Anonymous User wrote:I know the general rule is you don't say no to a judge, but does that apply if you applied for a clerkship beginning in 2013 and they offer you one for 2014? Are you still obligated to accept even if the offer is for a year out and wasn't advertised as such?
Speaking as a former clerk who did not accept every offer received, you aren't "obligated to accept" at all, and certainly not if they offer you a clerkship different than the one for which you applied. Considerations to bear in mind when turning down offers, in addition to the above anon's sound advice to keep things gracious:
- You may come up empty-handed and regret your decision not to take the clerkship that seemed somewhat less than ideal (e.g., not the term you were looking for);
- You may have more difficulty in receiving an offer from other judges on the same court;
- You may be making things more difficult for future clerks from your school, at least according to various CSOs. I am not fully convinced that this is true, unless you're part of a widespread phenomenon in which 3Ls or alums at your school become especially known for rampantly turning down offers. I certainly have never heard a judge mention overtly that they are biased against a particular law school's students because a 3L once turned down an offer.
I turned down two offers for district court clerkships when I was applying, both in districts where I did not intend to practice. One of them was for a term slightly different than I wanted (six months later, not a full year later.) The other was for the term for which I applied. I'm now a few years into a litigation career. There have been no consequences to my decision - beyond my remaining available to receive and accept a clerkship in the district in which I really wanted to clerk. Needless to say, if I had not gotten the subsequent offer, I'd have felt that consequence #1 above applied. And if I intended to practice in the districts in question, prior to turning down the offers, I would have taken into account the awkwardness of appearing in front of the judges whose offers I had rejected.