Clerkships "off the beaten path"

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Perseus_I
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Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby Perseus_I » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:34 pm

I am at a T16, competitive numbers/LR for some District Courts and a long-shot for COA positions. Since I would prefer not to work in a heartland location (don't judge me, I'm super liberal), I was wondering how I would go about pursuing clerkships in the U.S. territories. How competitive are these? And how much "career suicide" would this be? My first guess is that the Virgin Islands may have some solid corporate work.

For 2L, I will likely be working at a fed agency honors program where post-grad employment is very possible but not guaranteed, or else a big 4.

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kalvano
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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby kalvano » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:40 pm

If you aren't at H/Y/S, you can't be picky. If you want to clerk, apply broadly. Political ideology should be a very distant consideration.

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IAFG
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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby IAFG » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:48 pm

I am reaching to remember, but I think the territories don't really hire term clerks. Are they even liberal though? And have you ever been to Minneapolis?

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20160810
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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby 20160810 » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:57 pm

I saw a post on Symplicity a while back for a 2-year clerkship in American Samoa. See what you can find out about that, IIRC they were taking applications until 2/2013 or thereabouts.

Four Ten
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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby Four Ten » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:23 pm

Saw a post on OSCAR for a term clerkship in Puerto Rico, but Spanish language skills were strongly preferred.

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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:21 pm

I'll be clerking in one of the territories starting in 2013. In my experience through the application process, every court's preferences are a bit different, and each has things that are unique to it. So if you're specifically looking at Puerto Rico the advice would be a bit different than America Samoa, which would be different from the Virgin Islands.

I'd also think about whether you're willing to clerk in an Art. IV court (like the Virgin Islands) instead of an Art. III (like Puerto Rico and the Mainland).

Obviously I haven't started my clerkship yet, so I can't really answer anything about post-clerking employment boosts (or lack thereof).

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Perseus_I
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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby Perseus_I » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:59 pm

kalvano wrote:If you aren't at H/Y/S, you can't be picky. If you want to clerk, apply broadly. Political ideology should be a very distant consideration.


Depends on how badly I want to clerk right after graduation, as opposed to a few years out. Not badly enough to go to Kentucky. Maybe bad enough to go to the Virgin Islands or Puerta Rico. And Minneapolis would be fine. It's just that my school does not place well outside the South with respect to clerkships.

Dallas, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, New Orleans, Austin, Nashville, and Atlanta would be fine -- but very competitive, so my way of "expanding" is applying to U.S. territories and the Delaware Chancery Courts, ALJ's, and the Court of International Trade rather than to small cities in Oklahoma.

If these territories do take clerks, they can't be any more competitive than a District Court in a mid-sized southern city, right?

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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:00 am

The majority of the territories do take clerks (I say this becomes I am unsure about the Mariana Islands), though like other courts the number and frequency can vary from year to year. Generally, each territory has its "local" courts (superior, supreme, etc.) which are territorial courts, and then a federal district court...which is also a territorial court (Art. IV); the exception here is American Samoa, which only has a 'High Court' and nothing else. The jurisdiction can vary for each, so be aware of that, and just about all of them actually have broader jurisdiction than their Art. III counterparts.

As to competitiveness, it depends on the judge, the court, and the territory. Less competitive than SDNY or DDC or something, undoubtedly. Beyond that, there's no great way to say, and since every clerkship at this point is insanely competitive, it wouldn't matter, because even the mid-sized southern cities you want it to be "as competitive" as are hiring people from T-14 law review editorial boards.

Also, in terms of competitiveness, think about this. You're not the only one who would prefer to clerk in PR/Guam/VI/MI/etc. over BFE south/midwest. Why would someone from Harvard who struck out at SDNY/DDC/NDCal/whatever district you think is desirable fail to apply to clerk for a year or two in paradise?

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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby TheZoid » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:52 am

Perseus_I wrote:I am at a T16, competitive numbers/LR for some District Courts and a long-shot for COA positions. Since I would prefer not to work in a heartland location (don't judge me, I'm super liberal), I was wondering how I would go about pursuing clerkships in the U.S. territories. How competitive are these? And how much "career suicide" would this be? My first guess is that the Virgin Islands may have some solid corporate work.

For 2L, I will likely be working at a fed agency honors program where post-grad employment is very possible but not guaranteed, or else a big 4.


How do you like Texas?

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Perseus_I
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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby Perseus_I » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:The majority of the territories do take clerks (I say this becomes I am unsure about the Mariana Islands), though like other courts the number and frequency can vary from year to year. Generally, each territory has its "local" courts (superior, supreme, etc.) which are territorial courts, and then a federal district court...which is also a territorial court (Art. IV); the exception here is American Samoa, which only has a 'High Court' and nothing else. The jurisdiction can vary for each, so be aware of that, and just about all of them actually have broader jurisdiction than their Art. III counterparts.

As to competitiveness, it depends on the judge, the court, and the territory. Less competitive than SDNY or DDC or something, undoubtedly. Beyond that, there's no great way to say, and since every clerkship at this point is insanely competitive, it wouldn't matter, because even the mid-sized southern cities you want it to be "as competitive" as are hiring people from T-14 law review editorial boards.

Also, in terms of competitiveness, think about this. You're not the only one who would prefer to clerk in PR/Guam/VI/MI/etc. over BFE south/midwest. Why would someone from Harvard who struck out at SDNY/DDC/NDCal/whatever district you think is desirable fail to apply to clerk for a year or two in paradise?


Yeah, all clerkships are insanely competitive. Here's my strategy: apply to a few good ones at which I have at least a shot (trying to figure out if Virgin Islands, etc. fits into this). If it doesn't work out, NFBD. I'll apply again after a few years of working and probably have more options via connections.

How's the work in the Virgin Islands, considering that it's a famous tax shelter? I'd imagine it could be good, right? In the end, I think it's all about what kind of work you get exposed to. I did a summer judicial externship in the South, and it seemed like federal district courts outside the big cities are essentially "drug courts." How about the high court in the Virgin Islands? Worth it?

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:21 am

There's a UT grad who clerked for a 1st Cir. judge in Puerto Rico a year ago (and was going to a V10 afterwards). I would think that clerkship is just like any other clerkship: it's competitiveness is based on the judge and location, and while most clerks wouldn't want to live and work long term in Puerto Rico, there's probably a good amount who would love to live there for a year.

Another way to expand your judge list is to apply to state supreme courts in locations where you have ties to and/or where you want to work.

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Perseus_I
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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby Perseus_I » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:36 am

Richie Tenenbaum wrote:There's a UT who clerked for a 1st Cir. judge in Puerto Rico a year ago (and was going to a V10 afterwards). I would think that clerkship is just like any other clerkship: it's competitiveness is based on the judge and location, and while most clerks wouldn't want to live and work long term in Puerto Rico, there's probably a good amount who would love to live there for a year.

Another way to expand your judge list is to apply to state supreme courts in locations where you have ties to and/or where you want to work.


Are state Supreme Court clerkships worth doing? How extensive do your ties need to be?

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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:28 am

Perseus_I wrote:
Richie Tenenbaum wrote:There's a UT who clerked for a 1st Cir. judge in Puerto Rico a year ago (and was going to a V10 afterwards). I would think that clerkship is just like any other clerkship: it's competitiveness is based on the judge and location, and while most clerks wouldn't want to live and work long term in Puerto Rico, there's probably a good amount who would love to live there for a year.

Another way to expand your judge list is to apply to state supreme courts in locations where you have ties to and/or where you want to work.


Are state Supreme Court clerkships worth doing? How extensive do your ties need to be?

They're worth doing in a market where you want to practice. Doing a state Supreme Court clerkship in Nebraska likely won't help you with employment in NY or LA or the like, but it would be great for working in Nebraska. (Sorry, just remembered you are the anti-heartland person! Substitute other state.) You probably do need reasonable ties - I am in a market notorious for wanting ties, and the SSC clerks tend to be the top students from the 2 local schools, or natives of the state who went off to a fancy law school and are coming back home (ideally if they did a SA it was in-state). But I'm sure that varies by location.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:34 am

Perseus_I wrote:
Richie Tenenbaum wrote:There's a UT who clerked for a 1st Cir. judge in Puerto Rico a year ago (and was going to a V10 afterwards). I would think that clerkship is just like any other clerkship: it's competitiveness is based on the judge and location, and while most clerks wouldn't want to live and work long term in Puerto Rico, there's probably a good amount who would love to live there for a year.

Another way to expand your judge list is to apply to state supreme courts in locations where you have ties to and/or where you want to work.


Are state Supreme Court clerkships worth doing? How extensive do your ties need to be?


Are they worth doing? Depends on the state and depends on if you want to work in that particular state. I know Texas Supreme Court is viewed as very valuable and helpful for someone wanting to practice in Texas--but that's pretty much the extent of my knowledge about state supreme courts.

I would try to find someone with actual knowledge about what states you might be interested in. You can also google past clerks for judges to see where they're working (just google the judge's name + something like "clerk" and "associate). I wouldn't recommend contacting former clerks though at this time since that is usually done by people who have interviews. While my experience with former clerks was that they are extremely helpful when preparing for an interview, they might be less enthusiastic about convincing you to apply to their judge. Your best starting point might be 1) making a thread on TLS asking about specific state supreme courts or 2) asking Remi what she knows about specific state supreme courts (and if she doesn't know much, if she knows someone that does).

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20160810
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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby 20160810 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:33 pm

Perseus_I wrote:
Richie Tenenbaum wrote:There's a UT who clerked for a 1st Cir. judge in Puerto Rico a year ago (and was going to a V10 afterwards). I would think that clerkship is just like any other clerkship: it's competitiveness is based on the judge and location, and while most clerks wouldn't want to live and work long term in Puerto Rico, there's probably a good amount who would love to live there for a year.

Another way to expand your judge list is to apply to state supreme courts in locations where you have ties to and/or where you want to work.


Are state Supreme Court clerkships worth doing? How extensive do your ties need to be?

Can't speak to ties, but I think people who say no are being pretty short-sighted on this one. I have a really hard time imagining how spending one or two years clerking at the highest court in any state in the US is anything but a good experience. If you already have a large firm offer, they'll almost certainly let you defer to to clerk for any state supreme court, and if you don't already have a firm offer, clerking for a state supreme court justice in any state might not make you a shoo-in for a law firm, but it certainly won't hurt.

But there's so much more to whether clerking is worthwhile than what kind of job it will get you immediately after the clerkship. I know it's hard to focus on the long game when you're worried about how to pay loans, but every single clerk I know (myself included) is glad they did it. I've learned more in ~4 months on the job than I did in 3 years of law school, and it isn't even close. You get an amazingly good sense of how actual practice works, and it would take me a full day to list for you all the mistakes I'm never going to make because I've now seen them made in court by other attorneys. All that's to say nothing of research and writing skills.

Obviously it's better to clerk in the state where you're going to practice, both so you can be familiar with the state's law and so you can use your judge's connections to find a job, but I think that any SSC clerkship is hard to turn down.

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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:20 pm

Perseus_I wrote:Yeah, all clerkships are insanely competitive. Here's my strategy: apply to a few good ones at which I have at least a shot (trying to figure out if Virgin Islands, etc. fits into this). If it doesn't work out, NFBD. I'll apply again after a few years of working and probably have more options via connections.

How's the work in the Virgin Islands, considering that it's a famous tax shelter? I'd imagine it could be good, right? In the end, I think it's all about what kind of work you get exposed to. I did a summer judicial externship in the South, and it seemed like federal district courts outside the big cities are essentially "drug courts." How about the high court in the Virgin Islands? Worth it?


I think, depending on your actual GPA/rank/LR/etc., you may be competitive for some of the territorial courts. You're along the lines of many of the past clerks in those locations, in terms of school rank.

The district court for the USVI, so far as I can tell (and I'm far from an expert), also see their share of drug cases. So if you're hoping to avoid those, you may be out of luck. USVI has a...somewhat high crime rate, despite its size, and much of it is drug-related. No idea what its civil docket looks like, though I suspect that tax cases still go through the US Tax Court. Beyond that, the Art. IV courts (unlike Art. III ones) still have bankruptcy jurisdiction, so you might get to do some of that, too. I think VI is one of the district courts that still has some appellate jurisdiction, too.

The Supreme Court of the VI sees everything that any state supreme court sees, but they see it in the USVI. So useful in the same way that a SSC clerkship would be (and yes, I do think SSC clerkships have value), though less useful for networking purposes unless you want to practice in USVI. Ditto for HC of American Samoa, SC of Guam, etc.

PR is Art. III, so no bankruptcy stuff. I think their docket also sees its fair share of drug cases, so be aware of that if you're trying to avoid that stuff.

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Re: Clerkships "off the beaten path"

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:49 pm

SBL wrote:
Perseus_I wrote:
Richie Tenenbaum wrote:There's a UT who clerked for a 1st Cir. judge in Puerto Rico a year ago (and was going to a V10 afterwards). I would think that clerkship is just like any other clerkship: it's competitiveness is based on the judge and location, and while most clerks wouldn't want to live and work long term in Puerto Rico, there's probably a good amount who would love to live there for a year.

Another way to expand your judge list is to apply to state supreme courts in locations where you have ties to and/or where you want to work.


Are state Supreme Court clerkships worth doing? How extensive do your ties need to be?

Can't speak to ties, but I think people who say no are being pretty short-sighted on this one. I have a really hard time imagining how spending one or two years clerking at the highest court in any state in the US is anything but a good experience. If you already have a large firm offer, they'll almost certainly let you defer to to clerk for any state supreme court, and if you don't already have a firm offer, clerking for a state supreme court justice in any state might not make you a shoo-in for a law firm, but it certainly won't hurt.

But there's so much more to whether clerking is worthwhile than what kind of job it will get you immediately after the clerkship. I know it's hard to focus on the long game when you're worried about how to pay loans, but every single clerk I know (myself included) is glad they did it. I've learned more in ~4 months on the job than I did in 3 years of law school, and it isn't even close. You get an amazingly good sense of how actual practice works, and it would take me a full day to list for you all the mistakes I'm never going to make because I've now seen them made in court by other attorneys. All that's to say nothing of research and writing skills.

Obviously it's better to clerk in the state where you're going to practice, both so you can be familiar with the state's law and so you can use your judge's connections to find a job, but I think that any SSC clerkship is hard to turn down.

Despite what I said above, I do totally agree with this - just got sucked into the obsession with exit options that reigns here! (So many people here seem to be concerned with whether clerking will launch you into Biglaw...)




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