Rank These Clerkships

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Clerk
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Clerk » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:55 am

rayiner wrote: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.
LMAO! Fair enough.

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:15 am

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.


I would also be curious about any stand-out judges (as defined in the quoted post) on the 8th and 11th.

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Wellsfargowagon
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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Wellsfargowagon » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:26 am

Clerk wrote: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.


Practitioner. You missed the point of my comment, which is that "prestige" is a lazy metric. Be more precise. As best I can tell, you want a clerkship that maximizes your exit opportunities, especially since you don't have a particular practice location in mind beyond "east coast." And like I said before, that probably means favoring an appellate clerkship because of the signaling factor. That's not the same as prestige, though. For jobs that do require an appellate clerkship, then having done one merely lets you check the box; in other words, it helps because you met a requirement, not because it made you more prestigious. For jobs that don't require an appellate clerkship, actually having done one makes little difference because the sort of credentials required to get one already make you a desirable candidate, and to the extent it makes any difference, it's mostly due to the experience of clerking rather than the sheer impressiveness of having done so.

You're right that what you call prestige--but what I call signals of your intelligence and skills like your law school, academic performance, clerkship, etc.--helps you get hired. But once you start working, no one cares about how "prestigious" you are. They care about whether you can do the work and do it well. No partner goes, "Well, Jane has consistently done great work for me, but I'm going to give her assignments to John instead because he went to Yale and clerked for Judge So-And-So!"

Clerk wrote: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.


I'll say again: the fact that you want an informal poll of circuit prestige means you don't get it. There's no such thing as circuit prestige beyond the factors you list--some judges have nationwide reputations, and practitioners in a given circuit tend to be more familiar with that circuit's judges. Beyond that, no hiring committee compares candidates on the basis of any "ranking" of circuits. If a committee does not recognize the judges, all COA clerkships look pretty much the same. They look really good, mind you, but similarly so. One set of splitting hairs isn't any better than the other.

Even if such a thing as circuit prestige existed, that factor would be so far down your list of important qualities in a clerkship that you should ignore it. Your decision should be based on far, far more important things like the particular judge's reputation, where you want to practice, whether you get along well with the judge, how good of a mentor the judge is, where the judge's chambers are, etc.

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:
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.


I would also be curious about any stand-out judges (as defined in the quoted post) on the 8th and 11th.


Judge Colloton on the 8th is a real up-and-comer.

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:11 pm

If the OP's goal is to practice on the East Coast, surely that is possible without doing a second clerkship. Have you tried working with a recruiter to lateral to an East Coast office? Can you transfer offices within your current firm?

If the goal is to become an AUSA, then you should be focusing on getting actual trial experience. If you aren't getting that from your firm, then try your local prosecutor's office. Some places let you do a short-term gig as a special prosecutor so that law firm desk jockeys can get trial experience (for example, in Portland, you can do this: --LinkRemoved--). A second clerkship will have some value, especially if it's in the market you're interested in, but it's not an automatic entry into an AUSA gig. These are extremely hard to get, especially in major coastal cities. Indeed, right now there is a hiring freeze, though some offices can get permission to hire under special circumstances. Often, AUSAs are hired laterally from main Justice, which is also hard to break into.

If the goal is academia, go for COA, then a VAP/fellowship. Of course, academia is extremely tough to crack. You need stellar academics, a track record of publication, and often a Ph.D. and/or prestigious clerkship.

Overall, I think a COA clerkship would be more helpful to your future plans than a second district court clerkship. From my own experience, I would recommend going for an up-and-coming judge who can provide you with career guidance for decades to come. Check out where the judge's former clerks have landed, because this network may be vital to your future plans. Good luck with your interview!

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Re: Rank These Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:21 pm

I agree with what has been said before, but wish to note that while people have really emphasized that a district court clerkship should be in the city in which you wish to practice, I think it bears emphasizing that it is just as important for a CoA clerkship to be in the circuit in which you wish to practice. I think there is a little something to circuit prestige, but it's mainly the result of location--people know that a CoA clerkships in NYC, Chicago, LA, SF are relatively more competitive, even if they don't know the judge. That said, unless the judge is very well known, that slight bump becomes irrelevant when competing for a job in Circuit X against someone who clerked in that Circuit. Also, don't underestimate networking with clerks on that circuit, who will likely remain in that area. If you look at firm bios for associates from cities such as Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, etc., most CoA clerks come from that circuit.

That brings me to a slightly different point. The circuit on which you clerk is more important if you want to eventually practice in a city other than the most major markets, such as NYC, D.C., L.A., S.F. So many people go from fly-over CoA gigs to those cities that no one cares. (Compare EIP where NYC firms just assume you want to live in NYC). But if you clerk, say, in San Francisco but eventually want to wind up in Nashville, the vast majority of CoA clerks will likely be from there, making it a bit harder to break in an placing you outside of the network of former clerks (as someone else said, you can't just call someone up and say, hey we both clerked for the same judge, lets grab coffee).

Of course, that all said, you really only have control over the judges to whom you apply. When they give you an offer, you should accept.

And to justify the anonymous post, let me say that this is coming from someone who has/will clerk(ed) away from my desired geographical practice area (both D.Ct. and CoA).




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