Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

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Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:04 pm

I thought I'd start a thread for 2Ls or anyone else who's starting to think about clerkship applications.

I'm a 3L who recently endured the crazy process and got a clerkship. I'll be working for a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in a location I like; I feel lucky, as this was a tough year.

Throughout the application process, I relied on the very helpful advice of past clerks. Now I want to pay it forward.

If you have any questions about the process—OSCAR, letters of rec, interviews, etc.—I'm happy to try to try to answer them.

starstruck393
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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby starstruck393 » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:21 pm

For someone not really interested in academia, how valuable are clerkships? Would it be worth it to take a COA clerkship over biglaw for the first year out of ls? Thanks.

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:39 pm

2L here. What should I be doing now to start preparing for the process?

I am NOT interested in academia. Is clerking still worth it?

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DavidYurman85
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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby DavidYurman85 » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:40 pm

Does UG prestige/past work exp/pre-law school activities matter in the selection process?

Thanks for taking questions...

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:50 pm

I don't know what your plans are, but my sense is that clerking is worth it for most people. If you're interested in firms, a clerkship may help you get a position at a fancier firm, or in a fancier practice group (e.g., appellate). And you'll get a big clerkship bonus. Clerkships also open doors to top government honors programs and the elite nonprofits (ACLU, etc.).

As for what you can be doing now as a 2L, here's what I'd suggest:

1. Figure out who your three recommenders will be. If you haven't already developed strong, close relationships with any of your law professors, get on it right away. This ought to be your top priority. Take a seminar course next semester, work as a professor's research assistant, go to office hours, etc. The main reason I was successful in the application process is that my recommenders knew me well, made calls to judges, and advocated for me.

2. Start thinking about a writing sample. It ought to be ten or fifteen pages. If you're applying to COA, you'll probably want to pick something that discusses big ideas in addition to technical stuff. Law journal notes are ideal, but excerpts of seminar papers can also work well. A legal memo might work too.

3. Contact current clerks who graduated from your school. Your career services office probably keeps a database of these people. Making these connections is important, not just because these clerks might be reading your application, but also because they can provide advice about specific judges.

4. Start playing around with oscar.symplicity.com, the online clerkship application service.

But the most important thing you can do is #1.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Dec 18, 2009 4:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:59 pm

DavidYurman85 wrote:Does UG prestige/past work exp/pre-law school activities matter in the selection process?

Thanks for taking questions...


I don't think UG prestige matters too much. I didn't go to a fancy undergrad program, and none of the judges who interviewed me seemed to care. One judge asked me, "So tell me about [College X]," but that was the only question I got about it. Judges mostly wanted to talk about law school, my career plans, and my non-law, non-academic interests.

Past work experience came up a lot in the interviews. But I think that was mostly because I had some odd, random jobs before law school. Nothing prestigious. Just unusual.

I don't think UG prestige or pre-law school work are going to be dispositive factors for most applicants. My sense is that judges are looking for (1) a high level of achievement, usually at a top law school; (2) strong recommendations from professors, ideally professors whom the judge knows; and (3) a personality fit. Probably in that order.

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby TTT-LS » Fri Dec 18, 2009 4:14 pm

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Last edited by TTT-LS on Sun Jul 04, 2010 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

starstruck393
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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby starstruck393 » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:03 pm

How does the prestige of COA clerkships go? Is there a hierarchy of circuits, and how does the Fed circuit fit in?

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:08 pm

Hey, thanks for the advice, I have a question about when to get into clerkships. i know that I want to work at a firm, obviously the better the firm the happier ill be, but where do clerkships play into this. Can you intern your 2L summer at a firm and then apply to a clerkship for after law school? Is this accepted and liked by employers in the private sector? I am just trying to get a grip on the whole process.

Thanks for the info

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:13 pm

How does the prestige of COA clerkships go? Is there a hierarchy of circuits, and how does the Fed circuit fit in?

This obviously unscientific, but I feel like it would probably be DC/2d/9th >>> maybe 1st/4th/7th > the others.

But it's probably not too useful to rank the circuits. There are super-prestigious rock star judges in every circuit (e.g., Sutton in the 6th and Barkett in the 11th).

I didn't apply to any Fed Cir judges, and I don't know exactly where it fits in. My IP friends certainly think it's prestigious.

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:19 pm

Can you intern your 2L summer at a firm and then apply to a clerkship for after law school?

Yes. That's very common.

Is this accepted and liked by employers in the private sector?

Yes. Most firms are thrilled to have their former summer associates return to the firm after clerking. In fact, I've heard at some firms, like Williams & Connolly and Keker & Van Nest, it's almost a rule that summer associates hoping to return to the firm must clerk after graduation.

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby TTT-LS » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:25 pm

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:27 pm

I'm probably applying only to 7th--for family reasons, need to stay in Chicago. Do I have a chance at the CoA? Dist Ct?

NU
3.95 (no idea about rank, and the GPA will probably drop this semester)
LR. no board position yet, but am hoping maybe senior articles editor
nothing special on the resume aside from previous work experience and a prestigious 1L summer job

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:36 pm

I'm probably applying only to 7th--for family reasons, need to stay in Chicago. Do I have a chance at the CoA? Dist Ct?

NU
3.95 (no idea about rank, and the GPA will probably drop this semester)
LR. no board position yet, but am hoping maybe senior articles editor
nothing special on the resume aside from previous work experience and a prestigious 1L summer job


When will you know what rank the GPA translates to? Or does Northwestern even rank?

If the 3.95 puts you in the top 10%, I would think your chances are very good for N.D. IL and a number of 7th Cir. judges. If it's top 5%, you have a real shot at the 7th Cir. superstars (Wood, Posner, Williams, Flaum, Easterbrook, et al.).

And if you get the senior articles editor position, that will certainly help. Judges like to talk about law review, and being on the editorial board gives you a lot more to talk about than general membership does.

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby TTT-LS » Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:34 pm

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby EE2JD » Sun Dec 20, 2009 7:26 pm

starstruck393 wrote:How does the prestige of COA clerkships go? Is there a hierarchy of circuits, and how does the Fed circuit fit in?


I do not think it would make sense to rank the Federal Circuit with the others. Aside from the true feeders, the Federal Circuit is hands down the best place to clerk for patent attorneys. But generalists would likely be better off elsewhere. PM me if you have questions about applying there.

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby helvidius2010 » Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:42 pm

TTT-LS wrote:Talking with current and former clerks from your LS is a very effective way to do this, as they can help you identify judges who might be more likely to hire from your school


Seconded. It is a great idea to figure out which COA judges consistently take clerks from your school. This applies both inside and outside your school's region. In my class, most of us that got COA clerkships will be going to judges who consistently hire from my school.

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm probably applying only to 7th--for family reasons, need to stay in Chicago. Do I have a chance at the CoA? Dist Ct?

NU
3.95 (no idea about rank, and the GPA will probably drop this semester)
LR. no board position yet, but am hoping maybe senior articles editor
nothing special on the resume aside from previous work experience and a prestigious 1L summer job


In a similar vein, I'm also wondering about clerkship chances. Only looking at district court clerkships, preferably in a larger city in the midwest, but flexible geographically.

NU, top 25% give or take, secondary journal, also hoping for a board position, otherwise relatively standard resume.

Is a district court clerkship possible? If not, how much do I need to raise my GPA to be in consideration? If so, what type of districts are in play?

Other than the obvious (raising my grades, publishing a note/comment, getting good recs, etc) is there anything I should be doing to be more competitive in the application process?

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TTT-LS
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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby TTT-LS » Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:58 pm

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby gollymolly » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:16 pm

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Alexandria
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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Alexandria » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
In fact, I've heard at some firms, like Williams & Connolly and Keker & Van Nest, it's almost a rule that summer associates hoping to return to the firm must clerk after graduation.


I don't really think this is true, or at least if it is, they're going to have to relax it due to how hard it's been for people to get clerkships this year. I have friends going to W&C who have been unable to get clerkships (and that's saying something considering how hard it is to get W&C).

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Alexandria » Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:31 pm

gollymolly wrote:I've heard stuff about some judges having already hired their clerks for two years out (in other words, when the current 2Ls would normally start clerking). Do you have any idea if that's accurate?

Also, do you guys have any idea how plausible it is to apply to clerk after you've graduated? I feel really uncomfortable committing to a judge before I find out if my firm extends me a permanent offer (or if I even like the firm, for judges off plan) - I'm curious to see if there's a way around this (like work two years, then go clerk, then come back).


I don't know nearly as much about clerkships as TTT-LS, as I didn't even apply myself. But I might possibly do what you're discussing... go after working a few years.

One thing to keep in mind is that firms are becoming less understanding of this. It used to be that many would guarantee your job if you left for a clerkship. Now they are moving more toward making you actually reapply. The assumption is that if they like you and the firm is doing well, they would rehire you. But it's still not nearly as secure as it used to be.

You can also think of it as an exit option... if you find that biglaw isn't working for you, you could clerk while figuring out what it is that you do want to do long-term, applying for jobs, etc.

Re: hiring clerks 2 years out... this is happening, but it's not 2Ls they're hiring... they're hiring 3Ls, some of whom already have a clerkship lined up for immediately after graduation and who want to do a second clerkship (like dist ct and then COA). They're probably also hiring some current attorneys that far out. I also know some people whose judges were full for this coming year, so hired them for the year after next. I assume they're planning to go to their firms for a year and then clerk, if the firm allows it.

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby Alexandria » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:07 pm

TTT-LS wrote:Not sure what your interpretation of top 25% is, but I gather that probably falls right around a 3.7. To give you a reference point, 103 students in the class of 2009 graduated with a 3.65 or better (roughly 37% of the class). Those numbers reflect some 2L and 3L grade inflation, so I take it a smaller % of the class had a 3.65 after 1L year. Also, FWIW, the c/o 2009 had a lot more people at 3.65 or above than the c/o 2008, so things do vary from year to year.



Off-topic rant:

Holy crap, I wish they would redo our curve. It may be unfounded, but I'm afraid judges/employers don't pay enough attention to the differences from school to school. 3.7 is top 10% for us. His 3.95 would be top 2%.

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby TTT-LS » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:41 pm

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Re: Clerkships: recent survivor of application process taking Qs

Postby gollymolly » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:25 pm

TTT-LS wrote:Our curve is definitely generous. Last year, top 3.5% was 3.97 at graduation. As I mentioned above, I think gpas generally rise a little 2L and particularly 3L year. I do think most judges/employers understand that a 3.7 at NU =/= 3.7 at UM.

As for judges hiring already for 2011-12 and beyond, it is definitely happening, mostly at the COA level as Alexandria described. LCA has a lot of data if you want specifics.


OT but I hate it when people say GPAs rise. Same curve, same people, only now everyone else has figured out how the exam works. My grades are plummeting this semester for sure.

On the recommendation front: Did any of you get LORs from professors you didn't RA or TA for? In other words, is it possible to get a decent LOR from a professor you interact with in class & limited office hours?




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