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Constitutional Law and Policy Clerkship/Externship Program

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The Goldwater Institute’s Center for Constitutional Government hires law clerks and externs in each of the summer, fall, and spring semesters.

Constitutional law and policy clerks and externs perform cutting-edge legal research, analysis, applied legal theory and policy development in the fields of state and federal constitutional law, contribute to amicus briefs filed in the nation’s highest courts, draft model legislation, and lend on-demand hands-on support to the Institute’s external relations and litigation team.

They are expected to possess an understanding of the principles of limited government and freedom-oriented legal theory for use in developing effective tactics and strategies for restoring and improving our Republic at every level of governance. Creative yet thoughtful and disciplined reasoning, research and writing skills are essential. Clerks and externs work primarily under the center’s attorney and director Nick Dranias.

Q. What can I expect to gain from a clerkship or externship?

A. Clerks and externs for the Goldwater Institute will sharpen their legal research and writing skills. Clerks and externs also have opportunities to participate in the Institute’s events, policy research, and lunch-and-learn seminars specially directed to students.
     Constitutional law and policy clerks and externs will learn about defending and developing constitutional law and policy. Additionally, they will learn the distinctive features of the workings of a non-profit public policy and research organization, as well as aspects of a public interest law practice.

Q. Who qualifies for clerkships and externships?

A. Applicants must have completed at least one year in law school. Other students should apply for a Ronald Reagan Fellowship and state their interest in working with either the litigation or constitutional policy center. For those applying to the constitutional law and policy program, an economics, philosophy or political science undergraduate or graduate degree is desirable.

Q. What qualities do you look for in an ideal applicant?

A. Successful applicants have a strong work ethic, a demonstrated capacity for creative thinking, exceptional legal research skills, and a deep understanding of classical liberal principles. They also must be personable and have a good sense of humor.

Q. What is the compensation?

A. Law clerks are paid. Externs receive class credit towards their J.D. degree and are unpaid. For additional financial assistance, we encourage you to contact your school’s public interest law organization (PILO) for grant and scholarship opportunities. Upon accepting an offer to work at the Goldwater Institute, you may also apply for assistance through the Institute for Humane Studies Hayek Fund for Scholars.

Q. What hours do clerks and externs work?

A. Summer clerks should commit to the entire summer, and the position is full-time (40 hours per week). Fall and spring clerks can work full- or part-time, but they must commit to a firm and reliable schedule, a portion of which may involve telecommuting at the discretion of the policy director. Externs work the number of hours required by their school based on the number of credits they receive for the work.

Q. What is the difference between a clerkship and an externship?

A. Clerkships are paid positions, while externs are unpaid and receive course credit towards their J.D. degree. Both positions are research-intensive. Externs are also freely given the opportunity to attend outside law-related events, such as CLEs and Federalist Society events. Clerks are permitted and encouraged to take advantage of those opportunities as long as their workload allows.

Q. When should I apply?

A. Applications are accepted anytime. First-year students need not wait until December 1st to apply for a summer position.

Q. How do I apply?

A. Constitutional law and policy clerks and externs should mail a cover letter, resume, and legal writing sample to Nick Dranias at 500 E. Coronado Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85004. Applications may also be emailed to ndranias@goldwaterinstitute.org. Please note clearly in your cover letter (1) whether you are in your first, second, or third year of law school, and (2) whether you possess a degree in economics, philosophy or political science and the nature of the degree.
     Applicants may apply to both the litigation and constitutional law and policy programs, but should note that they are doing so on both applications.

Q. Whom may I contact to answer my questions about the clerkship or externship program?

A. You are encouraged to call or email the program directors. You may also request contact information for previous clerks and externs to learn first-hand about their experiences. For constitutional law and policy clerkships and externships, please contact Nick Dranias at (602) 462-5000 x221 or ndranias@goldwaterinstitute.org.

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