How much does one's SA firm affect clerkship chances?

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Anonymous User
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How much does one's SA firm affect clerkship chances?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:32 pm

I'm a rising 2L who would like to be as competitive for clerkships as possible. Are some firms known for placing their SAs into top clerkships at higher rates than others? If so, is placement power perfectly correlated with Vault rankings? Any exceptions? Does location matter (i.e. do 1st circuit judges prefer candidates who worked as an SA at a Boston firm over a NYC firm?)? Thanks!

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Re: How much does one's SA firm affect clerkship chances?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a rising 2L who would like to be as competitive for clerkships as possible. Are some firms known for placing their SAs into top clerkships at higher rates than others? If so, is placement power perfectly correlated with Vault rankings? Any exceptions? Does location matter (i.e. do 1st circuit judges prefer candidates who worked as an SA at a Boston firm over a NYC firm?)? Thanks!


From my research into the similar question, I've heard from advisors, firms, and former clerks alike that it's mostly self-selection. Firms with strong appellate litigation practices are tend to have the highest rates of clerkships, but mostly because they attract students with a strong interest in appellate law (and the tippy-top credentials needed to realistically have a shot at that practice area) and so they tend to go out and clerk because that's what people in that position do. Gibson Dunn D.C. loses something like 60% of its incoming class of previous summers to clerkships every year, for example.

So to answer your question, since clerking is more of a litigation thing, it probably does not correlate perfectly with overall Vault rankings where a strong transactional practice can, and often does, hide a weaker litigation shop.
There will be exceptions for firms like Gibson or Williams and Connolly whose strengths in relative practice areas are not perfectly captured in their overall vault rankings.
Location does not typically matter for clerkships given that you're committed to them for a set period of time and then you're done. There's no expectation that you will practice in the same area once you're done your stint.

Hope this helps.

anon168
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Re: How much does one's SA firm affect clerkship chances?

Postby anon168 » Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a rising 2L who would like to be as competitive for clerkships as possible. Are some firms known for placing their SAs into top clerkships at higher rates than others? If so, is placement power perfectly correlated with Vault rankings? Any exceptions? Does location matter (i.e. do 1st circuit judges prefer candidates who worked as an SA at a Boston firm over a NYC firm?)? Thanks!


No.

If you've taken statistics in undergrad, the correlation between clerkships and Vault rankings is due to heteroscedasticity. In other words, there is no real correlation, much less causation.

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gotmilk?
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Re: How much does one's SA firm affect clerkship chances?

Postby gotmilk? » Sat Aug 25, 2012 10:43 pm

I think being in the same location can help. Some judges like the idea of training someone to go into the legal community that they are a part of.

One way that an SA firm can help clerkship chances is through people you meet at the firm. Getting a clerkship is all about connections, so meeting former clerks or other individuals who know the right people can really help you out. But this is the only place I could think of where going to a firm with a record of hiring clerks/placing clerks can help. I wouldn't make a decision to go to a firm mostly because of its reputation with clerkships (although I think a firm's friendliness to its associates doing clerkships is definitely a legitimate factor in choosing a firm).

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Re: How much does one's SA firm affect clerkship chances?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 25, 2012 10:47 pm

gotmilk? wrote:I think being in the same location can help. Some judges like the idea of training someone to go into the legal community that they are a part of.

Agree with this. My secondary market firm (that dominates its city) has a ton of former clerks with local fed judges, and coming from my firm will really help (especially since many of the judges used to work for my firm).

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Re: How much does one's SA firm affect clerkship chances?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:25 pm

I actually think it can help, but probably not very often. At my smaller SA firm, every SA got a clerkship, and many of them were early (pre-plan) through firm connections. However, these students were already competitive for clerkship positions and would have likely landed clerkships anyways. So on one hand, it's correlation over causation. On the other hand, the firm helped these students get connected with particular judges who may not have pulled their applications otherwise.




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