As far as using externship memos, is it crucial, would you say, that the case be very hard? So my problem is that I like none of my papers, comments or notes. (The papers are A papers, but still, not very good.) Fortunately for purposes of finding a writing sample, though not so fortunately for my resume, I've done two COA internships where I wrote a ton of memos. And in the second one, I had a very good clerk who insisted on maniacally editing anything I wrote before the Judge saw it. So, what I have out of that externship is very polished. However, the cases weren't terrifically hard. Perhaps the most complex was an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, where petitioner argued that his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to argue that the trial court made several erroneous evidentiary rulings. AEDPA being what it is, I had to jump through a lot of hoops as to standard of review; the state court opinion we were reviewing was very curt and cited another state court opinion for its standard, and that opinion in turn contained no majority opinion, but two pluralities, one of which was contrary to and one of which wasn't. Normally the narrower, correct one would probably control, but that plurality was so confusing that subsequent state court opinions citing the case ignored it and relied on the plurality that was contrary. Then after I dealt with that I had to deal with Strickland and the prejudice to the appeal, which came down to the harmless error standard prevailing in Michigan in 1993... so, there was, I guess, a fair amount of stuff going on there. In the previous externship, however, I wrote a mammoth memo on a circuit split as to whether minute modifications to BIA orders render them non-final for purposes of appellate review, thereby forcing a petitioner to file a new notice of appeal from the modified order. That memo probably isn't so polished, but the issues are more demanding and interesting, as dull as that issue sounds, and I suppose I could try to edit it. So that's question #1.
Question #2 is the typical "what are my chances." As stated above, I have the dismal summer experience of the two COA externships, though both judges will say glowing things about me if and when they're called by colleagues. The good news is top 1% grades at Georgetown, and that I'm ME of my secondary. Unfortunately, my secondary is so mismanaged that I have no idea whether my note's getting published or not. Oh, and I transferred. Obviously I had good grades back there. My recommenders are (1) a COA nominee/professor for whom I did absurd amounts of RA work, (2) a very connected liberal professor who will make calls and wrote a nice letter about my touching childhood adversities (namely, a mental disability that impaired my coordination to the point where I couldn't ride a bike, play soccer, tie my shoes, etc.), and (3) a Ct. of Fed. Cl. Judge. I have worked in two circuits, one of which is in my hometown, so there is a pretty strong geographical connection to one. I also have a 1L prof who's calling the D.C. Circuit judge he clerked for, on top of the recommender who already offered to call the same judge.