"Volunteer" Clerkships?

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"Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:15 pm

Recently heard of one of these. Is it basically the same as a regular clerkship, with all the duties of a regular clerk, just unpaid?

And do you get to call yourself a "Law Clerk," or do you forever have to put it on your resume as "Volunteer Law Clerk"? (with people reading that automatically thinking, "oh, he couldn't get a REAL clerkship")

[I've heard of these at both the state and federal levels, though i'm primarily interested in federal district court...]

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NoleinNY
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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby NoleinNY » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:23 pm

Where have you heard this?

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:28 pm

they'll occasionally pop up on my school's career services site, and i've also heard of folks doing it

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:51 pm

I am actually tempted to do this.

I saw at least two people in my class doing this. I suspect that they will put 'law clerks' on their resume and have an edge when they apply for real attorney jobs. they have below-average grades at a T30

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newyorker88
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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby newyorker88 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:38 am

You have to put volunteer law clerk on your resume. Some people do this because it makes it easier to get a real clerkship next year.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:06 am

newyorker88 wrote:You have to put volunteer law clerk on your resume. Some people do this because it makes it easier to get a real clerkship next year.

Where is this written?

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:06 am

A district judge my friend interned for had two volunteer clerks. She insisted they put "volunteer clerk" on their resumes. Presumably this comes down the preferences of the individual judge, but I suspect most recognize that omitting "volunteer" is misleading, since obtaining a paid federal clerkship is substantially more difficult than obtaining an unpaid one.

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ggocat
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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby ggocat » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:21 am

These have been around for awhile. I knew a guy who did this in 2007-2008 before the meltdown. If it were me, I'd say "law clerk" unless the judge says otherwise. Though, speaking as a paid ckerk, I can understand why some would take offense.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:32 am

as a matter of fact, there are a lot more 'law clerks' from my class of 2011 (T30) than before - all clerking at superior/appellate courts. All with grades that would not have earned them these clerkships even in a good year.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:43 am

Anonymous User wrote:
newyorker88 wrote:You have to put volunteer law clerk on your resume. Some people do this because it makes it easier to get a real clerkship next year.

Where is this written?

As a vol clerk, you are not in HR's rolls. They may do a background check on you, but there are no tax withholdings because there's no pay, there's no official status bestowed.

So if you later claim that you were a law clerk, just like your PAID co-clerks from whom taxes are withheld - then later background check companies who scour your past experience to verify employment won't be able to verify your claim of clerkship.

You are seriously risking getting screwed in a future employment background check - no matter what you do in life. This is particularly so if you EVER want to work in government in ANY capacity (AUSA, for example). If you claim a clerkship and then they hire a background-check firm to verify employment dates, etc., and they flag you as having lied about this clerkship, and then you have to cover your ass by saying "ooh that was just volunteer" - that's not good.

So, write "volunteer clerk" - no matter how puny you feel that it's not a real clerkship. Write it. Trust me.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:49 am

I don't think people will really get screwed by it.

I don't know about judicial clerkships - but I've seen people serving as volunteer law clerks for smaller firms all the time. Some worked over 2 years during which there were paid and nonpaid periods. Sometimes they put interns but some interns are paid, others are not. If there is a background check, things can get clarified.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If there is a background check, things can get clarified.


Here's where I disagree with you. Stating you're a federal judicial clerk versus someone from the pool of applicants willing to "volunteer" for a judge who didn't select you for his two paid-slots is a material misrepresentation in the legal industry.

The reason it is a material misrepresentation is because everybody who's worth a dime in the legal industry knows how competitive federal clerkships are. And for someone to backdoor into becoming a government attorney as a volunteer "AUSA" or volunteer "law clerk" - and then to claim being an AUSA or law clerk, is just flat out unethical.

This isn't about prestige AT ALL. This is about the false signaling of the selectivity.

An employer will understand that as a volunteer district court clerk, for example, you've had experiences very similar to a regular clerk - if not identical - and that you bring the same skillsets to the table as the district clerk. So, practically speaking, if we put prestige aside, it doesn't matter one bit that you volunteered - so why not just be truthful?

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:12 pm

i can assure you - it will come up especially if you ever try to get a government position for one reason alone.

You'll say you clerked for a federal judge. HR for the government for your new government job will try to establish your pay level. They'll then try to account for your one-year time spent as a federal clerk. Then, they'll realize you're NOT VERIFIABLE. Then, they'll contact you saying, uhh, did you have a different first-last name when you clerked? Then, you'll say, oh yeah - THAT - just ignore THAT and start me as a junior. At that point, HR can say yeah whatever, and just pencil you in as a junior - OR they can say, at this point, policy requires me to report this issue back to whoever the hiring officer is (in your case, maybe the US Attorneys office, or a next clerkship, or whatever). At that stage, it's totally dependent on how your employer perceives your omission of the "non-formal" status of your clerkship.

You see, honesty is the best policy.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby newyorker88 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A district judge my friend interned for had two volunteer clerks. She insisted they put "volunteer clerk" on their resumes. Presumably this comes down the preferences of the individual judge


She told them to put volunteer law clerk because to put otherwise would be a lie not because she has some sort of personal preference for the term.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Recently heard of one of these. Is it basically the same as a regular clerkship, with all the duties of a regular clerk, just unpaid?

And do you get to call yourself a "Law Clerk," or do you forever have to put it on your resume as "Volunteer Law Clerk"? (with people reading that automatically thinking, "oh, he couldn't get a REAL clerkship")

[I've heard of these at both the state and federal levels, though i'm primarily interested in federal district court...]


Well, the truth is that you "couldn't get a REAL clerkship," (your words, not mine) right? It's great that some judges are willing to help people out by offering them a volunteer positions, but let's be honest. Does anyone do a "volunteer clerkship" unless: (a) they couldn't get a paying job or real clerkship, or (b) they are independently wealthy?

Edited to make clear that I was using the language provided by OP.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:29 pm

newyorker88 wrote:Does anyone do a "volunteer clerkship" unless: (a) they couldn't get a paying job or real clerkship, or (b) they are independently wealthy?


OP here. From what I understand, a lot of "volunteer" clerks are deferred associates (as would be my case) that are looking to constructively fill their time until they start. In fact, some of the volunteer-clerkship postings I've seen specifically seek "deferred law firm associates" (perhaps on the assumption that if you had the creds to get biglaw, you're more likely to be "clerkship material").

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
newyorker88 wrote:Does anyone do a "volunteer clerkship" unless: (a) they couldn't get a paying job or real clerkship, or (b) they are independently wealthy?


OP here. From what I understand, a lot of "volunteer" clerks are deferred associates (as would be my case) that are looking to constructively fill their time until they start. In fact, some of the volunteer-clerkship postings I've seen specifically seek "deferred law firm associates" (perhaps on the assumption that if you had the creds to get biglaw, you're more likely to be "clerkship material").


Deferred associates are associates who can't get a paying job in one sense for their period of deferral. They can't "be paid" during their clerkship because of conflicts. No judge would allow a deferred clerk to get PAID by a firm AND clerk at the same time.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby zomginternets » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Recently heard of one of these. Is it basically the same as a regular clerkship, with all the duties of a regular clerk, just unpaid?

And do you get to call yourself a "Law Clerk," or do you forever have to put it on your resume as "Volunteer Law Clerk"? (with people reading that automatically thinking, "oh, he couldn't get a REAL clerkship")

[I've heard of these at both the state and federal levels, though i'm primarily interested in federal district court...]


Well, the truth is that you "couldn't get a REAL clerkship," (your words, not mine) right? It's great that some judges are willing to help people out by offering them a volunteer positions, but let's be honest. Does anyone do a "volunteer clerkship" unless: (a) they couldn't get a paying job or real clerkship, or (b) they are independently wealthy?

Edited to make clear that I was using the language provided by OP.


People who are not US citizens who want to be a federal clerk might have to do a volunteer clerkship, even if s/he has the credentials that would otherwise have gotten him/her a paid clerkship.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Geist13 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Deferred associates are associates who can't get a paying job in one sense for their period of deferral. They can't "be paid" during their clerkship because of conflicts. No judge would allow a deferred clerk to get PAID by a firm AND clerk at the same time.


Well if they are getting paid by the firm they aren't really deferred. That's kind of the point of deferral (unless they're just getting some nominal COL stipend from the firm, I'm not sure how exactly the deferrals work).

I know two people who did this after the crash. Deferred for a year by Biglaw, got article III clerkship for that year. Was not a big deal at all. I assume their firm did not pay them during the deferral period (again, I'm not positive how these deferrals work).

I don't see any ethical issue here. You do the work of a clerk, you get the experience of a clerk, the judge considers you a clerk; you are a clerk (unless those things aren't true). The legitimacy of your work experience and the value you bring to potential employers does not turn on the competitiveness for the position; that would be absurd.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby IAFG » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:40 pm

Geist13 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Deferred associates are associates who can't get a paying job in one sense for their period of deferral. They can't "be paid" during their clerkship because of conflicts. No judge would allow a deferred clerk to get PAID by a firm AND clerk at the same time.


Well if they are getting paid by the firm they aren't really deferred. That's kind of the point of deferral (unless they're just getting some nominal COL stipend from the firm, I'm not sure how exactly the deferrals work).

I know two people who did this after the crash. Deferred for a year by Biglaw, got article III clerkship for that year. Was not a big deal at all. I assume their firm did not pay them during the deferral period (again, I'm not positive how these deferrals work).

I don't see any ethical issue here. You do the work of a clerk, you get the experience of a clerk, the judge considers you a clerk; you are a clerk (unless those things aren't true). The legitimacy of your work experience and the value you bring to potential employers does not turn on the competitiveness for the position; that would be absurd.

Lots of deferred people got exactly the sort of reduced salary you're guessing at.

Of course there's an issue with getting paid by both the gov't and a private entity. It's double dipping, and it's divided loyalties.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:47 pm

Geist13 wrote:I don't see any ethical issue here. You do the work of a clerk, you get the experience of a clerk, the judge considers you a clerk; you are a clerk (unless those things aren't true). The legitimacy of your work experience and the value you bring to potential employers does not turn on the competitiveness for the position; that would be absurd.


Look. One can get a Harvard education if all the law professors for the entire 1L-thru-3L curriculum say "sure, you can sit in on all my classes and even take the finals and I'll give you some grades." But when they pick up the phone and call Harvard, you won't be an entity.

I think it's important to not play these games in the legal profession. If it's a volunteer clerkship, call it that. What's the issue? Don't call it what it's not - a federal clerkship. That doesn't say the whole story.

Same with a senior judge. Call him a senior judge. It was a reduced workload. If it was a Magistrate judge - don't drop the "Magistrate" - if it was a senior judge - don't drop the "Senior." If you transferred law schools, don't just "omit" the 1L law school from your biography.

The point isn't how qualified one is. One can be insanely more competent and qualified than all SCOTUS justices combined - that is not the conversation here.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby 09042014 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:51 pm

NoleinNY wrote:Where have you heard this?


xo

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:13 pm

i guess there is a difference between volunteer judicial clerkships and volunteer interns at small firms.
firms are pretty flexible about hiring and offer no fixed salaries. you can call them internships/clerkships and the firms may take you on later or not.

judicial clerkships are government positions.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby IAFG » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Geist13 wrote:I don't see any ethical issue here. You do the work of a clerk, you get the experience of a clerk, the judge considers you a clerk; you are a clerk (unless those things aren't true). The legitimacy of your work experience and the value you bring to potential employers does not turn on the competitiveness for the position; that would be absurd.


Look. One can get a Harvard education if all the law professors for the entire 1L-thru-3L curriculum say "sure, you can sit in on all my classes and even take the finals and I'll give you some grades." But when they pick up the phone and call Harvard, you won't be an entity.

I think it's important to not play these games in the legal profession. If it's a volunteer clerkship, call it that. What's the issue? Don't call it what it's not - a federal clerkship. That doesn't say the whole story.

Same with a senior judge. Call him a senior judge. It was a reduced workload. If it was a Magistrate judge - don't drop the "Magistrate" - if it was a senior judge - don't drop the "Senior." If you transferred law schools, don't just "omit" the 1L law school from your biography.

The point isn't how qualified one is. One can be insanely more competent and qualified than all SCOTUS justices combined - that is not the conversation here.

You sound like a tool. If the judge says it's okay, it's obviously okay.

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Re: "Volunteer" Clerkships?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:30 pm

IAFG wrote: You sound like a tool. If the judge says it's okay, it's obviously okay.

Agreed.

It sounds like this thread has riled up some insecure clerks who hate the idea of people they view as beneath them being "mistaken" for having the same status as them.




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