clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

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clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:41 pm

are there any particular disadvantages to applying after a year or two out of law school?

my law firm has a clerkship bonus policy which only extends to clerkships at graduation. I guess, they don't want to invest 1 year of their money into the associate - only to see him leave and never come back. But the bonus isn't that big, so let's just put that aside.

I cannot tell if its more or less competitive, I would imagine less - because you have an edge due to your work experience.

fwiw - I prefer doing this because I'm a transfer student and I need the extra year to make some contacts at the new school.

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IzziesGal
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Re: clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

Postby IzziesGal » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:20 pm

My CDO has said that it's less competitive because you have the luxury of applying all year round instead of just during the main application season (whenever that may be). I am not sure how true this is, since I have no desire to even apply for a clerkship, but it sounds about right. I think leaving a big firm for a clerkship tends to mark a career transition for most people - like when you leave for the clerkship, you don't ever plan on coming back to the firm (and thus don't worry about the clerkship bonus). From what I have heard from some people at my current job, people who leave big law to clerk tend to go into gov't service after that (again, not sure how true it is, but it seems at least like an option).

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Re: clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:07 pm

FWIW, the state appellate courts held a clerkship panel at my school and a Court of Appeals and a Supreme Court judge both said that they prefer to hire clerks fresh off of graduation. They said it is very difficult to get a state appellate clerkship after a couple of years of work experience. Of the dozens of clerks who have come through their courts since they have been on the bench, an overwhelming majority of the clerks were fresh grads. I can't remember their explanation for this preference. Could be different at the federal level.

As for the poster above's comment, both the federal and state clerkships (at least in my state) hire on a set cycle, so you would still need to apply at the same time and be considered with the whole pool of applicants. But I'd ask your CDO about that for your state.

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vamedic03
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Re: clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

Postby vamedic03 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:are there any particular disadvantages to applying after a year or two out of law school?

my law firm has a clerkship bonus policy which only extends to clerkships at graduation. I guess, they don't want to invest 1 year of their money into the associate - only to see him leave and never come back. But the bonus isn't that big, so let's just put that aside.

I cannot tell if its more or less competitive, I would imagine less - because you have an edge due to your work experience.

fwiw - I prefer doing this because I'm a transfer student and I need the extra year to make some contacts at the new school.


Really depends on the court.

E.g. SDNY almost exclusively hires alumni. (Yes, there are exceptions, but still, for the most part...)

Other places, there are judges who hire only fresh grads.

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Re: clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

Postby Stanford4Me » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:00 pm

I can only provide anecdotal evidence, I have a friend who graduated from CLS, spent two years at a V10 and will be clerking with a federal court. As a poster noted earlier, this clerkship marks the beginning of my friend's transition from private practice to the public/govn't sector.

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Re: clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

Postby NewHere » Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:55 am

Disadvantages for what?

For staying at a firm: possibly.
For transitioning to a different sector: probably not.

I work at a firm and it's pretty common here for people to clerk after a year or two, sometimes even three or more. Some of these people come back (some of them because that was their plan all along, some of them possibly because they couldn't find a different job in the marvelous economy of the past couple of years), and some of them use this deliberately as an escape route of sorts.

From what I've been told, firms don't like it very much, because it interrupts the lawyer's development at the firm. It's not the end of the world for them, but they prefer people clerk straight out of law school and then stick with the firm.

On the escape-route concept: I think a lot of people see clerking as an opportunity that they wouldn't want to pass up on. If they are going to move to another job, they might as well make it a two-step move and do a clerkship in the middle, if they can get one. In addition, there may be the thought that job hunting while working law-firm hours may not be easy to pull off, whereas for clerks, although they work hard also, it's probably easier to leave chambers for a few hours for an interview, in part because it is understood that clerks will need a new job at the end of the year.

I don't understand this part of your post:
fwiw - I prefer doing this because I'm a transfer student and I need the extra year to make some contacts at the new school.
Are you going to hang out around the school for another year in order to clerk a year later?

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Re: clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

Postby Renzo » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:06 pm

NewHere wrote:
I don't understand this part of your post:
fwiw - I prefer doing this because I'm a transfer student and I need the extra year to make some contacts at the new school.
Are you going to hang out around the school for another year in order to clerk a year later?


I assume the poster means that he/she would use 3L year to build contacts and apply for a year after graduation instead of applying this summer for a clerkship immediately after graduation.

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Re: clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:57 pm

I clerked straight out of law school, and I clerked again for a different level of court after working at a firm. Both clerkships were federal.

The firm's preference is for you to graduate --> clerk --> be an associate for as long as you're going to be an associate. However, my firm (V20) did not object to associates leaving and returning. Three of my colleagues left for clerkships at the same time as me, and they all returned to the firm in 2010 (partly for personal financial reasons, partly because of the economy) immediately after their clerkships concluded.

In terms of whether you will be a more attractive candidate to judges: the answer is, to some judges. There are some judges who will only hire people who have previously clerked at a lower-level court and/or have practiced for a couple of years. So there will be chambers open to you as an alum applicant that the 3Ls cannot access. You will have a further advantage in applying significantly before the 3Ls.

As we all now know, you can't predict the vacillations of the economy. Some of us accepted clerkships and/or left our firms when things looked pretty rosy, with the intention of transitioning to the public sector. That transition has now been made extremely difficult. When I graduated from law school (back in the good old days), my plan was always clerk --> firm --> clerk --> something better than firm. And the first three pieces of that worked out great; the latter is still a work in progress due to the economy. Use caution when leaving an indefinite job (firm) for a job with a finite end date like a clerkship.

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IzziesGal
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Re: clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

Postby IzziesGal » Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:40 am

Anonymous User wrote:FWIW, the state appellate courts held a clerkship panel at my school and a Court of Appeals and a Supreme Court judge both said that they prefer to hire clerks fresh off of graduation. They said it is very difficult to get a state appellate clerkship after a couple of years of work experience. Of the dozens of clerks who have come through their courts since they have been on the bench, an overwhelming majority of the clerks were fresh grads. I can't remember their explanation for this preference. Could be different at the federal level.

As for the poster above's comment, both the federal and state clerkships (at least in my state) hire on a set cycle, so you would still need to apply at the same time and be considered with the whole pool of applicants. But I'd ask your CDO about that for your state.


Just confirmed with my CDO that graduate applicants do have a slight advantage. Rising 3Ls are subject to the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan and cannot apply until around Labor Day. Graduates (those who are already practicing lawyers) can apply for clerkships at any time throughout the year. This means that they are competing with far fewer applicants for clerkship positions. Some alumni from my school reportedly secured clerkships this way. They were able to apply for CoA and fed district ct opportunities during the spring instead of on-cycle with the rising 3Ls in the fall.

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Re: clerking a few years out of law school - disadvantages?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:09 pm

GTL is right, of course. And it is also just a judge-by-judge thing. Plenty of judges will look at both 3L and alumni applicants (and even spring semester 2Ls for the very early judges) before the Plan, but "on-Plan" judges typically will only look at alumni applicants early.




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