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Bar study stipend pre-clerkship?

Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 5:30 pm
by Anonymous User
I'm a soon-to-be 3L, I have an offer from my summer firm, and I recently got a clerkship that will start next fall. I plan to take the bar next summer. Do firms typically pay for bar prep and provide a stipend over the pre-clerkship summer? What if I can't accept my firm offer because my judge doesn't want me to? (I don't know if this is the case.)

Any thoughts, anecodotes, or advice? (The right answer is that I need to speak with my firm and my judge; I'm simply trying to manage my expectations before talking to them.)

Re: Bar study stipend pre-clerkship?

Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 7:34 pm
by Anonymous User
I'm in the same position. My firm said that they would pay for bar prep, but only after I had officially accepted my offer. So, I'll keep receipts etc. and get the money later. Kind of a pain in that I'll have to take out more than I otherwise would in loans this year, but the situation overall is pretty awesome.

Re: Bar study stipend pre-clerkship?

Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 7:40 pm
by Anonymous User
This will completely depend on your firm and your judge. Some judges will not let you formally accept an offer until some time next year (and violating that rule would constitute a violation of the judicial code of ethics). Some judges will let you accept now.

Similarly, some firms will pay their normal pre-bar stipend + bar expenses (with the caveat that they will make you sign something saying you will return the money if you do not end up starting at the firm - people will occasionally change firms even after "formally" accepting the offer; at-will employment works both ways), some will pay only the bar expenses (and will not reimburse you for them until the tax year you start with the firm), some will pay nothing, some won't absolutely commit to a clerkship bonus until sometime next year, etc.

I was lucky enough that my judge falls into the "don't care when you accept" camp (though I now have to recuse from anything my future firm is working on) and my firm fell into the "we'll give you everything" camp.

Do not ask for an advance on the clerkship bonus, though - such an advance would violate the judicial code. Similarly, if you firm has "salary advances" instead of bar stipends (my understanding is that many New York firms fall into that category), the judicial ethics seem to indicate that taking the advance would be a violation. (Basically, anything that ends up being an interest-free loan - which is what a salary advance is considered - is a violation.)

Re: Bar study stipend pre-clerkship?

Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:06 pm
by ggocat
Anonymous User wrote:Any thoughts, anecodotes, or advice? (The right answer is that I need to speak with my firm and my judge; I'm simply trying to manage my expectations before talking to them.)

You got the right answer. But it wouldn't hurt to do your own research first (i.e., review the code of judicial conduct and the rules of professional conduct / lawyer discipline in your judge's state and the state in which you are taking the bar; also search ethics opinions from those state(s)).