Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

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Anonymous User
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Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:58 pm

Currently a doc review staff attorney at a BigLaw firm. Magistrate judge just offered for a jerb in a faraway jurisdiction. Eventually want to return to large law firm (not NYC). Take clerkship or no?

LawIdiot86
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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby LawIdiot86 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Currently a doc review staff attorney at a BigLaw firm. Magistrate judge just offered for a jerb in a faraway jurisdiction. Eventually want to return to large law firm (not NYC). Take clerkship or no?

Assuming "doc review staff attorney" means long-term contract lawyer without partner prospects and that "magistrate judge" means federal magistrate, then yes, take the clerkship.

anongoodnurse
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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby anongoodnurse » Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:32 pm

Take the clerkship. Next spring/summer, apply for Article III clerkships with early-hiring judges in the same and nearby districts. Do whatever you can to get the MJ to place calls (or even go to chambers if it's the same courthouse) for you. In two years, call back the biglaw firm and see if they'll take you as a 3rd year.

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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:21 pm

OP here. Yes, no partnership prospects. Yes, fed. Magistrate. Will have a decrease in pay by taking clerkship.

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patrickd139
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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby patrickd139 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:23 pm

anongoodnurse wrote:Take the clerkship. Next spring/summer, apply for Article III clerkships with early-hiring judges in the same and nearby districts. Do whatever you can to get the MJ to place calls (or even go to chambers if it's the same courthouse) for you. In two years, call back the biglaw firm and see if they'll take you as a 3rd year. biglaw firms and see if they will hire you.

Chances of same firm taking you back are very, very slim. But I think overall this is a good plan.

LawIdiot86
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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby LawIdiot86 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Yes, no partnership prospects. Yes, fed. Magistrate. Will have a decrease in pay by taking clerkship.

Yes, do the clerkship. I'm guessing you are making between 80-100k as a staff attorney and the clerkship will pay 40-50k, maybe a smidge less. Worst case, you come out of the clerkship down 50k in income and go back to doc review. That's a small 50k loss over a lifetime. Best case, you come out and nail a market job and make the 50k up in two years.

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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:31 pm

LawIdiot86 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Yes, no partnership prospects. Yes, fed. Magistrate. Will have a decrease in pay by taking clerkship.

Yes, do the clerkship. I'm guessing you are making between 80-100k as a staff attorney and the clerkship will pay 40-50k, maybe a smidge less. Worst case, you come out of the clerkship down 50k in income and go back to doc review. That's a small 50k loss over a lifetime. Best case, you come out and nail a market job and make the 50k up in two years.


Are you just making up numbers? OP has passed the bar and, presumably, has greater than 1 year experience. OP would be hired at JSP12 ($60,274 base) or JSP13 ($71674 base). Add in a locality pay and that can be as high as $81460 (JSP12) to $96867 (JSP13).

Your advice for OP is sound, but the claim that a federal law clerk makes less than $40k is unfounded and certainly misleading.

LawIdiot86
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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby LawIdiot86 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
LawIdiot86 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Yes, no partnership prospects. Yes, fed. Magistrate. Will have a decrease in pay by taking clerkship.

Yes, do the clerkship. I'm guessing you are making between 80-100k as a staff attorney and the clerkship will pay 40-50k, maybe a smidge less. Worst case, you come out of the clerkship down 50k in income and go back to doc review. That's a small 50k loss over a lifetime. Best case, you come out and nail a market job and make the 50k up in two years.


Are you just making up numbers? OP has passed the bar and, presumably, has greater than 1 year experience. OP would be hired at JSP12 ($60,274 base) or JSP13 ($71674 base). Add in a locality pay and that can be as high as $81460 (JSP12) to $96867 (JSP13).

Your advice for OP is sound, but the claim that a federal law clerk makes less than $40k is unfounded and certainly misleading.

I was guessing at the JSP salaries and his level of W/E, in that case, it is every a better deal.

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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:07 am

Sadly, I'm in my first year out of law school still today, but I have passed the bar and am currently practicing. Would I be a JSP 11 or 12?

Also, how marketable is a mag. clerkship in markets other than the market in which I'd clerk? I know it's not a super-prestigious thing to clerk at this level, and I want to make sure that my giving up some salary and my losing a position with an AWESOME firm is absolutely worth it.

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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:11 am

Uh...Is just getting a biglaw job that easy after graduating and doing random stuff for a couple of years? I should have really applied to clerkship...

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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 03, 2011 7:06 am

Yeah the salary is likely to be at least $61K, certainly not $40K as mentioned.

Also, federal clerkship, even magistrate/bankruptcy, absolutely kills being a contract attorney stuck doing doc review forever. Take the clerkship.

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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:24 am

Also, how marketable is a mag. clerkship in markets other than the market in which I'd clerk?


Probably not that marketable at firms, though you might get lucky and have a recruiting type not realize the difference between a magistrate and district judge. It likely would help a bunch for other clerkships. Not really sure about government -- my guess is probably not, since the feds will have their pick of Art III clerks if they're looking at post-clerkship hires, and states/cities won't really care if you know a bunch about federal discovery and non-dispositive motions practice rules. The real potential benefit will be a possible subsequent Art III clerkship, which many/most firms and feds do care about.

Uh...Is just getting a biglaw job that easy after graduating and doing random stuff for a couple of years? I should have really applied to clerkship...


"Random stuff?" No. An Art III (or possibly state supreme court) clerkship? Yes. Though a lot of that is probably a matter of correlation and not causation -- the type of people who get those clerkships out of law school usually: (i) went to HSY; (ii) had good grades (top 20% or so) from CCN; (iii) had great grades (top 10% or so) from the rest of the T14; or (iv) were in the top 5-10 students anywhere else. Not surprisingly, those same students also usually are attractive on the job market.

(And obviously, there's a big difference in Art III clerkships -- a random flyover DC judge is different than a major market DC judge is different than a COA clerkship.)

EDIT: Two additional things. First, I should note that it's probably a bit of an exaggeration to say that it's "easy" to get a firm of big gov job with a right-after-law school clerkship. Obviously, even that is hard ITE. But it's definitely doable, and depending on the job, market and clerkship, maybe even probable.

Second, to give you an idea: I start a major market Art III clerkship as an alum in August. Of the four clerks in chambers when I interviewed: One is a career clerk, one has since gone to a V20 firm, one has since gone to a well-regarded lit boutique, and one is going to another (more prestigious) clerkship when the current one is over.

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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Second, to give you an idea: I start a major market Art III clerkship as an alum in August. Of the four clerks in chambers when I interviewed: One is a career clerk, one has since gone to a V20 firm, one has since gone to a well-regarded lit boutique, and one is going to another (more prestigious) clerkship when the current one is over.


Not to derail, but how far out of law school are you? When did you start applying, and did you use your experience/networks out of school to help you land the clerkship?

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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 03, 2011 1:33 pm

how far out of law school are you?


A bit. Long enough that I mostly applied to judges who want 2+ years of experience.

When did you start applying


Late April or early May, I think. I probably sent off a few apps a week (on average) through mid July. It was mostly a "as interesting ones pop up on OSCAR or the US courts hiring website" sort of thing. I was kind of picky, to be honest -- I probably would recommend that most people approach it differently.

did you use your experience/networks out of school to help you land the clerkship?


Generally no. There were a few that I applied to where I had a connection -- and oddly enough (or maybe not), I ultimately ended up with one of those judges. But mostly I sent in "cold call" apps. And I ended up getting several (a half dozen or so) interviews out of it -- and all but one were with the "cold call" judges.

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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 03, 2011 1:38 pm

Thanks! This is promising...I was tired of filling out applications when clerkship app time came around last summer and have been kicking myself for not sucking it up and doing them. Glad to hear the ship hasn't completely sailed.

fisch
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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby fisch » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:04 pm

Does anyone know whether Magistrate Judge law clerks are paid on the same scale as district or circuit clerks?

anonymous2012
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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby anonymous2012 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:38 pm

fisch wrote:Does anyone know whether Magistrate Judge law clerks are paid on the same scale as district or circuit clerks?


Yes, they are.

And I think people are undervaluing magistrate clerkships a little. In some districts, the magistrate judges are treated very comparably to the district judges. They will often try cases by consent (though this may change). If you're interested in crim procedure at all, a magistrate is great, and you will get very good at managing discovery which is a skill, albeit a tedious one, for litigators. It has value in lit practices, especially more commoditized V50-100 type places.

I wouldn't hesitate here. Take the magistrate clerkship. Try to trade up to district court or SSC.

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patrickd139
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Re: Staff Atty. or Magistrate Clerk

Postby patrickd139 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:53 pm

anonymous2012 wrote:
fisch wrote:Does anyone know whether Magistrate Judge law clerks are paid on the same scale as district or circuit clerks?


Yes, they are.

And I think people are undervaluing magistrate clerkships a little. In some districts, the magistrate judges are treated very comparably to the district judges. They will often try cases by consent (though this may change). If you're interested in crim procedure at all, a magistrate is great, and you will get very good at managing discovery which is a skill, albeit a tedious one, for litigators. It has value in lit practices, especially more commoditized V50-100 type places.

I wouldn't hesitate here. Take the magistrate clerkship. Try to trade up to district court or SSC.

Good analysis, excellent advice, 3 year old thread, dude(ette).




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