Out-Of-Work NY Lawyers Can Work For Courts For Free

New York is not lacking for unemployed lawyers these days – it felt for a while like firms were reducing their ranks on a daily basis. 

But a new state program is coming to the rescue, allowing out-of-work attorneys to work as law clerks for state court judges.  Contact with judges!  Interesting (theoretically) work!  New skills!

The only problem is the position is unpaid.  But even for a non-existent paycheck, the lawyers cometh. 

The New York Law Journal:  A program offering new or out-of-work attorneys the chance to volunteer as law clerks for state judges is attracting interest, sponsors of the new initiative say.

The Unified Court System has received 75 applications from attorneys since the clerkship program was announced two weeks ago, a court official said yesterday.

Attorney Lauren J. Wachtler, who is helping organise the program through the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Lawyers in Transition, said 35 lawyers attended a meeting she held last week on the initiative while another 150 watched over the Internet.

“We have had an overwhelming response,” said Ms. Wachtler, chairwoman of the Committee on Lawyers in Transition and a partner at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.

The idea behind the program is to allow attorneys to serve the public, and to acquire new professional skills while they ride out the economic slump, said state bar President Michael E. Getnick.

Read the entire article here

Applications to serve as a “Chambers Volunteer Attorney” can be found on the homepage of the Bar Association’s euphemistically titled Committee on Lawyers in Transition

According to the site the volunteers will perform similar duties to the officially employed clerks – researching, writing memos and even helping to draft opinions.

This is, we suppose, win/win.  Judges often have overwhelming caseloads and can use all the well-trained brainpower they can get.  And having a clerkship has never been a bad thing to have on your resume.  If only there was a way to gloss over that “you’ll be doing work that people are usually paid $60,000 – $120,000 for and earning exactly ZERO” issue.  Tough times, indeed.


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