Rank These Clerkships

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Clerk
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Rank These Clerkships

Postby Clerk » Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:49 pm

I've been lurking for a while and it seems people here really know their stuff about clerkships. Please rank these clerkships in order of prestige first for someone who will have spent two years in top 20 big law (preceded by one year clerking in flyover country right after law school) and is aiming for (A) east coast top 20 big law post-clerkship, (B) east coast AUSA post-clerkship, or (C) academia:

1. 4th Circuit
2. 5th Circuit
3. 3rd Circuit
4. SDNY
5. EDNY
6. EDPA
7. D.D.C.

Three separate sets of rankings for each career aspiration would be most helpful. Do the rankings change depending on career aspiration or are some clerkships just overwhelmingly better than others regardless of career aspiration? Thanks in advance.

EDIT: I've already done a district court clerkship, but it wasn't as well-respected as DDC, SDNY, EDNY etc and wasn't on the east coast (where I want to practice). I have a chance to do a second district court clerkship on th east coast or a court of appeals clerkship.

EDIT2: I know any clerkship is an honor. I am duly honored.
Last edited by Clerk on Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:59 am, edited 2 times in total.

JusticeJackson
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby JusticeJackson » Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:56 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:06 pm

JusticeJackson wrote:I think a clerkship pays the most dividends if it's in the market you plan to practice in. I don't know anything about academia. They're all great clerkships, and they will all open doors. I'd do the one you think will be most fulfilling.
So, someone who plans to practice in Ohio should take a district clerkship there over a 2nd Cir clerkship? What are the limitations of the idea that one in the market is always better than one outside it?

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quiver
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby quiver » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:10 pm

vanwinkle wrote:ITE, this is how you rank federal clerkships:

1) The one you can get

Clerk
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Clerk » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:14 pm

quiver wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:ITE, this is how you rank federal clerkships:

1) The one you can get
LMAO. I have an interview coming up w/ one of the courts on that list and have very good connections w/ another two of the courts, hence why the list is so short.

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby JusticeJackson » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:18 pm

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JusticeJackson
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby JusticeJackson » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:22 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Clerk
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Clerk » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:26 pm

JusticeJackson wrote:
Clerk wrote:
quiver wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:ITE, this is how you rank federal clerkships:

1) The one you can get
LMAO. I have an interview coming up w/ one of the courts on that list and have very good connections w/ another two of the courts, hence why the list is so short.


Congrats man. I really don't think you can go wrong. Another thing you could do is cold call the place you want to work and ask. I asked the head of the white collar division of my local USAO what he thought about my clerkship opportunities. I framed it more in terms of "what can I do now to get my foot in the door with you," but we mainly talked about clerkships and other things I could do to angle into there.
Thank you. I'm psyched. Did you know this guy at all before you called him? The idea sounds like a great one and I'd love to pick the brain of who I hope is my future employer, but what's to stop him from banging the phone on my ear or asking who I am so he can blacklist me for my audacity?

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:37 pm

Clerk wrote:I've been lurking for a while and it seems people here really know their stuff about clerkships. Please rank these clerkships in order of prestige first for someone who will have spent three years in top 20 big law before the clerkship and is aiming for (A) return to east coast top 20 big law post-clerkship, (B) someone aiming for east coast AUSA post-clerkship, or (C) someone aiming for academia:

1. 4th Circuit
2. 5th Circuit
3. 3rd Circuit
4. SDNY
5. EDNY
6. EDPA
7. D.D.C.

Three separate sets of rankings for each career aspiration would be most helpful. Do the rankings change depending on career aspiration or are some clerkships just overwhelmingly better than others regardless of career aspiration? Thanks in advance.


For big law - any the district courts, followed by any of the circuits.

For USAO - whichever district the USAO you're going to targets sits within. Otherwise, whichever COA the USAO you are going to target sits within.

For Academia - any of the COA's.

More important point - "circuit prestige" (if it even exists in the real world) is far less important than the quality of the judge. There are judges in the 5th that I would take over 90% of the judges in the 3d or 4th. It's far more important to have a good boss than be in a particular circuit. Plus, from an academia standpoint quality of the judge is far more important, e.g. there are a couple judges in the 5th who have a long track record of producing excellent academics.

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Wellsfargowagon
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Wellsfargowagon » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:37 pm

OP, you're asking the wrong question in a lot of respects. Put simply, ignore "prestige" unless you want to spend your career maximizing your ability to flatter yourself at cocktail parties. Your reference to "top 20 biglaw" (whatever that means) makes you sound like that kind of person; if that's the case, then take whatever appellate clerkship you get, stop reading, and enjoy a lifetime of striving.

Otherwise--assuming you care about more than bragging rights--what matters in a clerkship is how the experience will benefit you, both in terms of your professional development and of signaling to subsequent employers. Your "ranking" request completely misunderstands this. For example, the whole concept of "circuit prestige," like the concept of "Vault prestige," is an invention of insecure law students. No one who matters thinks that way. That's because the degree to which a clerkship is respected depends almost entirely on the particular judge, not the court. Also, other posters are right that there are many reasons why you might prefer to clerk for a district judge in Philly over a circuit judge in Roanoke. Maybe you want a faster pace and aren't interested in appellate work. Maybe you anticipate practicing in Philly and want more of a ground-level view of litigation there. Point being, ask yourself how the particular clerkship will serve you rather than how "prestigious" it is.

Having said that, it's true that because appellate clerkships are more competitive, having one under your belt sends a signal that 1) your credentials were sufficient to land you a highly coveted position and 2) you got experience with a very bright judge working on complex and/or novel legal issues. For that reason, an appellate clerkship has become a de facto requirement for many AUSA positions and most academic positions--it signals to others that you're smart and got unique, valuable experience, maybe even more so if you end up clerking for a particularly respected judge. But again, it all depends on what you want out of a clerkship.

And in the end, for the most part, the judge chooses you, not the other way around.

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rayiner
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby rayiner » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:44 pm

While the above is TCR, there is one reason besides signaling to give a little extra weight to the most competitive judges. The former clerks of those judges are more likely to have come in with higher academic qualifications, and more likely to exit into places that put a lot of weight on those qualifications.

E.g. if your goal is to work in a D.C. lit boutique, it would be better to take a D.C. Circuit clerkship than an E.D. Va, even if you're uninterested in appellate work. Having a ground level view of litigation is great, but being able to call up someone at the firm you want to work and say "hey I noticed you are a former clerk of judge X, would you mind getting coffee?" is better.

Maximizing your opportunities in any profession is just as much a function of the company you keep as how good you are at your job. It's important not to forget that and focus entirely on getting the "best experience."

JusticeJackson
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby JusticeJackson » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:48 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Clerk
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Clerk » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Clerk wrote:I've been lurking for a while and it seems people here really know their stuff about clerkships. Please rank these clerkships in order of prestige first for someone who will have spent three years in top 20 big law before the clerkship and is aiming for (A) return to east coast top 20 big law post-clerkship, (B) someone aiming for east coast AUSA post-clerkship, or (C) someone aiming for academia:

1. 4th Circuit
2. 5th Circuit
3. 3rd Circuit
4. SDNY
5. EDNY
6. EDPA
7. D.D.C.

Three separate sets of rankings for each career aspiration would be most helpful. Do the rankings change depending on career aspiration or are some clerkships just overwhelmingly better than others regardless of career aspiration? Thanks in advance.


For big law - any the district courts, followed by any of the circuits.

For USAO - whichever district the USAO you're going to targets sits within. Otherwise, whichever COA the USAO you are going to target sits within.

For Academia - any of the COA's.

More important point - "circuit prestige" (if it even exists in the real world) is far less important than the quality of the judge. There are judges in the 5th that I would take over 90% of the judges in the 3d or 4th. It's far more important to have a good boss than be in a particular circuit. Plus, from an academia standpoint quality of the judge is far more important, e.g. there are a couple judges in the 5th who have a long track record of producing excellent academics.
Which judges in the 5th circuit do you think are good?

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:45 pm

rayiner wrote:While the above is TCR, there is one reason besides signaling to give a little extra weight to the most competitive judges. The former clerks of those judges are more likely to have come in with higher academic qualifications, and more likely to exit into places that put a lot of weight on those qualifications.

E.g. if your goal is to work in a D.C. lit boutique, it would be better to take a D.C. Circuit clerkship than an E.D. Va, even if you're uninterested in appellate work. Having a ground level view of litigation is great, but being able to call up someone at the firm you want to work and say "hey I noticed you are a former clerk of judge X, would you mind getting coffee?" is better.

Maximizing your opportunities in any profession is just as much a function of the company you keep as how good you are at your job. It's important not to forget that and focus entirely on getting the "best experience."


Though, tbf, EDVA is a uniquely useful clerkship for a DC lit boutique. After all, it is the rocket docket, it does have a good patent docket, and requires special expertise (I have heard of some major DC firms that have used the fact that they have former EDVA clerks as a selling point for rocket docket litigation).

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby rayiner » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Though, tbf, EDVA is a uniquely useful clerkship for a DC lit boutique. After all, it is the rocket docket, it does have a good patent docket, and requires special expertise (I have heard of some major DC firms that have used the fact that they have former EDVA clerks as a selling point for rocket docket litigation).


E.D. Va is a really great clerkship, and yet you should still probably take D.C. Circuit if it's an either-or situation.

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:37 pm

Clerk wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Clerk wrote:I've been lurking for a while and it seems people here really know their stuff about clerkships. Please rank these clerkships in order of prestige first for someone who will have spent three years in top 20 big law before the clerkship and is aiming for (A) return to east coast top 20 big law post-clerkship, (B) someone aiming for east coast AUSA post-clerkship, or (C) someone aiming for academia:

1. 4th Circuit
2. 5th Circuit
3. 3rd Circuit
4. SDNY
5. EDNY
6. EDPA
7. D.D.C.

Three separate sets of rankings for each career aspiration would be most helpful. Do the rankings change depending on career aspiration or are some clerkships just overwhelmingly better than others regardless of career aspiration? Thanks in advance.


For big law - any the district courts, followed by any of the circuits.

For USAO - whichever district the USAO you're going to targets sits within. Otherwise, whichever COA the USAO you are going to target sits within.

For Academia - any of the COA's.

More important point - "circuit prestige" (if it even exists in the real world) is far less important than the quality of the judge. There are judges in the 5th that I would take over 90% of the judges in the 3d or 4th. It's far more important to have a good boss than be in a particular circuit. Plus, from an academia standpoint quality of the judge is far more important, e.g. there are a couple judges in the 5th who have a long track record of producing excellent academics.
Which judges in the 5th circuit do you think are good?


From the standpoint of good bosses and from the standpoint of producing good academics: Judge Smith and Judge Higginbotham. Both were feeders during the Rehnquist and have an impressive set of alumni.

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buckilaw
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby buckilaw » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:54 pm

JusticeJackson wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
JusticeJackson wrote:I think a clerkship pays the most dividends if it's in the market you plan to practice in. I don't know anything about academia. They're all great clerkships, and they will all open doors. I'd do the one you think will be most fulfilling.
So, someone who plans to practice in Ohio should take a district clerkship there over a 2nd Cir clerkship? What are the limitations of the idea that one in the market is always better than one outside it?


There’s plusses and minuses to every job. If you do a Second Circuit clerkship, you’re certain to see very interesting cases, and that clerkship will be respected by pretty much every legal employer in the country. In my experience, the firms and USAO in the secondary market I grew up in would be impressed with the Second Circuit, but at least as impressed with a D. Ct. clerkship with a local judge that actually decides the cases they work on. If you’re competitive for the 2d Circuit, you’d certainly be competitive for any COA judge in Ohio.


Sutton...

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby JusticeJackson » Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:07 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

anon168
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby anon168 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Clerk wrote:I've been lurking for a while and it seems people here really know their stuff about clerkships. Please rank these clerkships in order of prestige first for someone who will have spent three years in top 20 big law before the clerkship and is aiming for (A) return to east coast top 20 big law post-clerkship, (B) someone aiming for east coast AUSA post-clerkship, or (C) someone aiming for academia:

1. 4th Circuit
2. 5th Circuit
3. 3rd Circuit
4. SDNY
5. EDNY
6. EDPA
7. D.D.C.

Three separate sets of rankings for each career aspiration would be most helpful. Do the rankings change depending on career aspiration or are some clerkships just overwhelmingly better than others regardless of career aspiration? Thanks in advance.


For big law - any the district courts, followed by any of the circuits.

For USAO - whichever district the USAO you're going to targets sits within. Otherwise, whichever COA the USAO you are going to target sits within.

For Academia - any of the COA's.

More important point - "circuit prestige" (if it even exists in the real world) is far less important than the quality of the judge. There are judges in the 5th that I would take over 90% of the judges in the 3d or 4th. It's far more important to have a good boss than be in a particular circuit. Plus, from an academia standpoint quality of the judge is far more important, e.g. there are a couple judges in the 5th who have a long track record of producing excellent academics.


Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner.

Clerk
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Clerk » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Clerk wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Clerk wrote:I've been lurking for a while and it seems people here really know their stuff about clerkships. Please rank these clerkships in order of prestige first for someone who will have spent three years in top 20 big law before the clerkship and is aiming for (A) return to east coast top 20 big law post-clerkship, (B) someone aiming for east coast AUSA post-clerkship, or (C) someone aiming for academia:

1. 4th Circuit
2. 5th Circuit
3. 3rd Circuit
4. SDNY
5. EDNY
6. EDPA
7. D.D.C.

Three separate sets of rankings for each career aspiration would be most helpful. Do the rankings change depending on career aspiration or are some clerkships just overwhelmingly better than others regardless of career aspiration? Thanks in advance.


For big law - any the district courts, followed by any of the circuits.

For USAO - whichever district the USAO you're going to targets sits within. Otherwise, whichever COA the USAO you are going to target sits within.

For Academia - any of the COA's.

More important point - "circuit prestige" (if it even exists in the real world) is far less important than the quality of the judge. There are judges in the 5th that I would take over 90% of the judges in the 3d or 4th. It's far more important to have a good boss than be in a particular circuit. Plus, from an academia standpoint quality of the judge is far more important, e.g. there are a couple judges in the 5th who have a long track record of producing excellent academics.
Which judges in the 5th circuit do you think are good?


From the standpoint of good bosses and from the standpoint of producing good academics: Judge Smith and Judge Higginbotham. Both were feeders during the Rehnquist and have an impressive set of alumni.
This is helpful, but feeder status is irrelevant to me because I'm not aiming for SCOTUS. Are there any other 5th Circuit judges you would recommend or are those the only ones who matter? Are there any stand-out judges on the 3rd or 4th Circuit? I mean stand-out in the sense of being respected jurists and good bosses, not in the feeder sense.

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Clerk » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:30 am

Wellsfargowagon wrote:OP, you're asking the wrong question in a lot of respects. Put simply, ignore "prestige" unless you want to spend your career maximizing your ability to flatter yourself at cocktail parties. Your reference to "top 20 biglaw" (whatever that means) makes you sound like that kind of person; if that's the case, then take whatever appellate clerkship you get, stop reading, and enjoy a lifetime of striving.
Are you a practitioner or a law student? Prestige definitely matters in practice because it affects your hiring prospects, the respect accorded you in the firm setting, the weight given to your opinions, and the degree to which powerful people in the firm will seek to befriend you or ignore you.

Wellsfargowagon wrote:Your "ranking" request completely misunderstands this. For example, the whole concept of "circuit prestige," like the concept of "Vault prestige," is an invention of insecure law students. No one who matters thinks that way. That's because the degree to which a clerkship is respected depends almost entirely on the particular judge, not the court.
I beg to differ strongly on this one because frankly, splitting hairs on which obscure judge within which Circuit is better than another obscure judge is the domain of law students. Most firms know the most famous judges whose names are nationally admired (Posner, Easterbrook, and a few others) and the judges on the particular Circuit the firms are located in or practice in front of most often. The rest of the judges in the nation are obscure. So, I ask about Circuit prestige precisely because most practitioners know Circuits and Circuit reputations, not judges. The purpose of this thread is to conduct an informal poll in Circuit reputations.

Wellsfargowagon wrote:Having said that, it's true that because appellate clerkships are more competitive, having one under your belt sends a signal that 1) your credentials were sufficient to land you a highly coveted position and 2) you got experience with a very bright judge working on complex and/or novel legal issues. For that reason, an appellate clerkship has become a de facto requirement for many AUSA positions and most academic positions--it signals to others that you're smart and got unique, valuable experience, maybe even more so if you end up clerking for a particularly respected judge. But again, it all depends on what you want out of a clerkship.
This is helpful. Thank you.

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Clerk » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:36 am

JusticeJackson wrote:
Clerk wrote:Thank you. I'm psyched. Did you know this guy at all before you called him? The idea sounds like a great one and I'd love to pick the brain of who I hope is my future employer, but what's to stop him from banging the phone on my ear or asking who I am so he can blacklist me for my audacity?


My dad sorta knew him, so that was a little bit of an introduction, but they didn't really know each other well at all. At that time, they had briefly spoken about 10 times in the past 15 years. If you're eligible to clerk for a judge that decides their cases, they'll be nice. Even if you're not eligible to clerk, unless they're busy as hell, most attorneys will be willing to take a few minutes and help you out. I cold called a DOJ attorney that worked on a case I was writing a law review note on, and he was awesome. Talked to me for an hour. Before I figured out what I was going to do, I regularly called former clerks for the judge I clerked for. Finally, even if they're not nice, they'll hang up and forget you by the time you apply there.
What advice did the USAO white collar guy give you about clerkships? Did he specify if they prefer district clerkships in their jurisdiction versus Circuit clerkships elsewhere?

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:42 am

Clerk wrote:This is helpful, but feeder status is irrelevant to me because I'm not aiming for SCOTUS. Are there any other 5th Circuit judges you would recommend or are those the only ones who matter?


"Only ones who matter?" Are you kidding me? Matter for what? You're talking about circuit judges. They all matter. I know I'm being snarky here, but do be mindful during interviews that the mentality that informs questions like this may well result in your coming across as naive at best and condescending at worst.

Clerk wrote:Are there any stand-out judges on the 3rd or 4th Circuit? I mean stand-out in the sense of being respected jurists and good bosses, not in the feeder sense.


Hard to go wrong really. They're all respected, and whether a clerk would consider a judge to be a good boss depends significantly on whether they click personality-wise.

That said, I can comment specifically on a few judges. On the Fourth, Judge Wilkinson has a sterling reputation; he also happens to feed as many clerks to SCOTUS as just about any other judge out there. I have also heard great things about Judge Diaz. On the Third, Judge Scirica is particularly well-regarded. Same with Judge Chagares, whom I've also heard some great things about. Keep in mind that those judges (except Scirica) hire very far in advance.

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby rayiner » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:48 am

Prestige is important, but nobody will not have formed an opinion about 3 versus 4 versus 5. The need to precisely rank order things, instead of clumping things generally, is a peculiar obsession of TLS and USNWR. In reality nobody cares whether Michigan or Virginia is more prestigious, except people in those markets.

Between those three I would pick 3, because at least it has Philly. Aside from the one judge in Austin every other 5th Circuit judge sits in an undesirable city. My parents didn't brin me over from Bangladesh for me to drown in NOL. 4th Cir might be okay if you're talking Baltimore or Alexandria.

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Clerk » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Clerk wrote:This is helpful, but feeder status is irrelevant to me because I'm not aiming for SCOTUS. Are there any other 5th Circuit judges you would recommend or are those the only ones who matter?


"Only ones who matter?" Are you kidding me? Matter for what? You're talking about circuit judges. They all matter. I know I'm being snarky here, but do be mindful during interviews that the mentality that informs questions like this may well result in your coming across as naive at best and condescending at worst.
I am quite aware that all Circuit judges matter. The full exchange should have made it clear to you that the context of the question was a discussion about which of the 5th Circuit judges matter in the sense of being known as particularly good bosses and good judges, hence my follow-up question:
Clerk wrote:Are there any stand-out judges on the 3rd or 4th Circuit? I mean stand-out in the sense of being respected jurists and good bosses, not in the feeder sense.

Anonymous User wrote:That said, I can comment specifically on a few judges. On the Fourth, Judge Wilkinson has a sterling reputation; he also happens to feed as many clerks to SCOTUS as just about any other judge out there. I have also heard great things about Judge Diaz. On the Third, Judge Scirica is particularly well-regarded. Same with Judge Chagares, whom I've also heard some great things about. Keep in mind that those judges (except Scirica) hire very far in advance.
Helpful, thanks.




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