Law clerk program

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (HCAO) is one of the Upper Midwest’s premier public law firms with the largest civil/criminal practice in Minnesota.  The attorneys in our office come from a variety of backgrounds and bring diverse experiences to our office.

Each year, our office sponsors paid summer and academic-year law clerk programs that offer hands-on, challenging work experience to students from local and national law schools. The program is highly competitive due to the quality of the experiences offered.

In addition to research and legal writing, clerks will have the opportunity to work in-depth with prosecutors on specific cases, interview witnesses, attend depositions and appear in court. Law clerks will be assigned to work in one or more of ten divisions.

Law clerks work 32-40 hours a week during the summer and 17-19 hours during the academic year.

Mission Statement

To provide law clerks with the opportunity to gain practical, substantive legal experience in a vibrant, diverse public law office. The law clerk program will help prepare law students for their legal career by allowing them to appear in court and perform legal research and writing.

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Law Clerk Program Details

  • Applicants include first-year law students (1Ls) and second-year law students (2Ls) from local and national law schools.
  • Summer law clerks are hired to work as law clerks for a 12-week period, 32-40 hours per week, from May through mid-August.
  • During the academic year 33-40 students work as part-time law clerks with openings according to turnover.
  • Offers are contingent upon a Criminal Background check and reference check.
  • Salary for 2022 summer law clerks is $21.43 per hour.
  • A remote online program is being offered for out of state law clerks this summer.
  • Externship opportunities are available for law clerks enrolled in an externship course through their law school, giving law students the ability to work for course credit.

Clerks will be assigned to work in one or more of ten divisions:

One of the primary responsibilities of all law clerks is legal research and writing. The types of assignments vary by division. Law clerks are certified student attorneys who are encouraged to gain courtroom experience.

Administration

Law clerks work with County Attorney Mike Freeman, Deputy Criminal and Civil County Attorneys, and other administration staff on matters relating to legislation, public policy, and office initiatives. Law clerks are also responsible for responding to citizen inquiries that come in through the Citizen Information line. Their primary duties are research and writing. Law clerks have an opportunity to gain court experience under the supervision of an attorney by participating in various court proceedings, including the municipal County Attorney (COAT) calendar.

Criminal Divisions

Adult Prosecution

Teams in this division handle felony crimes against person and gang cases. Law clerks receive assignments directly from attorneys on a variety of legal issues related to criminal and constitutional law. Law clerks’ primary responsibilities are legal research and writing. Law clerks have an opportunity to gain court experience under the supervision of an attorney by participating in various court proceedings including the COAT calendar and other legal hearings.


Community Prosecution

Attorneys in this division handle property and drug cases. Law clerks are assigned work on a rotating basis from requesting attorneys. Law clerks’ primary responsibilities are legal research and writing. Law clerks her also have an opportunity to participate in the municipal COAT calendar and other legal hearings.


Juvenile Prosecution

Teams in this division prosecute all crimes committed by juveniles from traffic offenses to murder. Law clerks receive assignment requests directly from attorneys. JPD law clerk responsibilities will include legal research and writing, citation processing, and staffing the serious traffic and expungement calendars. JPD law clerks will have other opportunities for courtroom experience through direct case work with attorneys based on assignments.


Special Litigation

Teams in this division include Appeals, Complex Crimes and Post-Conviction. Work assignments are distributed to law clerks directly from attorneys. Law clerks primary responsibilities are legal research and writing. Law clerks here have an opportunity to gain court experience by participating in various court proceedings including the municipal COAT calendar and other legal hearings. Criminal Appeals law clerks may have an opportunity to argue a case in front of the Minnesota Court of Appeals.


DASC/Victim Services

This division handles victim services within the office. It includes the Domestic Abuse Service Center, a nationally recognized center that serves victims of domestic violence. Law clerks’ primary responsibilities are legal research and writing. Law clerks assigned to this division occasionally meet with domestic abuse victims. Additional court experience includes participating in the municipal COAT calendar.


Civil Divisions

Adult Services

This division handles legal matters related to civil commitment, adult protection, and economic assistance appeals related to these matters. Law clerks’ primary duties are legal research and writing. They draft appellate briefs and petitions for “sexually dangerous person” civil commitments.  Law clerks also review and organize records for complex commitment cases including “mentally ill and dangerous cases.” Additionally they assist attorneys with court appearances in mental illness and chemical dependency commitments. Law clerks can also participate in the municipal County Attorney COAT calendar.


Child Protection

This division provides legal advice and represents the Human Services and Public Health Department, Child Protection Department. Child protection attorneys intervene in child protection cases where there is an imminent threat that a child may be harmed as well as cases where parental rights are terminated in order to protect children. Law clerks’ primary responsibilities are legal research and writing.  Law clerks appear in court on child protection cases, and represent the client on truancy and other specialized calendars. Law clerks also assist on appellate briefs and may have an opportunity to do an appellate argument.


Child Support

This division serves as legal counsel to the Hennepin County Child Support Agency. The attorneys in this division establish parentage and child support orders, as well as enforcement of such orders. Law clerks primary responsibility is to represent the Child Support agency in hearings. This includes handling daily court calendars by preparing cases for hearing, attending the hearings, negotiating settlements, utilizing trial skills and providing representation on some appeals. Law clerks also research legal topics and prepare legal memoranda, correspondence and other pleadings and documents.


Civil

The Civil Division of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office provides a full range of legal services for the County of Hennepin, including legal advice and representation to its various departments and elected officials.  Law clerks in the Civil Division support attorneys by conducting legal research and writing memoranda. Clerks must collaborate with attorneys and support staff within the division and may also interact with clients. Clerks are assigned to work with a team of attorneys and are expected to attend team meetings and trainings. Additionally, all clerks have the opportunity to participate in the municipal County Attorney COAT calendar.

The following materials are required for your application:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • References (3)
  • Writing sample
  • Transcript (unofficial)
  • Submit a completed application packet to LawClerkProgram@hennepin.us

Application Deadlines

Applications are accepted year-round and candidates are interviewed as vacancies occur.

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