The Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan Is Over. That Means I Will Hold the OSCAR Record Forever.

January 15th, 2014

With this memo, Judge John Bates, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has signaled the death of the once venerable Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan.

In accordance with recommendations made by the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review (OSCAR) Working Group (Working Group), I am writing to inform you that the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan has effectively been discontinued and no further dates are being set in connection with that plan.

Though, there is a silver lining on this cloud. Yours truly will hold in perpetuity the record for most OSCAR applications. As I recount in my essay, “From Being One L to Teaching One L” (which will be published in an updated edition of the classic “One L”), I applied to a lot of judges on OSCAR. A lot of them:

At the beginning of my 3L year, I was standing at somewhat of a legal crossroads. Only two years earlier, I had no idea what a federal clerkship was. Yet, for some reason, my mind was set on obtaining one! My odds were slim. Mason sends very few students to federal district courts, and even fewer (maybe one or two a year) to the courts of appeals. My grades were good, but probably not good enough. Fueled in part by my burgeoning Article III obsession and my desire to gain personal and first-hand insights into how judges decide cases, I decided to take a guerilla approach to applying to federal clerkships—apply to them all. All 1,198 active and senior Article III judges—from Acker to Zouhary. Insane! Nuts! Waste of time and money! These were only some of the comments I heard at the time. They were right, but I was not deterred (I seldom am).

Fortunately, 422 of those judges accepted electronic applications through the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review, affectionately known as OSCAR among clerkship aficionados. This made applying to a judge as simple as the click of a button. Unfortunately, 776 other judges only accepted paper applications through the mail. Let’s just say I became an outstanding customer at FedEx-Kinkos and the local Arlington post office. I spent more time than I would ever care to count printing, stuffing, and stamping envelopes. Prior to Labor Day, 2008, I mailed out over 776 packages, each including a customized cover letter, resume, transcript, sealed letters of recommendation, and writing samples. A career advisor at GMU later told me that I set the record for clerkship applications—a record I relish with nerdy pride.

I will hold that record forever now.