Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

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Anonymous User
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Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:45 am

Hi folks,

I graduated in '12 and have an interview in a really awesome district (for what I'm looking for) but it's with a judge who is generally not well-regarded. By all accounts he's a nice person, but many, many lawyers here think he is fairly unintelligent and not qualified to be a federal judge.

Would clerking for this judge be 1) a good experience, and 2) something that would actually help me on my resume? I'd like to clerk, but it just feels weird interviewing with a judge who is kind of the butt of jokes around the legal community in this city. But, it's not like I'm that optomistic about getting more interviews even though 2014 hiring seems to just be starting.

Anonymous User
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Re: Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:54 am

You left out the most important information - what you will do if you don't clerk for this judge. Are you at a firm now that you would stay at? Some other job? Manning a hotdog stand?

Anonymous User
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Re: Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:56 am

Anonymous User wrote:You left out the most important information - what you will do if you don't clerk for this judge. Are you at a firm now that you would stay at? Some other job? Manning a hotdog stand?


Sorry about that. I'm at a V20 firm now but I'd like to leave after 2-3 years or so and maybe go gov't or to a smaller firm.

xcountryjunkie
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Re: Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

Postby xcountryjunkie » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:57 am

District is more important than judge. If the district is so great, do it.

Tyrion Lannister
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Re: Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

Postby Tyrion Lannister » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:33 pm

I agree with the above. I would go forward with the interview and accept an offer if he seems like he would be a good boss.

Citizen Genet
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Re: Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

Postby Citizen Genet » Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:02 pm

No one will hold clerking for a bad judge against you; it's still clerking and there's still hundreds to thousands of very qualified applicants who want the position. Clerking for a really respected judge in the community can be nice because it sends an extra signal, but it's hardly required.

Anonymous User
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Re: Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:08 pm

If your goal is your experience, it's the judge that matters x 1,000. Clerking for a great judge in a backwater district is going to be a better experience than clerking for a lackluster judge on the SDNY. And it's not even close.

If your goal is building your resume, it's the district that matters. Especially for district court judges (e.g., it doesn't really matter prestige-wise for 7th Cir. vs 8th Cir, but it does for N.D. Ill. vs. S.D. Ind. or something of the sort). And, with relatively few exceptions, I would also say that this isn't very close (for a resume bump, clerking for a regionally well-regarded district court judge in Montana <<< clerking for a judge who is not especially regionally well respected on the N.D. Cal.).

That said, if you don't have this sort of choice and are asking if it'd be worthwhile to clerk for a nice but unimpressive judge on a good district (assuming the alternative is no clerkship) . . . well, depends on how badly you want to clerk and how much you want the professional prestige bump. I'm sure it'd still be a valuable and interesting experience, but am less sure that it'd be worth the roughly $100,000 in salary you'll be giving up. You wouldn't be going that wrong either way. Really, you should read a couple of the judge's opinions and go into the interview with an open mind -- if you like and respect the judge, that's really what matters.

Myself
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Re: Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

Postby Myself » Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:18 pm

I still think it would be considered a badge of an accomplished lawyer in that field. (I've never clerked). If I knew a guy clerked for the Fed. Cir., I would be impressed whoever the judge was.

Anonymous User
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Re: Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:06 pm

Alright, so it sounds like the consensus is that no one will hold it against me if I clerk for a judge who isn't very well-respected if the district is SDNY/NDCA, etc. His decisions seem fine to me, though they're certainly not particularly insightful and use an embarassing amount of flourishes. I guess just go into the interview and I'll take it if I get it unless something strikes me the wrong way. Thanks.

bdubs
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Re: Clerking in a great district for a less-than-great judge?

Postby bdubs » Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:49 am

Article III judges get to sit for life, well-respected or not. If the judge is not set to retire soon then having the connection seems to be valuable regardless of his/her aptitude for the job.




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