Judicial Clerkship Prestige

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Anonymous User
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Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:25 pm

So as far as I've gathered, getting a clerkship with a federal judge is prestigious. Beyond that, is there a hierarchy, so to speak, of clerkships? E.g., clerking with state supreme court justice > clerking for state circuit court judge?

Also, do all judges employ clerks? Would your typical judge in a state district employ a clerk?

Thanks.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby vanwinkle » Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:19 pm

I think in terms of general prestige it goes like this: Federal appellate > federal district > state supreme > state appellate > state district. However, I think that there are exceptions; SDNY or DDC clerkships are competitive, and clerking for some judges there might be more "prestigious" than some of the COA judges.

It also can vary depending on your goals. For instance, if you really want to do appellate work, then you might be better off taking a state supreme court clerkship than a federal district spot.

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby JusticeJackson » Fri Jul 22, 2011 4:46 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 22, 2011 5:35 pm

It depends on the state court. Downtown Manhattan has a heavy docket with a lot of huge cases. DSK was in their dock as a recent example.

katisse
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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby katisse » Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:55 pm

The inverse of this question deserves mention. Judicial Clerkship Utility.

If you got any interest in being a litigator and if the concept of prestige didn't exist in the universe, the number one clerkship you can land is a magistrate judge clerkship. Why? You'll be hitting discovery hard. That's 90% of what lawyers do. Discovery. Not motion practice. That's the remaining 10%.

Next is a district court clerkship. Why? You'll come out knowing more procedure than a 3rd year who never clerked. Sure, you still won't know jack about what your judge was too busy to do, i.e. handle discovery, and therefore shafted it on to a magistrate. But you'll know enough about motion in limines, etc., i.e. 10% of what litigators do.

Next is appellate clerkship. The toughest to get. The most useless of them all. Why? You'll come out being a good writer, if and only if your judge is a good writer. But as far as litigation, you're probably going to be behind your friends who went off to clerk.

And don't do something dumb like a double clerkship (D Ct + CoA). You'll be too expensive to staff, and too dumb to do anything in a law firm. Not a good combo Bruno.

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Bronte
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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby Bronte » Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:03 pm

vanwinkle wrote:I think in terms of general prestige it goes like this: Federal appellate > federal district > state supreme > state appellate > state district. However, I think that there are exceptions; SDNY or DDC clerkships are competitive, and clerking for some judges there might be more "prestigious" than some of the COA judges.

It also can vary depending on your goals. For instance, if you really want to do appellate work, then you might be better off taking a state supreme court clerkship than a federal district spot.


There's also federal bankruptcy courts. They're probably somewhere in or around state supreme courts, one above, one below, or equal. But I am by no means a clerkship guru. Also, you forgot traffic court. :D

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dailygrind
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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby dailygrind » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:17 pm

There's also the DE Chancery Court (and perhaps Supreme), which looks to be a pretty big deal. How big a deal, I do not know.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby XxSpyKEx » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:41 pm

katisse wrote:The inverse of this question deserves mention. Judicial Clerkship Utility.

If you got any interest in being a litigator and if the concept of prestige didn't exist in the universe, the number one clerkship you can land is a magistrate judge clerkship. Why? You'll be hitting discovery hard. That's 90% of what lawyers do. Discovery. Not motion practice. That's the remaining 10%.

Next is a district court clerkship. Why? You'll come out knowing more procedure than a 3rd year who never clerked. Sure, you still won't know jack about what your judge was too busy to do, i.e. handle discovery, and therefore shafted it on to a magistrate. But you'll know enough about motion in limines, etc., i.e. 10% of what litigators do.

Next is appellate clerkship. The toughest to get. The most useless of them all. Why? You'll come out being a good writer, if and only if your judge is a good writer. But as far as litigation, you're probably going to be behind your friends who went off to clerk.


What's interesting about this is the preference in terms of law clerk hiring is the exact inverse of the clerkship's utility that you mention. I.e. a law firm will generally hire a CoA clerk before a D Ct clerk, and a D Ct clerk well before a Magistrate clerk.

katisse wrote:And don't do something dumb like a double clerkship (D Ct + CoA). You'll be too expensive to staff, and too dumb to do anything in a law firm. Not a good combo Bruno.


Half true. You'll probably be too dumb to do anything useful in a law firm, but law firms still do hire CoA clerks. The same isn't necessarily true of D Ct clerk (e.g. clerking for some fed D Ct judge in Montana is unlikely to get you NYC biglaw ITE, but clerking for the 9th circuit likely will get you NYC biglaw). People usually do a double clerkship because the first clerkship helps them springboard into the second clerkship, which they weren't competitive enough for without the first clerkship.

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby Renzo » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:It depends on the state court. Downtown Manhattan has a heavy docket with a lot of huge cases. DSK was in their dock as a recent example.


Except NY state courts don't hire term clerks.

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby JusticeJackson » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:25 am

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby booboo » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:46 am

JusticeJackson wrote:
katisse wrote:And don't do something dumb like a double clerkship (D Ct + CoA). You'll be too expensive to staff, and too dumb to do anything in a law firm. Not a good combo Bruno.


Is this based on experience or speculation? I've seen a lot of double-clerks do pretty well. In fact, that's my plan (if I can land the second one). So I hope you're wrong here.


Hmm. If you double clerk, do they take you on as a third year associate or a second year? I wouldn't bet on getting the two clerking bonuses either.

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby A'nold » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:47 am

booboo wrote:
JusticeJackson wrote:
katisse wrote:And don't do something dumb like a double clerkship (D Ct + CoA). You'll be too expensive to staff, and too dumb to do anything in a law firm. Not a good combo Bruno.


Is this based on experience or speculation? I've seen a lot of double-clerks do pretty well. In fact, that's my plan (if I can land the second one). So I hope you're wrong here.


Hmm. If you double clerk, do they take you on as a third year associate or a second year? I wouldn't bet on getting the two clerking bonuses either.

I'd double clerk if it was a big enough jump.

Edit: another thing to keep in mind is that many clerks say that clerking was the very best part of their legal careers and that it was an absolute blast and to enjoy it while you can. I think you'd get great resume fodder AND have a good time for a few years. Win/win.

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby thedogship » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:50 am

JusticeJackson wrote:
katisse wrote:And don't do something dumb like a double clerkship (D Ct + CoA). You'll be too expensive to staff, and too dumb to do anything in a law firm. Not a good combo Bruno.


Is this based on experience or speculation? I've seen a lot of double-clerks do pretty well. In fact, that's my plan (if I can land the second one). So I hope you're wrong here.


He/she is wrong. If you look at associates at some of the top firms out there, a good number (not a majority) of them have double clerk experience. It's not uncommon at top firms. I'd say too that for those that do double clerkships, it's pretty evenly split between those that do the district court clerkship first and those that do the appellate clerkship first. Often that is dictated by a judge's hiring practices (for example, if the judge hires 2 years in advance, or requires clerkship experience at the other level first). Besides, top firms are prestige whores, and being able to say that they hire former federal clerks is worth paying the hiring bonus that comes with that. Not to mention firms like having "ins" with judges the appear before if they can, and having a judge's former clerk in their stable can be a potentially useful tool for a number of reasons.

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby JusticeJackson » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:58 am

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A'nold
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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby A'nold » Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:05 am

What about State Supreme to Federal? I might be going the State Supreme route (if I actually get hired for one, haha) and I wonder if such a clerkship gives an applicant any kind of bump. My guess would be that it would not help much, but I thought I'd ask anyway.

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thedogship
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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby thedogship » Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:19 am

JusticeJackson wrote:
thedogship wrote:
JusticeJackson wrote:
katisse wrote:And don't do something dumb like a double clerkship (D Ct + CoA). You'll be too expensive to staff, and too dumb to do anything in a law firm. Not a good combo Bruno.


Is this based on experience or speculation? I've seen a lot of double-clerks do pretty well. In fact, that's my plan (if I can land the second one). So I hope you're wrong here.


He/she is wrong. If you look at associates at some of the top firms out there, a good number (not a majority) of them have double clerk experience. It's not uncommon at top firms. I'd say too that for those that do double clerkships, it's pretty evenly split between those that do the district court clerkship first and those that do the appellate clerkship first. Often that is dictated by a judge's hiring practices (for example, if the judge hires 2 years in advance, or requires clerkship experience at the other level first). Besides, top firms are prestige whores, and being able to say that they hire former federal clerks is worth paying the hiring bonus that comes with that. Not to mention firms like having "ins" with judges the appear before if they can, and having a judge's former clerk in their stable can be a potentially useful tool for a number of reasons.



How is going COA -> D Ct. looked at? Same two-clerkship bonus? (70K is what I'm told double clerks typically get in larger markets). Same desirability to firms? A lot of people have made comments like "why would you want to taker a lesser clerkship" when I tell them I'm applying for district court jobs. They're typically the type that don't understand why a prson would clerk in the first place, though.


Depends on the firm. Depends on the court. As was indicated above, a SDNY or DDC clerkship is going to be highly sought after, as those are two of the most competitive courts in the country (certainly at the district court level, and perhaps only second to 9th Circuit, 2nd Circuit, and 7th Circuit clerkships). But a clerkship for the district of Idaho (I don't even know if it has more than one district) is obviously less sexy. And there's a million shades of gray in between. But any federal district court clerkship is 1) valuable experience, and 2) looks good on a resume and will make you more attractive to employers to a varying degree.

As far as the bonus goes - depends on the firm. Some will be double bonuses for two clerkships (or a district court bonus and an appellate court bonus). Some will only give a bonus for one of the clerkships.

As far as a district court clerkship being a "lesser" clerkship - it's true that most are less prestigious than COA clerkships (apart from SDNY and DDC). However, the experience at a district court is extremely useful. Plus, there are a LOT more district court clerkships out there than COA clerkships. COA clerkships are very few and EXTREMELY competitive, generally reserved for students at the top of their class at a T-14. I interned at the 2nd Circuit and the DDC and the judges in those courts don't look at applicants that are not in the top 5-10% from top schools, at the max. But there are a lot of great district court clerkships out there in second or third tier cities (ex. Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, etc...) with judges looking for candidates - they just understandably get fewer applications than the more sexy courts or the ones in more sexy locations. If you're serious about clerking for a federal district judge, and you're in perhaps the top 1/3 of your class from a non-crap school, and you don't have to be in NYC, LA, DC, Chicago, then I'd cast a wide net to judges in those second or third tier cities. You'd be there for a year, get great experience, develop a good working relationship with a federal judge, and have a federal clerkship on your resume.

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2011 2:04 pm

Basically agree with GTL Rev's comments.

Will say tho, as a 2011 SDNY/DDC clerk who was hired as a 3L, that clerks on those district courts who were hired straight out of law school will generally have stats that make them competitive for circuit clerkships (let's say, top 5-10% at a top school). Some SDNY/DDC clerks have stats that make them competitive for even very competitive COA judges.

So since TLS-ers seem mainly interested in 3L clerkship hiring, I'll just say that it is possible to be hired on these district courts straight out of law school (I know of at least two other c/o 2011 hires on my district court), but you will likely need circuit-level stats to be considered for SDNY/DDC.

Caveat: Obviously, all this advice is very judge-dependent. This is just ballpark advice from my personal experience.

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby Mattalones » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:39 pm

Renzo wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:It depends on the state court. Downtown Manhattan has a heavy docket with a lot of huge cases. DSK was in their dock as a recent example.


Except NY state courts don't hire term clerks.


Yes they do. I don't know why you'd think that. I know a couple of them.

Unless "term clerk" is something other than a clerk who works at the court for a term of years (usually 1 or 2).

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Re: Judicial Clerkship Prestige

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:11 am

A'nold wrote:What about State Supreme to Federal? I might be going the State Supreme route (if I actually get hired for one, haha) and I wonder if such a clerkship gives an applicant any kind of bump. My guess would be that it would not help much, but I thought I'd ask anyway.


If you want to do appellate work, any appellate court is great experience and will open doors. Otherwise, I'm not sure it will matter much.




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