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June 2007

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


New Version of OSCAR Improves Law Clerk Application Process

A new version of OSCAR, the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review, is now available to law schools, clerkship applicants, and judges nationwide. The upgrade incorporates several new features that promise to make the system even easier to use.

Nationwide, over 750 federal appellate, district, bankruptcy, and magistrate judges use OSCAR to select their law clerks and approximately 200 law schools provide access to the system for their students and administrators.

OSCAR takes what was a paper-heavy—and expensive—process and puts it online. Applicants for law clerk positions can pull together and submit on-line applications complete with resumes, cover letters, transcripts, and writing samples. Letters of recommendation can be placed confidentially in an applicant’s online file, either directly by the person making the recommendation or through an applicant’s law school. In turn, federal judges and their chambers staff can read, sort, and manage those applications on-screen, select materials to download, and communicate with applicants via email.

Version 3.0, the latest adaptation, bumps up OSCAR’s usability. Among the enhancements are a new “The Position” section that identifies the term of the clerkship, start/end dates, and application requirements. The new version also lets chambers open and close a clerkship for applications. Application folders are easier to rename and subfolders can now be added. Searching and sorting capabilities have been expanded to include geographic locations and text-word searches for a publication name in any of the submitted documents.

OSCAR also has spawned a web blog as a forum for law school students and administrators to post questions and share information. The blog has the additional ability to deliver RSS feeds.

Of course, OSCAR retains those features that have made the system so successful. Judges can still search for applicants based on law school, graduation year, class rank, and law review/journal experience. Applications can even be searched for experience in a particular area by using the full-text word search capability. And when applications have been sorted into folders, OSCAR allows reviewers to assign a 1-5 star rating to each one. About the only things OSCAR can’t do is interview the applicants and make a final decision. Those activities are still up to the judge.

Information on registering for OSCAR has been sent to all federal judges, who may sign up to participate in the program for the 2008 clerkship season by contacting the OSCAR Support Desk at 202-354-3005 or by emailing oscar-support@dcd.uscourts.gov. Participating judges are posted on the Federal Law Clerk Information System at https://lawclerks.ao.uscourts.gov as well as on the OSCAR website. Beginning June 11, 2007, applications were being accepted for 2008 law clerk positions.

For more on OSCAR visit http://oscar.dcd.uscourts.gov/.