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Judicial Externships: Research and Resources: Know the Court

Research resources for students participating in judicial placements.

Research Your Court

Prior to beginning any judicial internship or clerkship--or even before applying to work for a judge--students should become acquainted with the structure and basic operations of a court. Most courts publish an operations manual, such as the Florida Supreme Court's Manual of Internal Operating Procedures, that will explain the basic duties of the courts' employees.

How is research different in a court?

Research when working at a court is not fundamentally different from the research you learn in law school or while working for a firm; however, the caseloads of the federal courts have been increasing significantly in recent years, leading judges to rely on precise and quick assistance from their interns and clerks. 

Clerks usually publish statistics of the workload and closure rates for their courts, broken down by case type. It may be helpful to orient yourself to the general workload of your court before you begin working. 

Court Rules

One of the most basic places to start is with the court's procedural rules. 

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Research your Judge

Information about how a judge generally rules on motions or issues can be invaluable to attorneys. It can also be an excellent source of background information before a student begins working at a court. A number of databases collect information about cases and filings, then link that information to individual judges.

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