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Extern Opportunities

Law Student Extern Application Information

Oregon Supreme Court
Oregon Court Of Appeals
Appellate Commissioner's Office


Mechele Surgeon
Phone:  503-986-5706

Oregon Supreme Court
1163 State Street
 Salem OR 97301

Application Deadlines

TermApplications AcceptedAnticipated Interview Dates
Summer 2024 & Fall 2024
January 8 - February 8, 2024

**Virtual Information Session:  Externing at Oregon's Appellate Courts**

The Oregon Appellate Courts will be accepting applications between January 8, 2024 and February 8, 2024 for Summer and Fall externships with the courts.  Learn about externing with the courts and how to apply for an externship by attending a virtual information session on January 19, 2024 at 12:00 p.m.   Justice Duncan of the Supreme Court and Judge Aoyogi of the Court of Appeals will explain how externships work in their respective courts, and law clerks and former externs will provide their perspectives.  This event is for students only and is being hosted on Zoom by University of Oregon, Willamette University, and Lewis and Clark.  

Please contact a school representative to receive a link to attend this session:

Felipe Alonso at U of O

Bev Ecklund  at Willamette -

Alice Emerson at Lewis and Clark -

The Oregon Supreme Court, the Oregon Court of Appeals, and the Office of the Appellate Commissioner will have externship opportunities in Summer 2024 and Fall 2024.  Applications for those terms will be accepted from January 8, 2024, to February 8, 2024.  To apply, submit an application through the CORA website administered by the National Center for State Courts:

The externships offer a unique opportunity for law students to be intimately involved in the Oregon judicial system, to learn about the appellate legal process, and to improve their legal skills while serving the people of Oregon.

Externs are hired to work for a particular justice, judge, or the Appellate Commissioner.  Externs work closely with their assigned judge and judicial clerk and may draft opinions, orders, or memoranda. During the externship, externs are given the opportunity to review records and filings, conduct independent research, discuss legal issues, make recommendations regarding the disposition of those issues, and attend oral arguments.

A judicial externship is excellent training for anyone interested in a judicial clerkship, appellate work, or trial practice in Oregon. Externs receive substantial feedback throughout their externship and can greatly improve their legal writing. Externs gain exposure to a variety of areas of law, including criminal, administrative, juvenile, evidence, and more. While working with the courts, externs receive onboarding training and are invited to CLEs throughout the term.

The externships are not paid by the court, but externs are welcome and encouraged to independently pursue scholarships or public interest funding for financial support during their externship. Externships can be -- but are not required to be -- for law school credit. Students seeking law school credit must make the necessary arrangements through their law schools.  Externs may be able to work remotely, hybrid, or in-person. The externship program accepts students during both the summer and the school year. (Summer externships begin in May, fall externships begin in August, and spring externships begin in January.) Summer externships are for 20-40 hours per week, school-year externships are for 12-40 hours per week, and specific work schedules may be flexible.

The Oregon Supreme Court, the Oregon Court of Appeals, and the Office of the Appellate Commissioner participate in a joint recruitment process. Applicants may indicate if they wish to be considered by one, two, or all three hiring departments. Applicants will participate in panel interviews.

The Oregon Supreme Court is Oregon's court of last resort.  The court is composed of seven justices elected to serve six-year terms by nonpartisan, statewide ballot.  The court is primarily a court of discretionary review, although a significant percentage of its caseload involves cases on mandatory direct review or direct appeal from lower tribunals.  In addition to the justices, the court employs a number of judicial assistants, staff attorneys, law clerks, an Appellate Legal Counsel, and a management assistant.  The court also has a program for law students to assist in its work on a volunteer basis.

The Oregon Court of Appeals is Oregon's intermediate appellate court.  The court is currently composed of 13 judges elected to serve six-year terms by nonpartisan, statewide ballot.  The court has broad jurisdiction over appeals from the circuit courts in criminal and civil cases and judicial review proceedings from administrative tribunals.  In addition to the judges, the court employs a number of judicial assistants, staff attorneys, and law clerks, as well as an executive manager and technical support staff.  The court also has a program for law students to assist in its work on a volunteer basis.
The Office of the Appellate Commissioner is a part of the Oregon Court of Appeals. It is responsible for deciding in the first instance most substantive motions filed in the Court of Appeals, such as motions to dismiss for want of jurisdiction, motions to dismiss as moot, motions to determine appealability, and motions for stays.  In addition to the Appellate Commissioner, the Office employs a paralegal and a law clerk.​​

Externs for the Oregon Supreme Court work either for individual justices or for the court as a whole.  Primarily, externs write petition memoranda that analyze and recommend dispositions on petitions for review of decisions from the Court of Appeals.  Duties also may include research, writing, and organizing and summarizing factual and legal information for individual justices or for the court's legal staff.  Externs have the opportunity to attend oral arguments. Other duties occasionally are assigned.
Externs for the Oregon Court of Appeals work directly for one of the judges.  Externs may perform some or all of the following work:  research issues in a case that has been assigned to the supervising judge; compile and discuss such research with the judge or the judge's law clerks; prepare research memoranda for the judge or law clerks; read and summarize parts of the record in a case; prepare a draft of an opinion or section of an opinion; assist the judge to prepare for oral argument by reading briefs and writing summaries ("bench memos") or researching selected issues before argument.  Externs have the opportunity to attend oral argument, as well as pre-argument and post-argument conferences.
Externs for the Office of the Appellate Commissioner work with the Appellate Commissioner.  Externs are expected to review and analyze substantive motions filed in the Court of Appeals, review files, conduct legal research as necessary to resolve motions, and prepare memoranda containing their analysis and recommended disposition.  Externs also have the opportunity to meet monthly with the Court of Appeals' Motions Department and are expected to be able to explain and defend their recommended disposition of motions referred to that department.  Externs also may have the opportunity to assist in drafting opinions related to certain motions; other duties occasionally are assigned.
The appellate courts provide an orientation for externs, together with written orientation materials.  The externships are unpaid, volunteer positions.  Externs may make arrangements with their law schools to receive law school credit for the externship (the availability of school credit depends on the law school).​​​

Externs must have completed their first year of law school before the beginning of their externship. Successful externs demonstrate an eagerness to learn, strong time management skills, and the ability to collaborate on projects. Some supervisors may prefer externs who are able to attend occasional in-person trainings or meetings.​

Conduct Expectations:

Externs are expected to abide by the highest standards of professional conduct and ethics.  To avoid conflicts of interest, externs are not permitted to perform outside legal work (either paid or unpaid and including work at a law school clinic) during their externship.  Research for a law professor is not considered to be outside legal work.​

Applications must be submitted through the CORA website administered by the National Center for State Courts:  

To be complete your application must include (1) a cover letter specifying the term or terms you are available; (2) a resume; (3) copies of your law school and undergraduate transcripts (unofficial copies are fine); (4) a list of three references; and (5) a writing sample of no more than five pages.

Application materials must be submitted as one PDF attachment.

​For questions concerning the externship program or your submission, please contact Mechele Surgeon at 503-986-5706 or

The Oregon Judicial Department is committed to equal opportunity and diversity.