Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

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Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:38 pm

Will be around for the next few hours, if anyone has any questions.

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:43 pm

At the district court level, what sort of assignments and responsibilities were given to the interns who worked below you? I recently accepted a district court internship and was told I would be working closely with the clerks. I have an idea of the type of work and assignments that the judge/clerks usually give to the interns, but I was wondering what your knowledge was on this?

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:33 pm

Approx. rank of your law school? LR?

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:52 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:You get a clerkship bonus? If so, care to comment on which market & how much? Someone told me recently that the standard 50k biglaw clerkship bonus was less common now than before.


Yes, I got a clerkship bonus of 50K when I started at my firm. As far as I know, the firm is paying the same now, although I'm no longer there (to be clear, I worked at a firm in between my two clerkships). It's a California office of a V25.

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:At the district court level, what sort of assignments and responsibilities were given to the interns who worked below you? I recently accepted a district court internship and was told I would be working closely with the clerks. I have an idea of the type of work and assignments that the judge/clerks usually give to the interns, but I was wondering what your knowledge was on this?


It depends on the chambers, but to give you an idea of what it was like at my district court clerkship:

There were multiple externs for the fall semester, spring semester, and summer. Each extern would be assigned to each of the clerks, on a rotating basis. They would prepare, depending on their experience/skill level, either a draft order (e.g. on a motion to dismiss or a summary judgment motion) or a memorandum making a recommendation as to how the draft order should come out. They would only have one draft order/memo to work on at a time; how many they were given in total depended on their experience and ability. After their draft order/memo was prepared (usually involving several rounds of revision with the assigned clerk), the extern would give a presentation to our judge at a weekly staff meeting. The presentation usually occurred in the week before the motion was scheduled for hearing. Externs were also allowed/expected to sit in on law & motion calendars (weekly) and trials, when available. Although the externs' workload (like the clerks') was derived from the civil calendar, the externs were permitted (but not required) to observe the criminal weekly calendar, if they had interest. Does that help? Let me know if you have any follow-up questions.

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Approx. rank of your law school? LR?


HYS, non-law review, but on a secondary journal. To be straightforward: not all district court judges care about law review; I don't believe that mine did. Afterwards, I was hired for my circuit clerkship (2/9/DC) based on the strength of my extremely-strong district court clerkship recommendation, my grades, and my post-law school work experience. I don't recall ever hearing the words "law review" come out of my circuit court judge's mouth. Neither of my judges have ever mentioned the fact that I was on a secondary law journal, either.

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:17 pm

Thanks for helping out! I have a few more questions about applying and candidacy.

Was it considerably less stressful/shot in the dark than the normal 3L application process? Do you think you had any specific experiences as a practicing attorney that made you stand out?

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:24 pm

Thanks for helping out!

So, I'm a 3L and I have state court clerkship lined up for after graduation. I am thinking of applying to fed. district court judges for next year. Is this do-able? Or would I be wasting my time? Is there anything I can do to increase my chances besides buddy up to my judge and pray for a great LOR?

FYI: TTT, top 5%, LR, published

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for helping out! I have a few more questions about applying and candidacy.

Was it considerably less stressful/shot in the dark than the normal 3L application process? Do you think you had any specific experiences as a practicing attorney that made you stand out?


Well, I have had both experiences. I applied for my district court clerkship as a 3L. I applied for my circuit court clerkship as a practicing litigator, with the district court clerkship on my resume.

I found the district court process fairly stressful. I think I was a reasonable candidate, but not the strongest one. I had very strong, but not dazzling grades. As I said, I wasn't on law review. I had solid recommendations, but not astounding ones. So what that meant is that I ended up doing a number of interviews with judges who fell into two categories: (1) I had a geographic tie to their city/state; or (2) I had a personal tie to their chambers. As for #2, essentially, I was a summer associate at a V5 law firm, and I made a point of taking assignments with every associate who had done a federal district clerkship at my office who would have me. I then mentioned to them (quel coincidence!) that I was planning to apply to their judge. As justification for my highly coincidental judge selection process, I mentioned to them some attribute of their judge that I found particularly appealing (AFJ was my friend). I asked if it would be okay to mention my connection to them in my cover letter to their judge. Every one of them agreed - and, interestingly enough - every one of their judges called me for interview. No one advised me to take that approach - it was just intuition - but it worked well enough for me. I ended up doing more than a dozen interviews, receiving multiple offers, and taking one. I only applied to district court judges in that first foray.

I had a very good experience with my district court judge, and she wrote me a very strong letter of recommendation, with several superlatives. I think that this was a significant factor in my getting the circuit court clerkship. In my circuit court application process, there was one court in particular that I wanted to clerk for. I applied to every judge on that court who I didn't have a specific reason to be reluctant about working for. I emphasized judges on that court who preferred candidates with work experience and/or prior clerkship experience. I was flattered to receive several calls for interview, but ended up accepting the offer that came from the first interview that I received. The process was far less stressful than the first time around. I'm not aware of anything in my practice experience that would have made me especially attractive (I started focusing on appellate litigation *after* I got my clerkship offer, but not before). So I think it was my district court clerkship, the strong recommendation from my first judge, and the fact of my having litigation experience that collectively made my second clerkship application process non-stressful, even pleasant. It also is great to be freed from the constraints of LCHP -- I applied in the late spring for circuit court clerkships, several months before 3Ls were eligible to apply.

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby zomginternets » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:52 pm

How long were you a practicing litigator before the circuit court clerkship? In what field? Are you now doing appellate litigation? How much did your district court clerkship help you as a practicing attorney? For someone who is interested in trial-court litigation, would you ever suggest a district court clerkship over a circuit court clerkship?

Thanks!

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for helping out!

So, I'm a 3L and I have state court clerkship lined up for after graduation. I am thinking of applying to fed. district court judges for next year. Is this do-able? Or would I be wasting my time? Is there anything I can do to increase my chances besides buddy up to my judge and pray for a great LOR?

FYI: TTT, top 5%, LR, published


It's possible. One solid strategy would be to try to network with the federal district judges in your area - e.g., in the town in which you are doing your state court clerkship. They may be at local bar association events, giving talks in the area, open their chambers to current law students, etc. If you can manage some contact with them, you can also reference it in your cover letter. I know one federal district court judge who hired someone with statistics similar to yours after that person made a very favorable impression at such an event.

The LOR is likely to be important. If you're doing good work for your judge, after a couple of months it should be possible to discuss your interest in a federal district clerkship with your judge. S/he should be able to tell you of any federal judges to whom s/he is connected; perhaps s/he will be willing to make a special call on your behalf. (My district court judge and I had this conversation when I was working on applying to circuit clerkships.) Good luck!

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby traffic.lawyer » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:31 am

I appreciate the work of the modrateor pf this post he is doing such a great job but in my opinion behind every great judge is his or her law clerk. The value of a judicial clerkship is substantial. A key credential for future law practice in any area, judicial clerkships are an incredible life experience. A judicial clerkship offers a unique opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes of a judge's chambers and courtroom, to impact the law through the judge's decision-making and, ultimately, to gain a lifelong mentor!

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:22 pm

zomginternets wrote:How long were you a practicing litigator before the circuit court clerkship? In what field? Are you now doing appellate litigation? How much did your district court clerkship help you as a practicing attorney? For someone who is interested in trial-court litigation, would you ever suggest a district court clerkship over a circuit court clerkship?

Thanks!


I practiced for three years before the circuit court clerkship, and I did a range of litigation including employment, trade secret, antitrust, and general commercial. The value of the district court clerkship was twofold. First, my writing skills were generally much stronger. I was, consequently, more likely to get substantial writing assignments from partners, relative to colleagues my year who had not clerked. Second, when my firm had cases in my district, I was more likely to be asked to participate on those cases, partly because of my knowledge of relevant procedure/culture.

For someone interested in trial court litigation, I think the district court clerkship is probably more useful on a day-to-day basis. I would particularly suggest trying to clerk in the district in which you ultimately plan to work. Your resulting familiarity with that court will be a selling point to law firms. My firm maintained a database of former clerks, and partners would call the former clerks when they had a case in front of the judge in question. This also meant that those clerks were more broadly exposed to the partnership. This happened somewhat less frequently with appellate law clerks, just because there were fewer relevant appeals.

That said, I think a circuit court clerkship is also useful. You can sell it to firms as having given you the "long view" - having taught you what types of errors to avoid in district court proceedings that might trigger reversal on appeal. It strengthens your writing skills as well - in my view, even more than the district court clerkship. (The pace is slower at the circuit court level, although still very intense in the busier circuits. You do have more time to polish and perfect your writing than at the district court level; the expectation is that you will do so.) For whatever it's worth, firms may view the circuit court clerkship as "more prestigious." If your firm has an appellate practice, it may be easier to work your way into that practice if you're a former circuit court clerk.

I am not currently in appellate litigation, but it is certainly a part of my long-term plan. I think appellate-only jobs are some of the best jobs out there, if you can get them.

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:50 pm

For district court clerkships, how determinative are connections and geographic ties? If I'm on LR, top 5% of the class, and at CCN, should I be at least somewhat confident that if I apply broadly enough in a couple of cities (not including the one where I go to school) I should get a district court clerkship?

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:08 pm

how determinative are connections and geographic ties? If I'm on LR, top 5% of the class, and at CCN, should I be at least somewhat confident that if I apply broadly enough in a couple of cities (not including the one where I go to school) I should get a district court clerkship?


...same question, but for appellate courts.

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby vamedic03 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:For district court clerkships, how determinative are connections and geographic ties? If I'm on LR, top 5% of the class, and at CCN, should I be at least somewhat confident that if I apply broadly enough in a couple of cities (not including the one where I go to school) I should get a district court clerkship?


I'm just a 2L, but based on my research:

Yes. At top 5%, you're in the top 15-30 people in your class and should be readily able to get a Fed D.Ct. clerkship.

And, to the person asking about COA - yes, you should be able to get a COA.

Caveats:
1) My understanding is that SDNY strongly prefers alumni.

2) As to a COA clerkship, the strong yes is dependent on you applying beyond just DC/2d.

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Re: Recent federal district/circuit clerk taking questions

Postby traffic.lawyer » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:57 am

thaks to all for there reply....................




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