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8 Reasons Why You Should Apply to the Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (JIOP)

If you are a young law student, legal internships can form an important part of your education and help connect theory with practice. You can learn more about day-to-day activities, gain insights into your field of interest, network with lawyers and judges, and develop skills like legal research, writing, client communication, and more. Not to mention, a reputed legal internship can add value to your CV, improving your employability upon graduation.

An internship opportunity worth considering is the American Bar Association’s Judicial Internship Opportunity Program (JIOP). In this blog, we will dive into what the program offers, who can apply, deadlines, the unique features, and give you eight reasons to apply!

What is the JIOP all about?

The American Bar Association offers the program to first- and second-year law students from backgrounds underrepresented in the legal profession. These include racial and ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, veterans, economically disadvantaged students, women, and those who identify as LGBTQ+. Here, selected interns conduct legal research for state and federal judges during the internship. The program runs for a minimum of six weeks and interns work full-time (35-40 hours), receiving a $2,000 award by the end of the program. 

What are the important dates?

Applications for the 2025 cohort will likely open in November 2024 till mid-January 2025. Successful candidates will be notified by April 2025. 

Is the internship paid?

Yes! Students who complete the internship receive a $2,000 award.

Where is the internship located?

JIOP offers students placements in multiple locations in California, Illinois, and Texas, and in select courts in Phoenix, AZ, Washington, DC, Miami, FL, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA (including Delaware and Camden, NJ), Salt Lake City, UT, and Seattle, WA. 

Who can apply for the program?

To apply, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. citizen

  • Come from a racial or ethnic background underrepresented in law

  • Be a first or second-year law student

Additionally, JIOP asks candidates to submit the following along with their application form:

  • Resume

  • Grades

  • Statement of interest (< 1,000 words)

  • Legal writing sample

What is the application process like?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and the first 500 applicants are guaranteed screening interviews. Broadly, the application process can be broken down into three steps:

  1. First-round interviews: A program volunteer conducts the first screening round to determine if the applicant should advance to the next round. The volunteer will evaluate the student’s writing, judgment, work ethic, grades, professionalism, and other abilities deemed important to the program. 

  2. Judicial interviews: Judges review the list of students sent by the program volunteer and decide whom they want to interview. Judges conduct these interviews in person, though special considerations can be made to hold them online.

  3. Final selection: By April, judges communicate which candidates have been selected and assign courts to them.  

What does the internship include?

As an intern, you will conduct legal research for a state or federal judge specializing in areas of law like intellectual property, antitrust, criminal law, appellate, civil law, bankruptcy, and child and family law. You can indicate your preferred field in your application, though JIOP does not guarantee placement. If you’d like to be considered for intellectual property, you must submit relevant educational proof and experience proving you are qualified.  

Cases that you may be assigned to involve securities issues, bankruptcy, patents and trademarks, copyright, civil rights, constitutional law, tax lawsuits, and more.

Is the program prestigious?

The internship is moderately selective, with an acceptance rate between 15-20%. In 2023, 774 students applied, and 159 were accepted. The selective application criteria likely prevent more interested students from applying. 

The program’s prestige comes from the fact that students have the unique opportunity to work with state and federal judges in courts across the country, giving them a firsthand view of how litigation works. Interns also receive $2,000 at the end of the program.

If you are interested in JIOP, here are 8 great reasons to apply:

1. If selected, you can demonstrate that you’ve made it through a rigorous application process

Selection for JIOP involves an initial screening round and a second judicial interview round with judges who determine your capability to work in a courtroom and evaluate your skills. The program’s organizers say the judicial interview is similar to a job interview and you can expect to be grilled about your qualifications and career goals.

2. The program is accessible and inclusive

The program is aimed at students from ethnic and racial minorities, veterans, people with disabilities, economically disadvantaged candidates, women, and students identifying as LGBTQ+. The program offers a solid opportunity for you if you happen to belong to one (or more) of these communities! 

3. You get paid a stipend

Upon successful completion of the internship, you receive a $2,000 award. This amount can help compensate you for housing, food, transport, and other expenses incurred during the course of the internship.

4. You gain real-world practical experience

As a law student, you can use the internship to witness how legal theory learned in the classroom is applied in a courtroom setting. Through legal research, you better understand how to use digital and physical resources to find laws and precedents relevant to the case, improve legal writing skills while drafting memos, motions, and briefs, and gain critical thinking skills when analyzing and applying legal principles.

5. You work with a sitting judge

The program places you with sitting state and federal judges across the U.S. For six weeks, you conduct legal research for cases they are assigned. During this time, you will receive mentorship, observe courtroom proceedings like trials, hearings, witness questioning, etc., gain a deeper understanding of judicial rulings, and more.

6. The internship will add value to your CV

Conducting legal research for a sitting judge and being mentored by them not only helps you develop the necessary skills to succeed in law, gain valuable professional experience, and help connect theory and practice but also improves your employability. Potential employers will notice that you have strong writing, critical thinking, problem-solving, and other skills, know that you can conduct yourself professionally in a courtroom, and have experience communicating with judges, clients, opposing counsel, and other stakeholders.

7. You can get a valuable recommendation

If you complete the internship and impress your assigned judge with your work ethic, attention to detail, and other qualities, they can write you a recommendation letter that would serve you well when applying for jobs, higher studies, and scholarship opportunities. 

8. You can avail of networking opportunities

Make the most of the limited time you have in the courthouse by interacting with attorneys, clerks, paralegals, court staff, and even other interns. The relationships you build with them can benefit you later in life when you are looking for job opportunities or professional development.

If you’re looking for a competitive mentored research program in subjects like data science, machine learning, political theory, biology, and chemistry, consider applying to Horizon’s Research Seminars and Labs

This is a selective virtual research program that lets you engage in advanced research and develop a research paper in a subject of your choosing. Horizon has worked with 1000+ high school students so far, and offers 600+ research specializations for you to choose from. 

You can find the application link here

One Other Option — the Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’d like to participate in a rigorous research program in law open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!

Kieran Lobo is a freelance writer from India.

Image Source: JIOP logo


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