former federal circuit clerk taking questions

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former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:38 pm

happy to take questions from people interested in clerking on the federal circuit.

i had a tech background, clerked on this court recently (last 3 years), and have moved on to a law firm.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:happy to take questions from people interested in clerking on the federal circuit.

i had a tech background, clerked on this court recently (last 3 years), and have moved on to a law firm.

educational background/credentials? broadly speaking.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:happy to take questions from people interested in clerking on the federal circuit.

i had a tech background, clerked on this court recently (last 3 years), and have moved on to a law firm.

educational background? broadly speaking.


EE/ME/CS, only had a BS degree. Two years work experience as a field engineer. Then law school at a t14. I graduated probably in the top 15-20%. That's about what I was when I applied too.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:20 pm

Thoughts on working at a highly regarded patent lit firm for 2-3 years (e.g. Quinn, KE, Wilmer, Irell, Finnegan) before applying? Did a decent number of your co-clerks seem to have done this? If you were involved in the clerk-selection process did your judge like to see this. I think I have the credentials to have a shot at getting interviews out of LS, but would prefer to work before clerking.

To the extent that you can say, do any of the judges have better/worse reputations in terms of clerk lifestyle, responsibility, type and type of work?

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thoughts on working at a highly regarded patent lit firm for 2-3 years (e.g. Quinn, KE, Wilmer, Irell, Finnegan) before applying? Did a decent number of your co-clerks seem to have done this? If you were involved in the clerk-selection process did your judge like to see this. I think I have the credentials to have a shot at getting interviews out of LS, but would prefer to work before clerking.

To the extent that you can say, do any of the judges have better/worse reputations in terms of clerk lifestyle, responsibility, type and type of work?


My best guess is its neither here neither there. I could be wrong about this. Getting a big law firm is infinitely easier than getting any type of appellate clerkship. I'd imagine getting a big law job at those firms is a ton easier than getting any type of federal district clerkship. And we're not just talking about any appellate clerkship across the courts, you're boiling it down to one specific court. Gets much harder. Plus, you only have a finite window of time where it makes sense for you to clerk, I'd say between years 1-5.

It is more idiosyncratic than I thought it was for alum hiring. Easier than OSCAR, for sure, but its harder in a way because its not the case that the candidate with the best grades/firm is a shoe-in. Judges are very quirky. If a clerk, on the other hand, worked at your firm and received your application, my best guess is they'd assign it more weight than other apps. But this goes for the other 3 clerks too. So it cuts both ways.

I would not choose a firm based on clerkship exit options. I'd definitely choose a school based on clerkship stuff. Judges are way too quirky and unpredictable to whittle it down to a formula. Especially at Fed. Cir. where judges really are looking for tech people despite what they publicly say.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby rupert.pupkin » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thoughts on working at a highly regarded patent lit firm for 2-3 years (e.g. Quinn, KE, Wilmer, Irell, Finnegan) before applying? Did a decent number of your co-clerks seem to have done this? If you were involved in the clerk-selection process did your judge like to see this. I think I have the credentials to have a shot at getting interviews out of LS, but would prefer to work before clerking.

To the extent that you can say, do any of the judges have better/worse reputations in terms of clerk lifestyle, responsibility, type and type of work?


My best guess is its neither here neither there. I could be wrong about this. Getting a big law firm is infinitely easier than getting any type of appellate clerkship. I'd imagine getting a big law job at those firms is a ton easier than getting any type of federal district clerkship. And we're not just talking about any appellate clerkship across the courts, you're boiling it down to one specific court. Gets much harder. Plus, you only have a finite window of time where it makes sense for you to clerk, I'd say between years 1-5.

It is more idiosyncratic than I thought it was for alum hiring. Easier than OSCAR, for sure, but its harder in a way because its not the case that the candidate with the best grades/firm is a shoe-in. Judges are very quirky. If a clerk, on the other hand, worked at your firm and received your application, my best guess is they'd assign it more weight than other apps. But this goes for the other 3 clerks too. So it cuts both ways.

I would not choose a firm based on clerkship exit options. Judges are way too quirky and unpredictable to whittle it down to a formula.


Are you the OP? I would guess not because you totally misunderstand the question. We're talking about the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, not "any type of appellate clerkship." I'm also not asking about choosing a firm based on clerkship exit ops.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:04 pm

Did you have trouble making your loan payments/living at all comfortably on the salary (if you even had loans--if not, do you know of anyone else's story)? That's the only reason I'd want to go to the firm for a couple of years first if I were to do so.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Did you have trouble making your loan payments/living at all comfortably on the salary (if you even had loans--if not, do you know of anyone else's story)? That's the only reason I'd want to go to the firm for a couple of years first if I were to do so.

Good point--I'm the original work-->clerk-->work guy. This is part of my consideration. I also feel like I'd get more out of the clerkship having spent a few years working on cases from the ground up.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:14 pm

I presume you were responsible for interviewing externs for your judge (if he/she even takes any). What does it take, and what do judges usually like to see when accepting externs? Are 1Ls typically excluded from the hiring process due to the fact they haven't taken certain courses yet? Thank you.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thoughts on working at a highly regarded patent lit firm for 2-3 years (e.g. Quinn, KE, Wilmer, Irell, Finnegan) before applying? Did a decent number of your co-clerks seem to have done this? If you were involved in the clerk-selection process did your judge like to see this. I think I have the credentials to have a shot at getting interviews out of LS, but would prefer to work before clerking.

To the extent that you can say, do any of the judges have better/worse reputations in terms of clerk lifestyle, responsibility, type and type of work?


My best guess is its neither here neither there. I could be wrong about this. Getting a big law firm is infinitely easier than getting any type of appellate clerkship. I'd imagine getting a big law job at those firms is a ton easier than getting any type of federal district clerkship. And we're not just talking about any appellate clerkship across the courts, you're boiling it down to one specific court. Gets much harder. Plus, you only have a finite window of time where it makes sense for you to clerk, I'd say between years 1-5.

It is more idiosyncratic than I thought it was for alum hiring. Easier than OSCAR, for sure, but its harder in a way because its not the case that the candidate with the best grades/firm is a shoe-in. Judges are very quirky. If a clerk, on the other hand, worked at your firm and received your application, my best guess is they'd assign it more weight than other apps. But this goes for the other 3 clerks too. So it cuts both ways.

I would not choose a firm based on clerkship exit options. Judges are way too quirky and unpredictable to whittle it down to a formula.


Are you the OP? I would guess not because you totally misunderstand the question. We're talking about the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, not "any type of appellate clerkship." I'm also not asking about choosing a firm based on clerkship exit ops.


OP here. Was making generalized statement because it applies to any other COA. Fed. Cir. judges will not give you any plus points for working at Kirkland or Quinn just because they have good patent litigators there, if the rest of your resume isn't enough on its own feet to land the clerkship. Given how few spots there are at any given discrete time other than OSCAR, the main two are law school + law grades.

I'd say its 'easier' to get a job as an alum than as a law student. But its not as much easier as you may think. The idiosyncratic nature of alum hiring really makes alum hiring insanely unpredictable. But if you're a law student, its much easier to ballpark your odds at landing fed. cir.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I presume you were responsible for interviewing externs for your judge (if he/she even takes any). What does it take, and what do judges usually like to see when accepting externs? Are 1Ls typically excluded from the hiring process due to the fact they haven't taken certain courses yet? Thank you.

Most fed. cir. judges don't do this.My judge didn't. Rader did. I don't know about 1Ls being excluded etc. When I clerked, I think all were GW law students. But for the summer they had some BYU student. Not sure. You'd have to find a Rader clerk for this.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Did you have trouble making your loan payments/living at all comfortably on the salary (if you even had loans--if not, do you know of anyone else's story)? That's the only reason I'd want to go to the firm for a couple of years first if I were to do so.

Good point--I'm the original work-->clerk-->work guy. This is part of my consideration. I also feel like I'd get more out of the clerkship having spent a few years working on cases from the ground up.

OP here: I'd only agree with this very slightly. Yes, the one guy who worked at a D.Ct. was very helpful on occasion (my co-clerk) when I wanted to ask him something about what happened "below" - but Fed. Cir. work is insanely slow and glacial compared to whatever you'd do at a law firm/d.ct. And the memos and opinion drafts you're writing as an appellate clerk at fed. cir. are simply not what you do as a law firm junior associate anywhere. Law firm junior associates do discovery and doc review. Maybe some motion writing. District court stuff. You'd work on an appellate brief here and there, sure. But the Fed. Cir. is not really related to all that.

Your point is more applicable to a D.Ct. clerkship than Fed. Cir.

Appellate clerkships in general (fed. cir. is no exception) don't really have a ton in common with whatever you do as a junior associate unless you're in an appellate group.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:32 pm

What classes to take? Have Admin and Fed Jur. Should I take evidence, civ pro II, etc?

Did you work in patent lit before clerking? How would you view someone who worked in IP corporate?

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What classes to take? Have Admin and Fed Jur. Should I take evidence, civ pro II, etc?

Did you work in patent lit before clerking? How would you view someone who worked in IP corporate?

I'd say Admin and Fed Jur are most relevant for fed. cir. Admin especially for the non-patent cases.
Evidence/civ pro 2? Maybe more for d.ct. Not fed. cir.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:48 pm

op here, i should clarify something. My class standing/law school can be anywhere in the t14/top 15-20% range.

I've inflated the range to remain anonymous, but i guess that's misleading if you're trying to set up your expectations

Don't think Fed. cir. is a cake with just a tech bg. I could be either top 2% at HYS or top 5% at Georgetown. I just want to stay totally anon.

Most ppl in last 5 years or so were top 10% or better at t10. Some judges are among the most selective in the country. Others require D.Ct. experience. The few exceptions that slide with 20% or whatever at top14 are generally people who have 1) worked for a few years, and 2) have some insane connection who is willing to really go to bat for 'em.

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Re: former federal circuit clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 03, 2014 11:40 am

Hope you are still around.

How often do Fed. Cir. judges take patent pros. attorney with a few years of experience to clerk? Does it look favorable or are the judges against it?




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