clerking overvalued?

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Anonymous User
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clerking overvalued?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:23 pm

Spoke with partner/immediate supervisor who clerked, yet has a pretty interesting insight:
"Ever notice how most people who glorify clerking clerked?"

Got me thinking. What exactly is the upside of clerking? At my firm, there is no link between clerking and making partner. And I suspect that's the case at most firms except those that require clerking as a hiring matter (KVN, for example).

Most of what you need to learn as a district court clerk can be learned on the job - sure it might take longer, but you make more money and you learn the same skills eventually. And appellate clerkships seem almost exclusively for resume building. They make you a better writer - but that is about the extent of it.

Assuming no interest in government, academia, or lateraling "upward," can someone provide a crisp, reasonable defense of clerking - given that it seems to be a wash from a long-term career perspective. The whole process (from trying to land a clerkship, to doing a clerkship) seems like a lot of heavy-lifting. But for what? I've never actually heard a strong (brief) defense of clerking other than it's "prestigious."

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angrybird
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby angrybird » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:25 pm

yea, i've always wondered why people who didn't clerk never rave about how useful their clerkship was

09042014
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby 09042014 » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:31 pm

Even if only people who clerk value clerking, that is still a pretty sizable chunk of future employers. And this is coming from a guy who definitely isn't' going to clerk.

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TaipeiMort
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby TaipeiMort » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:38 pm

For lit NO. For large scale deals work in NYC (M&A and Capital Markets), NO. For IP work if Fed Circuit court, NO. For general corporate, Possibly. Smaller sized transactions work for a particular client type (eg. PE fund formation), YES.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:40 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Even if only people who clerk value clerking, that is still a pretty sizable chunk of future employers. And this is coming from a guy who definitely isn't' going to clerk.


I've been told by some partners who clerked that they would prefer associates come straight to the firm, but they understand why people would want to clerk as a "break" between law school and firm. I want to clerk because I think it would most likely be a very enjoyable experience and I would learn a lot. (I also want a career path that pretty much requires it, so there's that too.) For someone who just wants to work at a firm and maximize income, I think it might make more sense to not clerk.

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TaipeiMort
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby TaipeiMort » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:45 pm

Richie Tenenbaum wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Even if only people who clerk value clerking, that is still a pretty sizable chunk of future employers. And this is coming from a guy who definitely isn't' going to clerk.


I've been told by some partners who clerked that they would prefer associates come straight to the firm, but they understand why people would want to clerk as a "break" between law school and firm. I want to clerk because I think it would most likely be a very enjoyable experience and I would learn a lot. (I also want a career path that pretty much requires it, so there's that too.) For someone who just wants to work at a firm and maximize income, I think it might make more sense to not clerk.


Exactly. I think clerking would be really interesting, difficult, and rewarding work. But, I also may pass because I have a family to feed.

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kalvano
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby kalvano » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:13 pm

Clerking can also open doors that would otherwise be closed because that judge knows someone or is willing to make some phone calls on your behalf.

flcath
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby flcath » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:24 pm

I agree that the argument for it tends to be a little 'sloppy.' It's a prestigious thing that nearly always signifies the start of a successful career. Some people also think it's really cool, and/or a really good experience.

The answer to the factually intensive question of whether any given person should do it tends to range from "yes, you'd be an idiot not to" to "it's a wash" . . . it's almost never "you'd be an idiot to take that AIII clerkship."

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:00 pm

Assuming no interest in government, academia, or lateraling "upward," can someone provide a crisp, reasonable defense of clerking - given that it seems to be a wash from a long-term career perspective.


Or to paraphrase: Assuming away the reasons for clerking, why should you want to clerk?

Less snarky answer: If you did well at a T14, clerking preserves academia and high-profile government as future career options (especially the former). You may not think you are interested when you are a deeply indebted 26 year-old about to make a small fortune at a V10 firm, but that can change when you are a 32 year-old with no loans who hasn't seen your kids in four days. (It did for me.) There are also lit groups at some firms that won't make you partner without a clerkship.

But no. If you assume that academia or USAO or one of those firms isn't in the picture (and will never be), then clerking is unnecessary and a substantial opportunity cost. Though so is health insurance if you assume that you will never, ever get sick.

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leobowski
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby leobowski » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:23 pm

I think they are generally good for academic/nerdy types, especially if you have a judge that encourages working on publications during downtime. If you sole aspiration is to make it rain, look elsewhere.

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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:10 pm

(Not OP here.) I am actually curious whether there is conventional wisdom on whether not clerking closes doors for someone who specifically wants to go Biglaw lit --> fed gov lit. G.T.L. Rev., any thoughts?

I don't plan to clerk between school and going to the firm, but would certainly consider working in private practice for 2-4 years, leaving to clerk, and then either coming back to a firm for a while or transitioning directly into the government post-clerkship. Is this a common/credible path?

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Detrox
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby Detrox » Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:(Not OP here.) I am actually curious whether there is conventional wisdom on whether not clerking closes doors for someone who specifically wants to go Biglaw lit --> fed gov lit. G.T.L. Rev., any thoughts?

I don't plan to clerk between school and going to the firm, but would certainly consider working in private practice for 2-4 years, leaving to clerk, and then either coming back to a firm for a while or transitioning directly into the government post-clerkship. Is this a common/credible path?


Not GTL Rev, but you can look at attorney bios on firm pages and see a number of people who have taken this path. I don't know any reason why clerking would close a door, especially in litigation related jobs.

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rayiner
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby rayiner » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:40 pm

angrybird wrote:yea, i've always wondered why people who didn't clerk never rave about how useful their clerkship was

concurrent fork
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby concurrent fork » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:04 pm

TaipeiMort wrote:For lit NO. For large scale deals work in NYC (M&A and Capital Markets), NO. For IP work if Fed Circuit court, NO. For general corporate, Possibly. Smaller sized transactions work for a particular client type (eg. PE fund formation), YES.

This doesn't make any sense. Explain why clerking is valuable for M&A?

Snape
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby Snape » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:09 pm

its for kids not ready to work in the real world who want to follow a judge around all day and pretend like they are still in school...

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englawyer
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby englawyer » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:At my firm, there is no link between clerking and making partner. "


this is really the ultimate question. A start would be to compare the % of associates that have clerked to the % of partners that have clerked. if the later is significantly higher, that is at least some proof that clerking can affect your career in intangible ways (maybe a partner staffs you on some important case because you know the court/judge better or something and your career takes off).

of course, even if %partners is bigger, it could just be that the "best" lawyers tend to both make partner and to clerk, so it is not like the clerkship caused partnership.

so crank the data for us 8)

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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:27 pm

Snape wrote:its for kids not ready to work in the real world who want to follow a judge around all day and pretend like they are still in school...


Um, no. I worked for 5+ years before law school... I'm well aware of what it's like to work in the real world.

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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:29 pm

englawyer wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:At my firm, there is no link between clerking and making partner. "


this is really the ultimate question. A start would be to compare the % of associates that have clerked to the % of partners that have clerked. if the later is significantly higher, that is at least some proof that clerking can affect your career in intangible ways (maybe a partner staffs you on some important case because you know the court/judge better or something and your career takes off).

of course, even if %partners is bigger, it could just be that the "best" lawyers tend to both make partner and to clerk, so it is not like the clerkship caused partnership.

so crank the data for us 8)


If someone is debating whether to clerk based on likelihood of making partner, then that person shouldn't clerk. Clerking is more about the intangibles - creating a solid baseline for the rest of your career. If you're going to be practicing law for 40 years, why not take a year at the beginning to work with a judge?

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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:35 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Detrox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:(Not OP here.) I am actually curious whether there is conventional wisdom on whether not clerking closes doors for someone who specifically wants to go Biglaw lit --> fed gov lit. G.T.L. Rev., any thoughts?

I don't plan to clerk between school and going to the firm, but would certainly consider working in private practice for 2-4 years, leaving to clerk, and then either coming back to a firm for a while or transitioning directly into the government post-clerkship. Is this a common/credible path?


Not GTL Rev, but you can look at attorney bios on firm pages and see a number of people who have taken this path. I don't know any reason why clerking would close a door, especially in litigation related jobs.

Agreed. Clerking is actually a very common -- perhaps even employer-preferred - mode of lateraling from biglaw to government. A decent number of people clerk between biglaw stints, often using the clerkship as a break between firms or a means to change markets.

To be clear, though, one need not clerk to make those sorts of career changes successfully.

Quoted anon. Thanks for the responses. I worded my question weirdly and actually intended the opposite of what it sounded like. I actually mean this: Would not clerking prejudice someone who wants to go biglaw lit --> fed? I.e., is a clerkship required or highly recommended for someone who wants to do this or is it optional?

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quiver
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby quiver » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:And appellate clerkships seem almost exclusively for resume building. They make you a better writer - but that is about the extent of it.
Yeah because litigators never write anything so that skill is completely useless, good call.

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Detrox
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Re: clerking overvalued?

Postby Detrox » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:23 am

Anonymous User wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Detrox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:(Not OP here.) I am actually curious whether there is conventional wisdom on whether not clerking closes doors for someone who specifically wants to go Biglaw lit --> fed gov lit. G.T.L. Rev., any thoughts?

I don't plan to clerk between school and going to the firm, but would certainly consider working in private practice for 2-4 years, leaving to clerk, and then either coming back to a firm for a while or transitioning directly into the government post-clerkship. Is this a common/credible path?


Not GTL Rev, but you can look at attorney bios on firm pages and see a number of people who have taken this path. I don't know any reason why clerking would close a door, especially in litigation related jobs.

Agreed. Clerking is actually a very common -- perhaps even employer-preferred - mode of lateraling from biglaw to government. A decent number of people clerk between biglaw stints, often using the clerkship as a break between firms or a means to change markets.

To be clear, though, one need not clerk to make those sorts of career changes successfully.

Quoted anon. Thanks for the responses. I worded my question weirdly and actually intended the opposite of what it sounded like. I actually mean this: Would not clerking prejudice someone who wants to go biglaw lit --> fed? I.e., is a clerkship required or highly recommended for someone who wants to do this or is it optional?


Same answer applies here. Check bios of attorneys in positions you are interested in. Again, I lack the expertise of most on these boards, but the answer seems to be a mix. Clerking definitely helps biglaw -> govt etc., but it doesn't seem to be a hard prerequisite. This answer will change depending on the prestigiousness/desirability of the position. Some firms (appellate boutiques for example) have a de facto clerking requirement. Experience in these firms is a great way to get into SG's office or things like that, but there are obviously plenty of biglaw lit firms that don't require clerking, seems to be the same for gov't positions. It just helps.




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