Career Clerk

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SemperLegal
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Career Clerk

Postby SemperLegal » Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:15 pm

0L Disclaimer I believe this post is properly filed in the Legal Employment thread, despite my educational shortcomings due to the fact it solicits for, rather than requests, employment advice. In order to avoid the cardinal sin of 0Ls arguing in the LE threadm I will not be responding to advice, so thanks in advance.

I have now run into two career clerks for judges (Both non-Article III).

The first clerk is a sister of a friend, Fordham(5%)-->Biglaw-->AUSA-->Career Clerk

The other was a friend of a boss, TT (Before 1990)-->10 Years NYC Midlaw--> Career Clerk

I am not sure that this is the right forum for this type of question, since its more of a terminal career option than a post-graduation one, but does anyone have an idea if there is a preferred route into this type of position? Is it the same as getting a normal clerkship? Would it be best to do PI, AUSA, State's Attorney, private practice, or just go with my backup plan of graduating Top 1% from HY&S?

BeautifulSW
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby BeautifulSW » Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:24 pm

I came into my current position with my state court system only after about fifteen years in practice. Before I got this job, I didn't realize that career attorney positions even existed. I thought that everyone was a clerk for just a year or two. We have those, too, but the emphasis is definitely on career personnel and, if anything, the number of career clerks is growing. I believe that something similar is happening at the federal level.

When we hire for a career position, school rank doesn't matter very much, class rank matters quite a lot (below top third we probably won't hire you) and relevant job experience can matter most of all, depending on our particular needs. I don't know how other states do it or the Feds, either.

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SemperLegal
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby SemperLegal » Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:35 pm

BeautifulSW wrote:
When we hire for a career position, school rank doesn't matter very much, class rank matters quite a lot (below top third we probably won't hire you) and relevant job experience can matter most of all, depending on our particular needs. I don't know how other states do it or the Feds, either.


Thanks Beautiful.

I see that you came out of PP, but these new hires, how much work experience do they have? What is the type of work experince that they have, are they clerks who get a permanent offer, hires out of law school, or are the from gov/industry/etc.?

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ndirish2010
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby ndirish2010 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:27 pm

State Court of Appeals judge that I will be working for this summer has a career clerk that is an alum of a T10. Not sure how long the position has existed for, however.

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A'nold
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby A'nold » Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:29 pm

Why not try to become the judge? :wink:

BeautifulSW
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby BeautifulSW » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:36 pm

No, not private practice, at least, most of my time has been with the state. DA, AG, PD, Child Protective Services, like that. But I did have a good deal of experience.

We hire clerks right out of school but staff attorneys need five years of full-time practice minimum.

YOU might want to be a Judge, A'nold, but I sure don't. State Judges are elected officials so they are primarily politicians. I am not sneering when I say that; in a democracy, the "political" class provides the officials because they alone are willing to go through the swamp of electoral politics. More power to them. But it's not for me. Besides, being a Judge requires the willingness to suffer fools, if not gladly, at least politely. That isn't me, either.

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A'nold
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby A'nold » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:39 pm

BeautifulSW wrote:No, not private practice, at least, most of my time has been with the state. DA, AG, PD, Child Protective Services, like that. But I did have a good deal of experience.

We hire clerks right out of school but staff attorneys need five years of full-time practice minimum.

YOU might want to be a Judge, A'nold, but I sure don't. State Judges are elected officials so they are primarily politicians. I am not sneering when I say that; in a democracy, the "political" class provides the officials because they alone are willing to go through the swamp of electoral politics. More power to them. But it's not for me. Besides, being a Judge requires the willingness to suffer fools, if not gladly, at least politely. That isn't me, either.

Politics are not for me, either. However, you can run for a low level judge uncontested sometimes and you can always be appointed, you know, if you are awesome.

I saw a bk court judge position posted online once that was for a 16 year term or something like that.

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beaverfuzz
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby beaverfuzz » Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:31 am

The federal district judge I'll be clerking for hired his career clerk straight from law school. I think it is generally pretty chambers-specific.

Anonymous User
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:12 am

I've known a handful of federal career clerks. Almost all of them started their careers by clerking for a federal judge on a term basis. Often they clerked for a judge, went into biglaw, and then came back to the judge.

I am a term clerk at a state court. Some of the career clerks have done nothing else other than clerk. Some have clerked, worked in outside the court, and then come back to work for a different judge. Very few career clerks were not term clerks at some point.

The type of post term clerkship employment does not seem to matter much, but most seem to have gone into private practice.

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kings84_wr
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby kings84_wr » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:22 am

There was a career clerk at the district court I worked at last year.

He/she went Art III Clerkship in DC-> USAO SDNY ->to career clerk at a different judge. He/She was hired because of expertise in an area of law that is very important to that court, and stays home and works from there 2 or 3 days a week.

The clerk told me that its about impossible to get a career clerkship right now, and that courts are very limited in hiring career clerks.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby BeautifulSW » Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:38 am

At the federal level? Yeah. I believe that. About 7 years ago, a career clerkship opened up in the Western District of Texas for someone to do federal habeas cases. I could have applied but did not since I was pretty happy where I was (and am) and I figured another opening would come along in due time, maybe even here in N.Mex.

Hunh! That's the LAST federal career clerk position I've seen advertised for Southern N.Mex./West Texas. The pay, btw, worked out to about the same when you factor in the difference in benefits and the cost (for me) of the commute so I didn't really lose anything and I have a more interesting job with no commute. (I walk to work.)

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SteelReserve
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby SteelReserve » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:34 pm

I know two career clerks (federal clerks). Both clerked for their judges just like any other clerkship and just fell into the career clerk positions due to quality of work product and fit in chambers.

Assuming most federal clerks' work product is quite good, this really comes down to the relationship between the judge and the clerk

If a judge is going to hire a clerk for many years, it makes sense the judge will have worked with the clerk first like any other clerk. I'd definitely say the most important quality would be to get the clerkship in the first place, do stellar work in an extremely efficient manner, show absolute reliability and competence, AND be fun to work with, talk to, eat with, etc.

Anonymous User
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:30 am

I'm a relative of a federal district court judge, and I can chime in that it is chambers specific. I suspect, from what I've heard the most common path to career clerk, is clerk-> private firm-> return to same chambers. Obviously, a judge is going to want you back if you did a really good job for them in the first place. Lots of times these career clerk positions only open up when another career clerk leaves since lots of judges only want to have one career clerk at a time.

In fact, there will be less career clerks spots in the future. It is my understanding that there is some new rule that judges can only have 1 career clerk now. Other clerks I think can max out at 5 years.

Of course, there's also staff attorney positions on courts, which I assume are filled by career clerks. I know that the 11th Circuit is planning on hiring a bunch of staff attorneys in the new future.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby BeautifulSW » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:48 am

Steelreserve's comment is important. A Judge has to be thoroughly comfortable with a clerk for the relationship to work. A Judge must have absolute confidence in the clerk's legal skill and discretion.

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kings84_wr
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Re: Career Clerk

Postby kings84_wr » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:52 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:In fact, there will be less career clerks spots in the future. It is my understanding that there is some new rule that judges can only have 1 career clerk now. Other clerks I think can max out at 5 years.
The first part (1 career clerk limit) is definitely true. Some judges have more than 1 career clerk right now; however those are grandfathered in under the old rule. Don't know about the second part (5 year limit on "term" clerks).


I know while externing last summer one of the clerks reached his year limit (I'm not sure what it was) and needed some type of waiver to keep working.




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