SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

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Anonymous User
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SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:53 pm

A little background and then my issues (which I admit is a great issue to have).

I go to one of the lowest four of the T14 schools (don't want to be more specific as the information that follows would surely out me). I have no interest in litigation. I want to work on the transactional side of the law. Further, I don't play the law school prestige game. Meaning I turned down a V3 to go to a V15. I didn't do the writing competition at my school because I had no interest in doing bullshit work that I would not get paid for my time to do. Although I did work onto a journal, at behest of the professor who I assist with research. Currently, we are working on an article together. So our relationship is great, and I enjoy the work.

He offered to get me a clerkship in SDNY. Four of his last five assistants have worked for this judge. The last just graduated, and will be heading there at the start of 2014. So this is a pipeline that seems to be continous.

I am torn about whether this is something I should pursue. My stats (minus not being on law review) would make me easily competitive for the spot (well within top 10%, can't be more specific as it is unknown, international moot court). But I have no interest in litigation. Plus, I don't know how I feel about working for a year at my firm, and then taking a drastic paycut for a year while working what I am assuming will be similar hours being that it is NYC. Lastly, my long-term goals (as difficult as I know it is) would be to make partner, if not, then in-house somewhere.

There is pressing need for me to make a decision, but would like opinion and thoughts so I can slowly come to whether taking the clerkship would be advantangeous to my career. I don't need prestige for the sake of prestige, but if it furthers my career goals, it is something I will consider. Thank you ahead of time

anon168
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Re: SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby anon168 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A little background and then my issues (which I admit is a great issue to have).

I go to one of the lowest four of the T14 schools (don't want to be more specific as the information that follows would surely out me). I have no interest in litigation. I want to work on the transactional side of the law. Further, I don't play the law school prestige game. Meaning I turned down a V3 to go to a V15. I didn't do the writing competition at my school because I had no interest in doing bullshit work that I would not get paid for my time to do. Although I did work onto a journal, at behest of the professor who I assist with research. Currently, we are working on an article together. So our relationship is great, and I enjoy the work.

He offered to get me a clerkship in SDNY. Four of his last five assistants have worked for this judge. The last just graduated, and will be heading there at the start of 2014. So this is a pipeline that seems to be continous.

I am torn about whether this is something I should pursue. My stats (minus not being on law review) would make me easily competitive for the spot (well within top 10%, can't be more specific as it is unknown, international moot court). But I have no interest in litigation. Plus, I don't know how I feel about working for a year at my firm, and then taking a drastic paycut for a year while working what I am assuming will be similar hours being that it is NYC. Lastly, my long-term goals (as difficult as I know it is) would be to make partner, if not, then in-house somewhere.

There is pressing need for me to make a decision, but would like opinion and thoughts so I can slowly come to whether taking the clerkship would be advantangeous to my career. I don't need prestige for the sake of prestige, but if it furthers my career goals, it is something I will consider. Thank you ahead of time


I'm a bit biased, but I think it is worth doing.

There are really two reasons to clerk. One is obvious, and basically what everyone sort of focuses on, which is the experience and "prestige" that's attached to clerking if you want to litigate.

The other one, which few people seem to really key in on, is the connections you make. Yes, you get to personally know one federal judge, but don't overlook the networking opportunities you have with your fellow clerks. Your own co-clerk, and the other clerks in the courthouse, are amongst the most likely people in your peer group who will become movers-and-shakers later down in life. It's no guarantee that your fellow clerks will be uber-lawyers, but the chances are certainly higher than the general young lawyer population. The co-clerks that I've worked with are all either partners in law firms, sr. managers in government, or in-house. Those are connections that would've been much harder to come by if they weren't my co-clerks -- either directly, or in the same courtroom.

Just something to think about.

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Re: SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby zomginternets » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:51 pm

I don't know that clerkship hours would be similar to biglaw hours--the consensus is that it's usually a lot better, which is also my experience at a COA court, but of course I'm sure it varies from court-to-court and judge-to-judge. I also think that the work is far more interesting than what a second-year associate corporate associate would do at a large firm (but that's just me). And, as anon168 mentioned, SDNY oozes with prestige (even though you say you're not prestige driven), and the legal world loves prestige no matter where you work.

Your firm might not be happy about a corporate associate taking a year off to do a clerkship. It's prestigious and looks great on the resume/firm bio, but from what I've been told it doesn't really help you much (if at all) in corporate practice, so maybe they would be reluctant to give you salary/seniority credit/bonus for your clerkship? Might be something to think about/look into.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:53 pm

Almost all of the corporate partners at my firm 1) could have clerked if they wanted to and 2) decided not to clerk. I can't imagine they'd be super excited about a corporate associate clerking.

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Objection
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Re: SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby Objection » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:53 pm

Stay out of my clerkships, brah. They're competitive enough.

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Re: SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:15 pm

I think it's pretty clear that clerking won't have a tangible positive effect on your career if you want to do transactional. Few corporate partners care about the "prestige" of clerking, and in terms of tangible skills you'll learn more at a law firm (when it comes to the type of law you want to practice). Sure, you may make connections with your fellow clerks, but remember (1) these people will mostly be litigators later in their careers and thus less directly relevant, and (2) you can make many more connections in an area directly relevant to your future practice by working at a firm.

That said, if you would value the experience enough to take the pay cut and delay starting for a year, go for it. It certainly won't hurt you, it's a better lifestyle, and if you liked law school, chances are you'll find what you're doing as a clerk pretty interesting. But that would be the only reason you should do it, because it won't really help your career, you shouldn't feel obligated to anyone, and "prestige" / everyone's doing it isn't a good reason to spend a year of your life doing something.

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thesealocust
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Re: SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby thesealocust » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:10 pm

Corporate partners have wildly different views on clerking, ranging from "best decision ever" to "I can't believe we let corporate associates clerk and still get bonuses." Which is solid evidence that it's not reliably career enhancing on its own, especially since the latter view (or something less extreme) seems more common.

Another big x-factor is who the judge is. Clerking for a senior status judge is probably literally 1/4 to 1/3 the amount of work as clerking for Kozinski. A lot of people come out of clerkships looking a little pale, with stories like "It was kind of isolating and I didn't get along great with my judge." Fun fact: those people keep it close to the vest. The people who love clerkships and had great relationships with their judge will tell you they are the best job ever and encourage everyone else to do it. The people who didn't aren't going around throwing their judge under the bus (publicly).

Lastly, the phrase "Further, I don't play the law school prestige game. Meaning I turned down a V3 to go to a V15" is beautiful and fascinating and depressing for a whole host of reasons. I think I could actually write a fairly long essay about it if I put my mind to it. Thank you very much for bringing it into this world.

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somewhatwayward
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Re: SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby somewhatwayward » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:15 pm

Further, I don't play the law school prestige game. Meaning I turned down a V3 to go to a V15


LOL

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:39 am

thesealocust wrote:Lastly, the phrase "Further, I don't play the law school prestige game. Meaning I turned down a V3 to go to a V15" is beautiful and fascinating and depressing for a whole host of reasons. I think I could actually write a fairly long essay about it if I put my mind to it. Thank you very much for bringing it into this world.

LOVE this.

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nevdash
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Re: SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby nevdash » Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:38 am

somewhatwayward wrote:
Further, I don't play the law school prestige game. Meaning I turned down a V3 to go to a V15


LOL

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cim_can
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Re: SDNY Clerkship: Worth doing if no interest in litigation?

Postby cim_can » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:17 pm

I'm a law clerk in a non-SDNY district court, want to do transactional work, and love my job.

I don't know how corporate people are going to look at my clerkship. It's two years, which may hurt me. Obviously litigation is the clear exit from clerking. Nonetheless I have heard from a few people that the clerkship is beneficial for transactional work - you will have seen tons of failed deals and understand how a judge might look at a dispute. I hope that it has some career-enhancing effect.

Personally, the experience of clerking so far (I'm in year two) outweighs any of the negative. I may be behind in some practice areas (securities comes to mind), but I'll work hard and catch up in knowledge. It may also be that all I missed was a year or two of due diligence and pouring over 100-page contracts - current associates may not have that much of a leg up on me.

What I do have is a great mentor in a judge, tons of legal writing and thinking, and a wealth of memories of district court insanity and excitement.




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