How much do federal court clerks make?

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hellojd
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How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby hellojd » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:29 pm

Before I get flamed out of here, 1) YES I know pay should not be a consideration for if you want to clerk or not, and 2) YES I did a search for this and the one guy who asked got flamed by everyone who responded.

But I thought this was a topic that should at least be commented on? After all, we're all current or prospective law students who are all curious people :)

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TTT-LS
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby TTT-LS » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:39 pm

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Last edited by TTT-LS on Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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thesealocust
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby thesealocust » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:48 pm

edit: never mind
Last edited by thesealocust on Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TTT-LS
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby TTT-LS » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:54 pm

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Last edited by TTT-LS on Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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hellojd
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby hellojd » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:19 pm

TTT-LS wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Keep in mind the vast majority of clerkships are 1 year (some are 2). 'career clerks' are quite rare.

On top of that, firms pay bonuses and often elevated starting salaries to those who go LS -> Clerkship -> firm.

Yup. Large firms tend to pay a one-time 50k bonus for 1 year federal clerkships. The going rate is about 70k for 2-year clerkships. Elsewhere, firms tend to pay more like 30k for 1 year and 50k for 2.

There is some doubt as to whether these bonus levels will hold as firms restructure their comp systems. I don't know much about what happened with clerks who started in biglaw this past fall, but I'd like to know.


Is that 50/70k on top of other signing bonuses, etc?

How much does the actual base increase?

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thesealocust
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby thesealocust » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:54 pm

edit: never mind
Last edited by thesealocust on Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TTT-LS
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby TTT-LS » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:58 pm

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Last edited by TTT-LS on Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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aguacaliente
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby aguacaliente » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:00 am

https://oscar.uscourts.gov/drupal/conte ... d-benefits

base is 49K/year if you are straight out of school (it is strictly based on the pay grade in which most clerks straight out of law school are placed). can be adjusted for the area in which you are working. if you have 1 year of post-grad legal experience, your pay grade is increased, resulting in 10k more per year; the same goes for additional legal experience before clerking -- the more you have the more you make.

Leeroy Jenkins
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:05 am

aguacaliente wrote:https://oscar.uscourts.gov/drupal/content/qualifications-salary-and-benefits

base is 49K/year if you are straight out of school (it is strictly based on the pay grade in which most clerks straight out of law school are placed). can be adjusted for the area in which you are working. if you have 1 year of post-grad legal experience, your pay grade is increased, resulting in 10k more per year; the same goes for additional legal experience before clerking -- the more you have the more you make.

If you were previously a federal employee, do they have to bring you in at the grade you left?

2009 Prospective
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby 2009 Prospective » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:13 am

thesealocust wrote:
hellojd wrote:
TTT-LS wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Keep in mind the vast majority of clerkships are 1 year (some are 2). 'career clerks' are quite rare.

On top of that, firms pay bonuses and often elevated starting salaries to those who go LS -> Clerkship -> firm.

Yup. Large firms tend to pay a one-time 50k bonus for 1 year federal clerkships. The going rate is about 70k for 2-year clerkships. Elsewhere, firms tend to pay more like 30k for 1 year and 50k for 2.

There is some doubt as to whether these bonus levels will hold as firms restructure their comp systems. I don't know much about what happened with clerks who started in biglaw this past fall, but I'd like to know.


Is that 50/70k on top of other signing bonuses, etc?

How much does the actual base increase?


Example (numbers are not current / accurate, but close enough. If somebody has real market #s feel free to correct)

1st year associate makes 160K, 1st year bonus is 10K
2nd year associate makes 170K, 2nd year bonus is 15K

No clerkship: You make 170K first year, 185K second year = 355K total pre-tax compensation two years out

Clerkship: You make ~60K first year as a clerk, then join your firm. Your salary is the same as a second year so you make 170K (2nd year salary), get a 50K clerkship signing bonus, and then a 15K (2nd year market) end of year bonus = 235K. Thus 295K total pre-tax compensation two years out if you clerked.

So you take a hit, no doubt about that - but the bonus and starting bump makes it much more even than it otherwise would be. Clerking is definitely not for making mad $$$.

[I'm 90% sure that's how it works and that my numbers are close to realistic, but if I'm wrong please point it out and mock me, TLS]


Correct me if I'm wrong but I would think the clerkship signing bonus probably gets taxed heavily enough to stretch the gap even further from what one would make as an associate. This isn't to say that clerkships aren't worth it of course.

DukeHopeful
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby DukeHopeful » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:21 am

Ehhh, I know I'm risking some flack here for posting as 0L, but this thread got me curious and my question is probably best answered here. I have had the opportunity to meet several times with someone in the Delaware Court of Chancery. He told me two years ago that both of his clerks, who were with him for a year, had employment contracts lined up making $250K+ when they left his court. Does this sound accurate? Are these clerkships paid similarly to federal clerkships? The firm numbers are pretty different than above, but I wasn't sure if the chancery court made things different since the opportunities to clerk there are very limited. I'm really interested in business litigation, hence my interest in asking. Also, does anyone know how difficult it is to place into a Delaware Chancery Court clerkship? Or anything else about this path in LS?

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thesealocust
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby thesealocust » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:35 am

edit: never mind
Last edited by thesealocust on Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:56 am

Two years ago, I guess I could see that if Chancery was getting federal bonus or close to it and they were getting class standing. $175K base + old $35K lockstep bonus + clerkship bonus.

snapplesupra
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby snapplesupra » Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:40 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong but I would think the clerkship signing bonus probably gets taxed heavily enough to stretch the gap even further from what one would make as an associate. This isn't to say that clerkships aren't worth it of course.[/quote]

5 years later correction: I'm not saying you're wrong but I work in tax and don't know any reason why this would be right. Is there a reason you think bonus-income is taxed differently or at a higher rate than non-bonus-income?

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Vincent
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby Vincent » Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:11 pm

snapplesupra wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong but I would think the clerkship signing bonus probably gets taxed heavily enough to stretch the gap even further from what one would make as an associate. This isn't to say that clerkships aren't worth it of course.

5 years later correction: I'm not saying you're wrong but I work in tax and don't know any reason why this would be right. Is there a reason you think bonus-income is taxed differently or at a higher rate than non-bonus-income?


Not sure if I'm answering the right question, but I suspect the answer might be that the clerkship bonus gets added to your income as an associate, in the same year you're making an associate's salary. Because you're making 170k+, the clerkship bonus gets taxed at a higher marginal tax bracket rate than if you had gotten the bonus the same year you were receiving your clerk's salary.

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sundance95
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Re: How much do federal court clerks make?

Postby sundance95 » Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:15 pm

Vincent wrote:
snapplesupra wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong but I would think the clerkship signing bonus probably gets taxed heavily enough to stretch the gap even further from what one would make as an associate. This isn't to say that clerkships aren't worth it of course.

5 years later correction: I'm not saying you're wrong but I work in tax and don't know any reason why this would be right. Is there a reason you think bonus-income is taxed differently or at a higher rate than non-bonus-income?


Not sure if I'm answering the right question, but I suspect the answer might be that the clerkship bonus gets added to your income as an associate, in the same year you're making an associate's salary. Because you're making 170k+, the clerkship bonus gets taxed at a higher marginal tax bracket rate than if you had gotten the bonus the same year you were receiving your clerk's salary.

But the lack of alignment between the tax year and the clerkship year tends to ameliorate that. Barring unusual circumstances, most clerks work the first half of the year at a clerk's salary, and the second half at an associate's salary.




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