorneys for two-year terms. These Attorneys work with all twelve Appellate Justices in the Department. Through researching and writing memoranda, they assist the court in deciding approximately 2000 appeals annually. Starting salary is

$68,800 in the first year and $80,850 after admission to the New York Bar.

These positions are announced on the court’s website during the late summer on the Fourth Department’s employment webpage.

A hiring attorney for the Fourth Department typically travels to Cornell to interview 3L students.  Interested 3Ls should bid on this interview via the Symplicity system. Alumni applicants and students who would prefer to interview in Rochester may submit their materials directly via the court’s website.

The following alumni who have worked in this position and are happy to receive inquiries from interested applicants about their interviewing or clerkship experiences:

New York State Supreme Courts (trial courts)

New York County

Judges in New York County typically hire only permanent elbow clerks. When occasional clerkships arise, they are often posted on the New York Court system’s career webpage. In most cases, justices will be seeking to hire clerks who can begin immediately or on a relatively short time frame. Also note that these postings have short application windows, so check the site with regularity.

2014 CLS graduate Chloe Lichtenstein served as an elbow clerk to Judge Joan B. Lobis of the NYS Supreme Court in NY County during the 2015-2016 term. If you’d like to discuss details of the hiring process, or the position, feel free to contact Chloe.

Other Counties

Some individual judges and counties may hire term clerks or pool clerks on a term basis. Contact judges’ chambers to learn of term clerk openings and contact the Chief Clerks of each Supreme Court to inquire about pool clerk positions.

Of additional note: US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Staff Attorney Positions

Like the New York state courts, federal appellate courts also hire pool clerks, called Staff Attorneys. In the Second Circuit, they provide legal advice to the judges of the court on all immigration cases, substantive motions (both pro se and counseled), and pro se appeals.

A hiring attorney for the Second Circuit’s Staff Attorney Office typically travels to Cornell to interview 3L students for two-year Staff Attorney positions with this court. Interested 3Ls should apply via the Symplicity. Alumni applicants should apply via the OSCAR system. Information regarding this position can be found on the Second Circuit’s Staff Attorney webpage.

Recent Cornell Law School alumni who have served (or will serve) in the Second Circuit’s Staff Attorney’s Office include the following graduates, all of whom would be happy to share their insights about the application process or their clerkships: