Chances at a District Clerkship

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Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:52 pm

I'm a 2L shooting for a District clerkship after graduation. I'm somewhat limited geographically, and Chicago would be ideal. I currently have a 3.7 at a T-14 (3.69 was the cutoff for Magna last year, so probably around T-10%). Secondary journal and SA in BigLaw this summer at a lower V-100 firm. Am I competitive for a District gig assuming consistent performance? Northern District of Illinois must be ridiculously competitive. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Doritos » Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:34 pm

You should be competitive. At my T10 top 10-20% has traditionally been competitive for D.Ct. somewhere. I do not know about your geography limitations however.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby 00TREX00 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:31 pm

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Last edited by 00TREX00 on Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Doritos » Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:50 pm

00TREX00 wrote:I'll repeat what you will find out if you do your due diligence on this: clerkship hiring has changed a TON in the last few years, even from last year to this past cycle. You are in a good spot, but I know several people, including myself, who got shut out applying throughout the country with similar stats. ND-Ill is really competitive.

If you are really "shooting" for a clerkship, you absolutely need to buddy up with at least one professor. By this, I mean you need to make him or her actually like you. I witnessed just how much that matters - if they make legit calls for you and say: "This is one of the best students in the class," you are gonna get many interviews. As long as you got an A in his/her class, he/she is a decent person, and you can make friends with him/her, they should be willing to say that. But you need to put in serious work. This is how it works.


What about a person who has a bunch of A-'s? That means you are (at least at my school) at least top 25-30% in that particular class. You can have a great GPA with a bunch of those (within top 10%) but not ever distinguish yourself as THE student in the class. Do you think profs will go to bat in a serious way for an A- student?

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L shooting for a District clerkship after graduation. I'm somewhat limited geographically, and Chicago would be ideal. I currently have a 3.7 at a T-14 (3.69 was the cutoff for Magna last year, so probably around T-10%). Secondary journal and SA in BigLaw this summer at a lower V-100 firm. Am I competitive for a District gig assuming consistent performance? Northern District of Illinois must be ridiculously competitive. Any advice is greatly appreciated.


All of the judges that sent me rejection letters from the ND of IL told me that they had over 1,500 applications per clerkship opening (I applied to all of them, but didn't get responses from a lot of them)... So, yeah, it's pretty fucking competitive.

Definetely broaden your scope if you really want to clerk. With your grades and everything else you need to be happy with a district court judge somewhere like Utah (i.e. if you want to clerk, you should be ready and hoping that a district court judge extends an offer that's in a location like Utah). I'm not saying you won't be able to find anything better, but it's not something you can expect with how competitve clerkship hiring is nowadays. Even district court judges in places like Utah or Montana sent me rejection letters telling me they had 300-400 applications for their one clerkship opening.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L shooting for a District clerkship after graduation. I'm somewhat limited geographically, and Chicago would be ideal. I currently have a 3.7 at a T-14 (3.69 was the cutoff for Magna last year, so probably around T-10%). Secondary journal and SA in BigLaw this summer at a lower V-100 firm. Am I competitive for a District gig assuming consistent performance? Northern District of Illinois must be ridiculously competitive. Any advice is greatly appreciated.


All of the judges that sent me rejection letters from the ND of IL told me that they had over 1,500 applications per clerkship opening (I applied to all of them, but didn't get responses from a lot of them)... So, yeah, it's pretty fucking competitive.

Definetely broaden your scope if you really want to clerk. With your grades and everything else you need to be happy with a district court judge somewhere like Utah (i.e. if you want to clerk, you should be ready and hoping that a district court judge extends an offer that's in a location like Utah). I'm not saying you won't be able to find anything better, but it's not something you can expect with how competitve clerkship hiring is nowadays. Even district court judges in places like Utah or Montana sent me rejection letters telling me they had 300-400 applications for their one clerkship opening.


Is it really that bad? I mean, s/he's not going to get SDNY or D.C., but shouldn't top 10% at a T-10 get you a shot a some districts other than the middle of nowhere?

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L shooting for a District clerkship after graduation. I'm somewhat limited geographically, and Chicago would be ideal. I currently have a 3.7 at a T-14 (3.69 was the cutoff for Magna last year, so probably around T-10%). Secondary journal and SA in BigLaw this summer at a lower V-100 firm. Am I competitive for a District gig assuming consistent performance? Northern District of Illinois must be ridiculously competitive. Any advice is greatly appreciated.


All of the judges that sent me rejection letters from the ND of IL told me that they had over 1,500 applications per clerkship opening (I applied to all of them, but didn't get responses from a lot of them)... So, yeah, it's pretty fucking competitive.

Definetely broaden your scope if you really want to clerk. With your grades and everything else you need to be happy with a district court judge somewhere like Utah (i.e. if you want to clerk, you should be ready and hoping that a district court judge extends an offer that's in a location like Utah). I'm not saying you won't be able to find anything better, but it's not something you can expect with how competitve clerkship hiring is nowadays. Even district court judges in places like Utah or Montana sent me rejection letters telling me they had 300-400 applications for their one clerkship opening.


Is it really that bad? I mean, s/he's not going to get SDNY or D.C., but shouldn't top 10% at a T-10 get you a shot a some districts other than the middle of nowhere?


Sure it’s possible. But I wouldn’t cross my fingers on getting any clerkship nowadays. I recall another poster, ToTransferorNot, saying that there are people on the executive board of law review at UChi that completely struck out and couldn’t get any fed clerkship. So with top 10% at a t10 + secondary journal some district court clerkship is definitely not a sure thing. ND of IL is even possible with those stats, but it’s going to take a lot of luck.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby iagolives » Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I wouldn’t cross my fingers on getting any clerkship nowadays. I recall another poster, ToTransferorNot, saying that there are people on the executive board of law review at UChi that completely struck out and couldn’t get any fed clerkship.


:shock: Yikes. Thanks, economy.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:17 pm

iagolives wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I wouldn’t cross my fingers on getting any clerkship nowadays. I recall another poster, ToTransferorNot, saying that there are people on the executive board of law review at UChi that completely struck out and couldn’t get any fed clerkship.


:shock: Yikes. Thanks, economy.


To be fair, Chicago students get totally screwed by Chicago's completely absurd limitation on the number of judges you're allowed to apply to (somewhere around 50 - they'll let you push to something like 75). The people on LR editorial board who struck out probably overextended and focused solely on CoA positions - probably in the most difficult to get circuits. Pretty sure TToN mentioned that.

I imagine Chicago will be raising or eliminating the ~50-judge limitation based on the fact that the C/O 2011 got absolutely oblitterated in the clerkship search.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby iagolives » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
iagolives wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I wouldn’t cross my fingers on getting any clerkship nowadays. I recall another poster, ToTransferorNot, saying that there are people on the executive board of law review at UChi that completely struck out and couldn’t get any fed clerkship.


:shock: Yikes. Thanks, economy.


To be fair, Chicago students get totally screwed by Chicago's completely absurd limitation on the number of judges you're allowed to apply to (somewhere around 50 - they'll let you push to something like 75). The people on LR editorial board who struck out probably overextended and focused solely on CoA positions - probably in the most difficult to get circuits. Pretty sure TToN mentioned that.

I imagine Chicago will be raising or eliminating the ~50-judge limitation based on the fact that the C/O 2011 got absolutely oblitterated in the clerkship search.


Why would they make such a silly rule? On that note, is 90 or so still the average norm for judge apps?

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:09 am

Anonymous User wrote:
iagolives wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I wouldn’t cross my fingers on getting any clerkship nowadays. I recall another poster, ToTransferorNot, saying that there are people on the executive board of law review at UChi that completely struck out and couldn’t get any fed clerkship.


:shock: Yikes. Thanks, economy.


To be fair, Chicago students get totally screwed by Chicago's completely absurd limitation on the number of judges you're allowed to apply to (somewhere around 50 - they'll let you push to something like 75). The people on LR editorial board who struck out probably overextended and focused solely on CoA positions - probably in the most difficult to get circuits. Pretty sure TToN mentioned that.
I imagine Chicago will be raising or eliminating the ~50-judge limitation based on the fact that the C/O 2011 got absolutely oblitterated in the clerkship search.


Actually, if I recall correctly, I don't think they did. I'm pretty sure he said they applied to district courts and pretty broadly.

One thing to keep in mind is that a lot more judges nowadays are looking for clerks who have a year or two or work experience. So there’s already less position to begin with right there. Additionally, there are a lot more people who want to clerk nowadays because of striking out at OCI and not having another job for after graduation. In the past, when most people found jobs out of OCI in t14s, and a large number of people at t30s did, a lot of those people would just take there biglaw jobs and not worry about clerking (at least not right out of school). Now that those people don’t have biglaw jobs (or jobs generally), they are seeking clerkships, which makes things even more competitive.

IMO, luck plays a HUGE factor in clerkship hiring (it’s really all just about getting interviews with the right judges at the right times – you basically have 2 days of interviewing and that covers something like 80 or 90 percent of all fed clerkship hiring for the year (according to our CSO here)). The entire process is crazy if you actually think about it.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby A'nold » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:21 am

What about Bankruptcy? What if you are on LR and write a comment on a bk topic and you have top grades at a mid t1 AND you get a bk professor that clerked for a bk judge before write you a rec. letter? STILL no chance?

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:27 am

A'nold wrote:What about Bankruptcy? What if you are on LR and write a comment on a bk topic and you have top grades at a mid t1 AND you get a bk professor that clerked for a bk judge before write you a rec. letter? STILL no chance?


Do you have a biglaw gig lined up in a bankruptcy practice?

Are you talking relevant BK judges (i.e., DA, SDNY, and one or two in the 7th cir)? Because if so, those are still very difficult to get. If you're talking any BK judge in any circuit, and aren't trying to focus on judges that deal primarily with Ch. 11 cases, you'll have a good shot.

But a bankruptcy clerkship -even a "prestigous" one - is nowhere near the resume line that a district court is. At the firm I'm going to (V10, debtor-side BK,) we are basically told "CoA or bust" - not worth the time to do a bankruptcy clerkship. This seems counter-intuitive, in that unless you're clerking for Ambro, you're not going to do much of anything with bankruptcy at the CoA level - it is going to be entirely inapplicable to practice. It's purely a prestige thing.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby MrKappus » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L shooting for a District clerkship after graduation. I'm somewhat limited geographically, and Chicago would be ideal. I currently have a 3.7 at a T-14 (3.69 was the cutoff for Magna last year, so probably around T-10%). Secondary journal and SA in BigLaw this summer at a lower V-100 firm. Am I competitive for a District gig assuming consistent performance? Northern District of Illinois must be ridiculously competitive. Any advice is greatly appreciated.


Every data point about you suggests a good shot at a D. Ct. clerkship except the fact that you posted your OP.

OP, restated: I'm top 10% and on a journal at one of the best schools in the country. Do I have a shot at a federal clerkship?

Dum kopf.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 06, 2011 2:44 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: you basically have 2 days of interviewing and that covers something like 80 or 90 percent of all fed clerkship hiring for the year (according to our CSO here)).

Your CSO is way, way off.


hmm... maybe they were just trying scare us? (this was something they said a few days before calls for interviews could be made!). what percentage of on-plan OSCAR judges do you think are hired in those 2 days? (sorry, I forgot to clarify that I meant on-plan OSCAR judges in my last post) ... i would think it would be very high since so many judges seem to interview during those 2 days.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby A'nold » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
A'nold wrote:What about Bankruptcy? What if you are on LR and write a comment on a bk topic and you have top grades at a mid t1 AND you get a bk professor that clerked for a bk judge before write you a rec. letter? STILL no chance?


Do you have a biglaw gig lined up in a bankruptcy practice?

Are you talking relevant BK judges (i.e., DA, SDNY, and one or two in the 7th cir)? Because if so, those are still very difficult to get. If you're talking any BK judge in any circuit, and aren't trying to focus on judges that deal primarily with Ch. 11 cases, you'll have a good shot.

But a bankruptcy clerkship -even a "prestigous" one - is nowhere near the resume line that a district court is. At the firm I'm going to (V10, debtor-side BK,) we are basically told "CoA or bust" - not worth the time to do a bankruptcy clerkship. This seems counter-intuitive, in that unless you're clerking for Ambro, you're not going to do much of anything with bankruptcy at the CoA level - it is going to be entirely inapplicable to practice. It's purely a prestige thing.


I really don't know. I've always wanted to clerk and I'm interested in and good at bk. Throw in all the other stuff and it seems like a good fit. Will a "less prestigious" bk judge still get me, with all of the above, a decent bk position in a firm post-clerk?

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:31 pm

A'nold wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
A'nold wrote:What about Bankruptcy? What if you are on LR and write a comment on a bk topic and you have top grades at a mid t1 AND you get a bk professor that clerked for a bk judge before write you a rec. letter? STILL no chance?


Do you have a biglaw gig lined up in a bankruptcy practice?

Are you talking relevant BK judges (i.e., DA, SDNY, and one or two in the 7th cir)? Because if so, those are still very difficult to get. If you're talking any BK judge in any circuit, and aren't trying to focus on judges that deal primarily with Ch. 11 cases, you'll have a good shot.

But a bankruptcy clerkship -even a "prestigous" one - is nowhere near the resume line that a district court is. At the firm I'm going to (V10, debtor-side BK,) we are basically told "CoA or bust" - not worth the time to do a bankruptcy clerkship. This seems counter-intuitive, in that unless you're clerking for Ambro, you're not going to do much of anything with bankruptcy at the CoA level - it is going to be entirely inapplicable to practice. It's purely a prestige thing.


I really don't know. I've always wanted to clerk and I'm interested in and good at bk. Throw in all the other stuff and it seems like a good fit. Will a "less prestigious" bk judge still get me, with all of the above, a decent bk position in a firm post-clerk?



If you didn't have the numbers to get a biglaw gig int he first place - no, probably not. In fact, when I was interviewing for my debtor-side gig, after I accepted over lunch, our discussion turned to clerkships. The hiring partners interviewing me basically made fun of a guy who sent in an applicantion to them that had an Arizona bankruptcy clerkship on it - "The guy may look at one single-asset chapter 11 case, it's meaningless experience to us." The only bankruptcy clerkships that are relevant to the things big firms do are the good ones in SDNY, DA, and (arguably) the chief BK guy in NDIL.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:33 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: you basically have 2 days of interviewing and that covers something like 80 or 90 percent of all fed clerkship hiring for the year (according to our CSO here)).

Your CSO is way, way off.

hmm... maybe they were just trying scare us? (this was something they said a few days before calls for interviews could be made!). what percentage of on-plan OSCAR judges do you think are hired in those 2 days? (sorry, I forgot to clarify that I meant on-plan OSCAR judges in my last post) ... i would think it would be very high since so many judges seem to interview during those 2 days.

The bolded part really changes the focus quite a bit, as "all fed clerkship hiring" is nowhere near the same as "all on-plan OSCAR hiring." Think of it as the difference between "all Major League Baseball hiring" and "all hiring done on draft day." In both cases, the latter is a subset of a much larger former.

I don't know how many Article III judges there are, or how many such clerkships exist. But let's assume the total number of clerkships is N. The difference between N and O, the number of on-plan, OSCAR clerkships, is huge. N is first reduced by C, the number of career clerkships (which come open only once in a blue moon, and are often staffed by the judge’s former term clerks when they do). It is then reduced by T/2, the number of two-year clerkships divided by two, since only half of those open up every year. Next, N is reduced by S, the number of clerkships where a special circumstance leads to a former term clerk staying on for an extra year (e.g., a female clerk I know is staying on for another year b/c her first term year was interrupted by a pregnancy). Last, N is reduced by A and E, the number of clerkships filled off of the OSCAR calendar by alumni (who are not bound by the hiring plan), and by law students hired early, in contravention of the hiring plan. Lately, the number of clerks falling within subcategories A and E has grown substantially.

So O, the number you are talking about, is really equal to N – (C + T/2 + S + A + E). Hopefully this explains why I thought your CSO was so far off the mark.


Yeah, unfortunately O = pretty much all the fed clerkships we have available to us since my school is a bunch of Nazis about applying to off-plan judges as a 2L (they won’t even send out our letters of recommendations or transcripts for off-plan fed judges)… But I didn’t know that there were that many judges that didn’t follow the plan. It seemed like most did when I was applying and going through OSCAR. Although, it was impossible to tell for sure because it’s possible that judges were just accepting applications through that September date, but hiring much sooner.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby A'nold » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
A'nold wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
A'nold wrote:What about Bankruptcy? What if you are on LR and write a comment on a bk topic and you have top grades at a mid t1 AND you get a bk professor that clerked for a bk judge before write you a rec. letter? STILL no chance?


Do you have a biglaw gig lined up in a bankruptcy practice?

Are you talking relevant BK judges (i.e., DA, SDNY, and one or two in the 7th cir)? Because if so, those are still very difficult to get. If you're talking any BK judge in any circuit, and aren't trying to focus on judges that deal primarily with Ch. 11 cases, you'll have a good shot.

But a bankruptcy clerkship -even a "prestigous" one - is nowhere near the resume line that a district court is. At the firm I'm going to (V10, debtor-side BK,) we are basically told "CoA or bust" - not worth the time to do a bankruptcy clerkship. This seems counter-intuitive, in that unless you're clerking for Ambro, you're not going to do much of anything with bankruptcy at the CoA level - it is going to be entirely inapplicable to practice. It's purely a prestige thing.


I really don't know. I've always wanted to clerk and I'm interested in and good at bk. Throw in all the other stuff and it seems like a good fit. Will a "less prestigious" bk judge still get me, with all of the above, a decent bk position in a firm post-clerk?



If you didn't have the numbers to get a biglaw gig int he first place - no, probably not. In fact, when I was interviewing for my debtor-side gig, after I accepted over lunch, our discussion turned to clerkships. The hiring partners interviewing me basically made fun of a guy who sent in an applicantion to them that had an Arizona bankruptcy clerkship on it - "The guy may look at one single-asset chapter 11 case, it's meaningless experience to us." The only bankruptcy clerkships that are relevant to the things big firms do are the good ones in SDNY, DA, and (arguably) the chief BK guy in NDIL.


Weird. I've been told that all bk clerkships are really hard to come by. Why would that be so if they are worthless?

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:44 am

I just went through the clerkship process. I actually think that this year was a little bit easier than last year, since there weren't tons of deferred associates entering the clerkship lottery this year (and, maybe this is just chance, but my friends this year did much better on the clerkship market than my friends last year). It's true that more judges are hiring clerks with post-law school working experience, but your grades sound like they would still give you a good chance.

That said, as other posters have suggested, clerkship hiring is extremely unpredictable. Judges get many qualified applicants, and oftentimes will make their decision based on very personal criteria (i.e. went to the same law school, have similar hobbies, etc.). My career office, and probably many others, advised most students to apply to around 100 judges. Unless you have a personal connection to a judge in Illinois, it's impossible to really say what your chances are for any individual judge. If you really want to clerk, it would probably make sense for you to apply more broadly, but if you are happy not definitely clerking, then you may as well just apply in Illinois and see what happens.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby tophat » Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:55 pm

Don't forget about state supreme court judges and federal magistrate judges!

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby A'nold » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:55 pm

Bankruptcy discussion continued:

I talked with my Bk professor and he said that Bk clerkships in the area you want to practice can be huge for prestigious firms in the area, especially coming from the best school in the region and top grades. Thoughts?

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby Younger Abstention » Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:49 pm

Well, then it sounds like you should go for that, A'nold.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby A'nold » Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:53 pm

Younger Abstention wrote:Well, then it sounds like you should go for that, A'nold.


Thanks but it seems like everyone is overly optimistic for YOUR chances but that they'd do something different or have less confidence if they were in your shoes, haha.

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Re: Chances at a District Clerkship

Postby baronh » Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:
A'nold wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
A'nold wrote:If you didn't have the numbers to get a biglaw gig int he first place - no, probably not. In fact, when I was interviewing for my debtor-side gig, after I accepted over lunch, our discussion turned to clerkships. The hiring partners interviewing me basically made fun of a guy who sent in an applicantion to them that had an Arizona bankruptcy clerkship on it - "The guy may look at one single-asset chapter 11 case, it's meaningless experience to us." The only bankruptcy clerkships that are relevant to the things big firms do are the good ones in SDNY, DA, and (arguably) the chief BK guy in NDIL.


I sincerely doubt that a bankruptcy law clerk in Arizona would only see one SARE over the course of a clerkship. I also sincerely doubt that there wouldn't be business bankruptcies other than SAREs before that court. Bankr. D. Ariz. probably has a few bigger real estate development cases. I've seen a great number of business bankruptcies (some of them w/ large, prestigious firms involved), and I'm not in Bankr. S.D.N.Y. or Bankr. D. Del.

NDIL isn't a venue of choice for ongoing businesses ever since the decision in K-Mart. I'm not sure why the chief bk judge would be preferable over any other bk judge, unless that judge has a big preexisting case or the cases aren't assigned randomly.

I've seen bk clerks from "flyover" bk courts get good bk law firm jobs in secondary cities. It's more difficult now in this market to do that, but it's more difficult to do anything in this market.

As a side note, the bk community is very small, there's a very limited number of bk clerks applying from Arizona to work in NYC or Delaware, and there's a limited number of law firms that fit the description you gave. You may find yourself working across from that Arizona bk clerk one day. Even the largest bk case is likely going to have smaller law firms working on some part of it, and I've met a number of bk attorneys who went from bk boutiques to larger firms (and vice versa).




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