Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

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Which should I choose?

Federal District Court Judge
20
47%
Chief Justice of State Supreme Court
23
53%
 
Total votes: 43

Anonymous User
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Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:22 pm

I am a 1L debating between interning for a federal district court judge and the chief justice of a state supreme court (a state where the supreme court is the highest court, unlike NY). The supreme court is in a more ideal location for me. I'm planning on biglaw through OCI for 2L. Any thoughts on which I should do? Thanks!

BeenDidThat
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby BeenDidThat » Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:28 pm

I'm not really sure on the answer. If you were dead-set on appellate advocacy or something, maybe I'd lean towards state sup ct...but on the other hand a lot of biglaw lit work is gonna happen at the Federal level. If I were in this position it would come down to factors other than the substance of the job...e.g. who I like more, what's a more convenient living situation.

Do you already have offers-in-hand? If so, it's a big no-no to turn down a Fed judge.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:35 pm

Two right choices. Depends upon where you see yourself in a few years.

Anonymous User
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:52 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Two right choices. Depends upon where you see yourself in a few years.


Meaning whether I want to do trial or appellate work?

CanadianWolf
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:28 pm

That is one aspect to consider. My response, however, was not limited to only that consideration.

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npe
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby npe » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:33 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:Pick the one in the market where you want to end up.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:35 pm

Better advice is to take the State Supreme Court Chief Justice clerkship only if you want to practice in that state.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby Lawquacious » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:46 pm

Normally I would say Fed. Dist. Court (with the exception that comes to mind being that if you lived in California I think Cal. Supreme Court would probably trump). If State Supreme is more convenient I would tend to think that is the way to go though, as I doubt that choosing one of these over the other is going to be earth-shattering in terms of future consequences.

Congrats- both are great opportunities!

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:34 pm

Its a close call. But depending on your state, remember Judges are politicians. Working for a certain Chief Judge might not go over well with people of a certain political persuasion. I don't know why exactly, but that doesn't seem to hold as true for federal judges.

Plus, unless you will be clerking after lawschool, your litigator career will be better served by seeing a federal trial judge in action, rather than a Supreme Court judge who practices at a level you will not get close to for at least 7 years of practice, if then. As a new litigator, you will be filing trial motions and briefs most likely. All your knowledge of the inner workings of the state supreme court will be, on a practical level, worthless for a long time.

boalt2l
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby boalt2l » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:45 pm

Which is in a better legal market, the State one or the District one?

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vamedic03
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby vamedic03 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:06 am

NotMyRealName09 wrote:Its a close call. But depending on your state, remember Judges are politicians. Working for a certain Chief Judge might not go over well with people of a certain political persuasion. I don't know why exactly, but that doesn't seem to hold as true for federal judges.

Plus, unless you will be clerking after lawschool, your litigator career will be better served by seeing a federal trial judge in action, rather than a Supreme Court judge who practices at a level you will not get close to for at least 7 years of practice, if then. As a new litigator, you will be filing trial motions and briefs most likely. All your knowledge of the inner workings of the state supreme court will be, on a practical level, worthless for a long time.


Say what?

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Veyron
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby Veyron » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:20 am

Didn't see a box for NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU DO YOUR 1L SUMMER.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:22 am

NotMyRealName09 has insight well beyond that of a law student. Unfortunately, you're writing to an audience that may not be experienced enough to appreciate your observations.

keg411
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby keg411 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:44 am

Not all state judges are political, it depends on the state. For instance, in my state judges are appointed, not elected. And very rarely do governors here deny tenure when judges come up for re-appointment even if they are from the opposite political party.

I do think trial court work is more practical overall than appellate work (and this is from someone doing a SSC internship).

CanadianWolf
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:47 am

Appointed positions are often more political than elected positions.

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powerlawyer06
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby powerlawyer06 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:16 am

CanadianWolf wrote:Appointed positions are often more political than elected positions.

Not to go off on a tangent but this statement seems very untrue. Unless I am misunderstanding you, you claim that appointed judges are more political than elected judges. I would agree that the appointment process is very political. However, once in their position, appointed judges tend to be less political than an elected judge. Elected judges have to campaign and raise funds for their next election. In some states the judges even run against each other in partisan elections. Most appointed judges only have to be worried about being recalled from office in the rare case of misconduct. This gives them a necessary buffer from political concerns.

I have lived in states with both systems and the elected judges seem to spend a lot more time politicking than an appointed judge. Saying they are not affected by the political process is complete crap. If you don’t believe me check out this Supreme Court case about a justice elected to West Virginia’s State Supreme Court.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caperton_v ... ey_Coal_Co.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:23 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
NotMyRealName09 wrote:Its a close call. But depending on your state, remember Judges are politicians. Working for a certain Chief Judge might not go over well with people of a certain political persuasion. I don't know why exactly, but that doesn't seem to hold as true for federal judges.

Plus, unless you will be clerking after lawschool, your litigator career will be better served by seeing a federal trial judge in action, rather than a Supreme Court judge who practices at a level you will not get close to for at least 7 years of practice, if then. As a new litigator, you will be filing trial motions and briefs most likely. All your knowledge of the inner workings of the state supreme court will be, on a practical level, worthless for a long time.

????


Um, I'm saying first year associates won't be on a case before the state supreme court, anywhere. First year associates may be involved in drafting briefs and handling hearings at the trial court level, hence as a practical matter experience with a trial Judge will actually teach you skills you can use at your first job out of lawschool. I'm saying that while working for a state supreme court judge will be academically stimulating, if you later work as a litigator, you would learn more about what you will actually be doing as a first year associate by working with a trial judge. You generally won't be handling appellate matters until you understand how trials actually operate, and that is how it should be.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:26 am

Appointed judges get their positions from one person and one political party. Situations differ, but appointed positions often are quite political. Many elected judicial positions are non-partisan. Many federal judges are appointed for life in an effort to minimize political influence on their decisions. (Doesn't always work, but it's the best that we have for now.)

Even for elected judicial positions, many judges obtain office initially as an appointee mid-term so that they can run as incumbants thanks to politically savvy judges who retire mid-term so the governor can appoint the replacement to the "elected" judgeship.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:35 am

CanadianWolf wrote:NotMyRealName09 has insight well beyond that of a law student. Unfortunately, you're writing to an audience that may not be experienced enough to appreciate your observations.


Perhaps I've lost perspective. I like coming here to try and say things I wish I heard in law school. But as a law student, until my second semester I didn't even know that there were two, almost mutually exclusive types of lawyers in the world - transactional vs litigators. Further, law school leaves the impression that much of the legal action is at the appellate level. Your textbooks are full of appellate decisions. But the bulk of legal work in litigation happens at the trial level. The law is often clear, and the real dispute becomes developing the facts to fit the law in a manner favorable to your client. That can be tough, because your client never really tells you what actually happened, only their biased view. They tell you what they think are the legally operative facts (or lie to you about what they did), even though they have no idea what is important to know, and even though they inadvertently leave you in the dark about critical facts that will screw you in the ass when your opponent finds out and you are not prepared. But you don't learn that until you actually get out there.
Last edited by NotMyRealName09 on Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:36 am

CanadianWolf wrote:Many elected judicial positions are non-partisan.


This is the wink-and-nod system many states have in place, but in America, there is no such thing as a non-partisan elected official.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:39 am

Many cases are won & lost in discovery--and not necessarily to potential evidence unearthed, but to being outspent. Many appellate worthy cases never make it beyond the trial level because of a lack of resources.

Anonymous User
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:42 am

I haven't yet had interviews but I also have ones set up with district court judges as well as a number of state supreme court internships. Every lawyer I talked to said both would look good on resume. But I come from a state where local ties are key so they said state supreme court might even be better than district court in my situation. Hopefully ill get an offer so that I even get a chance to worry about which one I would pick

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:25 am

CanadianWolf wrote:Many cases are won & lost in discovery--and not necessarily to potential evidence unearthed, but to being outspent. Many appellate worthy cases never make it beyond the trial level because of a lack of resources.


Exactly.

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powerlawyer06
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby powerlawyer06 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:35 am

Thank you Canadianwolf and Notmyrealname09. You both have posted more meaningful information about the practice of law ITT than I have read on TLS in months.

OP, this question is irrelevant until you have an offer from both. This is like me asking a hypothetical question about winning an Oscar or a Grammy. The chances of me winning either or you having to decide between two awesome job offers as a 1L are extremely slim. Having said that, I hope you get both and have to make this tough choice. Good luck!

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Adjudicator
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Re: Federal District Court or State Supreme Court?

Postby Adjudicator » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:37 am

I'm sorry if this is hijacking a bit, but I have a question that is related to this topic. Obtaining a clerkship is a major goal of mine, but I realize that obtaining a prestigious federal clerkship is unlikely, coming out of the school that I will be attending.

However, I have a pretty good connection to one of the state supreme court justices in the state in which I want to practice (he was formerly law partners with my uncle in a small firm, and my cousin clerked for him.)

Is a state supreme court clerkship in the region that you're practicing in a pretty decent substitute for a prestigious federal gig?




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