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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Clerkship experience

Summer Law Clerk Program

          ▪ Recruitment for this program is done in a variety of ways including;
                ◦ HCAO hosts a Public Interest Multicultural Law Student Reception,
                ◦ Hennepin County Bar Association Minority 1L Law Clerk Program, and
                ◦ on-campus interviews and reception events at the local Twin Cities schools.  

          ▪ Applicants include first-year law students (1Ls) and second-year law students (2Ls) from
            local and national law schools.

          ▪ 33 to 40 law students are hired to work as law clerks for a 10 to 12   
             week period, 32-40 hours per week, from June through mid-August.

          ▪ Offers are contingent upon a Criminal Background check and reference check.

          ▪ Salary for 2018 summer law clerks is $18.69 per hour.

Academic Year Law Clerk Program

          ▪ Recruitment is done a variety of ways including;
                ◦ HCAO hosts a Public Interest Multicultural Law Student Reception,
                ◦ Hennepin County Bar Association Minority 1L Law Clerk Program, and
                ◦ on-campus interviews and reception events at the local Twin Cities schools.  
          
          ▪ Applicants include second-year law students (2Ls) and third-year law students (3Ls)
            able to work 17-19 hours per week

          ▪ 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 2018 fall law clerks is $18.69 per hour.

          ▪ 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

Possible division assignments

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, and Deputy County Attorneys on matters relating to legislation, public policy, office initiatives and citizen inquiries. Their primary duty is 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 monthly municipal County Attorney (COAT) calendar and other legal hearings.

Criminal Divisions

Adult Prosecution
Teams in this division handle felony crimes against person and gang cases. Law clerks are assigned to a trial team of attorneys. 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 monthly COAT calendar and other legal hearings.
 
Community Prosecution
Teams in the 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 monthly 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 based on their team.  Law clerks’ primary responsibilities are legal research and writing.  Courtroom experience includes motor vehicle theft, traffic and expungement calendars.

Special Litigation
Teams in this division include Appeals, Complex Crimes and Post-Conviction. Work assignments are distributed to law clerks directly from attorneys based on team assignments. 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 monthly municipal COAT calendar and other legal hearings. Criminal Appeals law clerks have an opportunity to argue a case in front of the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

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 appear at Order for Protection hearings as well as meet with domestic abuse victims. Additional court experience includes participating in the monthly 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 monthly 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
This division provides a full range of legal services to Hennepin County Government and represents the elected Hennepin County Board, Sheriff and County Administrator. Law clerks working in this division are assigned to one of six teams- Torts, Contracts, Employment, Real Property, Health Services, Labor Relations and Human Services. Law clerks primary duties are to conduct legal research and writing for their assigned team and have the opportunity to work with the attorneys from the other teams within the division. Law clerks are encouraged to attend the depositions, meditations and motions with which they were involved. Additional court experience includes participating in the monthly municipal County Attorney COAT calendar.

Application process

The following materials are required for your application:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • References (3)
  • Writing sample
  • Transcript (unofficial)
  • Submit a completed application packet to Christy Dording, Law Clerk Administrator
    christy.dording@hennepin.us.

Application deadlines

Spring semester – November 1

  • Hiring decisions are made by December 1.

Summer

2Ls- November 1

  • Applications for 2Ls are accepted and reviewed beginning in August preceding the summer for which the application is made.
  • Hiring decisions are made by December 1.

1Ls- January 1

  • Applications for 1Ls are accepted and reviewed beginning on December 1 (unofficial transcripts can be submitted once available).
  • Hiring decisions are made by February 1.

Fall semester - currently accepting applications

  • Note your top division preferences in your cover letter as candidates are asked to rank where they would like to work. However, law clerks will be assigned based on the needs of the office.
  • Once we have reviewed your materials, you will be contacted by Christy Dording for an interview.
  • Applications are accepted year-round and candidates are interviewed as vacancies occur.
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