Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:57 pm

Aberzombie1892 wrote:To add to this: assuming you receive a federal clerkship, you need to summer at a big law firm during the summer between 3L and the clerkship. If not, your chances of getting big law (defined here as NLJ250) is unlikely. However, you would be competitive for a firm job somewhere with the federal clerkship even if you don't summer with one (just likely not NLJ).

This is nonsense.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:07 pm

blowhard wrote:Yeah, except I know several people from Michigan top 1/4 that clerked in the DC Circuit over the past few years. You're not compensating for self-selection. For your assertion to be true, you're assuming every single student wants to clerk...and in the DC Cir. Otherwise the numbers wouldn't add up. You're also not compensating for the idiosyncrasies of judge hiring. One particular CoA judge in the 6th told us at lunch one day that he takes all of his applications, throws out everyone except people who went to his UG/LS alma matter, people that interned for people he knew, people who shared interests (he gives a list to his current clerks to sort), etc. Then he starts reading those 20-25 apps. Several district court judges present nodded their heads in agreement.

I'm by no means saying grades don't matter but your assertion is unduly restrictive. They may even be the majority of hiring...but definitely not top 5-10.

I would be very surprised if there were several people from UM who were only top 1/4 who landed D.C. Circuit clerkships in recent years. Not saying it did not happen, but all of the D.C. Circuit clerks I know -- and I know quite a few -- were magna from T10 types (or better). A significant percentage of any given year's D.C. Circuit clerks go on to clerk on SCOTUS. That percentage goes even higher when you exclude a few of the judges who make no effort to feed to the Court, but instead focus on hiring from particular schools or a particular region. What this means is that if you do not have SCOTUS type credentials, and you do not hail from those specific schools or regions, the number of D.C. Circuit seats open to you is in the single digits. And you are fighting for those with hundreds of insanely well-qualified people. If anything, the difficulty of getting a D.C. Circuit clerkship is understated on TLS, not overstated. The same is not necessarily true of clerkships on other circuits, but those are not what people have been talking about.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:17 am

Renzo wrote:As for people choosing district courts over COA, I don't believe it for a second, unless they simultaneously accept a D. Ct and COA for sequential years.


FYI - there are some DCT judges that are harder to get than many/most COA judges. People who want these clerkships actively choose them over COA and have plenty of COA options.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:19 am

blowhard wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
It's also incomplete data. Look up a district court or two. What it lists for E.D. Mich. is about 1/4-1/3 of how many term clerks there really are. Nor is a school listed which I know for sure was represented by one of my judge's term clerks. (I summered there 1L). If you look up the 6th Cir., they had half as many clerks 10-11 as 09-10 which is also clearly not true. The 3rd circuit has the same trend.


(Poster who posted the lawclerkaddict numbers.)

Totally agree. That said, the numbers seem to be a lot higher for the DC Circuit than others, and there is no reason why the reported clerks would skew for or against certain schools. So I think the main point probably stands -- you'll have a good shot at the DC Circuit coming from Harvard or Yale, a decent shot (probably need top 10% or so) from NYU, a fighting chance if you are in the top 5% or so from Stanford or Chicago, and then otherwise you'll probably need to be in the top 5-10 students from the remainder of the T14, and probably the top 2-3 students outside of that.


Yeah, except I know several people from Michigan top 1/4 that clerked in the DC Circuit over the past few years. You're not compensating for self-selection. For your assertion to be true, you're assuming every single student wants to clerk...and in the DC Cir. Otherwise the numbers wouldn't add up. You're also not compensating for the idiosyncrasies of judge hiring. One particular CoA judge in the 6th told us at lunch one day that he takes all of his applications, throws out everyone except people who went to his UG/LS alma matter, people that interned for people he knew, people who shared interests (he gives a list to his current clerks to sort), etc. Then he starts reading those 20-25 apps. Several district court judges present nodded their heads in agreement.

I'm by no means saying grades don't matter but your assertion is unduly restrictive. They may even be the majority of hiring...but definitely not top 5-10.


Having access to the past 5 years worth of clerkship data (and some very detailed data at that) for a T10, I would be very, very surprised to see top 1/4 people clerking on the DC Circuit. The only way this is true is if by 1/4 you are including the entire 1/4. After all, the Top 5 student who landed a DC circuit clerkship is certainly top 1/4.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:00 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Renzo wrote:As for people choosing district courts over COA, I don't believe it for a second, unless they simultaneously accept a D. Ct and COA for sequential years.


FYI - there are some DCT judges that are harder to get than many/most COA judges. People who want these clerkships actively choose them over COA and have plenty of COA options.

"Some district court judges" = less than a dozen or so, if the point of comparison is "most COA judges." District court clerkships can be great, and quite selective, but the discussion is starting to stretch things. The overhwelming majority of law students prefer COA clerkships to district court clerkships, and there are many good reasons for why this is so.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Renzo » Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:41 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Renzo wrote:As for people choosing district courts over COA, I don't believe it for a second, unless they simultaneously accept a D. Ct and COA for sequential years.


FYI - there are some DCT judges that are harder to get than many/most COA judges. People who want these clerkships actively choose them over COA and have plenty of COA options.

"Some district court judges" = less than a dozen or so, if the point of comparison is "most COA judges." District court clerkships can be great, and quite selective, but the discussion is starting to stretch things. The overhwelming majority of law students prefer COA clerkships to district court clerkships, and there are many good reasons for why this is so.


Exactly. You can find an exception to prove any rule.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:59 am

Anonymous User wrote:
So my questions are-- for those who know, does this judicial internship sound like a good way to get a clerkship here later? Grades are top 20% and getting higher.


I assume you go to school in DC. I assume you are referring to one of the DDC, DC Circuit, Federal Circuit, or Court of Federal Claims. You would need the following grades to have a chance:

Georgetown: Top 5% for DDC, top 10 (students, not percent) for DC Circuit, top 20% plus an engineering degree or a graduate degree in a hard science for the Federal Circuit, top 10% for the Federal Claims court.

GW: Top 10 (students, not percent) for DDC, top 3 (students, not percent) for DC Circuit, top 10% plus an engineering degree or a graduate degree in a hard science for the Federal Circuit, top 5% for the Federal Claims court.

American/Catholic: Top 5 (students, not percent) for DDC, valedictorian for DC Circuit, top 5% plus an engineering degree or a graduate degree in a hard science for the Federal Circuit. top 10 (students, not percent) for the Federal Claims court.

So, short answer to your question: No.


I'm not sure where you are getting these numbers from. I agree that the D.C. Circuit's numbers essentially make it impossible for anyone outside of the top 5% of the T14 (T10, really) to get in. However, some DDC judges tend to want work experience from their clerks, thereby precluding a newly-minted graduate from qualifying for a clerkship position (e.g., Judge Sullivan, who makes this quite clear, in addition to Walton, Urbina, etc.).

I also know people who went to AU/Catholic who certainly weren't in the top 10 (students) of their class -- and still went on to clerk for the USCFC.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:40 pm

However, some DDC judges tend to want work experience from their clerks, thereby precluding a newly-minted graduate from qualifying for a clerkship position (e.g., Judge Sullivan, who makes this quite clear, in addition to Walton, Urbina, etc.).


Agreed. The fact that those aren't a realistic possibility for a law student applicant is what makes it so hard to get a DDC clerkship, even from Georgetown.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:57 pm

OP here:

There are 39 term clerkships on the D.C. Circuit. This year, most clerks are from YHS. A handful from NYU, but as far as I can recall none from CLS or Chicago. Some from the other T14s, and at least one from a non-T14 school. Zero from GW (thus, the court OP is talking about cannot be the D.C. Circuit).


It is the D.C. Circuit, and the clerk is from GW. Seriously, I know GW is a piece of shit law school, but you're completely insane if you think that judges here in D.C. don't like taking GW students as clerks.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here:

There are 39 term clerkships on the D.C. Circuit. This year, most clerks are from YHS. A handful from NYU, but as far as I can recall none from CLS or Chicago. Some from the other T14s, and at least one from a non-T14 school. Zero from GW (thus, the court OP is talking about cannot be the D.C. Circuit).


It is the D.C. Circuit, and the clerk is from GW. Seriously, I know GW is a piece of shit law school, but you're completely insane if you think that judges here in D.C. don't like taking GW students as clerks.

First, nobody said GW was a bad school. It is a good law school. All law schools, however, have a hard time getting their students D.C. Cir. clerkships.

Second, no, the judge is not on the D.C. Cir. To repeat the above, there are zero GW grads clerking on that court this year. There were zero last year, too. I can post the complete list if that helps. Notably, there are also zero clerks from Penn, Cornell, GULC, and Texas on the D.C Cir. This year as well. That does not mean those schools are awful.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:15 pm

^ OP here: Again, so as not to out where I'm working, I didn't mention what these clerks are actually doing. They are on D.C. circuit and one of them is from GW. But they do not work for a specific judge. Rather, they service 12 judges at a time who rotate on the kind of work that part of the court does. Hopefully nothing more needs to be said. Seriously how are you arguing with me on this. I didn't just randomly walk into *insert D.C. Circuit building* and do an interview with a bunch of people faking their clerkships lol.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here: Again, so as not to out where I'm working, I didn't mention what these clerks are actually doing. They are on D.C. circuit and one of them is from GW. But they do not work for a specific judge. Rather, they service 12 judges at a time who rotate on the kind of work that part of the court does. Hopefully nothing more needs to be said. Seriously how are you arguing with me on this. I didn't just randomly walk into *insert D.C. Circuit building* and do an interview with a bunch of people faking their clerkships lol.


Ok you do realize there is a HUGE difference between being an elbow clerk for a DC COA judge (ONE OF 4 ASSIGNED TO THAT JUDGE) and being a "staff attorney"? Right? I have no doubt that staff attorneys come form outside the T6 schools, but the job, the requirements (and the prestige) are entirely different.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Renzo » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here: Again, so as not to out where I'm working, I didn't mention what these clerks are actually doing. They are on D.C. circuit and one of them is from GW. But they do not work for a specific judge. Rather, they service 12 judges at a time who rotate on the kind of work that part of the court does. Hopefully nothing more needs to be said. Seriously how are you arguing with me on this. I didn't just randomly walk into *insert D.C. Circuit building* and do an interview with a bunch of people faking their clerkships lol.


Ok you do realize there is a HUGE difference between being an elbow clerk for a DC COA judge (ONE OF 4 ASSIGNED TO THAT JUDGE) and being a "staff attorney"? Right? I have no doubt that staff attorneys come form outside the T6 schools, but the job, the requirements (and the prestige) are entirely different.


It is rather disingenuous to conflate those two jobs.

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Re: Does clerkship lead to biglaw, and is this the right path?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here: Again, so as not to out where I'm working, I didn't mention what these clerks are actually doing. They are on D.C. circuit and one of them is from GW. But they do not work for a specific judge. Rather, they service 12 judges at a time who rotate on the kind of work that part of the court does. Hopefully nothing more needs to be said. Seriously how are you arguing with me on this. I didn't just randomly walk into *insert D.C. Circuit building* and do an interview with a bunch of people faking their clerkships lol.


Ok you do realize there is a HUGE difference between being an elbow clerk for a DC COA judge (ONE OF 4 ASSIGNED TO THAT JUDGE) and being a "staff attorney"? Right? I have no doubt that staff attorneys come form outside the T6 schools, but the job, the requirements (and the prestige) are entirely different.

Not to nitpick, but only five of the thirteen D.C. Circuit judges have four term clerks. The remaining judges have three term clerks (4 judges fall into this category), two term clerks (3 judges), or one term clerk (1 judge).

Distribution of clerks for the last two years, by school:
YLS: 19 (equivalent to top 4.75% per year x 2 years)
HLS: 15 (1.3%)
SLS: 11 (3.2%)
NYU: 11 (1.2%)
UVA: 3 (0.4%)
Duke: 3 (0.6%)
NWU: 3 (0.5%)
CLS: 2 (0.2%)
UM: 2 (0.3%)
Berkeley: 2 (0.4%)
GULC: 2 (0.2%)
Chicago: 1 (0.3%)
Penn: 1 (0.2%)
Other: Vanderbilt (2), Catholic (1), Georgia (1)




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