Clerkship interview tips?

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Anonymous User
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Clerkship interview tips?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:29 pm

Clerkship interview season is coming up, and I figured we should have a thread for this.

Starting this anonymously because I already have an interview with an off plan judge in a middle of nowhere district coming up in a couple days, and I am looking for interview tips.

Our clerkship advisor says basically just be yourself and hope the judge clicks with you, but there has to be more to it.

My biggest weakness is when an interviewer asks "so what questions do you have?" I basically know what to do for firms, but what the heck do you ask a judge?

lolwat
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Re: Clerkship interview tips?

Postby lolwat » Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:20 pm

Agree with above! Interview style varies a lot from judge to judge, but generally be someone that the judge would want to work with for a year (or two).

Just a note with respect to the docket, that information can be found out to some extent from Lexis (total litigator/judicial profile) and Justia.com. So you could ask some more specific questions related to the docket, but if you interview at, for another example (in addition to the above), E.D.Tex or W.D.Wis., you should already know that they get a ton of patent cases. It could be just a matter of rephrasing the question ("I know this District has tons of X stuff; what other subject matter makes up the court's docket?").

I personally tried picking up on some stuff that came out during discussions and asking a little more about them... And try to follow up on some of their answers with at least one additional question on the same subject; don't just shoot off a bunch of premade, unconnected questions one after the other (don't ask one question about the docket, then the next question about chambers process, etc).

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Re: Clerkship interview tips?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:21 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:<stuff>


does it matter if the judge is newly appointed and never been a judge before?

would you ask different questions?

lolwat
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Re: Clerkship interview tips?

Postby lolwat » Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:does it matter if the judge is newly appointed and never been a judge before?

would you ask different questions?


I don't think there are too many differences. There are questions you can ask of any judge, such as everything in the "chambers process" category. You might have to rephrase a tiny bit to account for the difference ("what role do law clerks play?" --> "what role do you see law clerks playing?") but it's the same question.

Questions you wouldn't want to ask are ones that obviously require them to have some experience as a judge to answer. I probably wouldn't ask a newly appointed judge what kind of cases they enjoy working on most/least as a judge, because they haven't had the experience to answer that question.

Finally, questions that you COULD ask (but by no means are required to) are ones involving their transition from whatever they were doing before to being a judge.

luthersloan
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Re: Clerkship interview tips?

Postby luthersloan » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:42 am

this might be a silly question, but how should we address the judge when speaking to them? I mean obviously follow their lead, but very formal and continue unless corrected?

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king3780
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Re: Clerkship interview tips?

Postby king3780 » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:58 am

luthersloan wrote:this might be a silly question, but how should we address the judge when speaking to them? I mean obviously follow their lead, but very formal and continue unless corrected?


When I interned for a Judge, I always just called him "Judge." The law clerk did the same. On rare occasions I might include his last name. He wasn't big on formality, so I never called him "Your Honor" or anything like that, there just wasn't anything less formal than "Judge," since I wasn't about to call him by his first name (though to be honest I could have probably done it in chambers and he wouldn't have cared, as long as it wasn't in front of attorneys or staff).

ResIpsa21
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Re: Clerkship interview tips?

Postby ResIpsa21 » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:14 am

king3780 wrote:
luthersloan wrote:this might be a silly question, but how should we address the judge when speaking to them? I mean obviously follow their lead, but very formal and continue unless corrected?


When I interned for a Judge, I always just called him "Judge." The law clerk did the same. On rare occasions I might include his last name. He wasn't big on formality, so I never called him "Your Honor" or anything like that, there just wasn't anything less formal than "Judge," since I wasn't about to call him by his first name (though to be honest I could have probably done it in chambers and he wouldn't have cared, as long as it wasn't in front of attorneys or staff).


I also interned for a judge and had the exact same experience. I always called him "Judge" and nothing else, unless I added his last name. Some of the administrative people in the courthouse called him by his first name and he never seemed to care at all, but I don't think you'll ever go wrong with "Judge." Then again, I was only an intern and obviously only in one rather relaxed courthouse, so I could be wrong.

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quiver
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Re: Clerkship interview tips?

Postby quiver » Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:21 am

ResIpsa21 wrote:
king3780 wrote:
luthersloan wrote:this might be a silly question, but how should we address the judge when speaking to them? I mean obviously follow their lead, but very formal and continue unless corrected?


When I interned for a Judge, I always just called him "Judge." The law clerk did the same. On rare occasions I might include his last name. He wasn't big on formality, so I never called him "Your Honor" or anything like that, there just wasn't anything less formal than "Judge," since I wasn't about to call him by his first name (though to be honest I could have probably done it in chambers and he wouldn't have cared, as long as it wasn't in front of attorneys or staff).


I also interned for a judge and had the exact same experience. I always called him "Judge" and nothing else, unless I added his last name. Some of the administrative people in the courthouse called him by his first name and he never seemed to care at all, but I don't think you'll ever go wrong with "Judge." Then again, I was only an intern and obviously only in one rather relaxed courthouse, so I could be wrong.

Same here. Everyone in chambers called him "Judge" so I just stuck with that.

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Re: Clerkship interview tips?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:01 am

One word of caution on the whole questions bit: Judges -- especially judges who have been on the bench a while -- have interviewed a LOT of clerk applicants. They know the standard questions that are asked, and often anticipate them. Frequently, the first "so how are cases distributed to the clerks"-type of question will lead them to a 5 minute spiel that answers pretty much all of the laundry list questions that you go into the interview with.

This exact thing happened to me at a recent clerkship interview -- basically, the above question prompted a response that informed me (1) the type of cases that come into the chambers [wide mix], (2) what the breakdown of civil/criminal is [the judge does most of the criminal himself], (3) what the judge looks for in a clerk [diligent about staying on top of docket], (4) what the opinion-generating process is [bench memo, then clerks can take a stab at the opinion if they feel strongly], and (5) judge's writing style [more informal]. It's like he could see inside my head and just ticked off each mentally prepared question in turn.

So, what to do? Two things, really. First, if the judge has something interesting in his background, try to come up with a question about it -- he almost certainly won't answer it in his spiel. Second, mentally prepare for the above scenario, and be prepared to say something like "wow, judge, that was really helpful. I was going to ask you A, B and C, but you just answered that." (It's important to be short but specific for A, B and C so that you don't come across as saying "duh, I'm a moron, I don't have any questions.")

lolwat
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Re: Clerkship interview tips?

Postby lolwat » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:21 pm

About addressing judges, I believe "Judge <lastname>" is proper no matter what, and that "Judge" is often used by their staff (law clerks, interns, deputy, assistant, etc) more informally. I don't think you ever have to call them "your honor" during an interview. I worried about this prior to my interviews in the past, but I never had to address a judge during an interview, so I'm not sure practically where this becomes an issue.

One word of caution on the whole questions bit: Judges -- especially judges who have been on the bench a while -- have interviewed a LOT of clerk applicants. They know the standard questions that are asked, and often anticipate them. Frequently, the first "so how are cases distributed to the clerks"-type of question will lead them to a 5 minute spiel that answers pretty much all of the laundry list questions that you go into the interview with.


Yes. I've also had interviews where some judges will just tell you a lot of that information without you even asking a question about any of it. In that case, you can follow up on something within that. For example--if they told you how the simple cases get distributed to clerks (i.e., cases where one clerk works on one case), you could ask whether there are often more complex cases that require more than one law clerk to work on, and how that generally works. Or, if they talked about bench memos, you could also ask whether they discuss the memo with the law clerk...

But yes, have a variety of questions, including ones about the judge's background and experience.




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