Clerkship Quandry

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What should I do?

Highest State Court - a bird in hand . . .
21
75%
Federal District Court - don't sell yourself short
7
25%
 
Total votes: 28

Anonymous User
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Clerkship Quandry

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:31 am

So here is the situation- my state is I guess unusual in that its highest state court hires clerks BEFORE even off-plan federal judges start. The first judges on the highest state appellate court are accepting applications NOW from 2Ls for the 2012-13 term. Ideally I would want to apply for federal district court clerkships and have the state ultimate appellate court as a backstop, but here that is obviously impossible.

Here are my stats - Low T1 school (but the best school in my state, and the alma mater of several of the judges on my state's federal district court); top 5% (and taking as much credit/no credit as possible to maintain); law review with my case note already having been selected for publication this spring; state AG internship for 1L summer; prestigious federal agency externship this fall; NO BigLaw SA lined up for 2L summer; will be able to have solid, but not spectacular, letters of recommendation.

With this resume, I'm guessing I should be able to snag a clerkship on my state's highest appellate court fairly easily. However, I feel like I will be competitive, but not necessarily a lock, for a federal district court clerkship. Are my chances for a federal district court clerkship (the places I will be applying aren't ultra-prestige SDNY, but also not backwater D. Kansas or anything) strong enough that it is worth going into the federal clerkship hiring process without a state court safety net? Or should I try to lock up a spot on the state ultimate appellate court and forego the chance for a more prestigious Art III clerkship?

NOTE - while I would obviously accept a BigLaw offer if they called me tomorrow, I don't really want BigLaw, i.e. receiving a BigLaw offer after the clerkship would not be my preferred outcome.

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ggocat
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby ggocat » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:04 am

Any reason you can't apply for state court for 2012-2013 and then federal for 2013-2014/2015 (with state court clerkship on the resume for when you apply to federal)? If your grades maintain or (especially) increase, this could also give you a fighting chance at U.S. court of appeals. Note that you would be "off plan" for federal applications, and my impression is that federal judges generally appreciate state supreme court clerkships (I've known several state supremes go to federal clerkships). Keep in mind that your year in state court will bump your starting salary with the feds somewhere around $10k-$12k.

Regardless, I'd apply for the state court primarily because you don't have a jerb. As an added bonus, it will probably be more interesting work.

PS -- You may want to consider uncurved/generous curved graded courses. Top students at my school took graded courses all they way through final semester. People who "maintained" their 1L GPAs would drop significantly in class rank.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby Blindmelon » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:38 am

ggocat wrote:Any reason you can't apply for state court for 2012-2013 and then federal for 2013-2014/2015 (with state court clerkship on the resume for when you apply to federal)?


I would do this. Bird in hand for 1st clerkship. State clerkships are typically better than this website gives credit for (at least at the highest level).

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:19 pm

Your odds of getting an Art III clerkship are lower than you seem to think. I would highly recommend that you apply to the state supreme court.

stinger35
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby stinger35 » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:30 pm

ggocat wrote:Any reason you can't apply for state court for 2012-2013 and then federal for 2013-2014/2015 (with state court clerkship on the resume for when you apply to federal)? If your grades maintain or (especially) increase, this could also give you a fighting chance at U.S. court of appeals. Note that you would be "off plan" for federal applications, and my impression is that federal judges generally appreciate state supreme court clerkships (I've known several state supremes go to federal clerkships). Keep in mind that your year in state court will bump your starting salary with the feds somewhere around $10k-$12k.

Regardless, I'd apply for the state court primarily because you don't have a jerb. As an added bonus, it will probably be more interesting work.

PS -- You may want to consider uncurved/generous curved graded courses. Top students at my school took graded courses all they way through final semester. People who "maintained" their 1L GPAs would drop significantly in class rank.


Is State Supreme -> Federal District more common than has been touted around here? (As in is it a plus or bump?)

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ggocat
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby ggocat » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:47 pm

stinger35 wrote:Is State Supreme -> Federal District more common than has been touted around here? (As in is it a plus or bump?)

I do not know the level of commonality that has been touted on TLS. Nor do I understand the distinction between "plus" and "bump."

UCLAtransfer
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby UCLAtransfer » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:26 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:Your odds of getting an Art III clerkship are lower than you seem to think. I would highly recommend that you apply to the state supreme court.


Credited.

Even if your school has placed Art. III clerks in the past, I wouldn't count on this being the case in the current market. It is so out of control competitive these days that I have seen people from a range of schools who would have been a "lock" even a couple of years ago who came up entirely dry this year.

TTON is absolutely right.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Thu Dec 02, 2010 4:55 pm

UCLAtransfer wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:Your odds of getting an Art III clerkship are lower than you seem to think. I would highly recommend that you apply to the state supreme court.


Credited.

Even if your school has placed Art. III clerks in the past, I wouldn't count on this being the case in the current market. It is so out of control competitive these days that I have seen people from a range of schools who would have been a "lock" even a couple of years ago who came up entirely dry this year.

TTON is absolutely right.


i.e., people on the Law Review editorial board at T6s are getting shut out, and it's not just because they are applying too aggressively. The rise in off-plan/alumni hiring has totally changed the game.

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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:17 pm


i.e., people on the Law Review editorial board at T6s are getting shut out, and it's not just because they are applying too aggressively. The rise in off-plan/alumni hiring has totally changed the game.



Wow- even from district court clerkships?

Renzo
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby Renzo » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:19 pm

ggocat wrote:
stinger35 wrote:Is State Supreme -> Federal District more common than has been touted around here? (As in is it a plus or bump?)

I do not know the level of commonality that has been touted on TLS. Nor do I understand the distinction between "plus" and "bump."

Psshh.... you sound like Scalia.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:

i.e., people on the Law Review editorial board at T6s are getting shut out, and it's not just because they are applying too aggressively. The rise in off-plan/alumni hiring has totally changed the game.



Wow- even from district court clerkships?


Yep.

stinger35
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby stinger35 » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:28 pm

ggocat wrote:
stinger35 wrote:Is State Supreme -> Federal District more common than has been touted around here? (As in is it a plus or bump?)

I do not know the level of commonality that has been touted on TLS. Nor do I understand the distinction between "plus" and "bump."


There isn't one. I wasn't referring to it as an either/or. Simply using a synonym to clear up any ambiguity in one or the other. Clearly that did not work. My deepest apologies.

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98234872348
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby 98234872348 » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:31 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:Your odds of getting an Art III clerkship are lower than you seem to think. I would highly recommend that you apply to the state supreme court.

This is generally TCR - my school is a flagship T1 (although, there are various other schools in our state with similar rankings) and I know, off the top of my head, 5 or 6 people with Art. III clerkships (although my sample size is limited, since I don't know too many 3Ls, but do know the ones on law review). Just for reference, at my school, 8-9 Art. III clerks (assuming there are people who have them I do not know about) would equate to about ~2% of students.

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SteelReserve
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby SteelReserve » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:05 pm

Honestly, you may be overestimating your odds at the state clerkship alone, let alone federal. I am in no way saying your creds aren't fantastic and that you dont' have a realistic shot.

But the lack of big/regional biglaw on your resume is going to be a significant flaw. Your friends in the top 10% with the big/regional law firms on their resume are going to likely have a leg up. Don't ask me why, but state high court judges are just as snobby about a big firm being on your resume as a district judge is.

If I were you I'd get those resumes out and if you get an offer for the state supreme court, take it immediately with no hesitation.

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ggocat
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby ggocat » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:27 pm

stinger35 wrote:
ggocat wrote:
stinger35 wrote:Is State Supreme -> Federal District more common than has been touted around here? (As in is it a plus or bump?)

I do not know the level of commonality that has been touted on TLS. Nor do I understand the distinction between "plus" and "bump."


There isn't one. I wasn't referring to it as an either/or. Simply using a synonym to clear up any ambiguity in one or the other. Clearly that did not work. My deepest apologies.

Oh, my bad. Yeah, it's a plus/bump. But probably only in the sense that anything can be a plus/bump. All else being equal, it's a plus/bump to have state clerkship on your resume.

stinger35
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby stinger35 » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:30 pm

SteelReserve wrote:Honestly, you may be overestimating your odds at the state clerkship alone, let alone federal. I am in no way saying your creds aren't fantastic and that you dont' have a realistic shot.

But the lack of big/regional biglaw on your resume is going to be a significant flaw. Your friends in the top 10% with the big/regional law firms on their resume are going to likely have a leg up. Don't ask me why, but state high court judges are just as snobby about a big firm being on your resume as a district judge is.

If I were you I'd get those resumes out and if you get an offer for the state supreme court, take it immediately with no hesitation.


2 of the 4 district court judges that I've talked to at school said that they usually prefer non-biglaw clerks because of the "bad habits they pick up" - they followed this with saying that the vast majority they take are biglaw types, but mostly because of the grades/big law relationship. Just two dudes, small sample size, and something I know nothing about, just thought I'd throw that out there for a little solace for OP

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ggocat
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby ggocat » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:36 pm

SteelReserve wrote:Honestly, you may be overestimating your odds at the state clerkship alone, let alone federal. I am in no way saying your creds aren't fantastic and that you dont' have a realistic shot.

I agree, but not with the rest about biglaw (at least at my state court--only about 25% of the clerks have biglaw). Probably depends on the state, though.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby XxSpyKEx » Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:16 am

UCLAtransfer wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:Your odds of getting an Art III clerkship are lower than you seem to think. I would highly recommend that you apply to the state supreme court.


Credited.

Even if your school has placed Art. III clerks in the past, I wouldn't count on this being the case in the current market. It is so out of control competitive these days that I have seen people from a range of schools who would have been a "lock" even a couple of years ago who came up entirely dry this year.

TTON is absolutely right.


+1.

If I were you, I'd snatch up that highest state court clerkship if you can. It's also a pretty big plus in terms of article III clerkship applications for the following year (it's not all that uncommon at all for people, who weren't competitive enough for a district court, to do a state court --> district court), especially if it is a more prestigious highest state court (e.g. NY or DC court of appeals).

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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:57 am

DCCOA is prestigious?

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pinkzeppelin
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby pinkzeppelin » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:59 am

Poll interpretation: 12 posters are gunning for federal clerkships and don't want more competition. HTH

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:35 am

pinkzeppelin wrote:Poll interpretation: 12 posters are gunning for federal clerkships and don't want more competition. HTH


Several of the people ITT that are telling OP to take the state clerkship already have CoA clerkships. HTH

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby XxSpyKEx » Fri Dec 03, 2010 11:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:DCCOA is prestigious?


In comparison to other highest "state" courts, yes (e.g. DC COA is way more prestigious than the highest state court in Nebraska). I'd also imagine it would be much easier to move from NY/DC COA --> Art III DC in Idaho than it would be to move from the Nebraska Supreme Court --> Art III DC in Idaho.

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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:32 am

Interesting. I don't disbelieve you, but do you know why is it considered more prestigious?

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:Interesting. I don't disbelieve you, but do you know why is it considered more prestigious?


Because it's the most competitive market in the country. I think generally difficultly/competitiveness is indicative of prestige (i.e. the more difficuly/competitive it is to get something, the more prestigious it is). Given the schools and quality of students the court attracts relative to a court such as, e.g., Nebraska Supreme Court suggests DC COA is more prestigious than the Nebraska Supreme Court. I'm sure the fact that it's an article I fed court and the breadth of jurisdiction it has doesn't hurt either. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_Court_of_Appeals ("The court also has jurisdiction to review decisions of administrative agencies, boards, and commissions of the District government, as well as to answer questions of law certified by the Supreme Court of the United States, a United States court of appeals, or the highest appellate court of any state.")

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Re: Clerkship Quandry

Postby vamedic03 » Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:26 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Interesting. I don't disbelieve you, but do you know why is it considered more prestigious?


Because it's the most competitive market in the country. I think generally difficultly/competitiveness is indicative of prestige (i.e. the more difficuly/competitive it is to get something, the more prestigious it is). Given the schools and quality of students the court attracts relative to a court such as, e.g., Nebraska Supreme Court suggests DC COA is more prestigious than the Nebraska Supreme Court. I'm sure the fact that it's an article I fed court and the breadth of jurisdiction it has doesn't hurt either. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_Court_of_Appeals ("The court also has jurisdiction to review decisions of administrative agencies, boards, and commissions of the District government, as well as to answer questions of law certified by the Supreme Court of the United States, a United States court of appeals, or the highest appellate court of any state.")


Wrong court. They're referring to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, not the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC circuit.

EDIT - disregard, I misread the prior post.
Last edited by vamedic03 on Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.




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