SF SUPERIOR COURT- Each county in California has a trial court (Superior Court). The Court is divided into Civil and Criminal Divisions. Externs usually work part-time. Externs research and write to assist judge in ruling on motions. Writing experience may be less extensive than at other courts. Opportunity to observe court proceedings.
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGES- Externs prepare “bench memoranda” to assist judge in ruling on various pretrial motions (civil and criminal). Externs also draft dispositions on social security, habeas corpus, and prisoner civil rights claims. Opportunity to observe courtroom proceedings. Externs usually work full-time.
U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGES- U.S. Magistrate Judges are appointed by U.S. District Judges. In the Northern District of California magistrates have their own case calendars as well as matters, such as discovery disputes or settlement, referred by district judges. Externs prepare “bench memoranda” to assist magistrates in ruling on matters referred by district judges and related to their own caseload. Externs may be full or part-time.
AGENCY COURTS & SPECIALTY COURTS - Often these courts don't have clerks so externs have close contact with the judge. This allows you to specialize in an area of law. These placements may not offer a substantial writing experience, depending on the placement, and are generally part time.
CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL- Extern researches issues presented in appellant's and respondent's briefs, reviews trial record, and drafts an opinion for the judge. Cases are both civil and criminal. Externs usually work full-time. Address cover letter to "Justice" before the Judge's name.
CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT- Extern often screen petitions for hearing and write “conference memos” recommending whether a hearing should be granted or denied (most are denied). Some externs work on “calendar memos” for cases for which a hearing is granted -- discussing issues in greater detail and recommending disposition. Externs screen mostly civil cases. Externs usually work full-time. Address cover letter to "Justice" before the Judge's name.
U.S. COURT OF APPEALS-NINTH CIRCUIT- Externs prepare “bench memoranda” to assist judge at oral argument. Externs also draft “memorandum dispositions” and opinions following oral argument. Externs work full-time.