Federal judicial extern taking questions

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:53 am

TLS was so helpful to me prior to and during 1L year, so I hope to give back by answering questions people might have about my summer externship.

I am a rising 2L who is currently about halfway through my summer externship working for a judge in U.S. District Court. This is a legally substantive position because I spend most of my time researching and writing bench memoranda in response to pre-trial motions. The reason I chose this position is because I am interested in litigation and I knew that no matter what job I applied for next summer this work would be applicable and fairly impressive to employers.

I will not be discussing which judge or district I am in, or any of the cases I am working on (that is all confidential). Instead I will be talking generally about the position, what it is like day to day, how I got it, etc. I wish to remain anonymous so that I can be as candid as possible.

03121202698008
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby 03121202698008 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:32 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:TLS was so helpful to me prior to and during 1L year, so I hope to give back by answering questions people might have about my summer externship.

I am a rising 2L who is currently about halfway through my summer externship working for a judge in U.S. District Court. This is a legally substantive position because I spend most of my time researching and writing bench memoranda in response to pre-trial motions. The reason I chose this position is because I am interested in litigation and I knew that no matter what job I applied for next summer this work would be applicable and fairly impressive to employers.

I will not be discussing which judge or district I am in, or any of the cases I am working on (that is all confidential). Instead I will be talking generally about the position, what it is like day to day, how I got it, etc. I wish to remain anonymous so that I can be as candid as possible.

Without getting into which judge/district, care to comment on where the judge is in the hiring process? Following the plan? What about others in the courthouse/district? I am genuinely pretty ignorant about district court hiring, which is why I ask.


I'm in a similar position to OP (1L internship...not clerkship). For clerkships though, every judge I've heard about is following the plan. Apparently 3L resumes don't appear to the judges in OSCAR until September so for now they aren't doing much with the ones that are in the system.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:53 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:TLS was so helpful to me prior to and during 1L year, so I hope to give back by answering questions people might have about my summer externship.

I am a rising 2L who is currently about halfway through my summer externship working for a judge in U.S. District Court. This is a legally substantive position because I spend most of my time researching and writing bench memoranda in response to pre-trial motions. The reason I chose this position is because I am interested in litigation and I knew that no matter what job I applied for next summer this work would be applicable and fairly impressive to employers.

I will not be discussing which judge or district I am in, or any of the cases I am working on (that is all confidential). Instead I will be talking generally about the position, what it is like day to day, how I got it, etc. I wish to remain anonymous so that I can be as candid as possible.

Without getting into which judge/district, care to comment on where the judge is in the hiring process? Following the plan? What about others in the courthouse/district? I am genuinely pretty ignorant about district court hiring, which is why I ask.


OP:

Sorry G. T. L., but I haven't spoken to the clerks about hiring. Unfortunately, I am just as ignorant as you are about the hiring process for clerkships.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

adonai
Posts: 1033
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:09 pm

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby adonai » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:05 pm

0L here. Forgive my ignorance, but what sets apart a federal district court gig as opposed to a state one when it comes to learning a certain skill set or obtaining a job? I know there is more prestige, but I'm curious as to the difference. From threads I've read on here, it seems like most posters don't differentiate between the levels of courts and just say that "it doesn't make a difference cause court externships are so common." I don't mean to demean any court job, just genuinely curious. Also, are you really liable to accept the position once extended an offer because if you don't then it reflects bad on you and your school?

RPK34
Posts: 522
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:31 pm

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby RPK34 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:19 pm

Is there anything in particular you found very helpful for getting an internship? Applying on the Dec 1 deadline, cover letter, grades, school rank, etc?

blsingindisguise
Posts: 1296
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:08 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby blsingindisguise » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:27 pm

adonai wrote:0L here. Forgive my ignorance, but what sets apart a federal district court gig as opposed to a state one when it comes to learning a certain skill set or obtaining a job? I know there is more prestige, but I'm curious as to the difference. From threads I've read on here, it seems like most posters don't differentiate between the levels of courts and just say that "it doesn't make a difference cause court externships are so common." I don't mean to demean any court job, just genuinely curious. Also, are you really liable to accept the position once extended an offer because if you don't then it reflects bad on you and your school?


It doesn't make a difference to the extent that nothing you do your 1L summer is going to be a make-or-break thing. For example, if someone was really curious about public interest and wanted to try legal aid, but also was worried about having the best resume possible, I would tell them there's nothing wrong with doing the legal aid gig over the dist court, because later hiring will be based much more on grades, law review and that sort of thing.

But as far as differences between courts, federal courts are perceived as being more prestigious partly because the level of judicial quality and legal thinking is believed to be higher on the whole. Plus there are certain areas of law you'll only get in fed court -- copyright and trademark, certain securities issues, antitrust, etc. Although of course there are state law issues you won't get in fed court either unless it's a diversity case.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 5:02 pm

adonai wrote:0L here. Forgive my ignorance, but what sets apart a federal district court gig as opposed to a state one when it comes to learning a certain skill set or obtaining a job? I know there is more prestige, but I'm curious as to the difference. From threads I've read on here, it seems like most posters don't differentiate between the levels of courts and just say that "it doesn't make a difference cause court externships are so common." I don't mean to demean any court job, just genuinely curious. Also, are you really liable to accept the position once extended an offer because if you don't then it reflects bad on you and your school?


OP:

IMO, any difference with respect to learning a skill set would simply be learning federal law/procedure as opposed to state. I imagine that the legal research and writing skills I am honing are comparable to a similar job on the state level, but I have never worked as an extern in superior court. One thing I've noticed is that the docket in federal court is much more manageable compared to superior court. This means I have roughly a week to respond to every assignment I receive so this gives me enough time to do a good job and really research the issue. Because the pace is slower, I also have access to the clerks and the judge on a regular basis to ask questions and discuss things I am working on. I also have time to sit in on trials. I can't speak for what it is like in superior court, but I would guess the pace is quicker. As far as obtaining a job, I don't know what employers think of federal v state externships. Like you said, there seems to be more prestige associated with federal externships, but I have not spoken to any employers about it yet.

I wouldn't interview with a chambers unless you want to work there. Whoever offers you the job first is who you should accept.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
DaveBear07
Posts: 188
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:21 pm

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby DaveBear07 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 5:26 pm

RPK34 wrote:Is there anything in particular you found very helpful for getting an internship? Applying on the Dec 1 deadline, cover letter, grades, school rank, etc?


I second this question.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 5:32 pm

DaveBear07 wrote:
RPK34 wrote:Is there anything in particular you found very helpful for getting an internship? Applying on the Dec 1 deadline, cover letter, grades, school rank, etc?


I second this question.


I'm not the OP, but I also am a federal district court intern. I don't know if this is true in every place, but my district REALLY values local ties. The judge went out of her way to make this clear to me, and I was asked a number of questions about my connection to the area. I got TONS of interview offers in my home state, and was completely shut out in other markets (including the one I go to school in).

I did indeed send things out early. While this may be helpful, I don't think it mattered all that much. Most clerks in my courthouse said they didn't read applications until January or February at the earliest. I was still getting calls in March. They all agreed that it is patently false for some school career services person to say that, if you apply after Dec. 1 that you have missed the boat. My cover letter was generic across all judges, though I changed it up based on geographic area. School rank didn't seem to matter quite as much as local ties. At my courthouse, nearly all the interns are from the local schools (none of which is ranked particularly high), and I'm one of the very few from further away, and that is only because I am originally from here and stressed my ties so much.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 5:42 pm

RPK34 wrote:Is there anything in particular you found very helpful for getting an internship? Applying on the Dec 1 deadline, cover letter, grades, school rank, etc?


OP:

The most helpful thing for me was being very organized and PROACTIVE prior to 1L year even starting. I knew that I would not have time to figure out where I wanted to work, write cover letters and apply in late November because it would be reading period and I would have a huge legal writing assignment due as well. So I got everything done the summer before 1L.

I knew I wanted to be in litigation so I thought that working for a judge during school would help give me perspective (i.e. see things from the bench side). I researched which judges were in the local district and found out which ones were alumni of my law school (T2). I found the district court calendar online and went to court for a few days. While sitting in on trials for each judge, I paid attention to the judge's demeanor in court and whether or not there were summer externs there, and how many there were. I also wrote down which cases I had seen so that I could reference them in my cover letters (I thought it would make my letter more personal and help it to stand out). I visited just about every court room, seeing hearings, trials, etc. After seeing most of the judges in action, it was pretty easy to tell who would be fun to work for.

At this point I finished updating my resume and wrote all of my cover letters. I also came up with 3 backup plans in case I didn't land the job I wanted. Everything was pretty much ready to go by the time school started. After Nov. 1, I met with career services and had them look over my resume and cover letters, then made the changes they suggested. I printed everything out, put it in the envelopes and labeled it in early November. I had developed a relationship with one of my professors and she was nice enough to offer to put in a good word for me by calling some of the chambers.

On Dec. 1, I got up early, drove down to the courthouse and dropped off the envelopes myself. I received a few calls shortly after that and lined up an interview in mid December. The interview went really well and I got to meet the clerks as well as the judge. About a week later they called me and offered me the position for this summer.

I think the things that helped me the most were:
1) Being really organized and knowing what I wanted. People (like my professor) are much more interested in helping you when they can see you know what you want, are organized and enthusiastic. I think the recommendation I received from my professor was huge as it caused my resume to be pulled out of the pile.
2) Getting in early. Dropping everything off right on Dec. 1 meant I was one of the first 1L's to apply and I think this makes a difference. However, many of my fellow externs got their positions in the Spring, so who knows.
3) Being genuinely excited about the position. In my interview I conveyed how excited and enthusiastic I was by asking questions and showing how happy I was to be there. I asked the clerk later on why I was chosen and he said part of it was they wanted to put together a good group that was enthusiastic and fun, and I seemed like I would fit in.

As for grades, the clerk asked me to bring a copy of my transcript to my interview. I had only taken one midterm at that time and the school had put grades on hold during exam period, so I could not print out my midterm grade. The school gave me a letter to that effect and I brought it with me to the interview. The clerks didn't even want to see the letter, so my grades didn't factor in at all. However, many of the externs I am working with are top students so perhaps it mattered for their applications.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

03121202698008
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby 03121202698008 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:06 pm

I can't stress enough to send things out early and research the judges when you get interviews. I mailed out during finals, interviewed Jan 3, and got an offer that day. Most of my classmates hadn't even mailed out yet. By then, I also had another 7-10 interviews lined up with district/CoA/state SC. All pointed out I was one of the first, they weren't fully set up yet but wanted to interview me, etc. It seems the judges are used to having the people they want offered before they get to them so they wanted to interview me as soon as possible. (I had an interview right after the one I was in that they knew of, and when I checked my phone after that interview the first judge had left me a voicemail containing an offer. It was apparent they hoped I'd get it before my interview with the second judge in case he offered on the spot.)

Make sure you research the judges. I know of someone who told a judge that was a career prosecutor that if they ever did criminal law they'd be a defense attorney because the system is so biased... I got a lot of questions about why I wanted to intern there, etc.

Local and school ties are important. My judge is in the district my school is located and all of the interns I've met (from any judge) either go to school in the district, are from the area (or went to undergrad here), or attend the same school their judge did. I haven't met a single one without some connection.

Incidentally, at a Q&A with a judge the other day for clerkship hiring he said the same thing. A 4.0 from Harvard won't get you in unless you have some tie to the area, him, or someone he knows.

Most importantly, when you do interview chose a judge that is a good fit. They are all very very different people. I know of interns who call their judge by his first name, others who have only met their judge once, some that dine once a week with him/her. I even know of a few who are made to dance impromptu en masse whenever an opinion gets approved by the judge (no joke).
Last edited by 03121202698008 on Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I did indeed send things out early. While this may be helpful, I don't think it mattered all that much. Most clerks in my courthouse said they didn't read applications until January or February at the earliest. I was still getting calls in March. They all agreed that it is patently false for some school career services person to say that, if you apply after Dec. 1 that you have missed the boat.


Compare and contrast: I already had 2 interviews and 1 job offer from federal judicial by December 20th. It's really worth it to send stuff out on Dec 1 - not because NO jobs are available later, but because fewer jobs are available later.

03121202698008
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby 03121202698008 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I did indeed send things out early. While this may be helpful, I don't think it mattered all that much. Most clerks in my courthouse said they didn't read applications until January or February at the earliest. I was still getting calls in March. They all agreed that it is patently false for some school career services person to say that, if you apply after Dec. 1 that you have missed the boat.


Compare and contrast: I already had 2 interviews and 1 job offer from federal judicial by December 20th. It's really worth it to send stuff out on Dec 1 - not because NO jobs are available later, but because fewer jobs are available later.


I agree. There are some jobs later but the odds of getting hired are way better early on. Though, I didn't pre-game my resume and such. Our career services did reviews and presented good information on how they should be done after Nov 1. If you can't do it between then and finals you should drop out anyhow.

RPK34
Posts: 522
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:31 pm

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby RPK34 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:14 pm

Thanks to all that applied. I've been working on cover letters today so this is actually very helpful.

temperance
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:14 pm

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby temperance » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
RPK34 wrote:Is there anything in particular you found very helpful for getting an internship? Applying on the Dec 1 deadline, cover letter, grades, school rank, etc?


The most helpful thing for me was being very organized and PROACTIVE prior to 1L year even starting. I knew that I would not have time to figure out where I wanted to work, write cover letters and apply in late November because it would be reading period and I would have a huge legal writing assignment due as well. So I got everything done the summer before 1L.

I knew I wanted to be in litigation so I thought that working for a judge during school would help give me perspective (i.e. see things from the bench side). I researched which judges were in the local district and found out which ones were alumni of my law school (T2). I found the district court calendar online and went to court for a few days. While sitting in on trials for each judge, I paid attention to the judge's demeanor in court and whether or not there were summer externs there, and how many there were. I also wrote down which cases I had seen so that I could reference them in my cover letters (I thought it would make my letter more personal and help it to stand out). I visited just about every court room, seeing hearings, trials, etc. After seeing most of the judges in action, it was pretty easy to tell who would be fun to work for.

At this point I finished updating my resume and wrote all of my cover letters. I also came up with 3 backup plans in case I didn't land the job I wanted. Everything was pretty much ready to go by the time school started. After Nov. 1, I met with career services and had them look over my resume and cover letters, then made the changes they suggested. I printed everything out, put it in the envelopes and labeled it in early November. I had developed a relationship with one of my professors and she was nice enough to offer to put in a good word for me by calling some of the chambers.

On Dec. 1, I got up early, drove down to the courthouse and dropped off the envelopes myself. I received a few calls shortly after that and lined up an interview in mid December. The interview went really well and I got to meet the clerks as well as the judge. About a week later they called me and offered me the position for this summer.

I think the things that helped me the most were:
1) Being really organized and knowing what I wanted. People (like my professor) are much more interested in helping you when they can see you know what you want, are organized and enthusiastic. I think the recommendation I received from my professor was huge as it caused my resume to be pulled out of the pile.
2) Getting in early. Dropping everything off right on Dec. 1 meant I was one of the first 1L's to apply and I think this makes a difference. However, many of my fellow externs got their positions in the Spring, so who knows.
3) Being genuinely excited about the position. In my interview I conveyed how excited and enthusiastic I was by asking questions and showing how happy I was to be there. I asked the clerk later on why I was chosen and he said part of it was they wanted to put together a good group that was enthusiastic and fun, and I seemed like I would fit in.

As for grades, the clerk asked me to bring a copy of my transcript to my interview. I had only taken one midterm at that time and the school had put grades on hold during exam period, so I could not print out my midterm grade. The school gave me a letter to that effect and I brought it with me to the interview. The clerks didn't even want to see the letter, so my grades didn't factor in at all. However, many of the externs I am working with are top students so perhaps it mattered for their applications.


This is really great information, thank you!

03121202698008
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby 03121202698008 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:54 pm

RPK34 wrote:Thanks to all that applied. I've been working on cover letters today so this is actually very helpful.


There is no way this is worthwhile at this point.

adonai
Posts: 1033
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:09 pm

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby adonai » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:57 pm

Is the selection/application process any different for Federal CoA externs? Not all circuit judges take law school externs do they? Do district judges ever offer to take you on as a clerk if you have externed with them and did a good job?
Last edited by adonai on Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

goodolgil
Posts: 923
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 6:01 pm

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby goodolgil » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:58 pm

It's more helpful than reading an E&E. May wanna look on some school's OCS sites to see if they sample 1L cover letter/resumes up.

RPK34
Posts: 522
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:31 pm

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby RPK34 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:03 pm

blowhard wrote:
RPK34 wrote:Thanks to all that applied. I've been working on cover letters today so this is actually very helpful.


There is no way this is worthwhile at this point.


I want to have it done before school starts, and I know I'll have zero time to do it after July 1st because I have too many obligations with work and other things going on. There's really no harm in it.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:08 pm

adonai wrote:Is the selection/application process any different for Federal CoA externs?


Currently w/ CoA judge. 3 interns: T6 (top 25-15%) T20 (top 5%) and a T2 kid (#1 in class); there are local TTTs in the area and the judge will not look at their apps. All of us have a strong tie to the area. Other judges in the circuit are similar apparently.

I had a handful of d.ct. externship offers and a V50 SA offer; I honestly wanted the most unique experience and so I chose the CoA. Apps not submitted until about mid-late Jan, for what that's worth. Get them out early though; I was very worried because I had total silence until the last week of Feb when virtually all of my offers came in.

adonai
Posts: 1033
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:09 pm

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby adonai » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
adonai wrote:Is the selection/application process any different for Federal CoA externs?


Currently w/ CoA judge. 3 interns: T6 (top 25-15%) T20 (top 5%) and a T2 kid (#1 in class); there are local TTTs in the area and the judge will not look at their apps. All of us have a strong tie to the area. Other judges in the circuit are similar apparently.

I had a handful of d.ct. externship offers and a V50 SA offer; I honestly wanted the most unique experience and so I chose the CoA. Apps not submitted until about mid-late Jan, for what that's worth. Get them out early though; I was very worried because I had total silence until the last week of Feb when virtually all of my offers came in.

Awesome and congrats on the offers. In my area, there has been one person from a TTT that I know of that got a CoA externship during 1L summer (was probably near the top of class). So I guess it may be a circuit by circuit or judge by judge basis. Are your interns 1Ls or all across the board? How did you go about withdrawing your district court offers?

03121202698008
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby 03121202698008 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:19 pm

I think its important to distinguish an internship from an externship. Externships are usually for credit. There are no federal court externships of which I am aware.

User avatar
thesealocust
Posts: 8447
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby thesealocust » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:34 pm

blowhard wrote:I think its important to distinguish an internship from an externship. Externships are usually for credit. There are no federal court externships of which I am aware.


It would be great to live in a world where the words externship and internship had a consistent meanings, but we don't. Individuals or schools might think they have it all figured out, but this varies dramatically from place to place and job to job. There are as such plenty of federal court externships, whenever the student or school or judge call them that.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:35 pm

blowhard wrote:I think its important to distinguish an internship from an externship. Externships are usually for credit. There are no federal court externships of which I am aware.


OP:

My summer position is called an externship and I am volunteering. No credit.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Federal judicial extern taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:40 pm

RPK34 wrote:
blowhard wrote:
RPK34 wrote:Thanks to all that applied. I've been working on cover letters today so this is actually very helpful.


There is no way this is worthwhile at this point.


I want to have it done before school starts, and I know I'll have zero time to do it after July 1st because I have too many obligations with work and other things going on. There's really no harm in it.


OP:

I agree. Better to get them done when you have time. Plus, doing them now gives you time to edit and re-write them. The more you work on them, the better they will become.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.