Anonymous User wrote:
PSLaplace wrote:Curious hair-splitter here - what is the tier list for federal CoA clerkships?
I know the 2nd, 9th, and DC Circuits are generally the most competitive. Are the rest of them roughly equally competitive (though I'd imagine the 7th is ahead of the others)? And what about the Federal Circuit?
Unlike law schools or firms, there is no real comprehensive ranking for clerkships. (Unless you want to rank feeder judges by the number they've sent to SCOTUS in the past X years, but very few people need to worry about choosing between those judges). The common wisdom would have DC > 2/9 > 7/4/1 > the rest. But this is really rough and it depends a lot more on the individual judge. For example, Judge Boudin on the 1st Circuit is more competitive than most of the judges on the 2d and 9th.
You can still hobble together a pretty accurate list:
1) Feeder judges (from 'judges who send 75% of their clerks to the supreme court down to 'judges who send a person or two every few yers')
2) DC/2nd/9th (obviously depending on your interests and practice area, but all three definitely take clerks with objectively stronger criteria than other circuits, though except for feeder judges on DC/2/9 not as strong as feeders in other circuits
3) Other circuits that aren't really weird locations
4) Really weird locations
Now the caveat is that list will be quite accurate in terms of ranking needed to get the clerkship (some real 'flyover' CoA clerkship take top quarter types instead of top 5% types, but the 'problem' is that they often won't consider you without ties to that flyover region, so it's not like a SAFETY APPELLATE CLERKSHIP or anything like that). But outside of feeder judges, the difficulty in getting it doesn't necessarily correlate to any real world difference. Firms are likely to be the same bonus no matter where you clerked, etc. But clearly if you want to practice in DC, clerking for the DC circuit is going to put you in a better place for firm hiring, making contacts, etc. But if you're goal is BIG TENNESSEE LAW, the 9th circuit - while harder to obtain - likely isn't going to position you better than a clerkship with a local federal CoA judge.
To further highlight the absurdity, decorum in many or most cases dictates that clerkship hiring uses exploding offers that you sort of have to accept. Which means if you apply to 90 clerkships, you'd better be willing to do any of them, because once you have an offer the established custom is to accept it, if not on the spot then within hours.
But there are exceptions to that, and caveats and quirks all over the place. One thing to realize is how intensely personal any clerkship experience is - there's no hiring committee, there's just a federal judge who interviews and hires just a few people every year taken from the absolute best legal minds (so long as law school performance is an indicator of that, lol).
To OP and others: Glad you took my comments in good humor. TLS will always be a mix of people who have no damn clue and people who are beginning to have at least a little bit of a damn clue, but we're all on the same side here ;D