Clerkship Advice Thread

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Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:49 pm

This thread is for 2Ls and 3Ls applying for clerkships this summer or next September. I am happy to offer advice (where you might be competitive, application strategies, etc). I will be clerking for a non-feeder COA judge on a major circuit next fall.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby prezidentv8 » Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:51 pm

My question - when should I take Fed Courts?

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:52 pm

Can you comment on the CoA off-plan world? I know at least some feeder judges are off-plan, I know at least some remote judges are off-plan. I also know that many are off plan because they basically rely on recommendations from certain direct connections with professors.

What I don't know is how big or prevalent that is, whether one approaches a prof or the prof approaches the person, whether there are other reasons for being off plan, whether there are major exceptions, etc.

Thank you in advance for any insight you might have!

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:56 pm

prezidentv8 wrote:My question - when should I take Fed Courts?


That's a good question. I think people overemphasize the importance of Fed Courts in clerkship apps. Most judges want you to take the class before you start clerking, but most people I know who got great clerkships didn't take it until the fall or even spring of their 3L year. Obviously it's considered a core class, and people know it's very hard. But I don't think you'd be worse off really with another solid black letter course instead.

It also depends on how ballsy you are. An A in Fed Courts will look great on your application, but a B, not so much. And it's hard and usually the curve is terrible because prospective clerks self select into it.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby prezidentv8 » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
prezidentv8 wrote:My question - when should I take Fed Courts?


That's a good question. I think people overemphasize the importance of Fed Courts in clerkship apps. Most judges want you to take the class before you start clerking, but most people I know who got great clerkships didn't take it until the fall or even spring of their 3L year. Obviously it's considered a core class, and people know it's very hard. But I don't think you'd be worse off really with another solid black letter course instead.

It also depends on how ballsy you are. An A in Fed Courts will look great on your application, but a B, not so much. And it's hard and usually the curve is terrible because prospective clerks self select into it.


Muchas gracias.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Can you comment on the CoA off-plan world? I know at least some feeder judges are off-plan, I know at least some remote judges are off-plan. I also know that many are off plan because they basically rely on recommendations from certain direct connections with professors.

What I don't know is how big or prevalent that is, whether one approaches a prof or the prof approaches the person, whether there are other reasons for being off plan, whether there are major exceptions, etc.

Thank you in advance for any insight you might have!


The off-plan world is extremely varied. Mostly you have to just sort of ferret out the information by talking to people/researching lawclerkaddict.com and places like that. Your school clerkship office may also be willing to help (depends on the school, some will, some won't).

Basically it breaks down into a few categories.

Category 1 is judges who just ignore the plan, which is usually young or well-known conservative judges. Wilkinson, Sutton, Kozinski, and a number of others (I think some in Pittsburgh and one in Denver, at least) hire 2Ls over the summer. These judges seem to have no interest whatsoever in the plan, and just hire on their own time. I have no idea why it seems to be more conservative judges than liberals. The best way to get one of these clerkships is through professor connection. (In some cases it may be the only way). You can also send in a paper application (if your school won't release your recommendation letters, just say the judge should contact the individual professor or contact the school and request them). At least one judge says on OSCAR that he wants you to just mail in your application over the summer.

Category 2 is judges who are in unpopular locations, like West Virginia, or Baltimore, etc. This includes a lot of judges in California who think the plan is biased in favor of New York. These judges tend to interview slightly early. (Though some on the 9th Circuit go very early). What will usually happen with them is that they will wait until your OSCAR application gets released, but then call you earlier than they are supposed to and schedule an interview earlier than they are supposed to. They do this because they don't want to make you forsake other interviews to go to some random location.

Generally, the off plan world is very judge specific. If you are interested, your best shot is through a professor connection. I would talk to your recommenders and ask if they know of any judges who hire early, say you don't want to miss any opportunities for great clerkships. If they know someone, they might volunteer to contact that person.

But really most of the hiring, at least on the eastern seaboard, is on-plan these days. So don't worry if you don't get hired early.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby prezidentv8 » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:This includes a lot of judges in California who think the plan is biased in favor of New York. These judges tend to interview slightly early. (Though some on the 9th Circuit go very early). What will usually happen with them is that they will wait until your OSCAR application gets released, but then call you earlier than they are supposed to and schedule an interview earlier than they are supposed to. They do this because they don't want to make you forsake other interviews to go to some random location.


Curious about the California judges, as I'm from California and would like to practice there...that's interesting, anyway.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:25 pm

Thank you for the advice so far.

Any idea why some district court judges seem to be extraordinarily competitive (glancing at my school's released data). Are there feeders to feeder judges or something?

Also: How many people at the top of the class at your school didn't gun for CoA? Was it the norm? Some people ignore the process but intend to look after a few years of practice perhaps?

It is obvious that feeder judges are the primary path to the Supreme Court, but is any hiring done from non-feeder judges, or is it pretty much 'this CoA judge either sends clerks to SCOTUS (in whatever proportion) or does not'?

For applying out of law school, when is best to pop the rec question? I'm sure some will wait for prudential reasons until spring 2010. Is there any point at which it is 'too soon' no matter the relationship, or an agreed upon point past which it is definitely too late?

Did your school do anything for you outside of your hustle? Did anybody from career services approach you to help, or maybe professors you only knew slightly well? I guess as sort of a general question - once you get competitive for CoA, how much backing comes your way both before and after you make it known you're looking?

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Any idea why some district court judges seem to be extraordinarily competitive (glancing at my school's released data). Are there feeders to feeder judges or something?


Certain districts are incredibly competitive. The worst are SDNY, EDNY, EDVA, DDC, NDCA, NDIL. Judges all have different reputations, and that may contribute to some being more competitive than others. Louis Pollack, in EDPA, used to be harder to get than most appellate clerkships. Also, some judges care more about grades than others. And there are definitely "feeders" to COA judges. Many district judges have relationships with certain COA judges and you can move up the ladder that way. You'd have to look into the specific judge to find the reason.

Anonymous User wrote:Also: How many people at the top of the class at your school didn't gun for CoA? Was it the norm? Some people ignore the process but intend to look after a few years of practice perhaps?


It's hard to tell because my school doesn't rank. Most of the people I suspect are at the top of the class (based on Law Review and job placement) have good clerkships lined up, though not all COA. I haven't encountered many people who thought they could get a clerkship but didn't want one. So I would guess that most of the top people go for clerkships. (I am at a school very close to the top, but not Yale).

Anonymous User wrote:It is obvious that feeder judges are the primary path to the Supreme Court, but is any hiring done from non-feeder judges, or is it pretty much 'this CoA judge either sends clerks to SCOTUS (in whatever proportion) or does not'?


I don't know as much about Supreme Court hiring, since I'm not really competitive. Most of the hiring just statistically does go through feeder judges, but I'm sure plenty of people get it after non-feeders. I would think you need some other connection though, like a professor who knows the justice or someone who can really get the justice's attention.

Anonymous User wrote:For applying out of law school, when is best to pop the rec question? I'm sure some will wait for prudential reasons until spring 2010. Is there any point at which it is 'too soon' no matter the relationship, or an agreed upon point past which it is definitely too late?


I don't think there is any point where it is too soon or too late. I would ask before you leave the school, and ask early enough that you can make sure their letter is submitted to the clerkship office before you leave.

Anonymous User wrote:Did your school do anything for you outside of your hustle? Did anybody from career services approach you to help, or maybe professors you only knew slightly well? I guess as sort of a general question - once you get competitive for CoA, how much backing comes your way both before and after you make it known you're looking?


No one approached me, and the administration does not specifically select people to support and push, nor do professors. In my experience, you have to take the initiative. However, once I went to professors and the clerkship office, they were very helpful. Professors I wasn't that close with (but had in class) gave me advice and some even made a call or let me use them as references. But odds are you're going to have to do the bulk of it yourself, at least initially.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Did your school do anything for you outside of your hustle? Did anybody from career services approach you to help, or maybe professors you only knew slightly well? I guess as sort of a general question - once you get competitive for CoA, how much backing comes your way both before and after you make it known you're looking?


No one approached me, and the administration does not specifically select people to support and push, nor do professors. In my experience, you have to take the initiative. However, once I went to professors and the clerkship office, they were very helpful. Professors I wasn't that close with (but had in class) gave me advice and some even made a call or let me use them as references. But odds are you're going to have to do the bulk of it yourself, at least initially.



Just a caveat to this (same poster that answered)- in some cases, if you are a well-connected professor's favorite student, that professor may just sort of place you with a judge he has a connection with. This wasn't my experience, but it occurs. The amount that a professor is going to help you probably depends on how high you are in the class, and they may do a lot for the true stars. I was qualified enough to get a solid COA clerkship, but not one of the top 5-10 students in the school, for whom professors likely go the extra mile.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:But really most of the hiring, at least on the eastern seaboard, is on-plan these days
Seems wrong to me. Fourth and Eleventh Circuits cover 40% of the eastern seaboard, and a huge majority of judges on both hire early. Third Circuit covers a bunch more territory along the coast, and quite a few judges there are already done for 11-12. True, many of those judges primarily look at alumni applicants, but some consider 3Ls off-plan as well.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 01, 2010 5:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:But really most of the hiring, at least on the eastern seaboard, is on-plan these days
Seems wrong to me. Fourth and Eleventh Circuits cover 40% of the eastern seaboard, and a huge majority of judges on both hire early. Third Circuit covers a bunch more territory along the coast, and quite a few judges there are already done for 11-12. True, many of those judges primarily look at alumni applicants, but some consider 3Ls off-plan as well.


I was talking only about early hiring of current students (before they are plan-eligible). You're definitely right that most COA judges everywhere hire alums early. The Fourth Circuit does have some early hiring (Wilkinson and maybe others), but they're pretty unusual. The D.C., Third, Second, and First are generally pretty rigid about following the plan. I don't know much about 11. The Third is notorious for hiring mostly alums, and the only judges I'm aware of that hire early are in Pittsburgh.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 01, 2010 11:50 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:But really most of the hiring, at least on the eastern seaboard, is on-plan these days
Seems wrong to me. Fourth and Eleventh Circuits cover 40% of the eastern seaboard, and a huge majority of judges on both hire early. Third Circuit covers a bunch more territory along the coast, and quite a few judges there are already done for 11-12. True, many of those judges primarily look at alumni applicants, but some consider 3Ls off-plan as well.


I was talking only about early hiring of current students (before they are plan-eligible). You're definitely right that most COA judges everywhere hire alums early. The Fourth Circuit does have some early hiring (Wilkinson and maybe others), but they're pretty unusual. The D.C., Third, Second, and First are generally pretty rigid about following the plan. I don't know much about 11. The Third is notorious for hiring mostly alums, and the only judges I'm aware of that hire early are in Pittsburgh.

Fair point. I guess your post reinforces the difference between early alumni hiring, which is not "off-plan" but nonetheless occurs before September, and 2L/rising 3L "off-plan" hiring. My impression, like yours, is that 3d Cir. hires tons of alumni over the spring and summer, and that some 2d Cir. judges do the same. DC is strictly on plan for 2Ls/rising 3Ls, though alumni hiring seems to increasingly be early. IIRC, neither of those hires lots of 2Ls/rising 3Ls period, whether over the summer or on plan. On the 4th and 11th Circuits, however, I do think most of the early hiring is of 2Ls/rising 3Ls.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 01, 2010 2:08 pm

What was your class rank? When you applied, what proportion of your grades were A-range and what proportion were B-range?

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 01, 2010 2:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What was your class rank? When you applied, what proportion of your grades were A-range and what proportion were B-range?


My school does not rank. I suspect I was somewhere between 5% and 10%. Almost all A range grades, with a B+ here or there.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby imchuckbass58 » Sat May 01, 2010 2:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:It is obvious that feeder judges are the primary path to the Supreme Court, but is any hiring done from non-feeder judges, or is it pretty much 'this CoA judge either sends clerks to SCOTUS (in whatever proportion) or does not'?


This might be helpful - all SCOTUS clerks in the last 5 years based on where they did their COA clerkships:

--LinkRemoved--

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 02, 2010 9:42 pm

Thanks for the thread -

The clerkship application process seems to be so scattershot, with the majority of information dealing with circuits. I'm at a ccn in the top 20 percent which, according to my schools stats, puts me in good position for district courts, which is what I want anyway. My nebulous question for anyone who has any input - how the hell do I distinguish myself (hound professors to make calls for me?) and try to take some of the uncertainty out of the process? I suspect that the stats don't reflect a good many people who struck out on the process. Do you think it's appropriate/useful to ask a big name recommender prof to make cAlls to random judges he doesn't know? Oh and I'm a 2L...

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby TTT-LS » Mon May 03, 2010 12:41 am

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Last edited by TTT-LS on Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Go State » Mon May 03, 2010 10:09 am

in

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Mon May 03, 2010 10:36 am

How the heck are people going about figuring out which judges to apply to?

I mean, I'll be honest. I'm not competitive for feeder judges--but why wouldn't I send an application anyway? In general, why wouldn't I send an application to every judge that is in an area where I would be willing to live?

I honestly don't see the drawback to applying to every CoA judge in the 7th, 2nd, and 9th circuits, every district court judge in the districts I'd be willing to go to, every BR judge that deals extensively with Ch. 11 in New York, DA and Chicago.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby 270910 » Mon May 03, 2010 11:38 am

ToTransferOrNot wrote:How the heck are people going about figuring out which judges to apply to?

I mean, I'll be honest. I'm not competitive for feeder judges--but why wouldn't I send an application anyway? In general, why wouldn't I send an application to every judge that is in an area where I would be willing to live?

I honestly don't see the drawback to applying to every CoA judge in the 7th, 2nd, and 9th circuits, every district court judge in the districts I'd be willing to go to, every BR judge that deals extensively with Ch. 11 in New York, DA and Chicago.


Aside from the obvious 'lol hope the Delaware BK judge doesn't offer you right before posner phones you' I see your point. I get the impression many people do apply to dozens, so it might be credited, but I'm a dumb 1L. Curious to hear what those with experience have to say about picking the judges / number of judges.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Mon May 03, 2010 11:49 am

disco_barred wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:How the heck are people going about figuring out which judges to apply to?

I mean, I'll be honest. I'm not competitive for feeder judges--but why wouldn't I send an application anyway? In general, why wouldn't I send an application to every judge that is in an area where I would be willing to live?

I honestly don't see the drawback to applying to every CoA judge in the 7th, 2nd, and 9th circuits, every district court judge in the districts I'd be willing to go to, every BR judge that deals extensively with Ch. 11 in New York, DA and Chicago.


Aside from the obvious 'lol hope the Delaware BK judge doesn't offer you right before posner phones you' I see your point. I get the impression many people do apply to dozens, so it might be credited, but I'm a dumb 1L. Curious to hear what those with experience have to say about picking the judges / number of judges.


Actually, given that I want to do Bankruptcy law, a DA or SDNY Bankruptcy Clerkship would be just as good, if not better, than a CoA clerkship--for everything aside from prestige value. Considering that I don't give a damn about academia, the prestige value is relatively low on my list.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby d34d9823 » Mon May 03, 2010 11:51 am

tag

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby TTT-LS » Mon May 03, 2010 12:11 pm

.
Last edited by TTT-LS on Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerkship Advice Thread

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 04, 2010 8:26 am

TTT-LS wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:How the heck are people going about figuring out which judges to apply to?

I mean, I'll be honest. I'm not competitive for feeder judges--but why wouldn't I send an application anyway? In general, why wouldn't I send an application to every judge that is in an area where I would be willing to live?

I honestly don't see the drawback to applying to every CoA judge in the 7th, 2nd, and 9th circuits, every district court judge in the districts I'd be willing to go to, every BR judge that deals extensively with Ch. 11 in New York, DA and Chicago.

Your school's clerkship advisor/committee and your faculty recommenders should be able to help you come up with a more targeted list. Honestly, there is no benefit to applying to feeders if you don't have a shot. Your app will never see the light of day, it'll be a pain for you to put together, etc.


I second TTT-LS's view. Putting together your clerkship applications is a lot more work than you would guess. It really is a waste of time sending applications to feeders if you know you have no prayer of being competitive. It will probably never even be read by a clerk, let alone the judge. Basically I would recommend making an honest self-appraisal based on your qualifications and school's placement data, and put together a list of all the judges in the places you'd want to be that you might have a shot at. Then you just have to balance out how many hours of work you want to put in (menial work- printing, sorting, collating, double checking, cover letter name and addresses, etc) against how many judges you want to apply to.

One caveat, it's usually pretty easy to throw out extra applications on OSCAR. Judges that require paper apps are more of a pain.

To the question about what you can do to make yourself stand out- you're right, 20% at CCN is sort of in that range where you are competitive for DCt, but people still get shut out. I agree with the phone call advice, calls are invaluable. Additionally, you should apply to less popular places. With those grades, NYC, LA, and Chicago are probably out of the picture (barring a specific connection to a judge). You should try to apply in places that are a little more out of the way. If you're from outside NY/CA, consider applying in your hometown.




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