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US District Court

Federal Courts


Judicial Clerkships

Factual Investigation; Legal Research & Analysis; Oral Advocacy; Writing for Litigation

Work Description

Hon. Max 0. Cogburn, Jr.
United States District Court
Western District of North Carolina

The primary purpose of allowing externships is to further the court's
interest in having soon-to-be admitted attorneys familiar with the workings
of the federal court system. To that end, externs will be afforded every
opportunity to participate in the court's work that is typically performed by
staff attorneys and law clerks. Further, externs will be provided with
opportunities to actively participate in staff discussions with the judge,
draft memoranda and opinions, and attend court in the discretion of the

The conduct of externs is governed by the ethical obligations of law clerks,
and a booklet will be provided to the extern on their first day of service.
The overriding ethical concern is that in-chambers discussions,
deliberations, and work cannot be discussed outside of chambers. The
court makes an exception for reports and discussions with academic
advisors, but even those out-of-chambers discussions should be
circumspect to protect the integrity of the judicial process.

The work week during the extern program is Monday through Thursday,
9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The court will count lunches and breaks as time at
work as breaks are usually spent with court personnel where substantial
work is accomplished. As a future professional, the extern will be
expected to keep up with their own time and may take necessary leave
with approval of any member of chambers staff. Any federal holidays or
administrative leave days will be credited as the court has found such days
are consumed with court business or contact with other agencies, even if
the staff member is not physically in the office.

Work will be assigned on a daily basis, and will include reviewing
motions, preparing draft orders, attending court, reviewing recent appellate
decisions, and doing trial preparation work. Depending on the skill set of
the Extern, responsibility may include working on upcoming trial
calendars, with oversight by chambers staff. The extern should expect to
engage in work typically accomplished by federal term law clerks.

Court Visits: The Extern will be encouraged to attend hearings and trials being
conducted by other federal judges. It is expected that the Extern will
attend the fo11owing hearings, proceedings, or trials during their

Initial Appearance, Arraignment, Detention Hearing, Plea Hearing,
and an Evidentiary Hearing on a Motion to Suppress.
A Criminal and/or a Civil Trial.
A Civil Discovery Motions Hearing and a Civil Dispositive
Motions Hearing.
A Sentencing and a Supervised Release Violation Hearing.
A regular term of the United States Bankruptcy Court and a First
Meeting of Creditors.
A Social Security Hearing (this will need to be arranged with an
A panel hearing before the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
if such is scheduled in Asheville during the extemship.

Drafting Opinions: Research and writing comprise a large portion of the court's work. At the
trial court level, the goal is not to write complex academic decisions, but
to produce quality work product efficiently.

To that end, an extern will be
expected to draft opinions in active cases during the extemship in each of
the following areas:

An Order continuing a criminal case under the Speedy Trial Act.
An Order disposing of a motion to suppress or other contested
motion in a criminal case.
An Order dealing with an ex parte matter in a criminal case.
An Order in a civil case dealing with a non-dispositive matter.
An Order in a civil case dealing with a dispositive matter.
An Order either sustaining or overruling objections in a Social
Security case.
An Order either sustaining or overruling objections in a civil case.
An Order addressing a petition for in forma pauperis status.
An Order addressing a prose civil rights action filed by a prisoner.
An Order addressing a federal habeas corpus petition.
An Order addressing a state habeas corpus petition.

The court realizes that the work that comes in will vary and that the skills
and interests of the Extern will also vary. The goal is to have the Extern
exposed to the full panoply of federal practice and have a portfolio of
meaningful work product.

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