Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

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dbt
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Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby dbt » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:58 pm

What are the thoughts on taking some time off for vacation, etc. (like 3 months or so) after clerking for a year or two, but before returning to work for your firm long-term? I'm really wishing I'd taken time off between college and law school to do some major traveling, etc., and I don't think I'll ever have the chance to do more than a couple weeks at a time at least while I'm at a firm.

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Julio_El_Chavo
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Re: Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby Julio_El_Chavo » Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:22 pm

Sure man. Whatever.

johndhi
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Re: Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby johndhi » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:41 am

Sounds like a great idea. As long as they're cool with it I'd support it.

zomginternets
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Re: Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby zomginternets » Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:58 pm

Are you doing the clerkship right out of law school or are you a few years into practice? I would be hesitant to ask for that much time off before you ever even started at the firm as a full time associate. If you've already built up a few years of good will though, I think it would be fine.

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dbt
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Re: Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby dbt » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:22 pm

I'd have worked at the firm, but for only one year before clerking.

zomginternets
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Re: Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby zomginternets » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:38 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
zomginternets wrote:Are you doing the clerkship right out of law school or are you a few years into practice? I would be hesitant to ask for that much time off before you ever even started at the firm as a full time associate. If you've already built up a few years of good will though, I think it would be fine.

This is contrary to my understanding. Many firms, including I think the one OP is going to, allow clerks to pick from a wide range of start dates. It is quite common for incoming clerks to take several months off between their clerkship and their firm start date.


Ah, I stand corrected. I would've thought that would come off as lazy; I didn't realize it was normal practice.

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dbt
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Re: Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby dbt » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:28 pm

zomginternets wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
zomginternets wrote:Are you doing the clerkship right out of law school or are you a few years into practice? I would be hesitant to ask for that much time off before you ever even started at the firm as a full time associate. If you've already built up a few years of good will though, I think it would be fine.

This is contrary to my understanding. Many firms, including I think the one OP is going to, allow clerks to pick from a wide range of start dates. It is quite common for incoming clerks to take several months off between their clerkship and their firm start date.


Ah, I stand corrected. I would've thought that would come off as lazy; I didn't realize it was normal practice.


Haha that's what I thought too, but it seems fair in my opinion, especially if you're about to tie yourself down to a 3-4 year commitment where you can't really take off more than 1-2 weeks at a time (and only like 4 weeks a year).

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:29 pm

And alternatively, I'd definitely send out an informal feeler before requesting to take an extra couple months off after a clerkship if you're doing the work->clerk->work thing. Some firms (not all) are going to get a little put off if you say you need some extra downtime before returning. To them, that's what the clerkship IS -- a year or two of downtime while you still get a (smaller) paycheck, partnership service credit, and a nice $50k bonus. They're going to think that you're just going through the motions and are only coming back for a year to collect the bonus and a (larger) paycheck while you try to secure that USAO or academic job that you really want.

Not saying don't ask. Just talk to someone (mentor, original hiring partner, whomever you can vaguely trust) and make sure no one is going to get upset if you do.

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Re: Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:59 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote: They're going to think that you're just going through the motions and are only coming back for a year to collect the bonus and a (larger) paycheck while you try to secure that USAO or academic job that you really want.


Wow, that is exactly my plan (Not OP).

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Re: Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:32 am

Wow, that is exactly my plan (Not OP).


Yeah, and it's not like biglaw partners aren't going to have suspicions. Remember, they were associates too once upon a time, and probably had the same idea themselves. Of all of the reasons that you'd want to do the work->clerk->work track, the vast majority -- transition to academia or USAO, transition to a new market, trade up firms -- mean a parting of ways with your pre-clerkship firm. Indeed, based on my conversations last summer with the clerks I was interviewing with, I can think of maybe one that was going back to his original firm and professed to wanting to do so. The rest would only go back if they struck out in their first choice career paths.

(It's a totally different story for right-out-of-law-school clerkships.)

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Post-Clerkship taking a break before returning to firm?

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue May 01, 2012 11:28 am

Thing is, everything you say relates to whether someone should pursue the work --> clerk --> work path. Whether one should seek a delayed start date after having chosen that path is an entirely separate question.


I disagree with this. The big career concern about taking a clerkship break while at a firm is that the firm is going to get the vibe that you don't want to be there, and will just return/stay at the firm if you can't get your first choice job out of the clerkship. (This isn't a concern for straight-out-of-law-school clerkships.) You want to avoid doing anything that will exacerbate this suspicion. Asking to take an extended break (more than a month) after the clerkship before returning to the firm might do that. Again, it might not as well, so it probably makes sense to get the opinion of someone outside of the official chain-of-command. But this isn't a trivial concern.

it seems to me partners/firms actually think very, very little about people who have not started yet.


Yes, but a work-clerk-work person has started. And if/when they come back, they will likely do so as a fourth or fifth or even sixth year associate (the last assumes someone who does a two-year clerkship after three years at a firm). This is an entirely different scenario than a more-or-less fungible entry-level hire. Partnership decisions will be in a few years for the returning clerks, and since firms tend to like weeding out associates before they are up for it, the unofficial preliminary decisions are going to be made in the fifth and sixth and seventh years. You see the problem there -- groups are going to have to figure out whether they want to elevate the associates returning from the clerkships almost as soon as they walk back in the door, and oftentimes even before that. You can see why they might give a little more thought to the associates on clerkship leave than they do the incoming newbie associates. (And this says nothing of the fact that unlike entry-level hires, the work-clerk-work people have spent multiple years working with the groups, and that the groups are going to have to figure out how to replace that person's capacity while out.)




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