First Judicial District's Judicial Fellowship Program

Judicial Fellowship

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Overview of Program

In January 2011, the First Judicial District initiated a Judicial Fellowship Program for the mutual benefit of recent law school graduates and the Court. The Program was established in recognition that many exceptional graduates from law schools were seeking professional development opportunities due to the shortage of paid positions in the current difficult legal economy. The First Judicial District saw an opportunity to give recent graduates professional experience and to provide Philadelphia judges with additional legal talent on their staff to facilitate the Court's commitment to prompt and fair resolution of cases notwithstanding the Court's high volume caseload.

The Judicial Fellowship Program aims to provide high caliber law graduates with substantive experience in the law, and to support the Court in carrying out key functions. Fellows volunteer their time, have the same responsibilities as regular paid judicial law clerks, and gain the benefit of training by judges in the Philadelphia courts. Judicial fellows' service helps our high volume court system maintain its superior quality of service to the Philadelphia community. Judges help judicial fellows by mentoring and providing legal experience that will enhance their competitiveness for paid employment as new lawyers.

The Philadelphia Court teamed up with the seven area law schools (Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University, Temple University Beasley School of Law, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Villanova University School of Law, Rutgers University School of Law-Camden, Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law and Widener University School of Law) to establish, publicize, and coordinate the program. Since the Judicial Fellowship Program's inception, the Court has expanded its welcome to law school graduates from across the country.

The streamlined and selective application process is a key to its success. Prospective judicial fellows apply directly via email to judges with whom they are interested in working. Judges select judicial fellows from those applicants who apply to them directly. The list of judges with available positions for judicial fellows is provided on this website. Each judge and fellow team designs a flexible schedule (minimum of 20 hours per week) that ensures reliable service to the judge but permits the fellow to seek a paid position elsewhere. Judicial fellows do not commit to any length of service enabling them to leave the fellowship with two weeks' notice to their judge upon obtaining paid employment.

In its first year, the Judicial Fellowship Program hosted 30 judicial fellows and 88% of the fellows who left their fellowships that year had successfully secured paid positions. During the first 3 years of the program, over 50 judges volunteered to host judicial fellows and the Court hosted 150 judicial fellows from 30 different law schools. As of March 2014, the vast majority of judicial fellows (85%) who left their fellowship position had secured paid jobs using their legal skills.

We celebrate when our fellows go on to the paid employment that they deserve and are grateful for the service they provided to us during their mini-clerkship.

Lisa M. Rau
Founder & Chair, Judicial Fellowship Program
Judge, Court of Common Pleas
First Judicial District of Pennsylvania
March 2014

Judicial Fellowship Program Successes
Application Process for Those Seeking Judicial Fellowship

Press Excerpts About the Judicial Fellowship Program



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