HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

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HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:46 pm

Hi all,

Hoping someone with experience might have a guess as to how I'll do for District Court clerkships.

HLS. ~median (as much as I can guess; 3.33 GPA using DS = 5, H = 4, P = 3, LP = 2).

Not interested in appellate clerkships. Looking only at District Court clerkships. Preferences are District Courts in New England, as well as DNJ or any of the NY courts. Obviously SDNY is a bit of a longshot.

Decent softs (multiple organizations, clinic this coming year, Dean's Scholar in a litigation focused class), but minimal journal experience (sub citing for a secondary). Worked big law last summer (received offer) and am at a v20 this summer (optimistic)...not sure if judges care about that.

Thanks!

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:07 pm

I can't imagine somebody getting ANY federal clerkship out of law school at median from Harvard, least of all in New England, NJ, or NY. You'd need a pretty serious x-factor (strong regional tie to a federal judge, publication cred, etc.) to make it out of the stack in this kind of clerkship hiring environment.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:23 pm

thesealocust wrote:I can't imagine somebody getting ANY federal clerkship out of law school at median from Harvard, least of all in New England, NJ, or NY. You'd need a pretty serious x-factor (strong regional tie to a federal judge, publication cred, etc.) to make it out of the stack in this kind of clerkship hiring environment.


is this a harsh assessment? Or accurate?

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:24 pm

thesealocust wrote:I can't imagine somebody getting ANY federal clerkship out of law school at median from Harvard, least of all in New England, NJ, or NY. You'd need a pretty serious x-factor (strong regional tie to a federal judge, publication cred, etc.) to make it out of the stack in this kind of clerkship hiring environment.


OP here: Appreciate the honest opinion. Hope I can prove you wrong.

I'm confident I could land clerkships elsewhere (strong regional ties to the south), but really would like to stay in NE for family reasons.

is this a harsh assessment? Or accurate?


I think it's a little harsh, but I don't think it's necessarily too far off. For example, I think Rhode Island or Vermont or New Hampshire are all good possibilities (they count as New England, right?). But MA, NY, and NJ are all going to be tough.

I think if you just sit back and wait for it to happen, it will be tougher. I think if you hustle a bit you might boost your chances, but that's true everywhere in life.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:29 pm

Why exactly are you confident you could land a clerkship elsewhere again? And what makes other-anon think my assessment might be harsh?

The clerkship market is in absolute shambles. A federal clerkship - the ultimate and very most brassiest of brass rings - is something less than 20% of the class at HLS is capable of obtaining these days. Certainly those clerkships aren't being handed out to everyone in the top 20% and then the doors are slamming shut for everyone below an arbitrary grade line, but it's also not realistic for somebody at median to bank on a federal clerkship anywhere. Part of that would have been true in any market, but it's exacerbated in a market where judges are full of applicants who scrambled for safe havens as trouble hit firms in the past years. Getting something out of law schools is harder than it's ever been, the plan is showing cracks if not straight up falling apart, etc.

Yeah... hustle. The judge I know gets hundreds of applications every year for the 0 spots open (since he or she has already hired for a few years in the future). Surely nobody else has thought of hustling, that will make it happen.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:41 pm

thesealocust wrote:Why exactly are you confident you could land a clerkship elsewhere again? And what makes other-anon think my assessment might be harsh?


Fairly unique ties to a region, and have several pretty decent political connections in that region who have already offered to make a call if need be.

The clerkship market is in absolute shambles. A federal clerkship - the ultimate and very most brassiest of brass rings - is something less than 20% of the class at HLS is capable of obtaining these days. Certainly those clerkships aren't being handed out to everyone in the top 20% and then the doors are slamming shut for everyone below an arbitrary grade line, but it's also not realistic for somebody at median to bank on a federal clerkship anywhere. Part of that would have been true in any market, but it's exacerbated in a market where judges are full of applicants who scrambled for safe havens as trouble hit firms in the past years. Getting something out of law schools is harder than it's ever been, the plan is showing cracks if not straight up falling apart, etc.


This certainly rings very true, though I'd be curious about actual numbers. About 20% of the class of 2011 actually landed clerkships from what I can tell (might be slightly more). That doesn't necessarily mean that only 20% are capable.

In addition, some markets have been severely underrepresented for HLS students. One District in particular hasn't had an HLS clerk since 2002. I don't know the exact reason for that, but it makes me wonder if the market looks a lot worse because people refuse to apply to "other" places (sort of like how six figure legal jobs are available to those grads who want them if they choose to expand their geographical search).

I have also heard it before w/r/t big law. It's more true with clerkships (fewer spots), but it's also not quite the-sky-is-falling. It never is.

I'd also guess that 1) a fairly significant % don't actually apply for clerkships right out and 2) the top 15-20% of those applying focus on appellate because of the prestige.

Yeah... hustle. The judge I know gets hundreds of applications every year for the 0 spots open (since he or she has already hired for a few years in the future). Surely nobody else has thought of hustling, that will make it happen.


You and I both know your logic is flawed here.

And those people applying to your judge with 0 spots open have clearly not mastered the art of hustling.

I'm not saying you're wrong (though I hope you are), and it's silly of me to try and defend against your honest opinion which I sought out. It certainly is a brutal market.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:43 pm

With strong southern ties as you describe that might pan out. The people who will get killed these days are those with good but not great applications who shotgun the market. If you've got a phone call or a family member or a publication in your pocket you'll get noticed, otherwise you'll be swimming in a market so crowded you just can't count on being the one plush toy that gets pulled out of the arcade machine.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:46 pm

Handy graphic format:

Image

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby cavebat2000 » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:50 pm

In addition, some markets have been severely underrepresented for HLS students.


Feeling entitled lately?

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby DoubleChecks » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:52 pm

tbf, i dont know much about clerkships, and they prob are really tough, even for median HLS, but im also a bit skeptical that it is as bad as thesealocust says. like OP anon said, i heard the same sky is falling rhetoric over and over again w/ respect to biglaw and 1L SAs...that has not been the case in my opinion. i mean, great 1L SAs and other similar-neat jobs did not just fall in our laps...we had to hustle, but almost everyone i knew had either a 1L SA or some awesome job that is comparable or at least their top choice by late spring.

so OP, i guess take what thesealocust says and make it a tad more optimistic haha.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby DoubleChecks » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:53 pm

cavebat2000 wrote:
In addition, some markets have been severely underrepresented for HLS students.


Feeling entitled lately?


i dont think that necessarily entitled. that may just be a realistic assessment. or are we reading his statement in two different ways?

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:55 pm

cavebat2000 wrote:
In addition, some markets have been severely underrepresented for HLS students.


Feeling entitled lately?


:roll:

The clerkship list they give us has at least one clerk from HLS in a vast majority of courts. They're certainly almost all covered within the past three years.

So yes, when one or two districts in random areas have not had an HLS clerk in nearly a decade, while others have had multiple, I'd say that's objectively underrepresentation.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:59 pm

PSA: That tends to be a consequence of judge's hiring preferences, not 600 HLS students turning their nose up at those regions for decades.

Also I don't have any idea how you all are taking 20% clerkship placement, 600 HLS students, and a poster at median and extrapolating realistic odds. There's nothing more to be gained by arguing, and certainly I wish OP and others good luck, but I feel like I'm saying "boy the numbers look bad" and you all are saying "WHERE WE'RE GOING, WE WON'T NEED NUMBERS." Clerkship applicants are sending out dozens of applications and tons of people are getting shut out. It's universally lusted after, it's not something that many people take a pass on trying.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby DoubleChecks » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:04 am

thesealocust wrote:PSA: That tends to be a consequence of judge's hiring preferences, not 600 HLS students turning their nose up at those regions for decades.

Also I don't have any idea how you all are taking 20% clerkship placement, 600 HLS students, and a poster at median and extrapolating realistic odds. There's nothing more to be gained by arguing, and certainly I wish OP and others good luck, but I feel like I'm saying "boy the numbers look bad" and you all are saying "WHERE WE'RE GOING, WE WON'T NEED NUMBERS." Clerkship applicants are sending out dozens of applications and tons of people are getting shut out. It's universally lusted after, it's not something that many people take a pass on trying.


in that case, i dont think you're conveying your feelings very well lol. it sounds a lot worse, according to your posts. just read your first one. and i dont think we are saying (or at least i am not) that it is a breeze. like i said, it's tough and certainly not 'more likely than not'...so not sure where you're getting the "we wont need numbers!!" attitude from:

DoubleChecks wrote: ...[clerkships] are proby really tough...so OP, i guess take what thesealocust says and make it a tad more optimistic haha.


but hey, maybe thats me not conveying my feelings well enough.

universally lusted after? really? im taking a pass on it completely. i know a number of friends -- set on doing corporate transactional work -- who are taking a pass as well. sry for resorting to anecdotal evidence, i know (and agree with) how bad that is. it's even worse than lies, damned lies, and statistics :P

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby smittytron3k » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:15 am

The raw data is here (you need your HUID). 90 people (or so, I might have miscounted a bit) in the Class of 2011 got COA or DCt. clerkships, but there were probably 20-30 more with non-Article III federal clerkships, State Supreme Court, and other gigs, and there were a ton of people from c/o 2010 or earlier with clerkship gigs. There's 2012 data up which might corroborate that claim better. I think that the pessimists might be right in the short term, but in the medium-term your chances at a clerkship look significantly better.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:18 am

smittytron3k wrote:The raw data is here (you need your HUID). 90 people (or so, I might have miscounted a bit) in the Class of 2011 got COA or DCt. clerkships, but there were probably 20-30 more with non-Article III federal clerkships, State Supreme Court, and other gigs, and there were a ton of people from c/o 2010 or earlier with clerkship gigs. There's 2012 data up which might corroborate that claim better. I think that the pessimists might be right in the short term, but in the medium-term your chances at a clerkship look significantly better.


Thanks for actually counting. I had estimated at around 100.

I wish they'd provide us with "number of people who submitted applications through OSCAR" to actually give these numbers meaning.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby thesealocust » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:22 am

Especially from HLS, a huge number of those clerkships would have been going to people who didn't apply through OSCAR.

As alluded to above, you'd have better odds applying after graduating or after a year's work at a firm / agency.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:43 am

I just went through the clerkship process from HLS and will be clerking in September.

I haven't read through all of the responses below, but in general, this is what I'd say. If you compare the list of students who graduated cum laude (so top 40%) to the list of students who received clerkships, you will find a pretty large number of students who received federal clerkships despite falling below the 40% cutoff (including some COA and top district court clerkships). So those saying that you haven't a prayer on the clerkship market w/medianish grades are just wrong. That said, we were also the first year with the new grading system, so some judges probably just hadn't yet figured out the curve.

Also, I should add that major city New England and mid-Atlantic clerkships will be a stretch. You should probably focus on less popular locations. And I should be clear that although a lot of students who didn't make cum laude received good clerkships, many also struck out, so a lot will just come down to a combination of applying broadly and luck.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:42 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:
My initial reaction to the OP was that s/he has a ~0% shot in the districts noted (D.N.J., etc.). If s/he has ties in the south, gets solid recs, and interviews well, then that might pan out. Likewise if s/he has ties in more tertiary districts, like D. Vt.


I disagree somewhat. This person is not likely to land a clerkship in the districts named, but his/her chances are also not 0. Again, HLS students have access to the Latin Honors recipients and all HLS students who landed clerkships. If you compare who made cum laude (top 40%) to those who received clerkships, you will notice that many students received clerkships, including a few who landed very good clerkships (COA, SDNY, etc.), despite not making the top 40% cutoff. Now, obviously, many students with median-range grades also struck out, and that may very well happen to this person too. But it doesn't mean that he/she has no chance at all at the places he/she named.

To the OP: I'd recommend getting Kirsten Solberg's input rather than relying on this board. Although I'm ordinarily not a fan of OCS, Kirsten really does know what she is talking about and can give you good, individualized advice.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:11 pm

Thanks for all the advice and information. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I have an appointment with Kirsten for next week.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby Cavalier » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:56 pm

I've heard of magistrate judges in the middle of nowhere getting hundreds of applications, including many from YHS students. District Courts in NY and NJ are probably out of reach, and anything else is a longshot.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby DoubleChecks » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:59 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:tbf, i dont know much about clerkships, and they prob are really tough, even for median HLS, but im also a bit skeptical that it is as bad as thesealocust says. like OP anon said, i heard the same sky is falling rhetoric over and over again w/ respect to biglaw and 1L SAs...that has not been the case in my opinion. i mean, great 1L SAs and other similar-neat jobs did not just fall in our laps...we had to hustle, but almost everyone i knew had either a 1L SA or some awesome job that is comparable or at least their top choice by late spring.

so OP, i guess take what thesealocust says and make it a tad more optimistic haha.

Clerkship hiring IS as competitive as sealocust says, by and large. I might disagree that only 20% of the HLS student body is capable of landing federal clerkships, but the number I have in mind is not much higher than that (and of course we need to account for alumni, many of whom are gobbling up clerkship positions too). The anon post above helps shed some light on what I mean.

My initial reaction to the OP was that s/he has a ~0% shot in the districts noted (D.N.J., etc.). If s/he has ties in the south, gets solid recs, and interviews well, then that might pan out. Likewise if s/he has ties in more tertiary districts, like D. Vt.


huh? thesealocust said everyone wants it -- im saying thats not true. in fact, id imagine a lot of aspiring transactional attorneys dont (least all the ones i know).

im not talking about how many HLS students are CAPABLE...this is more about how many want to and then how many get it. dont get me wrong, it is still hella competitive...but i dont think median HLS OP has NO shot. he doesnt have a good one, but it isnt as bad as thesealocust says...imo.

the anon poster you are referring to is actually the stance i have and was trying (clearly unsuccessfully) to convey.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby DoubleChecks » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:38 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:huh? thesealocust said everyone wants it -- im saying thats not true. in fact, id imagine a lot of aspiring transactional attorneys dont (least all the ones i know).

im not talking about how many HLS students are CAPABLE...this is more about how many want to and then how many get it. dont get me wrong, it is still hella competitive...but i dont think median HLS OP has NO shot. he doesnt have a good one, but it isnt as bad as thesealocust says...imo.

the anon poster you are referring to is actually the stance i have and was trying (clearly unsuccessfully) to convey.

The "everyone wants it" part is besides the point, a straw man. What matters is that the clerkship market is extremely competitive right now. I base that on firsthand experience as an applicant and a clerk helping to select people for and conduct the interviews, as well as conversations with fellow clerks. I understand (and accept) that you and many other transactional people do not want to clerk, but that fact does not alter the reality that tons and tons of other people do -- so many, in fact, that OP likely does have a very, very slim chance in most major districts.

The anon HLS poster brought data to bear in support of his position. You haven't.


um, wouldnt my position being the same as the anon poster who brought data backing up his point == my position having data backing it up? lol.

now granted, i really dont think you understand my position at all. i even went through and reread my posts because i thought i must have typed something different than i actually did. i dont think so. please reread my posts sans assumptions.

my comment on my not wanting a clerkship and knowing a number of people not wanting clerkships was really in direct rebuttal to the comment that everyone wants clerkships. thats about it. also, if not 100% of HLS class want clerkships (with a substantial % not wanting it even), and 20% get it, you'd think someone at median has some chance (not great, but still realistic) of getting it.

and i havent been talking about major districts at all. i dont think ive referenced them even once. ive just been talking about the harshness of thesealocust's first comment:

thesealocust wrote:I can't imagine somebody getting ANY federal clerkship out of law school at median from Harvard...A federal clerkship - the ultimate and very most brassiest of brass rings - is something less than 20% of the class at HLS is capable of obtaining these days


i guess my transactional lawyer point was slightly aimed at that too. slightly.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby thesealocust » Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:08 pm

Just for the record, my comment was directed at OP - who at the time of the OP gave us no insights into ties, connections, or publications - just median + wanted a clerkship. I didn't doll up my post with caveats about exceptions to the rule and phonecalls because OP wasn't saying "I have a great connection to judge A, can I get an internship with him?" That kind of thing happens all the times, but for somebody whose primary hiring credential is median grades at HLS I stand by my point.

Also, you keep saying I said everyone wants it, but I never did. I tihnk I called it universally desired. The point is it's not 20% getting it and 25% wanting it. A lot more people desire clerkships than get them. We're kind of talking past each other ITT. I apologize if my dramatic language set all that off.

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Re: HLS ~median/District Court clerkship chances

Postby omg » Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:22 pm

thesealocust wrote: Also, you keep saying I said everyone wants it, but I never did. I tihnk I called it universally desired.


Dude, I love you, sealocust, but you know that "universally desired" = "everyone wants it." Which I find an especially strange thing for you to say given that, IRL, you have on a number of occasions expressed how uninterested in clerking YOU are.

O well. Your statement was also obvious hyperbole, so you're both right that you're speaking past each other.




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