Clerkships & Employment

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kalvano
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Clerkships & Employment

Postby kalvano » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:38 pm

This may have been answered before, but I couldn't find it. I know nothing about clerkships, so if someone could help me out, that would be great.

1) At what point does a clerkship not become prestigious enough to justify taking it over another job offer? I know federal COA's clerkships are the gold standard, but my stats almost certainly rule those out. So when does a clerkship not become worth it?

2) How regional are clerkships? Would the clerkship that popped up on my Symplicity with a Wisconsin state Supreme Court judge be helpful in securing employment in Washington state or elsewhere? Or does a clerkship really only help you in the state you do it in?

3) How much does being published help? Is it a big boost, or is it like softs in admissions...you still need the numbers to get in the door?

4) My career services office sucks. When should I register for OSCAR and start looking at applying to judges? In the middle of my 2L right now. Not sure whether to go with the grades I have now or to wait and see if I can bump them up.

Thanks for any help.

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thesealocust
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Re: Clerkships & Employment

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:01 pm

Re: 1 - there is a fairly bright line with federal district & circuit court judges to one side and all others to the other. That doesn't make the first two necessarily 'the best' - but many firms have universal employment / bonus policies for all federal district court / CoA judges, and their appeal is intrinsic to the job.

Other clerkships, including federal magistrate, state supreme court, specialized courts (bankruptcy, Delaware chancery), and local courts are all much more niche. They can materially increase your career prospects with hustle and appropriate local ties, but it's not going to be as universal.

My guess is that local is better for all clerkships, but that after the federal district court level the benefits will be much more geographically limited.

I believe many but not all judges see publication as a huge boost. It's possible that it's more of a boost for more competitive clerkships where judges see the work as more 'academic' - but that's conjecture on my part.

Don't know anything about Oscar, but I'm sure others will chime in.

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Cravin
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Re: Clerkships & Employment

Postby Cravin » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:12 pm

Can't link to it for some reason, but check out the "Clerk, taking questions..." thread that already exists. It is extremely helpful, and I think all of your questions have already been answered there.

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kalvano
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Re: Clerkships & Employment

Postby kalvano » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:36 pm

Cravin wrote:Can't link to it for some reason, but check out the "Clerk, taking questions..." thread that already exists. It is extremely helpful, and I think all of your questions have already been answered there.


Yeah, I browsed through it, but since I had specific questions, I thought I would just ask them instead of trying to find the answers through 30+ pages.

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kalvano
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Re: Clerkships & Employment

Postby kalvano » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:34 am

It has nothing to do with not wanting to read what you have already written. It has to do with not wanting to sort through 30+ pages to find where you possibly already answered the questions (and no guarantee of that), and in the meantime try to sort through everyone else's opinion.

Besides, I wasn't necessarily fishing just for you to answer. I've found that if you have specific questions, sometimes it's better to ask in a new thread, as posters who might know the answers sometimes ignore the longer threads.

Nothing personal at all.

But preference noted and filed, and eventually I'll get through all 30+ pages and won't have to ask stupid questions anymore. Then I can dazzle you with my brilliance.

Thanks for the exception.

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Clerkships & Employment

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:54 am

State supreme court clerkships are sometimes coveted by firms, but usually only those in the same state (or perhaps nearby).


One thing to add about this is that the California Supreme Court does not hire clerks, and there is no real DC Supreme Court. So if you are looking at major markets that would value a SSC clerkship, LA, SF and DC are out. That leaves what, NY (and the NY COA is very prestigious, fwiw), Chicago (don't know about IL) and maybe Boston (Mass SJC is also prestigious)?

That said, it is my understanding that SSC clerkships are very sought after in many secondary markets if the clerkship is in that state. So, to use your example, a Wisconsin Supreme Court clerkship could be very helpful in landing a job in Milwaukee or Madison. Maybe more so than an out-of-state federal district court clerkship.

LawIdiot86
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Re: Clerkships & Employment

Postby LawIdiot86 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:09 am

theaccidentalclerk wrote:
State supreme court clerkships are sometimes coveted by firms, but usually only those in the same state (or perhaps nearby).


One thing to add about this is that the California Supreme Court does not hire clerks, and there is no real DC Supreme Court. So if you are looking at major markets that would value a SSC clerkship, LA, SF and DC are out. That leaves what, NY (and the NY COA is very prestigious, fwiw), Chicago (don't know about IL) and maybe Boston (Mass SJC is also prestigious)?

That said, it is my understanding that SSC clerkships are very sought after in many secondary markets if the clerkship is in that state. So, to use your example, a Wisconsin Supreme Court clerkship could be very helpful in landing a job in Milwaukee or Madison. Maybe more so than an out-of-state federal district court clerkship.

There IS a DC supreme court, it's just called the court of appeals (http://www.dcappeals.gov/dccourts/appeals/index.jsp) and it isn't structured like most state supreme courts nor does it handle the same caliber of cases as most state supreme courts because DC has such a large federal presence and there isn't an intermediary court of appeals to handle the routine appeals as a matter of right. It generally places a GPA tier down from USDC clerkships, while other SSCs tend to place at the same GPA tier as a USDC. If you want the DC-region and regional biglaw, you might look at the MD court of appeals and court of special appears or the DE SC/chancery. I know MD has a very early deadline of May/June.

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Clerkships & Employment

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:21 pm

There IS a DC supreme court, it's just called the court of appeals (http://www.dcappeals.gov/dccourts/appeals/index.jsp) and it isn't structured like most state supreme courts nor does it handle the same caliber of cases as most state supreme courts because DC has such a large federal presence and there isn't an intermediary court of appeals to handle the routine appeals as a matter of right.


Hence the "real" qualifier.

other SSCs tend to place at the same GPA tier as a USDC


This is a little misleading. SSCs are far more variable in terms of value. Some -- like the NY COA or Delaware chancery -- are probably a step above virtually every district court, and maybe on par with non-2/9/DC COA, or at least close to it. Others in smaller flyover states, especially in states without intermediate appellate courts, are definitely a cut below a federal district court everywhere except the state in question (and maybe even there). So while median GPAs are probably about even, I'd suspect there is far more variance in SSC clerks generally.

At the end of the day, I think I'd say this: If you are choosing between one of the very prestigious SSCs and a federal district court, take the prestigious SSC (and there really are only a few of these I can think of). If you are choosing between a federal district court and a non-elite SSC in the market you KNOW you want to work in, choose based on non-prestige factors (e.g., where the district court is, judge's reputation, etc.). In all other cases -- non-prestigious SSC, not in the market you want to work in OR you aren't sure you want to be limited to that market, etc. -- the federal district court is probably the better bet.

Anonymous User
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Re: Clerkships & Employment

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:43 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote:
There IS a DC supreme court, it's just called the court of appeals (http://www.dcappeals.gov/dccourts/appeals/index.jsp) and it isn't structured like most state supreme courts nor does it handle the same caliber of cases as most state supreme courts because DC has such a large federal presence and there isn't an intermediary court of appeals to handle the routine appeals as a matter of right.


Hence the "real" qualifier.

other SSCs tend to place at the same GPA tier as a USDC


This is a little misleading. SSCs are far more variable in terms of value. Some -- like the NY COA or Delaware chancery -- are probably a step above virtually every district court, and maybe on par with non-2/9/DC COA, or at least close to it. Others in smaller flyover states, especially in states without intermediate appellate courts, are definitely a cut below a federal district court everywhere except the state in question (and maybe even there). So while median GPAs are probably about even, I'd suspect there is far more variance in SSC clerks generally.

At the end of the day, I think I'd say this: If you are choosing between one of the very prestigious SSCs and a federal district court, take the prestigious SSC (and there really are only a few of these I can think of). If you are choosing between a federal district court and a non-elite SSC in the market you KNOW you want to work in, choose based on non-prestige factors (e.g., where the district court is, judge's reputation, etc.). In all other cases -- non-prestigious SSC, not in the market you want to work in OR you aren't sure you want to be limited to that market, etc. -- the federal district court is probably the better bet.


Claiming that NY COA or Delaware chancery is "a step above virtually every district court" is substantially overstating things. Perhaps if you want an appellate clerkship, plan to practice in one of those states, and are unable to get a federal COA clerkship, then perhaps those SSC's (or DE chancery) would be better. But, for the average future big law litigator, it would be hard to argue that any SSC would be better than SDNY or CDCA (or other similar district courts).

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Clerkships & Employment

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:11 pm

Claiming that NY COA or Delaware chancery is "a step above virtually every district court" is substantially overstating things. Perhaps if you want an appellate clerkship, plan to practice in one of those states, and are unable to get a federal COA clerkship, then perhaps those SSC's (or DE chancery) would be better. But, for the average future big law litigator, it would be hard to argue that any SSC would be better than SDNY or CDCA (or other similar district courts).


Perhaps. Though I did include a "probably" and "virtually" in there.

But at this point, I think we're arguing about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. The fact of the matter is that almost all USDC clerkships will be more valuable than almost all SSC clerkships, except and unless the person wants to work only in the SSC clerkship market -- and even then, the USDC clerkship might be more valuable, if (for example) the USDC clerkship is in the same market as well, or the market intrinsically values USDC clerkships more (and thinking about it, I think most big ones probably do -- for sure NY, DC, LA and SF; don't know about Massachusetts or Chicago). Whether there are exceptional SSCs, and whether there are "exception to the exception" USDCs, is pretty much an academic exercise.

(Full disclosure: I'll start a USDC clerkship as an alum in a non-flyover district in the fall. So I'm definitely not trolling for SSCs.)




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