Advice for Judicial Internship

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Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 28, 2012 1:22 pm

I'm starting my judicial internship with a federal district court judge tomorrow in a geographic location where I'd like to work someday (preferably after graduation). I attend a strong regional school in a location that I'm no longer interested in, so I'm hoping to get at least a good recommendation from the judge for job prospects in the area.

Does anyone have any advice for the first day? What should I expect? How should I make the best impression that I can during this internship? I will be one of two interns working, and there will be at least one clerk. I'm usually a work horse at my jobs, and I expect this to be no different (arrive early, stay as late as they want me to, but never bite off more than I can chew). What are some good questions that I can ask on the first day/week?

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theavrock
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby theavrock » Mon May 28, 2012 1:27 pm

Interested in this as well

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 28, 2012 1:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm starting my judicial internship with a federal district court judge tomorrow in a geographic location where I'd like to work someday (preferably after graduation). I attend a strong regional school in a location that I'm no longer interested in, so I'm hoping to get at least a good recommendation from the judge for job prospects in the area.

Does anyone have any advice for the first day? What should I expect? How should I make the best impression that I can during this internship? I will be one of two interns working, and there will be at least one clerk. I'm usually a work horse at my jobs, and I expect this to be no different (arrive early, stay as late as they want me to, but never bite off more than I can chew). What are some good questions that I can ask on the first day/week?

You will not be asked to do much of anything. You'll probably be working directly for the clerks, not the judge.

So that would suck to not get face-time with the judge. Maybe you should just go into the judge's chambers and ask for direct assignments? i.e. treat you like a clerk?

That is what I plan on doing. Hey, it's high risk, but there's high reward.

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 28, 2012 2:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:You will not be asked to do much of anything. You'll probably be working directly for the clerks, not the judge.

So that would suck to not get face-time with the judge. Maybe you should just go into the judge's chambers and ask for direct assignments? i.e. treat you like a clerk?

That is what I plan on doing. Hey, it's high risk, but there's high reward.


District Court intern last summer. I am not sure if this is serious, but it is terrible advice. Bottom line is that it will vary greatly from chambers to chambers the work you will do. But you will be working for the clerks, and they will be your biggest advocates and mentors. The judge likely doesn't want to assign you anything directly (at least at first)-- you are a 1L, hired more to help out the clerks than anything. Also, the clerks probably won't be happy that you went over their head to get an assignment- so the next assignment they give you might be cleaning the library instead of writing an order. You don't want to disrupt chambers at all-- they hired you to make their lives easier, not to give you a free-pass to pick their brains all summer. But if you do what they say, you will learn a lot. I promise.

The only answer is to do great work on whatever you are assigned by the clerks. That will help you get more responsibility, and that will get back to the judge, believe me. The clerks are busy-- if they have a bench memo to write, and you have proven yourself competent, they have a strong incentive to assign it-- and this will likely come with an opportunity to discuss the case directly with the judge. But more than likely you will not be assigned a bench memo your first day. And if you go directly to the judge, I almost guarantee he will not assign you a bench memo on the first day.

BOTTOM LINE GOAL: I would go into the job with the goal of making the lives of the clerks easier. That is the biggest thing you can do, and more responsibility and face time with the judge will follow.

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 28, 2012 3:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:District Court intern last summer. I am not sure if this is serious, but it is terrible advice. Bottom line is that it will vary greatly from chambers to chambers the work you will do. But you will be working for the clerks, and they will be your biggest advocates and mentors. The judge likely doesn't want to assign you anything directly (at least at first)-- you are a 1L, hired more to help out the clerks than anything. Also, the clerks probably won't be happy that you went over their head to get an assignment- so the next assignment they give you might be cleaning the library instead of writing an order. You don't want to disrupt chambers at all-- they hired you to make their lives easier, not to give you a free-pass to pick their brains all summer. But if you do what they say, you will learn a lot. I promise.

The only answer is to do great work on whatever you are assigned by the clerks. That will help you get more responsibility, and that will get back to the judge, believe me. The clerks are busy-- if they have a bench memo to write, and you have proven yourself competent, they have a strong incentive to assign it-- and this will likely come with an opportunity to discuss the case directly with the judge. But more than likely you will not be assigned a bench memo your first day. And if you go directly to the judge, I almost guarantee he will not assign you a bench memo on the first day.

BOTTOM LINE GOAL: I would go into the job with the goal of making the lives of the clerks easier. That is the biggest thing you can do, and more responsibility and face time with the judge will follow.


OP here. Thanks for the advice. (Was definitely looking for people with prior experience to give advice.) Would you mind giving a break down of a typical day at work? What were your typical assignments? Percentage-wise, how much of the week was spent researching/writing? How much face time do you think you got with your judge overall?

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Judge Philip Banks
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Judge Philip Banks » Mon May 28, 2012 5:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You will not be asked to do much of anything. You'll probably be working directly for the clerks, not the judge.

So that would suck to not get face-time with the judge. Maybe you should just go into the judge's chambers and ask for direct assignments? i.e. treat you like a clerk?

That is what I plan on doing. Hey, it's high risk, but there's high reward.


District Court intern last summer. I am not sure if this is serious, but it is terrible advice. Bottom line is that it will vary greatly from chambers to chambers the work you will do. But you will be working for the clerks, and they will be your biggest advocates and mentors. The judge likely doesn't want to assign you anything directly (at least at first)-- you are a 1L, hired more to help out the clerks than anything. Also, the clerks probably won't be happy that you went over their head to get an assignment- so the next assignment they give you might be cleaning the library instead of writing an order. You don't want to disrupt chambers at all-- they hired you to make their lives easier, not to give you a free-pass to pick their brains all summer. But if you do what they say, you will learn a lot. I promise.

The only answer is to do great work on whatever you are assigned by the clerks. That will help you get more responsibility, and that will get back to the judge, believe me. The clerks are busy-- if they have a bench memo to write, and you have proven yourself competent, they have a strong incentive to assign it-- and this will likely come with an opportunity to discuss the case directly with the judge. But more than likely you will not be assigned a bench memo your first day. And if you go directly to the judge, I almost guarantee he will not assign you a bench memo on the first day.

BOTTOM LINE GOAL: I would go into the job with the goal of making the lives of the clerks easier. That is the biggest thing you can do, and more responsibility and face time with the judge will follow.

This sounds like solid advice, so thanks for sharing it. I start next week and will definitely keep this in mind.

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ilovesf
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby ilovesf » Mon May 28, 2012 5:19 pm

Good advice- thanks. People SAing this summer have their own thread, maybe we should make one where we share our experiences too.

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Renne Walker
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Renne Walker » Mon May 28, 2012 5:27 pm

I have a 1L friend who is a judicial intern and she loves it. She converses with the judge daily. She was just asked to give a written opinion on one of his suppressions. This judge has a reputation of waiting wanting to engage and help his interns. She has never mentioned anything about clerks, so I have no idea what that is about.
Last edited by Renne Walker on Mon May 28, 2012 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby ilovesf » Mon May 28, 2012 5:31 pm

Renne Walker wrote:I have a 1L friend who is a judicial intern and she loves it. She converses with the judge daily. She was just asked to give a written opinion on one of his suppressions. This judge has a reputation of waiting to engage and help his interns. She has never mentioned anything about clerks, so I have no idea what that is about.

What court is this?

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Renne Walker
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Renne Walker » Mon May 28, 2012 5:50 pm

ilovesf wrote:
Renne Walker wrote:I have a 1L friend who is a judicial intern and she loves it. She converses with the judge daily. She was just asked to give a written opinion on one of his suppressions. This judge has a reputation of waiting wanting to engage and help his interns. She has never mentioned anything about clerks, so I have no idea what that is about.

What court is this?

What I recall is limited. Criminal Court • Felonies but no murder cases. Pay comes from the school. That is all I recollect, other than she likes it a lot more than LS!
Last edited by Renne Walker on Mon May 28, 2012 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby $peppercorn » Mon May 28, 2012 6:10 pm

ilovesf wrote:Good advice- thanks. People SAing this summer have their own thread, maybe we should make one where we share our experiences too.

+1 for sharing experiences. I'm 1 week in to my State Supreme Court internship and just finished a bench brief.

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 28, 2012 6:33 pm

I'm a former extern, and current clerk.

Do not think you're going to walk into a judge's chambers as an extern and change how they dole out work. This would irritate everyone in the chambers and leave you with a terrible reputation among the judge's chambers. The best thing you can do is work hard within their system, be polite, and do great work. The current clerks most likely have stellar resumes, will probably be on their way to good legal careers, and can probably help you out in the future if you do good work for them. (To make sure there is no subtle-brag here, I'm an exception. My resume is not stellar).

As for a normal day: you'll do research and writing, probably assigned by a clerk. Perhaps a memo to the judge to tell him about the case. Perhaps a proposed order in a case. Perhaps a memo with legal research and a recomendation on one claim in a case. The memo/order/bench memo will be edited heavily by the clerks. Then it will go to the judge, who will probably edit it again. Maybe you'll get something into westlaw that's 80% your material.

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby jkech » Mon May 28, 2012 7:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote: The best thing you can do is work hard within their system, be polite, and do great work.


I'd echo this, with a few extra points...

1/ Just focus on taking whatever assignment they give you (whether its a draft opinion or just a section of a memo), completing it as best you can and doing as thorough of a job as you can. Ideally you don't want the judge or clerk to have to re-do or add too much to what you've done because of the huge amount of time it would take for them to get up to speed on the particular issue. Work hard and try to finish your first assignment as quickly as possible without sacrificing accuracy or thoroughness.

2/ If you're working on a draft opinion, go on Westlaw and read through some opinions by your judge. Get an idea of the writing style, the length of the opinions, the kinds of cases cited. You can often even find an opinion on the same topic that you are writing on and simply use that as a template. The writing of opinions is surprisingly formulaic, and you will save everyone in chambers a lot of time if you simply adhere to the chambers' formula from the start. If you're doing a summary judgement motion, chances are you can just pull the legal standard from one of the judge's previous opinions.

3/ Make your writing look professional. Proofread. Add the parties' names in the typical way they are captioned at the top of a legal document, don't just submit a document.

4/ Be polite to the Judicial Assistant and to the clerks. Unless the clerks (and you'll have to judge this yourself) are total losers/stick-in-the-muds, you can probably afford to show some personality around them. Be yourself and they will appreciate you as not just another law student running around with their head cut off, but as a person who they can relate to. If the Judicial Assistant has a fun personality, bring her some candy one day.

5/ It is a very real possibility that you will not see much of the judge and will work mostly with the clerks. If that's the case there's a couple of ways to maximize the way in which you interact with the judge. You can strategically plan when you come into chambers when you know the judge will be there and not very busy. Usually this is around the afternoon hours. Second, if the judge does settlement conferences, ask to sit in on one. Maybe he/she has a naturalization ceremony during the summer that you can observe. If he/she's on trial, watch some of it, and head back to chambers when its over. Maybe you will chat with the judge about it.

6/ That said, the best thing to do and your first priority is to do your work that they give you. Try to do as many assignments for them as you can during the summer. Don't ask too many questions if you can avoid it. If you really can't figure something out then ask, but otherwise try to figure it out.

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 28, 2012 10:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm starting my judicial internship with a federal district court judge tomorrow in a geographic location where I'd like to work someday (preferably after graduation). I attend a strong regional school in a location that I'm no longer interested in, so I'm hoping to get at least a good recommendation from the judge for job prospects in the area.


Not OP, but the above is entirely true for me as well. Excited and nervous. I feel... like I'll be doing a lot of learning on the fly. But I guess that's the point.

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 29, 2012 12:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:Anonymous User wrote:
I'm starting my judicial internship with a federal district court judge tomorrow in a geographic location where I'd like to work someday (preferably after graduation). I attend a strong regional school in a location that I'm no longer interested in, so I'm hoping to get at least a good recommendation from the judge for job prospects in the area.


Not OP, but the above is entirely true for me as well. Excited and nervous. I feel... like I'll be doing a lot of learning on the fly. But I guess that's the point.


OP here. What is your game plan for changing geographic locations? I'm going to focus on trying to get as much experience as I can (through clinics, externships, etc.) in my 2L and 3L years. I'm thinking about applying for state court clerkships or court attorney positions in the geographic location. Hopefully after establishing some strong ties in the region, I can begin to think about practicing in the area. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Is this pie in the sky?

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 29, 2012 1:01 am

Do what you are told, and do it well.

Treat everyone--EVERYONE--you interact with in any way with the utmost respect. Not only is this generally a good idea in life, but in a work environment, it's critical. Your judge may be best friends with the janitor for all you know. Relatedly, try to get to know as many people as you can for the same reasons and for the added fact that they may be willing and able to help you out in the future.

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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby tedalbany » Tue May 29, 2012 1:42 am

Is anyone else really nervous about the possibility of being completely incompetent? I don't feel ready to write memos/orders/etc.

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dood
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby dood » Tue May 29, 2012 1:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm starting my judicial internship with a federal district court judge tomorrow in a geographic location where I'd like to work someday (preferably after graduation). I attend a strong regional school in a location that I'm no longer interested in, so I'm hoping to get at least a good recommendation from the judge for job prospects in the area.

Does anyone have any advice for the first day? What should I expect? How should I make the best impression that I can during this internship? I will be one of two interns working, and there will be at least one clerk. I'm usually a work horse at my jobs, and I expect this to be no different (arrive early, stay as late as they want me to, but never bite off more than I can chew). What are some good questions that I can ask on the first day/week?

You will not be asked to do much of anything. You'll probably be working directly for the clerks, not the judge.

So that would suck to not get face-time with the judge. Maybe you should just go into the judge's chambers and ask for direct assignments? i.e. treat you like a clerk?

That is what I plan on doing. Hey, it's high risk, but there's high reward.


LOL TERRIBLE IDEA GUNNER.

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dood
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby dood » Tue May 29, 2012 1:47 am

tedalbany wrote:Is anyone else really nervous about the possibility of being completely incompetent? I don't feel ready to write memos/orders/etc.


u are incompetent.

1) dont be an ass and just admit u are.

2) u must learn quick and have a positive attitude (willing to learn)

3) mistakes are 100% OK, just dont make them 2x.

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theavrock
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby theavrock » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:16 pm

bump

How is everyone doing out there?

I'm really enjoying myself so far. I've had a good mix of court and working on cases.

Curious how other's summer in chambers are going to date.

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ilovesf
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby ilovesf » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:34 pm

theavrock wrote:bump

How is everyone doing out there?

I'm really enjoying myself so far. I've had a good mix of court and working on cases.

Curious how other's summer in chambers are going to date.

I really like it so far, it's been the perfect summer experience. I'm only one week in, so my opinion could definitely change. My chambers are super nice and friendly, I really like everyone. I heard from a lot of people that you almost never get face time with your judge, but I casually chat with mine almost daily and we meet on Fridays briefly to go over some things after the case management conferences. This week I've been doing mostly research about a weird mix of things. I researched my own case and now I'm starting to write the order for it. I'm kind of scared of that. My office mates work for another judge and are stressed out ALL the time, so I think maybe I'm quite lucky in that regard... or they are really unlucky, not sure which one.

vegeta
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby vegeta » Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:49 am

Take it easy. Stop trying so hard to get close with the judge. Just do your work, write well, put out good work product, and the trust and relationship will eventually be there. That's how it was at my chambers. Of course, each chambers varies.

P.S. Don't do any awkward gunning or make yourself look awkward or weird. Just be okay with going with the flow and it'll be okay. It's not that bad, trust me.

vegeta
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby vegeta » Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You will not be asked to do much of anything. You'll probably be working directly for the clerks, not the judge.

So that would suck to not get face-time with the judge. Maybe you should just go into the judge's chambers and ask for direct assignments? i.e. treat you like a clerk?

That is what I plan on doing. Hey, it's high risk, but there's high reward.


District Court intern last summer. I am not sure if this is serious, but it is terrible advice. Bottom line is that it will vary greatly from chambers to chambers the work you will do. But you will be working for the clerks, and they will be your biggest advocates and mentors. The judge likely doesn't want to assign you anything directly (at least at first)-- you are a 1L, hired more to help out the clerks than anything. Also, the clerks probably won't be happy that you went over their head to get an assignment- so the next assignment they give you might be cleaning the library instead of writing an order. You don't want to disrupt chambers at all-- they hired you to make their lives easier, not to give you a free-pass to pick their brains all summer. But if you do what they say, you will learn a lot. I promise.

The only answer is to do great work on whatever you are assigned by the clerks. That will help you get more responsibility, and that will get back to the judge, believe me. The clerks are busy-- if they have a bench memo to write, and you have proven yourself competent, they have a strong incentive to assign it-- and this will likely come with an opportunity to discuss the case directly with the judge. But more than likely you will not be assigned a bench memo your first day. And if you go directly to the judge, I almost guarantee he will not assign you a bench memo on the first day.

BOTTOM LINE GOAL: I would go into the job with the goal of making the lives of the clerks easier. That is the biggest thing you can do, and more responsibility and face time with the judge will follow.


Agreed.

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DMBFan
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby DMBFan » Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:12 am

I just finished my third week. The advice given above is really solid. I think as long as you respect the clerks and try to help them to the best of your abilities, you will be fine. Although I may be lucky because the judge and clerks I work for are very friendly and anxious to teach us things. They also lined up some tours and speakers for us.

Don't go in thinking only about what you will be getting out of it. Also, don't be a hardcore gunner or act like you know everything. Just act like a normal person.

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ilovesf
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Re: Advice for Judicial Internship

Postby ilovesf » Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:15 am

DMBFan wrote:I just finished my third week. The advice given above is really solid. I think as long as you respect the clerks and try to help them to the best of your abilities, you will be fine. Although I may be lucky because the judge and clerks I work for are very friendly and anxious to teach us things. They also lined up some tours and speakers for us.

Don't go in thinking only about what you will be getting out of it. Also, don't be a hardcore gunner or act like you know everything. Just act like a normal person.

Yeah the speakers thing is pretty cool. One of my clerks signed me up for a tour of the ninth circuit and a viewing of oral arguments, I feel pretty nerdy that I'm excited for it.




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