Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

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broadwaygeek
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Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby broadwaygeek » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:44 pm

I'm finishing one clerkship this year and moving on to my second one in September. I was hoping to take a week or two off between clerkships, but that means I would only have 50-51 weeks of work experience, rather than an entire year when I get to my second clerkship.

Does anyone know if that will prevent me from bumping up to JSP-12? Is the one year qualification an exact requirement?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:57 pm

Yes, it's an exact requirement. I went from a state clerkship to a federal and had 50 weeks employment at the state one. I had to work 2 weeks at JSP-11 before they could bump me to a JSP-12. Now, they did bump me after those 2 weeks, and the JSP-11 pay was still higher than the state pay, so it was fine, but it was an absolute requirement.

You may want to check with the HR people at your second gig, too, to make sure they can bump you after you've started (I've heard of people in different districts being stuck at the salary they enter at, plus we just got an email here about a salary freeze, though I don't know if it applies to term clerks). (For that matter I suppose the full year thing could vary by district/circuit, too, although I got very much the opposite impression, and don't know of anyone who didn't have it apply.)

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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:03 pm

broadwaygeek wrote:I'm finishing one clerkship this year and moving on to my second one in September. I was hoping to take a week or two off between clerkships, but that means I would only have 50-51 weeks of work experience, rather than an entire year when I get to my second clerkship.

Does anyone know if that will prevent me from bumping up to JSP-12? Is the one year qualification an exact requirement?


From my understanding, it is up to the discretion of your second judge. He/she will decide wither you should be JSP11 or JSP12. If your judge is a stickler on the number of weeks you worked, then you will enter as a JSP11. However, as soon as you hit your complete year of experience, you will be bumped up at JSP12. So worse case scenario, you will be paid at JSP11 for your first few weeks, but should get a bump soon thereafter.

To know for sure, you should contact the HR rep for your district.

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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:06 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:You may want to check with the HR people at your second gig, too, to make sure they can bump you after you've started (I've heard of people in different districts being stuck at the salary they enter at, plus we just got an email here about a salary freeze, though I don't know if it applies to term clerks). (For that matter I suppose the full year thing could vary by district/circuit, too, although I got very much the opposite impression, and don't know of anyone who didn't have it apply.)


The email about the salary freeze does apply to law clerks. If you qualified for a grade/step increase, you will still get it. However, there will be no COLA increase, so the JSP scale will remain unchanged for 2013.

broadwaygeek
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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby broadwaygeek » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:05 pm

Interesting, thanks! I'll talk to HR before I take a potentially salary-killing vacation.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:You may want to check with the HR people at your second gig, too, to make sure they can bump you after you've started (I've heard of people in different districts being stuck at the salary they enter at, plus we just got an email here about a salary freeze, though I don't know if it applies to term clerks). (For that matter I suppose the full year thing could vary by district/circuit, too, although I got very much the opposite impression, and don't know of anyone who didn't have it apply.)


The email about the salary freeze does apply to law clerks. If you qualified for a grade/step increase, you will still get it. However, there will be no COLA increase, so the JSP scale will remain unchanged for 2013.

Oh, of course! That makes sense.

And at least in my district, the 1-year-requirement isn't at the judge's discretion. The judge has to discretion to bump you up or not (my judge had to approve bumping me up after the 2 weeks, and would have happily started me at JSP-12 if that was possible), but you still have to meet the requirements for the grade, the 52 weeks (those requirements are set by the feds in DC, not each court).

exitoptions
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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby exitoptions » Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:49 pm

Does anyone know if pre-law school DOJ experience will bump you up at all?

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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:07 pm

exitoptions wrote:Does anyone know if pre-law school DOJ experience will bump you up at all?


No, only post-law school legal employment counts.

A. Nony Mouse wrote:And at least in my district, the 1-year-requirement isn't at the judge's discretion. The judge has to discretion to bump you up or not (my judge had to approve bumping me up after the 2 weeks, and would have happily started me at JSP-12 if that was possible), but you still have to meet the requirements for the grade, the 52 weeks (those requirements are set by the feds in DC, not each court).


That's correct. the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts sets the step and grade requirements. This was a big issue last year when the AO froze step increases in response to the budget standoff. The judge's discretion only comes into play in deciding not to bump you up (or for Leave Act pay) when you begin your clerkship. Once you begin, any step increases are left solely to the AO (indeed, my understanding is that future step increases for employees who were bumped up after the freeze was lifted will be tied to when the freeze was lifted, and not when you would have been initially eligible absent the freeze). After going through the freeze last year, my advice is to make sure you come in at the highest grade you can qualify for, and not count on step increases in budgeting for rent, etc.

exitoptions
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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby exitoptions » Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
exitoptions wrote:Does anyone know if pre-law school DOJ experience will bump you up at all?


No, only post-law school legal employment counts.



Thanks. Does that mean only post-bar admission employment?

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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:04 pm

exitoptions wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
exitoptions wrote:Does anyone know if pre-law school DOJ experience will bump you up at all?


No, only post-law school legal employment counts.



Thanks. Does that mean only post-bar admission employment?

At least in my district, it was was post-graduation employment. It doesn't have to be paid, it just has to be legal. (They used to count bar study but they don't do that anymore.)

exitoptions
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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby exitoptions » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
exitoptions wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
exitoptions wrote:Does anyone know if pre-law school DOJ experience will bump you up at all?


No, only post-law school legal employment counts.



Thanks. Does that mean only post-bar admission employment?

At least in my district, it was was post-graduation employment. It doesn't have to be paid, it just has to be legal. (They used to count bar study but they don't do that anymore.)


Which district?

BTW, here are the pay scales for all the localities: http://www.uscourts.gov/Careers/Compens ... Rates.aspx

The 12 to 13 jump is a huge deal, if I don't get that this is going to be a tough transition in terms of lifestyle.

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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:38 pm

exitoptions wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
exitoptions wrote:Thanks. Does that mean only post-bar admission employment?

At least in my district, it was was post-graduation employment. It doesn't have to be paid, it just has to be legal. (They used to count bar study but they don't do that anymore.)


Which district?

BTW, here are the pay scales for all the localities: http://www.uscourts.gov/Careers/Compens ... Rates.aspx

The 12 to 13 jump is a huge deal, if I don't get that this is going to be a tough transition in terms of lifestyle.

"Rest of the United States." :P And dang, I was just thrilled to get to 12.

exitoptions
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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby exitoptions » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
exitoptions wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
exitoptions wrote:Thanks. Does that mean only post-bar admission employment?

At least in my district, it was was post-graduation employment. It doesn't have to be paid, it just has to be legal. (They used to count bar study but they don't do that anymore.)


Which district?

BTW, here are the pay scales for all the localities: http://www.uscourts.gov/Careers/Compens ... Rates.aspx

The 12 to 13 jump is a huge deal, if I don't get that this is going to be a tough transition in terms of lifestyle.

"Rest of the United States." :P And dang, I was just thrilled to get to 12.


I'm in SDNY, so the salaries aren't quite as livable (even with the adjustment) as the "rest."

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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:55 pm

0L here wondering how is the salary pay scale determined? the "grade". Interested in working for DOJ out of law school but trying to come to terms with and understand the insanely low pay.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:18 pm

The salary pay scale is determined by how much experience you have and where you're working - there's a base pay, determined by your experience, and then there's basically money for COL added to that (the locality rate). For law clerks (which I think is pretty much the same as DOJ entry-level but I'm not sure), it looks like this:

JSP-11, step 1 – Law school graduates with academic excellence and no legal work experience. Annual base salary is $50,287 (plus applicable locality rate).

JSP-12, step 1 – One or more years of post-graduate legal work experience and bar membership. Annual base salary is $60,274 (plus applicable locality rate).

JPS-13, step 1 – Two or more years of post-graduate legal work experience and bar membership. Annual base salary is $71,674 (plus applicable locality rate).

As an example, the total pay for JSP-11, step 1 in NYC is $64,729 (so the locality rate is $14K+.) In "rest of the United States" (i.e. none of the major urban centers) it's around $7K at JSP-11.

(I don't understand how the "steps" work so someone else will have to chime in on that.)

Personally, I don't consider federal pay "insanely low" - well, okay, it's pretty low for NYC and other insanely expensive urban centers (I think San Francisco area actually has the highest locality rate). In other parts of the country it's pretty reasonable. But it's all relative, I guess.

In any case, the plus with federal gigs is that you pretty much go up every year - which I suppose is true for Biglaw, too, until you get laid off or don't make partner or your firm goes under or you break from the pressure of 80-hr work weeks. :wink: And you have IBR/PSLF. DOJ also has an LRAP, though I don't know how much exactly and how many people get it (I believe it's at least someone competitive, just in that there isn't enough to cover everyone completely so you have to apply, and I suspect it's partly means-based).

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Re: Federal Clerkship Salary Grades

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:09 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:The salary pay scale is determined by how much experience you have and where you're working - there's a base pay, determined by your experience, and then there's basically money for COL added to that (the locality rate). For law clerks (which I think is pretty much the same as DOJ entry-level but I'm not sure), it looks like this:

JSP-11, step 1 – Law school graduates with academic excellence and no legal work experience. Annual base salary is $50,287 (plus applicable locality rate).

JSP-12, step 1 – One or more years of post-graduate legal work experience and bar membership. Annual base salary is $60,274 (plus applicable locality rate).

JPS-13, step 1 – Two or more years of post-graduate legal work experience and bar membership. Annual base salary is $71,674 (plus applicable locality rate).

As an example, the total pay for JSP-11, step 1 in NYC is $64,729 (so the locality rate is $14K+.) In "rest of the United States" (i.e. none of the major urban centers) it's around $7K at JSP-11.

(I don't understand how the "steps" work so someone else will have to chime in on that.)

Personally, I don't consider federal pay "insanely low" - well, okay, it's pretty low for NYC and other insanely expensive urban centers (I think San Francisco area actually has the highest locality rate). In other parts of the country it's pretty reasonable. But it's all relative, I guess.

In any case, the plus with federal gigs is that you pretty much go up every year - which I suppose is true for Biglaw, too, until you get laid off or don't make partner or your firm goes under or you break from the pressure of 80-hr work weeks. :wink: And you have IBR/PSLF. DOJ also has an LRAP, though I don't know how much exactly and how many people get it (I believe it's at least someone competitive, just in that there isn't enough to cover everyone completely so you have to apply, and I suspect it's partly means-based).


Yes I work in NYC and make 45k as a paralegal. 64k is better than I thought though. I know they are insanely competitive, but hopefully I am taking the right steps to be competitive. Def. preferable to biglaw (for me)




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