Judge vs. Firm

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:13 pm

Lawquacious wrote:Kind of curious what you mean about the judge being well connected (or reputed) in the legal community you are in and being able to give you a good local rec. If he/she is a Federal Circuit Judge then I have a hard time imagining that a rec wouldn't hold weight pretty much anywhere (not just in your local legal community). Not trying to convince you one way or another. At this point I suppose I am just trying to get a better picture of what kind of judicial internship you are actually looking at.


I apologize; the judge's rec would obviously carry weight a lot of places. That said, in the community I am in (which for all intents and purposes is the community I intend to remain in) it would be a great rec. The confusion just arises from the fact I don't feel any need to be mobile, so I don't phrase any questions with an eye to a legal market outside my own.

-OP here

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Grizz
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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Grizz » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:17 pm

Lawquacious wrote:I see no way a mid-size firm looks better than Federal COA internship on a resume. In fact, I really see no way that they are really even close. Federal COA internships are about the most pretigious internship you can get while in law school as far as I know. Then again, there may be variations in quality of these, and the fact that OP's offer was only for half of the summer kind of makes me wonder what exactly this internship entails.

Also Edit: I think some of it does come down to OP interests though. If OP is primarily concerned with getting firm work and making good money then maybe firm is TCR (but OP already stated that he/she is interested in doing clerkship after law school, so I think this weighs in favor of judicial internship).


Fed. judicial externship isn't so prestigious that I'd give up guaranteed money with possibility for full employ. "Prestigious 1L position" is almost an oxymoron; grades matter so much more for 2L employment. I'd take the thing that's most likely to lead to full employment post-grad. Clerking will still be there (albeit as a huge crapshoot).

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby thesealocust » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:20 pm

Lawquacious wrote:I see no way a mid-size firm looks better than Federal COA internship on a resume. In fact, I really see no way that they are really even close. Federal COA internships are about the most pretigious internship you can get while in law school as far as I know.


Judicial internships aren't prestigious, period. It's not a meritocratic market the way post-graduate, full-time, compensated clerkships are. Only a tiny fraction of CoA judges even hire interns, and those that do aren't sifting for the greatest legal minds in generations to fill their spots and shower with gems of wisdom. They're just willing to take on summer interns, like every other judge, and will probably shove them in a back room and let them do grunt work for the real clerks.

Many judges basically never interact with their interns, many judges have policies of not hiring former interns as clerks, and many CoA judges don't hear arguments / do exciting things over the summer (which would dampen the experience). If you get a rec, there is a very strong change it'll either be a form letter from your judge (who may actually not write recs for anyone, a fairly common judicial policy) or will be coming from a clerk, who will not exactly be battering down the gates of various employers.

Judicial internships vary wildly in practice, but they are _NOT_ prestigious in a way likely to be relevant for later job hunting, much less outweigh $$$ + employment prospects. Employers hiring for 2L summer or fulltime employment know this game better than we do, they know that getting a 1L CoA internship is not a major flag of quality / competition / endorsement the way the same job as a post-graduation clerkship would be.

And sure, some firms that hire 1Ls are small, have unpredictable hiring, and may or may not give full time offers. At least as many, if not more, hire 1Ls because they don't have the infrastructure or pull to compete with 2L OCI and major firms - but still intend to make offers (to return for part of 2L summer or fulltime) to the 1L summers they do hire.

The firm job wins, and it wins by a landslide.

Everyone knows that clerkships for judges are prestigious, but law students don't realize that over 1L summer it doesn't carry nearly the same weight. My personal experience with OCI coupled with the OCI experience of those I know backup irrefutably that what you do 1L summer is all but meaningless when compared with factors like prior work experience, geographic preference, grades, and school rank/reputation.

A firm job as a 1L changes everything - it can be fulltime employment, the ultimate ace-up-the-sleeve, and also provides money (and some training and insight on the business of the law) unavailable to the overwhelming majority of 1Ls.

A CoA internship xould be a great experience, but it's not going to turn the heads of most hiring partners. Obviously many people who land them, given how few there are and how selective such a judge could be, will probably have resumes festooned with OTHER credentials that will turn employer's heads - but don't let correlation be confused with causation.

TL;DR what you do for your 1L summer doesn't matter, so get paid and have an option of a full time offer when you have the chance.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:23 pm

I know multiple people who can completely disconfirm the post above me when it says that employers don't see CoA internships as prestigious. Both of them said that it was a major talking point during interviews and that the recruiters (both from large NY firms) specifically voiced that they were impressed by it.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Grizz
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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Grizz » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I know multiple people who can completely disconfirm the post above me when it says that employers don't see CoA internships as prestigious. Both of them said that it was a major talking point during interviews and that the recruiters specifically voiced that they were impressed by it.


That's the thing bro. At best, your 1L job is a talking point, and that's about it.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby thesealocust » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I know multiple people who can completely disconfirm the post above me when it says that employers don't see CoA internships as prestigious. Both of them said that it was a major talking point during interviews and that the recruiters specifically voiced that they were impressed by it.


Yeah, and I know multiple people who said that their work for Random Professor studying The Law and Ethics of Not Adding Value to Society came up as a major talking point in interviews and that recruiters specifically voiced that they were impressed by it. I also know people who did internships for judges up and down the "prestige" rankings you see thrown around on these forums, and their job search results correlated perfectly with - you guessed it - grades, school, geographic preference, prior work experience, and personality.

I ALSO know people who would have struck out had they not had a 1L summer firm lined up to return to as 2Ls.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:29 pm

thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I know multiple people who can completely disconfirm the post above me when it says that employers don't see CoA internships as prestigious. Both of them said that it was a major talking point during interviews and that the recruiters specifically voiced that they were impressed by it.


Yeah, and I know multiple people who said that their work for Random Professor studying The Law and Ethics of Not Adding Value to Society came up as a major talking point in interviews and that recruiters specifically voiced that they were impressed by it. I also know people who did internships for judges up and down the "prestige" rankings you see thrown around on these forums, and their job search results correlated perfectly with - you guessed it - grades, school, geographic preference, prior work experience, and personality.

I ALSO know people who would have struck out had they not had a 1L summer firm willing to take them back as 2Ls.


Speaking of working for professors as a research assistant (in a completely unrelated way). Because I would only be working for a judge for half the summer, and working for a professor is another option for the other half, how do y'all think having two (count 'em 2!) law related jobs this summer would help? (Or hurt?)

-OP

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thesealocust
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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby thesealocust » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I know multiple people who can completely disconfirm the post above me when it says that employers don't see CoA internships as prestigious. Both of them said that it was a major talking point during interviews and that the recruiters specifically voiced that they were impressed by it.


Yeah, and I know multiple people who said that their work for Random Professor studying The Law and Ethics of Not Adding Value to Society came up as a major talking point in interviews and that recruiters specifically voiced that they were impressed by it. I also know people who did internships for judges up and down the "prestige" rankings you see thrown around on these forums, and their job search results correlated perfectly with - you guessed it - grades, school, geographic preference, prior work experience, and personality.

I ALSO know people who would have struck out had they not had a 1L summer firm willing to take them back as 2Ls.


Speaking of working for professors as a research assistant (in a completely unrelated way). Because I would only be working for a judge for half the summer, and working for a professor is another option for the other half, how do y'all think having two (count 'em 2!) law related jobs this summer would help? (Or hurt?)

-OP


It would be totally irrelevant, unless one was a firm. If one was a firm you'd get money and a potential lead to full time employment. That would be great.

~Guy who had 2 (count 'em 2!) law related jobs 1L summer

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby imchuckbass58 » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:13 pm

I worked for a COA judge this past summer (a relatively "prestigious" one too - has sent multiple clerks to SCOTUS), and I do not think it mattered very much come EIP. People mentioned it, but it's not as if they were shocked and awed and it did not influence outcomes as far as I can tell (aside from the firm where the judge used to be a partner).

If I were in your position, I would take the firm job. Don't get me wrong - I loved my COA summer and it was probably one of the best summers I ever had in terms of learning a lot and doing meaningful work. But (1) it doesn't pay, and (2) it does not have the potential to lead to a full time offer.

The perceived "prestige" of 1L internships (whatever that is) really does not matter in the slightest. If you do something law-related and can talk enthusiastically about it, that's all you need.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:36 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:I worked for a COA judge this past summer (a relatively "prestigious" one too - has sent multiple clerks to SCOTUS), and I do not think it mattered very much come EIP. People mentioned it, but it's not as if they were shocked and awed and it did not influence outcomes as far as I can tell (aside from the firm where the judge used to be a partner).

If I were in your position, I would take the firm job. Don't get me wrong - I loved my COA summer and it was probably one of the best summers I ever had in terms of learning a lot and doing meaningful work. But (1) it doesn't pay, and (2) it does not have the potential to lead to a full time offer.

The perceived "prestige" of 1L internships (whatever that is) really does not matter in the slightest. If you do something law-related and can talk enthusiastically about it, that's all you need.


Though i was definitely leaning judge before....this is relatively compelling.

-OP

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby vamedic03 » Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:43 pm

I think thesealocust's post was spot on. People who are seeking to refute him through secondhand interview stories are not really using reliable information. See, part of a recruiter's job during OCI is to make you want to work for their firm. OCI is a two way street. For the most part, people who are competitive for big law will have at least a couple offers to choose from and the firms who extent the offers want people to accept. Part of the way they do this is by flattering people during interviews, i.e., of course they will sound impressed by your summer experience.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Lawquacious » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:32 am

I was surprised by some of the input on this thread, but think maybe my view on this subject has been appropriately tempered. I suppose it may be true that a judicial internship during law school, even with Federal COA, isn't as prestigious as I thought. Still, I'm not necessarily convinced that taking the mid-size firm job is the clear choice; I think at the very least there are some good arguments for going either way.

I would say that my opinion has been based largely on the fact that I know a student at my school who turned down a firm offer as a 1L to do a Fed. District Court internship/externship; he got a NYC firm job this summer and seems pretty glad that he choose the judge last summer for the experience. Also, my school's career services really stresses that Fed. clerkships are very, very desirable for employers, but maybe this has been exaggerated. In any case, I think if I were in your position I probably would be inclined to go for the big money myself (especially if 8k+ per month), but I still suspect that Fed. COA will carry weight on your resume even if it is for a summer internship.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby keg411 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:32 am

OP - take the money. Your grades/interviewing skills will make the difference at OCI, not summer employment. A CoA clerkship is extremely prestigious... but not a 1L internship.

Since people are giving anecdotes: we had a 1L career panel and one of the 2L's interned for a Fed CoA judge. At the time of the panel (about a month ago), said 2L was still unemployed for 2L summer. It isn't "gold" if you don't have everything else (school, grades, etc.). And if you have everything else, you will probably get a good job out of OCI no matter which you pick.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:45 am

OP, you are bound to accept the judge's offer. You aren't allowed to turn down an offer from a judge. Your school's CSO will be furious and likely sanction you (maybe lock you out of OCI/EIP), and your professional reputation will take a huge hit.

I can't believe no one has already mentioned this - or am I misreading your post? Has the judge given you express permission to decline his/her offer? If not, you can't turn it down.

That aside, I worked for a fairly well-known district court judge in 1L, and it came up in nearly every interview. It is a good experience and can really give you a leg up in interviewing if you can speak about it well.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Aqualibrium » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:09 am

My input:

Legit firm work is always going to be better than a judicial internship. Those things are a dime a dozen. Very few people can go into OCI and say "I worked in the firm environment, I liked/disliked it, I have a better sense of what it's like and what I want to do." On top of that, you have the potential to go into OCI with an offer.

I personally worked at 2 firms 1L summer. One an NLJ250, the other a well respected mid sized firm. I was able to know that I had a 2L offer before the end of the summer, saved about 10 grand, and had a significant boost in every interview I went into (every single firm I interviewed with talked about that experience as a plus). I got a great writing sample out of it, had some really good stories to tell, and got more free food and booze than you can imagine.

EDIT:

As far as "impactful" work, I don't think most 1L's are going to do that. I was fortunate enough to work at a firm that let me get a lot of hands on experience though. I wrote a summary judgment brief that was argued in state court (I caught something in the discovery docs that the lawyers missed...swung momentum in our favor, so they let me write the brief), interacted directly with a few clients about memo's I wrote for their cases, wrote a city ordinance on a fairly controversial topic that is in use today, and worked on some pretty major cases. While I'll admit those are experiences that most people won't get, I can also say with certainty that those are experiences no judicial intern will get.

As far as the perceived boost, the fact remains that lots of people do judicial internships, but very few people work for firms. If you seek out work at your firm, you'll have some pretty great experience to talk about/help you understand what it is you want to do (this past summer taught me that I am not interested in tax or transactional work.) At few of the firms I interviewed with, partners and associates there were friendly with or were in legal orgs with partners and associates from my summer firms (you can't capitalize on those kind of connections unless you make an effort to talk to everyone at your firm though).

I'll also say this, everyone on this site talks about how 3L OCI is a barren waste land EXCEPT if you have an offer in hand from another firm and you're looking to trade up. Working for a firm 1L summer puts you in a similar position as that 3L who worked for a firm, got an offer, and is looking to trade up. You walk into OCI with an offer in hand, you alert firms to that, which tends to have the psychological effect of increasing your marketability/desirability, and you know that even if this doesn't work out you have an offer to fall back on. If that isn't a boost I don't know what is.

I think the most important "boost" I got was coming away with the feeling that I could survive and thrive in the law firm environment. That kind of confidence in my work product and my ability to fit in was really one of the keys to my success in subsequent interviews.
Last edited by Aqualibrium on Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Grizz » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:20 am

Lawquacious wrote:I would say that my opinion has been based largely on the fact that I know a student at my school who turned down a firm offer as a 1L to do a Fed. District Court internship/externship; he got a NYC firm job this summer and seems pretty glad that he choose the judge last summer for the experience. Also, my school's career services really stresses that Fed. clerkships are very, very desirable for employers, but maybe this has been exaggerated. In any case, I think if I were in your position I probably would be inclined to go for the big money myself (especially if 8k+ per month), but I still suspect that Fed. COA will carry weight on your resume even if it is for a summer internship.


1L summer jobs don't carry much weight, if at all bro. It's just a talking point.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby imchuckbass58 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:45 am

To be clear, I don't think it's stupid or ridiculous to take the judicial internship over the firm job. You arguably will be doing much more impactful work and get to work one on one with really smart clerks and the judge - that's nothing to sniff at.

But, the price of that is not getting paid and not having the prospect of turning it into a full-time offer, and it won't measurably boost your resume. But, if money is not really an issue and you are confident in your ability to get a firm job without a 1L summer (i.e., if you are top half at HYSCCN), there's a decent argument for taking the internship.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby romothesavior » Mon Feb 07, 2011 11:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP, you are bound to accept the judge's offer. You aren't allowed to turn down an offer from a judge. Your school's CSO will be furious and likely sanction you (maybe lock you out of OCI/EIP), and your professional reputation will take a huge hit.

1) It sounds like turning it down is an option, based on what I'm hearing from OP.
2) The CSO is not going to lock him out of OCI. Chllax.
3) If OP spins this right, the damage will be minimal and he could possibly do an externship. If I were the OP, I would call the judge, express my deepest appreciation for the offer, explain that the firm offer just makes more sense from a financial perspective (you could even play the ITE card), and express a strong desire to do an externship.

I understand the whole, "zomg you can't turn down a judge thing!" but I think this is a notable exception. ITE, the money and the possibility of full time employment are too much to turn down, and if the judge doesn't realize that, well tough shit for him. It isn't like he is telling the judge "Hey hold on for a few weeks and I'll let you know." I think if OP plays this right and moves quickly, he can definitely get out of this offer without damage and maybe get the best of both worlds (a paid summer job at a firm and an externship for the school year).

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:03 pm

OP here,
just to address some of the things people have said (sorry for my late replies; school and all getting in the way).

Some further information to maybe clear up some confusion/address other sides of it (sorry for some vagueness, just want to be careful when it comes to jobs):

- Because of the way I got the CoA job, I can in fact turn it down (I don't want to say much more than that...rest assured my career services office will not care).
- When I say I have strong grades, I mean I have a 4.0 (through one semester; so...obviously less impressive). I'm not saying I'll slay this semester and have a 4.0 next fall, but I am moving forward with the assumption that next year I will have competitive grades when it comes time for OCI.
- I would make in the neighborhood of the aforementioned 8k a month at the firm.
- I have never worked in the legal field before, so I have nothing on my resume that is directly on-point career wise for a firm or anything else for that matter.

Thanks for everybody's advice so far. It's definitely a super tough decision I'm trying to make, and I feel like the comments reflect that.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby cattail » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:08 pm

If money is not an issue, I'd take the CoA (as I did myself).
You are obviously going to land a great job out of OCI, what you do this summer does not matter in terms of employment.
Interning for a judge is a hard to come by opportunity for someone who is going to pursue biglaw later on. You'd probably be stuck in the firm environment for a long time. And you will make a lot of money, so the money you lose this summer is trivial. (well, this is how I persuaded myself to take the coa over the firm that pays 3k a week)
But if you are planning on clerking upon graduation or going into academia, it's probably another story.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:20 pm

OP, I'll assume that you are at a T14. Your grades place you near or at the top of the class (depending on your school's curve). I was in a similar situation and chose to work in public service for my 1L summer (and worked as an RA as well) - I really enjoyed it and it was a great break. I don't regret that decision, but, if I was to go back, I would be tempted to work for a firm. Either way, I would not have done a judicial internship. I would take the money that a firm offers.

Most likely, if you are interested in clerking (and you keep your grades up), you will have plenty of opportunities. Whatever you do, you'll be fine for OCI.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:45 pm

I am very much NOT at a top 14. I got to a school in the 30-60 range.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby Grizz » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am very much NOT at a top 14. I got to a school in the 30-60 range.


For the love of all that is holy, take the firm job. Even for top students at these schools, OCI can be dicey. Best to try to get something in your pocket already.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby romothesavior » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am very much NOT at a top 14. I got to a school in the 30-60 range.

Take the friggen' firm job, without a doubt.

You may have a shot at externing with this guy or clerking later on down the road. But don't pass up a potential job opportunity.

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Re: Judge vs. Firm

Postby keg411 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:51 pm

rad law wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am very much NOT at a top 14. I got to a school in the 30-60 range.


For the love of all that is holy, take the firm job. Even for top students at these schools, OCI can be dicey. Best to try to get something in your pocket already.


+1




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