COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:24 pm

2Ls who want to clerk have less than 10 months to get their ducks in a row for clerkship applications. That may seem like a long time, but believe me: it will fly by. I'm happy to take questions about what you should be doing in the months ahead to maximize your chances, or really anything else clerkship related.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:2Ls who want to clerk have less than 10 months to get their ducks in a row for clerkship applications. That may seem like a long time, but believe me: it will fly by. I'm happy to take questions about what you should be doing in the months ahead to maximize your chances, or really anything else clerkship related.


1) How early do off-plan judges start taking applications?

2) Writing sample - memo or academic?

3) Any must have classes beyond fed courts?

4) Any suggestions for figuring out which judges to target?

Renzo
Posts: 4265
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 3:23 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Renzo » Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:40 pm

Yes please to all the above, and tips for getting your resume past the gatekeepers who are screening them?

spondee
Posts: 462
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:53 pm

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby spondee » Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:42 pm

What were the interviews like? What do the judges seem interested in talking about?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:1) How early do off-plan judges start taking applications?

Some judges will take applications as early as this fall (e.g., a few CA9 judges who are already advertising for 2012-13 on OSCAR), but they are by far the exception and I wouldn't worrty about them unless you have a very specific reason to. The bulk of off-plan COA hiring starts up in May, heats up through June and early July, and then dies down until the week or two before the plan date. CA11 is a little peculiar and might go even earlier that that. As a general rule, the more selective the judge, the earlier s/he will begin looking at apps. For example, Judges Kozinski usually gets underway around May.

2) Writing sample - memo or academic?
I think most COA judges prefer something academic in nature. For district courts, both or just the memo is the preferred route.

3) Any must have classes beyond fed courts?
No, and even fed courts is not essential--though it can help if you do well. The keys to class selection are developing close relationships with professors, keeping your GPA high, and maintaining a solid-looking transcript (i.e., don't load up entirely on "law and...").

4) Any suggestions for figuring out which judges to target?
Talk to your school's clerkship advisor some time this winter to start that process. Connecting with successful 3Ls and recent alumni can be useful as well. If you are summering at a firm, people there can help a ton too.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:58 pm

Renzo wrote:tips for getting your resume past the gatekeepers who are screening them?

A call from one of your professors, former clerk, or other person who knows the judge is the best way to get your app pulled. Beyond that, having a cover letter that is truly customized to that particular judge can help. But beware of this approach, as it is very easy to do in a way that hurts your app. I would suggest customizing only when you have a bona fide reason for doing so--i.e., when you have permission to name drop a former clerk as someone you've spoken to about the clerkship, when you are from the area or will be practicing there, or something else specific like that. Saying you agree with the judge's opinions, that the clerkship is prestigious, or something else bland like that is usually counterproductive.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:05 pm

spondee wrote:What were the interviews like? What do the judges seem interested in talking about?

Most interviews are split up into two formal parts and one informal part. The formal parts consist of a short one-on-one discussion with the judge and a similar conversation with the judge's current clerks. The informal, and often overlooked, segment involves small talk with the judge's secretary at the beginning and end of the interview. Though many people blow that last part off, it can be surprisingly important in some cases--so be nice to everyone you meet in a judge's chambers, not judge the judge and his/her clerks.

Questions in the formal parts of the interview usually fall into a few standard categories: biographical (what you plan to do in the future, what kind of work you have done in the past, what you like to do in your free time, what kind of books you've read, etc.); law school-related (favorite classes, law review/journal work, summer associate work, papers you are writing/publishing, etc.); substantive law (seldom a major part of the interview, but the law of your writing sample and the areas fairly connected to it can often come up); and random current events. Since most people who are invited in for interviews have great credentials already, it is important to come across as humble, friendly, and easy to work with in most clerkship interviews. You don't need to convince the judge or the clerks that you are smart, as they already know that from your transcript, resume, and recs.

DankoM
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:08 pm

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby DankoM » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:having a cover letter that is truly customized to that particular judge can help. But beware of this approach, as it is very easy to do in a way that hurts your app.


Can you give an example of a customized cover letter hurting?

User avatar
Cavalier
Posts: 1994
Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2009 6:13 pm

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Cavalier » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Some judges will take applications as early as this fall (e.g., a few CA9 judges who are already advertising for 2012-13 on OSCAR)

Is this for real? Where on OSCAR do I find judges that are already taking applications?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:21 pm

Cavalier wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Some judges will take applications as early as this fall (e.g., a few CA9 judges who are already advertising for 2012-13 on OSCAR)

Is this for real? Where on OSCAR do I find judges that are already taking applications?

If you look at the law clerk addict website there are a few listings for CA9 judges that are already hiring for '12. On OSCAR, Judges Leinenweber (CA3), Lynch (CA2), and Williams (CA7) have open positions for '12. Tatel (CADC), and Williams (CADC) also state that they are accepting apps for 12 on OSCAR, but you have to look at the specific profiles to see that. I am sure there are others.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:24 pm

If you're on a secondary journal at a T14 are you totally screwed?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:having a cover letter that is truly customized to that particular judge can help. But beware of this approach, as it is very easy to do in a way that hurts your app.


Can you give an example of a customized cover letter hurting?

Sure. A friend told me his judge got a letter that said something along the lines of: "I have read several of your opinions, including a few on commercial law. Put simply, I agree." Suffice to say, that line said nothing useful and made my buddy laugh--not in a good way.

If you're on a secondary journal at a T14 are you totally screwed?

No, but a few judges will probably auto-ding you. There are still plenty of judges who will look at your app if everything else is up to par.

spondee
Posts: 462
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:53 pm

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby spondee » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:30 pm

How much better are Sr Editorial Board positions than regular 3L positions on LR/journal? Worth the extra work?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:48 pm

spondee wrote:How much better are Sr Editorial Board positions than regular 3L positions on LR/journal? Worth the extra work?

The top positions certainly are. I am less sold on board positions that do not involve selecting and editing written work, such as the business manager or the membership editor. It is always a challenge to keep your grades up when you take a board position; however, if you are able to do so, you will stand out in a very positive way.

The alternative to running for board is using the time you would've spent on board work on publishing another article or something of that nature. If you choose not to serve on the board and spend that extra time doing nothing academic, the contrast between you and the other applicants who did will be very, very obvious.

User avatar
180orbust
Posts: 88
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2008 2:45 pm

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby 180orbust » Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:16 pm

What's your salary?
Do you have enough time after work to spend your salary?
Is the Federal docket so overcrowded that everyone's miserable?
What's the best color to use for my writing sample?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:28 pm

180orbust wrote:What's your salary?
Do you have enough time after work to spend your salary?
Is the Federal docket so overcrowded that everyone's miserable?
What's the best color to use for my writing sample?

My salary is between 60,000 and 70,000 per year. First year law clerks with no post-law school experience are paid at the JS-11 rate. Salaries vary by region, as described here: http://www.uscourts.gov/careers/Compens ... ables.aspx.

The docket at the appellate level is crowded, but not overwhelming. District courts have it harder in this respect. Everyone I work with seems decidedly not miserable.

Rainbow-colored wingdings, printed on an inkjet printer is the obvious choice.

User avatar
180orbust
Posts: 88
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2008 2:45 pm

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby 180orbust » Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:38 pm

Thanks for the replies! A few follow-up questions:

Do you think clerks are given too much power/responsibility?
Do oral arguments ever change anyone's mind about anything?
How would you go about distinguishing yourself if you wanted to clerk for the supreme court?
I'm not doing any journals, and I think academic writing is boring and pretentious. A clerkship probably isn't for me, right?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273551
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: COA clerk taking ?s on app. strategy, writing samples, etc.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:01 am

180orbust wrote:Thanks for the replies! A few follow-up questions:

Do you think clerks are given too much power/responsibility?
Do oral arguments ever change anyone's mind about anything?
How would you go about distinguishing yourself if you wanted to clerk for the supreme court?
I'm not doing any journals, and I think academic writing is boring and pretentious. A clerkship probably isn't for me, right?

1. No, at least in my chambers and the others I am aware of. Clerks have some influence, but in my experience less than one might expect. The judges really are the ones that steer the outcomes in cases and the other important matters. This might be different at the Supreme Court level, for instance at the cert stage.

2. Yes.

3. A few common means of doing so: Finish first in your class or in that general ballpark; develop very strong relationships with multiple well-known profs at your school, for instance by doing independent study with one and perhaps writing an article or RAing with another; publish in other schools' flagship law reviews; get a Bristow Fellowship; clerk for Judge Garland.

4. You aren't the only one to hold that view. But you may be right about clerking. Perhaps a district court clerkship? Those are much more practical if you want to be a litigator, and much less academic, too.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.