Clerkships and BigLaw

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lawyerwannabe
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Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby lawyerwannabe » Sat Feb 26, 2011 2:30 pm

I have always wondered this because I know some clerkships are very prestigious and most V100 firms are at least fairly prestigious.

So, if one gets any clerkship, could that person also have landed BigLaw and if a person land a V100 firm job, could that person have gotten a clerkship?

I am trying to make complete sense of employment statistics and the percentage of desirable jobs a law school allows its graduates to obtain.

Thanks.

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thesealocust
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby thesealocust » Sat Feb 26, 2011 2:36 pm

Federal clerkships are substantially more difficult to get than big firm jobs.

Every year there are approximately 5,000 "big law" jobs (fewer of which in the Vault 100, but not by a lot).

There are about 1,000 federal judges with each hiring 0-4 clerks (4 more common for CoA). But many judges don't hire recent grads, and many district court clerkships last for 2 years (meaning that there are only half the slots).

Somebody who lands a federal clerkship 9 times out of 10 could have, and probably did, land a big firm job in a V100 or similar firm. Not nearly everyone in a V100 firm could have landed a clerkship.

It can be erratic though. Since hiring is individual judges taking a handful of people, sometimes having the right connections or otherwise being in the right place at the right time can make it happen, even if you struck out with big law. The opposite is also possible.

But in general, it's much harder to get a clerkship. At your average T14 type school, at least half the class will either get or be in serious contention for a V100 type firm gig, whereas substantially less than a quarter of the class has any shot at clerking (and in the end usually only 10-15% wind up clerking).

Renzo
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby Renzo » Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:26 pm

I have a V100 gig lined up. No way in hell I'm competitive for a federal clerkship.

twistedwrister
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby twistedwrister » Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:32 pm

It depends. Lots of flyover D. Ct. (and even CoA judges) hire good students from local schools, but these same students might not get a biglaw offer because big firms just don't recruit at the schools in question. On the other hand, it's much easier to get biglaw than a clerkship from the T14-type schools.

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A'nold
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby A'nold » Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:33 pm

It seems that if you had the grades to get biglaw but missed 2L OCI for some reason that you have just as good a chance of landing a nice clerkship than you would have had had you participated in 2L OCI. This is why I don't understand why people always tell transfers or people that decided to do something else 2L summer that a clerkship will likely not help them get a "biglaw" job one day. Is this b/c the firms they landed a 2L gig at allow them to defer and they would have had a hard time w/out such a deferral?

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A'nold
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby A'nold » Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:35 pm

twistedwrister wrote:It depends. Lots of flyover D. Ct. (and even CoA judges) hire good students from local schools, but these same students might not get a biglaw offer because big firms just don't recruit at the schools in question. On the other hand, it's much easier to get biglaw than a clerkship from the T14-type schools.

What if a top 10% t14 grad had applied for the same flyover job? Would the judge still prefer the local kid in most situations?

HowdyYall
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby HowdyYall » Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:44 pm

Do some people pick a kush Biglaw job over a clerkship opportunity?

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thesealocust
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby thesealocust » Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:48 pm

HowdyYall wrote:Do some people pick a kush Biglaw job over a clerkship opportunity?


Clerkships only last a year (rarely 2, and some people do more than one). A majority of federal clerks, probably an overwhelming majority, do big law after clerking.

Many people who have stats in the range to clerk do not attempt to do so. For some, they plan to apply after working at a firm or other job for a while (many judges favor such applicants). For others, they see no reason to delay starting at a firm or forfeit the extra money* you get by skipping clerking. That's especially true for those who aren't going into litigation, for whom a clerkship is of much less tangible benefit.

*Firms pay bonuses to clerks and often start them at higher salary, but you still make more starting at a firm - unless you land a SCOTUS clerkship and a 6 figure bonus.

A'nold: Judge hiring is very esoteric. Flyover districts are only flyover districts to people who don't live there. The judge will get hundreds of applications and choose based on whatever he/she feels like choosing based on. Some favor certain local schools and always get some clerks from there, others are happy to take YHS students who have no ties to the region, etc. It's very random.

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A'nold
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby A'nold » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:24 pm

thesealocust wrote:
HowdyYall wrote:Do some people pick a kush Biglaw job over a clerkship opportunity?


Clerkships only last a year (rarely 2, and some people do more than one). A majority of federal clerks, probably an overwhelming majority, do big law after clerking.

Many people who have stats in the range to clerk do not attempt to do so. For some, they plan to apply after working at a firm or other job for a while (many judges favor such applicants). For others, they see no reason to delay starting at a firm or forfeit the extra money* you get by skipping clerking. That's especially true for those who aren't going into litigation, for whom a clerkship is of much less tangible benefit.

*Firms pay bonuses to clerks and often start them at higher salary, but you still make more starting at a firm - unless you land a SCOTUS clerkship and a 6 figure bonus.

A'nold: Judge hiring is very esoteric. Flyover districts are only flyover districts to people who don't live there. The judge will get hundreds of applications and choose based on whatever he/she feels like choosing based on. Some favor certain local schools and always get some clerks from there, others are happy to take YHS students who have no ties to the region, etc. It's very random.

Thanks. I have so many clerkship questions for some reason.....

Another one: Have you ever heard of so-called "career clerks" and do these clerks use each clerkship as a stepping stone to higher level clerkships? Also, what is their ultimate goal/what benefits do they get from such a plan?

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thesealocust
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby thesealocust » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:27 pm

A'nold wrote:Another one: Have you ever heard of so-called "career clerks" and do these clerks use each clerkship as a stepping stone to higher level clerkships? Also, what is their ultimate goal/what benefits do they get from such a plan?


To my knowledge, career clerks are quite rare, and are usually hybrid clerks/secretaries for the judge they work for. I'm not sure, but I don't think it's a large enough group to be something you plan for and get. I believe it's the opposite of a stepping stone position - the people I know of who do it have significant family / other life commitments and to them it's a great non-firm legal job. But again, it's a tiny fraction of the pool of clerks, and I doubt there are openings you could even hunt for if you wanted to.

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A'nold
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby A'nold » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:48 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
A'nold wrote:Another one: Have you ever heard of so-called "career clerks" and do these clerks use each clerkship as a stepping stone to higher level clerkships? Also, what is their ultimate goal/what benefits do they get from such a plan?


To my knowledge, career clerks are quite rare, and are usually hybrid clerks/secretaries for the judge they work for. I'm not sure, but I don't think it's a large enough group to be something you plan for and get. I believe it's the opposite of a stepping stone position - the people I know of who do it have significant family / other life commitments and to them it's a great non-firm legal job. But again, it's a tiny fraction of the pool of clerks, and I doubt there are openings you could even hunt for if you wanted to.

Sealocust's posts are dead-on. Career clerkships aren't all that numerous--although there are a lot more of them than I had thought previously (as a student). Those jobs are NOT stepping stones to other things. They are comfortable jobs with good hours and decent pay (~100k after a few years), but the hiring for them is narrowly focused. A judge won't usually just take random applications when a career clerk opens every few years. Instead, s/he will look to former clerks, spouses of clerks who are attorneys, other people who work in the courthouse, local litigators, etc. In other words, these jobs are at once not available to basically everyone and numerous enough to reduce the overlal # of fed clerkships available to rising 3Ls by a decent %.


Thanks guys. Yeah, I met a "career clerk" once. She worked part-time for the judge and apparently made good money and then spent the rest of her time as the judicial clerkships coordinator at the law school she graduated from. Seemed like she really liked her situation.

I was more talking people that try to "move up the ladder" of clerkship prestige. I've heard of this once or twice on here and just wondered if it actually happens. Like, could a student clerk for a Federal Magistrate judge and then land a clerkship for a District Court and then one day move up to COA? I know this is a very noobie kind of question but I just want to be clear that this actually happens/doesn't happen.

Edit: I was also wondering if clerkships are a good way to network for future gov. positions?

sullidop
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby sullidop » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:56 pm

A'nold wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
A'nold wrote:Another one: Have you ever heard of so-called "career clerks" and do these clerks use each clerkship as a stepping stone to higher level clerkships? Also, what is their ultimate goal/what benefits do they get from such a plan?


To my knowledge, career clerks are quite rare, and are usually hybrid clerks/secretaries for the judge they work for. I'm not sure, but I don't think it's a large enough group to be something you plan for and get. I believe it's the opposite of a stepping stone position - the people I know of who do it have significant family / other life commitments and to them it's a great non-firm legal job. But again, it's a tiny fraction of the pool of clerks, and I doubt there are openings you could even hunt for if you wanted to.

Sealocust's posts are dead-on. Career clerkships aren't all that numerous--although there are a lot more of them than I had thought previously (as a student). Those jobs are NOT stepping stones to other things. They are comfortable jobs with good hours and decent pay (~100k after a few years), but the hiring for them is narrowly focused. A judge won't usually just take random applications when a career clerk opens every few years. Instead, s/he will look to former clerks, spouses of clerks who are attorneys, other people who work in the courthouse, local litigators, etc. In other words, these jobs are at once not available to basically everyone and numerous enough to reduce the overlal # of fed clerkships available to rising 3Ls by a decent %.


Thanks guys. Yeah, I met a "career clerk" once. She worked part-time for the judge and apparently made good money and then spent the rest of her time as the judicial clerkships coordinator at the law school she graduated from. Seemed like she really liked her situation.

I was more talking people that try to "move up the ladder" of clerkship prestige. I've heard of this once or twice on here and just wondered if it actually happens. Like, could a student clerk for a Federal Magistrate judge and then land a clerkship for a District Court and then one day move up to COA? I know this is a very noobie kind of question but I just want to be clear that this actually happens/doesn't happen.

Edit: I was also wondering if clerkships are a good way to network for future gov. positions?


I have head of such career clerks. Many start in a state supreme court, move to a district court and then to a circuit court. I'm not sure exactly what their endgame is, given that most SCOTUS clerks are only a few years out, but I know that it happens.

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A'nold
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby A'nold » Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:14 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
A'nold wrote:I was more talking people that try to "move up the ladder" of clerkship prestige. I've heard of this once or twice on here and just wondered if it actually happens. Like, could a student clerk for a Federal Magistrate judge and then land a clerkship for a District Court and then one day move up to COA? I know this is a very noobie kind of question but I just want to be clear that this actually happens/doesn't happen.

Edit: I was also wondering if clerkships are a good way to network for future gov. positions?

I think the ladder situation you describe only makes sense from a law student perspective. It seems akin, to me, to the 0Ls who go to school A planning on transferring up to school B.

Some people do take one clerkship intending to land another, better one, and sometimes it does happen.* But seldom, if ever, do people trade up twice. The credentials necessary for most CoA jobs more or less guarantee that doesn't happen. And even if trading up twice was possible, why do it? What is the endgame? Just having a shinier resume? You don't get more of a bonus out of it, that's for sure.

For those who want biglaw and can't get it, clerkships are rarely a back door. It happens sometimes, but as has been said before many times, if you didn't have the credentials to get biglaw at 2L OCI, you probably don't have the ammo to get a clerkship that will make firms change their minds.


Thanks. The reason I keep asking this question is b/c I fall somewhere in the middle. I transferred and w/ my grades at my new school I almost certainly could have landed a big firm job if I had earned those grades as a 1L at the school. Many transfers on this site are running into the same problem. It's not necessarily that I want a backdoor into biglaw but I would love to clerk and I would like to clerk in as prestigious position as possible. I didn't "miss the OCI boat" due to lack of grades, just due to lack of timing.

JusticeJackson
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby JusticeJackson » Sun Feb 27, 2011 4:11 am

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Zabini
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Re: Clerkships and BigLaw

Postby Zabini » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:26 am

edit: I see the other thread now




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