Judicial Clerking Course

This is more than an externship. You will also take an experiential course that is tailored to judicial clerking at the participating courts. The course, which is offered virtually or in-person, meets in the evening once per week. It includes an enriching combination of interesting discussion, interactive exercises, and engaging guest speakers.

The course is taught by Professor Abigail Perdue, a former employment law attorney and law clerk at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Professor Perdue is also the author of The All-Inclusive Guide to Judicial Clerking, which serves as the course text.

Before the Externship

During the spring semester prior to the externship, you will attend a comprehensive orientation that provides a detailed overview of information you will need to make an excellent first impression in chambers, including chambers confidentiality, judicial ethics, professionalism, and chambers decorum.

You will be provided a comprehensive reading list of key cases and court rules relevant to your court’s jurisdiction which you must complete prior to the beginning of the externship. Professor Perdue prepares the reading list in conjunction with the participating judge or special master for whom you will extern. You will also participate in a research session aimed at effective research strategies for the practice areas of the specific court at which you will extern. This preparation has proven extremely beneficial.

During the Externship

The weekly course will explore the following relevant topics:

  • Professionalism
  • Courtroom decorum
  • Chambers confidentiality
  • Judicial ethics
  • Docket management
  • Bench memo drafting
  • Oral argument preparation
  • Judicial opinion drafting

Each session will be interactive. You will engage in simulations and complete short writing exercises tailored to the actual work you are doing in chambers.

Guest Speakers

Guest speakers will occasionally visit the class, including judges, practitioners, government attorneys, and former law clerks. You will spend the summer following a real pending federal case, and take a class field trip to see it argued.

Field Trips

The course also includes several fun and interesting field trips to points of interest from the Library of Congress to the U.S. Supreme Court. For example, students have toured the Supreme Court of the United States, the FBI, Quantico, the U.S. Capitol, and the White House as part of the course.

You will also enjoy informal lunch meetings with federal judges and a federal clerk of the court. You will meet and mingle with federal prosecutors, government attorneys, and attorneys at prominent D.C. law firms.

Mentoring and Networking

As part of the course, we pair you with one or more Wake Forest University School of Law alumni living and working in the Washington, D.C. area, who will mentor you throughout the summer. In addition, you will have multiple opportunities to network with D.C. Demon Deacons at happy hours, baseball games, and other events.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will the course be graded?
The course grade depends on participation, reflections, and short experiential assignments, such as drafting a bench memo and a judicial opinion.
How many credits will I receive?
Students will receive 6 credits, including 3 pass/fail credits for the externship and 3 honors pass/fail credits for the classroom component. The course will satisfy the law school’s experiential learning requirement.

Get answers to additional frequently asked questions.

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The course text

Professor Abigail Perdue is the author of The All-Inclusive Guide to Judicial Clerking, which serves as the course text.

Cover of The All-Inclusive Guide to Judicial Clerking

The externship

You will spend approximately 35 hours per week for at least 8 weeks during the summer externing at a participating court.

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About the Program Director

Photo of Abigail PerdueAbigail Perdue, the D.C. Summer Judicial Externship program director, is a former employment law attorney and law clerk. Professor Perdue is also the author of The All-Inclusive Guide to Judicial Clerking.

In addition to teaching the judicial clerkship course as part of the D.C. Summer Judicial Externship Program, Professor Perdue also teaches Appellate Advocacy, Introduction to American Law, Diversity and Discrimination, and Legal Writing, Analysis, and Research at the Wake Forest University School of Law.

Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Perdue practiced employment law at the New York City office of Proskauer Rose. She went on to clerk for the Honorable Jimmie V. Reyna of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the Honorable Mary Ellen Coster Williams of the United States Court of Federal Claims. Professor Perdue’s two clerkships were among the most formative experiences in her career, which is why she created the D.C. Summer Judicial Externship program shortly after joining the faculty.

Professor Perdue founded the program in the fall of 2012 so that Wake Forest School of Law students could also experience the incredible opportunity of working with brilliant jurists and law clerks at some of the most influential courts in America. Professor Perdue lives and works in Washington, D.C. for the duration of the program so she can provide on-site assistance to participating judges, special masters, supervising law clerks, and students.

Abigail Perdue's Faculty Profile »