COA clerk taking questions

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Anonymous User
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any way for top quarter at HYS to stand out and get a second look? Does it take LR e-board, or a solid call, or ties to the area, or what?

Trying to make the best of the hand I've dealt myself. Thanks!


Unless you are top 1-2% (i.e., single digit rank) somewhere, you should be doing all the above to stand out. Most people who get COA clerkships (and certain district court clerkships) do so because they had one or more of the above.

LawClerk1234
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby LawClerk1234 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:36 pm

LR certainly would help a lot. LR Board, not so much, unless you are EIC. And even that will only get you a small boost.

At HYS, I think you'd be competitive if you're in the top 1/4. Like I said earlier, it's really hard to even tell what the grades mean at HYS, so they're less important than at the lower T14.

Bottom line: LR and an enthusiastic call from a professor could get your application in front of most non-feeder COA judges.

Anonymous User wrote:Any way for top quarter at HYS to stand out and get a second look? Does it take LR e-board, or a solid call, or ties to the area, or what?

Trying to make the best of the hand I've dealt myself. Thanks!

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:26 am

How often do parties not cite binding circuit authority in their briefs, and how much independent research, i.e. beyond cases cited by the parties and the district court below, does the job entail?

LawClerk1234
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby LawClerk1234 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:43 am

There are ususally some non-binding cases in briefs. Sometimes, the lawyers just cite them to support the law in our circuit: "In addition to this circuit, five other circuits have adopted this rule." Other times, our circuit has never addressed the question, so there is really no choice but to cite other courts.

I do my own Westlaw searches for every bench memo/opinion, and more than half the time I find cases that were not in the briefs.

Anonymous User wrote:How often do parties not cite binding circuit authority in their briefs, and how much independent research, i.e. beyond cases cited by the parties and the district court below, does the job entail?

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:56 am

How helpful do you think having done a district court clerkship beforehand would have been? How long did it take you to start feeling comfortable with how things work and to top the learning curve?

LawClerk1234
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby LawClerk1234 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:02 am

I don't think that a D Ct clerkship would have been very helpful for my COA clerkship. We deal with pretty well-defined issues, and most of the job involves research and writing. But I think that a district clerkship would have been far better experience for actually litigating. I've gotten absolutely no exposure to discovery or motions practice (other than appeals of SJ and 12b6 motions).

I was comfortable within a few weeks.

Anonymous User wrote:How helpful do you think having done a district court clerkship beforehand would have been? How long did it take you to start feeling comfortable with how things work and to top the learning curve?

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:12 am

I think a district court clerkship would be helpful prior to a circuit clerkship and vice versa. I'm a current district court clerk and the bulk of my job is also research and writing. We just do extra stuff on top of drafting opinions that the circuit clerks don't do (i.e., preparing the judge for courtroom proceedings, taking notes during proceedings, dealing with letters that come in from parties). When my judge sat by designation on a circuit panel, there was essentially no difference between the type of research and writing I did for the circuit court and the type of research and writing I do for the district court (well, there were minor differences, like standards of review, but basically the same).

This is not to knock circuit clerkships (I actually have a circuit clerkship lined up for later, and I'm sure it will be great), but just to dispel a common misconception about district clerkships, which is that a district court clerk does fundamentally different work re: research and writing. We don't.

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby anon168 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:50 am

Anonymous User wrote:I think a district court clerkship would be helpful prior to a circuit clerkship and vice versa. I'm a current district court clerk and the bulk of my job is also research and writing. We just do extra stuff on top of drafting opinions that the circuit clerks don't do (i.e., preparing the judge for courtroom proceedings, taking notes during proceedings, dealing with letters that come in from parties). When my judge sat by designation on a circuit panel, there was essentially no difference between the type of research and writing I did for the circuit court and the type of research and writing I do for the district court (well, there were minor differences, like standards of review, but basically the same).

This is not to knock circuit clerkships (I actually have a circuit clerkship lined up for later, and I'm sure it will be great), but just to dispel a common misconception about district clerkships, which is that a district court clerk does fundamentally different work re: research and writing. We don't.


I have to disagree.

While both DCt and COA clerks research and write, the type of work and the day-in and day-out duties vary dramatically, at least in my experience.

In my DCt clerkship, we drafted bench memo, orders, OSCs, and opinions. We also sat in during trials and researched evidentiary issues or other issues that may come up at trial. TROs/PIs were also something that I never did as a COA clerk. (My clerkship was pre-Booker, so no real sentencing issues to speak of)

At COA level, it was purely research and writing -- panel memos and opinions. It was like being a research librarian; whereas it was much more dynamic at the DCt. And when our judge was not sitting on a panel, we basically had nothing to do except work on publishing our articles.

Both were great experiences, but very different in my opinion.

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:01 am

anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I think a district court clerkship would be helpful prior to a circuit clerkship and vice versa. I'm a current district court clerk and the bulk of my job is also research and writing. We just do extra stuff on top of drafting opinions that the circuit clerks don't do (i.e., preparing the judge for courtroom proceedings, taking notes during proceedings, dealing with letters that come in from parties). When my judge sat by designation on a circuit panel, there was essentially no difference between the type of research and writing I did for the circuit court and the type of research and writing I do for the district court (well, there were minor differences, like standards of review, but basically the same).

This is not to knock circuit clerkships (I actually have a circuit clerkship lined up for later, and I'm sure it will be great), but just to dispel a common misconception about district clerkships, which is that a district court clerk does fundamentally different work re: research and writing. We don't.


I have to disagree.

While both DCt and COA clerks research and write, the type of work and the day-in and day-out duties vary dramatically, at least in my experience.

In my DCt clerkship, we drafted bench memo, orders, OSCs, and opinions. We also sat in during trials and researched evidentiary issues or other issues that may come up at trial. TROs/PIs were also something that I never did as a COA clerk. (My clerkship was pre-Booker, so no real sentencing issues to speak of)

At COA level, it was purely research and writing -- panel memos and opinions. It was like being a research librarian; whereas it was much more dynamic at the DCt. And when our judge was not sitting on a panel, we basically had nothing to do except work on publishing our articles.

Both were great experiences, but very different in my opinion.


What drives this disagreement is that CoA clerkships are much more similar across the board, and district clerkships are much more diverse. Some district judges use their clerks for everything, so clerks will write orders, meet with / call parties, produce quick responses to trial issues, etc. AND write SJ and 12b6 type motions. Other judges figure its much easier for them to do all/the vast majority of the orders and small stuff, and leave their clerks to deal primarily with case-dispositive motions. It's just a difference in judges preferences, with one being more like a circuit court clerkship.

My clerkship is/was closer to the latter, but you still see the motions coming in and out, the orders, the pre-trial issues, etc. that are very helpful for learning to litigate.

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:16 am

I'm the district court clerk above. I actually don't think we're disagreeing. I definitely agree that district court clerks and circuit clerks do very different things. District clerkships are certainly more dynamic. My comment was in response to a question asking whether a district court clerkship would be helpful experience for a later circuit clerkship. Another poster said, no, on the circuit court we mainly do research and writing. My point was that district court clerks also primarily research and draft opinions (or orders, memos). The fundamental research and writing skills you develop as a district court clerk are very similar to the research and writing skills you develop as a circuit clerk. I read the briefing, go over the exhibits, go over the record (at least for summary judgment motions), then I do a bunch of research, talk with the judge, and draft an opinion. For complicated motions, this process can take weeks and the end product can be a lengthy opinion. I also write shorter orders and memos, but circuit clerks also sometimes write short orders and memos (e.g., many uncomplicated cases on the Second Circuit are disposed of by summary orders that are usually a paragraph long).

No argument from me that the day-to-day life of a district clerk is different from that of a circuit clerk. But would the research and writing skills you develop as a district clerk be helpful to a later circuit clerkship? The answer (to me) is obviously yes.

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:50 am

As a USDC clerk starting in precisely one month, I just want to say thanks to the last few posters. This has been hugely informative.

Any other tips for an imminent clerk? Also, how long before you can ask your judge for a COA rec/calls? I'm figuring March 2013 or so for a two-year clerkship starting in August 2012 [edited to correct the dates, which otherwise wouldn't have made sense].

LawClerk1234
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby LawClerk1234 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:59 pm

Within two months of your clerkship, you should feel comfortable asking your district judge for a COA reference. COA judges are hiring earlier and earlier, so it's best to do this ASAP. I know of a few judges who are already hiring for 2015-16.

Anonymous User wrote:As a USDC clerk starting in precisely one month, I just want to say thanks to the last few posters. This has been hugely informative.

Any other tips for an imminent clerk? Also, how long before you can ask your judge for a COA rec/calls? I'm figuring March 2013 or so for a two-year clerkship starting in August 2012 [edited to correct the dates, which otherwise wouldn't have made sense].

Anonymous User
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:40 pm

Have an OCI-type interview with a COA staff attorney's office. What do they look for? What should I do to prepare? Anything you would advise?

LawClerk1234
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby LawClerk1234 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:52 pm

Sorry, I never really spoke with our staff attorneys about how they landed their jobs. Many of them clerked for judges on our court, so they got in that way.

Anonymous User wrote:Have an OCI-type interview with a COA staff attorney's office. What do they look for? What should I do to prepare? Anything you would advise?

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby TLSNYC » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:06 pm

I'm more interested in a district court clerkship, although I imagine the answer to my question won't differ depending upon the type of clerkship: I'm wondering how much of a hit it will be to take only 6 graded classes 2L year? I'll be taking a 1 pass/fail + extracirs which give credits each semester as well. Would it look like I went for too light a year when applying?

The classes are by no means fluffy, i.e. taking fed courts. I'm aiming for 3 graded each semester to do my best to get a solid GPA and to cultivate relationships with professors. Thanks for taking questions!

LawClerk1234
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby LawClerk1234 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:12 pm

This won't be a problem. Especially with all the HYS students applying without any real grades, judges can't care much about this. Besides, your 1L grades matter a lot more than 2L and 3L (as long as you don't have a C or lower).

TLSNYC wrote:I'm more interested in a district court clerkship, although I imagine the answer to my question won't differ depending upon the type of clerkship: I'm wondering how much of a hit it will be to take only 6 graded classes 2L year? I'll be taking a 1 pass/fail + extracirs which give credits each semester as well. Would it look like I went for too light a year when applying?

The classes are by no means fluffy, i.e. taking fed courts. I'm aiming for 3 graded each semester to do my best to get a solid GPA and to cultivate relationships with professors. Thanks for taking questions!

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Postby Myself » Sun Jul 15, 2012 1:27 am

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Last edited by Myself on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby PinkCow » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:18 am

What do you think gives a better shot at COA:

1. Cornell Top 5% + LR + professor contacts
2. Cornell-->Harvard Transfer + ?

LawClerk1234
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby LawClerk1234 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:04 am

Definitely student 1. There are a few judges who will only consider students from Harvard and Yale, but they also require law review and strong professor references.

PinkCow wrote:What do you think gives a better shot at COA:

1. Cornell Top 5% + LR + professor contacts
2. Cornell-->Harvard Transfer + ?

LawClerk1234
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby LawClerk1234 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:05 am

Correct. 1L classes are fairly standard across schools. 2L grades are random because some students avoid curved classes and take things like "Philosophy of Law."

ajax adonis wrote:
LawClerk1234 wrote:This won't be a problem. Especially with all the HYS students applying without any real grades, judges can't care much about this. Besides, your 1L grades matter a lot more than 2L and 3L (as long as you don't have a C or lower).

TLSNYC wrote:I'm more interested in a district court clerkship, although I imagine the answer to my question won't differ depending upon the type of clerkship: I'm wondering how much of a hit it will be to take only 6 graded classes 2L year? I'll be taking a 1 pass/fail + extracirs which give credits each semester as well. Would it look like I went for too light a year when applying?

The classes are by no means fluffy, i.e. taking fed courts. I'm aiming for 3 graded each semester to do my best to get a solid GPA and to cultivate relationships with professors. Thanks for taking questions!


Does that mean judges value 1L grades more than that of 2L?

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:27 am

Have you had a chance to get to know clerks from other chambers in your building, or is your existence fairly insular outside of attending oral argument?

LawClerk1234
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby LawClerk1234 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:32 am

I've gotten to know most of them. Most are great. A few are terrible.

Anonymous User wrote:Have you had a chance to get to know clerks from other chambers in your building, or is your existence fairly insular outside of attending oral argument?

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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:47 am

Random general clerkship question:

Some state and a few off plan fed judges ask for an official law school transcript. If I am a transfer student, should I also e-mail a grade sheet of how I did on my 1L classes from my past school? Does it look weird If I send a sheet that only has 2 semesters of classes with grades?

One specifically asks for an official ts with 4 semester of grades -which I don't have. Should I just add a page with an unofficial transcript from my first school?

Thanks

LawClerk1234
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby LawClerk1234 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:23 am

Why can't you get an official transcript from your first law school? Grade sheet probably is fine, but who knows how rigid the judge is.

Anonymous User wrote:Random general clerkship question:

Some state and a few off plan fed judges ask for an official law school transcript. If I am a transfer student, should I also e-mail a grade sheet of how I did on my 1L classes from my past school? Does it look weird If I send a sheet that only has 2 semesters of classes with grades?

One specifically asks for an official ts with 4 semester of grades -which I don't have. Should I just add a page with an unofficial transcript from my first school?

Thanks

Anonymous User
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Re: COA clerk taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:31 am

LawClerk1234 wrote:I've gotten to know most of them. Most are great. A few are terrible.


How so? In terms of personality, as clerks, or both?

Also, if you can say so without outing yourself or your location, how have you been able to get to know them? Are there organized events/happy hours for clerks?




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