Judicial Law Clerk Program

Each fall, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP), the NRC's independent trial-level adjudicatory body, selects individuals from a pool of highly-qualified applicants to serve as judicial law clerks beginning in September of the following year. Our judicial clerkships are two-year term appointments that begin in early September. Panel law clerks are not assigned permanently to any one judge, but rather they are assigned to cases. This structure allows clerks to work on a variety of projects, issues, and cases and provides clerks with the opportunity to learn a broad range of skills while working closely with a number of legal and technical judges who have varying styles and approaches to ASLBP adjudications. An ASLBP clerkship is particularly well-suited to those who have an interest in regulatory, environmental, and/or energy law.

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About the Program

Clerking for the ASLBP presents an exciting opportunity to work in an increasingly complex and important area of the law, particularly for applicants with an interest in federal regulatory and administrative law or environmental and energy law. The ASLBP adjudicates a wide range of nuclear matters, including reactor and materials licensing which involve both safety/technical matters and environmental issues. The Panel also presides over NRC enforcement cases. For a discussion of the work and responsibilities of the ASLBP, be sure to read ASLBP Responsibilities.

Working with their three-judge licensing boards, law clerks are involved with interpreting complex legal and technical issues involving subjects such as reactor safety, radioactive waste disposal, NEPA compliance, and the scope of agency authority and responsibilities. In addition, law clerks aid Licensing Boards in preparing for and conducting oral arguments, pre-hearing conferences, and evidentiary hearings. They are routinely involved in assisting with drafting orders and decisions, and they manage documentary materials for the adjudicatory record. They often serve as a primary point of contact for parties appearing before a Board.

The ASLBP Judicial Law Clerk Program also uniquely prepares its law clerks for future employment, whether in the public or private sector, as they gain valuable insight into the administrative process as well as the deliberative decision-making processes of individual judges. Over the past several years, the ASLBP's former law clerks have gone on to associate positions with major private law firms, with other federal agencies, including the NRC, and with non-profit environmental organizations. In addition, at the conclusion of his or her clerkship an ASLBP law clerk remains eligible for federal government honor law/attorney employment opportunities. Many of the Panel's past law clerks have emphasized the impact their experience with ASLBP had on their ability to secure competitive and rewarding post-clerkship employment.

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Work Assignments and Training

ASLBP law clerks have the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects and cases, and to serve with a variety of judges. Individual assignments are made by the Chief Counsel, who acts as a "gatekeeper" to help clerks manage their work load, as law clerks are generally assigned to several cases or matters at any given time. Typical assignments include drafting judicial decisions and orders, conducting legal research, preparing legal memoranda, and providing assistance to Licensing Boards during evidentiary hearings. Clerks are often assigned to work on a particular case for an extended period of time and therefore are involved in the development of a case from its earliest stages, including rulings on standing and contention admissibility, discovery disputes and, ultimately, conducting an evidentiary hearing and drafting merits decisions on those evidentiary presentations.

Because Licensing Boards typically conduct hearings and oral arguments at a location in the vicinity of the nuclear facility that is the focus of a particular case, clerks generally have the opportunity for some travel over the course of their service with the Panel. For additional information, see Location of ASLBP Hearings.

In addition to "on the job" training ASLBP law clerks receive while working with various legal and technical judges, clerks may participate in a variety of formal and informal legal and technical training. Because the NRC is located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, law clerks may have the opportunity to attend  judicial arguments in Federal appellate courts, as well as any number of programs sponsored by professional associations. On the technical side, past first-year clerks have attended a week-long training program conducted at the NRC's Technical Training Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that provides training in various scientific and engineering fields associated with regulating nuclear materials and facilities. This trip has included a tour of a nuclear power plant. Finally, the ASLBP periodically holds Panel Meetings that address pertinent technical and legal developments. See also, Working at NRC – Training.

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To be considered for the Judicial Law Clerk Program, applicants must be either (1) third-year law students who will earn their J.D. by June of the academic year of application; (2) graduate law (LL.M) students in their last year of study; or (3) current judicial law clerks whose clerkship ends no later than September of the year following application. Applicants must have an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 based on a scale of 4.0. Graduate law students and judicial clerks should not have any significant post-J.D. legal employment. Only United States citizens can be admitted to the Judicial Law Clerk Program, and each person selected for the program must undergo a complete security/background investigation and be granted a security clearance. All NRC positions require pre-employment drug testing and are subject to random drug testing.

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Grade and Salary Levels

Using federal grade and salary levels, ASLBP judicial law clerks will typically start at grade GG-11, step 10.  After one year of satisfactory job performance, and assuming admission to the Bar of any state or the District of Columbia, an ASLBP law clerk is eligible for a promotion to grade GG-12, step 6. The full performance level for judicial law clerks is GG-12.

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Application Information

When to Apply

Applications are generally accepted in late summer, with the interview and selection process continuing through the fall.

How to Apply

To submit your application please visit: USAJOBS

We value our veterans and their unique training and experience. Eligible veterans will receive preference afforded to them by the Veterans' Preference Act of 1944 and should submit appropriate documentation of service as part of their application.

The NRC provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process, please notify the Disability Program Coordinator at (301) 415-2294 or TDD 301-415-2100.

The NRC does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, July 15, 2020