Webinars Ease Law Clerk Application Process
Law schools are looking ahead to another law clerk hiring season. Just in time, a series of informational webinars hosted by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts are bringing them up to speed on the federal Judiciary’s Online System for Clerkship Application and Review, or OSCAR.
Since 2005, federal judges and law students have relied on OSCAR as a single, centralized online resource for the notice of available clerkships, clerkship application information, and law clerk employment information. In fiscal year 2011, 69 percent of all federal judges listed their clerkship status on OSCAR. Approximately 200 law schools have accounts on the OSCAR system where they set up their OSCAR profile, access applicant resources, and maintain their recommenders pools.
“We schedule training webinars for both law schools and chambers throughout the spring and summer,” said Laura Simon in the AO’s Office of Human Resources. “The topics prepare them for the law clerk hiring season with best practices, and do’s and don’ts. For the law schools, in particular, the webinars provide tools to help third-year law school applicants and faculty recommenders as they use OSCAR.”
Training webinars have been held on “How to Prepare for Application/Hiring Season,” and “Being An Applicant.” The one-hour online lectures gave career services offices at law schools their first look at new quick reference guides developed to make OSCAR navigation easier. Mid-summer webinars targeted law schools with sessions on “Being a Recommender.”
OSCAR webinars are nothing new for Susan Staab, Assistant Director of Career Services, The University of Chicago Law School who has participated in webinars since 2006.
“They’re very helpful for new users, and for someone like myself who has used them for several years, they’re a refresher, a reminder of things I should be doing, and a way to pick up some helpful hints,” said Staab. “They’re also an opportunity to ask questions electronically and see the human component behind the help desk.”
The webinars are structured to leave plenty of time for questions, both as topics are covered in the webinar and at the end.
“It’s a really efficient model,” said Staab, “especially if you can’t travel. It’s a short time commitment and the scheduling of webinars on two days and times is very helpful.”
Judges and chambers staff also benefit from webinars. “The lectures show how to update preferences, post positions, and manage the chamber account,” said Simon. “For example, if a judge is not hiring, the webinars illustrate the importance of updating that information in the hiring status.”
Understandably, the webinars are popular: 175 law school career service office members registered for the “Being An Applicant” webinars, while 183 registered for “How to Prepare for the Application/Hiring Season.” Nearly two dozen court human resources staff (or court unit administrator users) registered for a webinar especially for them on the OSCAR system. Twice that number of judges and chambers staff registered for webinars on “Effectively managing your OSCAR Hiring Profile.”
And while they lack the interactivity of the webinars, the training and information also are available anytime on the OSCAR website. Applications for iPads and video tutorials on the Judiciary’s YouTube channel (YouTube.com) are in the works.
To receive information about the OSCAR program and its training resources, contact the OSCAR Program Office at 866-666-2120 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.