What to expect as a law clerk?

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Anonymous User
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What to expect as a law clerk?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:04 pm

Hey TLS,

I am a 2L starting a job as a law clerk tomorrow. The firm is relatively small, 6 or so attorneys. Can you guys please give me some pointers as to what to expect (and how to conduct myself) in a legal environment? And also, how can I maneuver my way around without pissing off the attorneys?

I think I will be writing memorandums and doing research - do I outright ask "How do I do this properly?"
(I'm a good writer but obviously the formatting is different at each firm. Until I figure out their process, I feel like I may screw up a few times)

For example, always ask when the attorney's assignment to me is due. What else? Tips on proper etiquette?

Thanks!

gabbagabba
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Re: What to expect as a law clerk?

Postby gabbagabba » Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:17 pm

Tips on etiquette:

- if you show up drunk to a meeting, always offer partners a beer - it's not a party if someone's sober

- if you do lines, always ask if your managing partner wants to go first - he is your boss, after all

- if you hit on the secretary, make sure you clear it with your boss first, just to be sure you're not both going after the same target

- if you're in a "models & bottles" feature on MTV, be sure to mention what firm you work for - firms LOVE publicity, especially for younger audiences

- if you show up in court drunk, be sure to bring a few for the judge - they love it when you're thoughtful like that

- If after all this you're told not to come in monday - congrats! It means they like you enough to give you a 3 day weekend!!

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What to expect as a law clerk?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey TLS,

I am a 2L starting a job as a law clerk tomorrow. The firm is relatively small, 6 or so attorneys. Can you guys please give me some pointers as to what to expect (and how to conduct myself) in a legal environment? And also, how can I maneuver my way around without pissing off the attorneys?

I think I will be writing memorandums and doing research - do I outright ask "How do I do this properly?"
(I'm a good writer but obviously the formatting is different at each firm. Until I figure out their process, I feel like I may screw up a few times)

For example, always ask when the attorney's assignment to me is due. What else? Tips on proper etiquette?

Thanks!


I work as a law clerk right now for a small firm of 2 attorneys and 3 paralegals. My key to success is to always deliver quality long before when it is "due". One advice I received was that if you're not busy, then you're doing something wrong. It's an piece of advice that has served me well because there is always too much work to do. Keep a list or you will lose track of all the cases you are working on!

Don't be afraid to ask questions. If I am unsure about something, I will complete it and proof several times and then ask for a session to sit down and review it together. Of course, phrase it in a manner so that you ask for constructive feedback instead of outright saying "I didn't know how to do it".

And have fun! Law students love to drink, and it doesn't stop when you become a lawyer.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: What to expect as a law clerk?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think I will be writing memorandums and doing research - do I outright ask "How do I do this properly?"
(I'm a good writer but obviously the formatting is different at each firm. Until I figure out their process, I feel like I may screw up a few times)


Yes. The firm will most likely have a database with all their old cases, ask the attorney if there is a case that you can use as an example. They recognize you don't really know what you are doing yet and will be willing to help you. It's much better to ask about something if you don't understand how to do something than to just try to figure it out yourself, waste a bunch of time, and then turn in something that's either not very good or not what the attorney who gave you the assignment was looking for. This type of a thing makes you look bad and it's going to piss off the attorney because you just wasted a bunch of time, which can't be billed to the client, and didn't get the attorney what he was looking for. Even partners are just people after all and they understand how it is. If nothing else, they may be too busy to show you how to do something but will have a junior or senior associate help you out.

EDIT- also diffferent attorneys like things done differently and have different preferences and it's best to learn what their personal preferences are with respect to how they want things done and cater to that. (Kind of like how different professors have different preferences of what they think is important and you have to learn what that is and cater to it to do well on an exam-- e.g. some prof's just want simple analysis and want you to hit all 9 billion issues, while others care about policy, etc.).

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SteelReserve
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Re: What to expect as a law clerk?

Postby SteelReserve » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:02 pm

Don't reinvent the wheel. Most of the motions you do will have some basic law or even factual issues that have already been covered previously. Get handy with the firm software so you can quickly and easily locate basic motion templates and uncover what has already been done. It is a waste of time to spend all your time researching and writing out law that has already been effectively covered. This way you can explore the novel issues.

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Flips88
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Re: What to expect as a law clerk?

Postby Flips88 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:07 pm

I was one for four months for a firm. I primarily worked under a group of 6 lawyers and 2 paralegals. One of the lawyers was really OCD and had made a training manual that was a good 400 pages long that said a whole lot of nothing practical. They didn't really train me properly, gave me tasks I had never done before and didn't explain anything and yelled at me if I inadvertently messed up. I quit because it sucked so much.

So my tip: ask lots of questions. If you haven't done something before: ask. It's better than getting yelled at afterwards.




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