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Author Topic: Clerkship/pro bono question  (Read 1779 times)

asdfjkl;

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Clerkship/pro bono question
« on: August 27, 2010, 09:42:46 PM »
Can't find a judicial clerkship sub-forum so I am posting this question here. Are judicial clerks generally allowed to do pro bono work with outside organizations during their clerkship?

john4040

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Re: Clerkship/pro bono question
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2010, 09:06:30 AM »
Can't find a judicial clerkship sub-forum so I am posting this question here. Are judicial clerks generally allowed to do pro bono work with outside organizations during their clerkship?

Depends on the nature of the pro bono work.  There are ethics opinions out there that specifically address this issue for federal law clerks:  http://ftp.resource.org/courts.gov/fjc/ethics01.pdf  (Go to the section entitled "Outside Legal Activities") 

Outside Legal Activities–A Checklist

1. Does the activity interfere with your performance of
official duties?

2. Will the activity exploit your government position?

3. Does the activity present an appearance of impropriety
or reflect adversely on the court?

4. Will the activity associate you in a substantial financial
manner with attorneys appearing in your court?

5. If the activity involves routine family legal work,
does it –
Involve any appearance in federal court?
Occur while on duty or in the workplace?
Result in compensation (other than in probate
proceedings)?

6. If the activity involves pro bono practice of law, does
it –
Involve any appearance in a federal, state, or local
court or administrative agency?
Occur while on duty or in the workplace?
Involve a matter of public controversy or an issue
likely to come before your court?
Result in compensation?

7. Is the activity inconsistent with any additional condition
or limitation your judge imposes on law clerks’
law-related activities?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should
not engage in the activity.

As you can see from the opinion, you are severely limited in the type of pro bono work you can do.  One of the most damning aspects is that federal clerks cannot "make an appearance in any court or agency."  Therefore, you will not be able to do any significant litigation during your clerkship.  You're generally limited to doing "b1tch work" and volunteering on boards.