All: I decided to create the handle "ClerkAnon" rather than continuing to post anonymously while signing an alias to my posts. This will also be useful if anyone needs to PM me. Last answer for now, before I turn back to work:
Any idea how a Top 25 school student in Top15% fairs for Fed Clerkships. Seems like Im getting dinged this round.
with a state clerkship under my belt, would I have a better shot next go around? would a magistrate position give me any post clerkship employment boost or experience boost?
Sorry to hear that things aren't going well this time around, although it really isn't over yet. District court calls in particular will still trickle out for the next couple of months. Hang in there.
Re: federal magistrate positions, I do think these clerkships are interesting and give you an experience boost. The work that you do will depend on the district. E.g., some districts will farm out lots of discovery disputes to the magistrates, which is useful experience for a future trial litigator to have. In some districts, parties seem more interested in agreeing to trying their case in front of a magistrate to move it along than others. If you work for a magistrate who has lots of full cases, then the experience you get will be closer to a district court clerkship, and you can use that fact to sell yourself to district court judges and employers. When interviewing for magistrate clerkships, try to get a good sense from the current clerk about his or her cross-section of work - types of cases, types of motions, how often parties in the district consent to a magistrate trying the case, what types of work the district judges tend to farm out to the magistrates.
A magistrate clerkship can be a great stepping stone to a district court clerkship in the same courthouse, if you are willing to spend two years clerking. As you can imagine, if the district court judge has a high regard for the magistrate's work, having the magistrate's recommendation is golden. One of my co-clerks got her clerkship this way. In one of the two courthouses in which I worked, this "cross-pollination" was very common. In the other it was less so. To the extent you can feel out whether the magistrate you are considering is a district court "feeder," do so.
I'm honestly not sure of the answer to your state clerkships question. I have seen people go from state supreme court clerkships to federal district or circuit clerkships, and I think the hiring federal judges viewed the state supreme clerkships as assets. I have not personally encountered a state trial or appellate clerk who was being considered for a federal district or circuit clerkship, so I really don't know how it would be viewed. I suspect that some federal judges who previously served as state lower court judges would give significant weight to their former colleagues' recommendations. I'm sorry not to be able to give you a more informed answer.