Clerkship Question and Chances

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273387
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:42 pm

Hello, all. I'm interested in clerking in a few specific places, but have no idea what my chances are. I'm primarily interested in DDC, ED VA, and D MD (ultimately I'll be working for a firm in DC); I would also be happy clerking in MD FL or SD FL (I have connections to those areas).

I go to Vandy and have around a 3.6 GPA; also on LR (assume I will have a position like articles/notes editor, nothing senior board). Any wisdom or advice (general or specific) would be greatly appreciated, as I feel largely in the dark about this process and my odds.

Thanks!

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22846
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:04 pm

Doesn't Vandy have really good clerkship placement? (I could be mixing this up with another school, so if so, apologies.) Seriously, talk to your career office about the basics - how applications work and so on - I went to a plain old T1 and they were still really helpful about the nuts and bolts. You should also be able to find someone there who will give you an assessment of where you're competitive. (Keep in mind, though, that they might overestimate your chances given how competitive clerkship apps have become in the last few years. I also don't know if CSOs are always up on which judges hire on plan/off plan/REALLY off plan.)

I can't say anything about your chances myself, because I'm in a flyover district and don't know enough about those districts (and by rights/stats probably shouldn't even have a federal clerkship :P ). But FWIW, I think you might want to start by lining up really good LORs - have you developed good relationships with profs who can say great things about you (and especially about your research and writing skills)? Maybe make calls for you? That's probably one of the things that can hurt you most if you leave it to the last minute.

theaccidentalclerk
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:29 am

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:05 pm

Hard to say what your ultimate chances will be without knowing where a 3.6 puts your class rank. I guess my initial thought is that you are probably fighting an uphill battle applying this fall, but you probably would have a good shot applying as an alum in a couple of years. That's for two reasons. First, the DDC and ED Va. are hugely competitive -- I tend to slough off "this district is more competitive than some circuits" statements as hyperbole, but if there are places where that's true, these probably would come close to qualifying.

Second, a lot of USDC judges these days are transitioning to an alum-only model. I'm not super familiar with the other three districts you list (although I did have an interview with a judge in one of them -- s/he was alum-only), but you should probably do some research to find out.

All of that said, if your grades are such that you are well within the top 10% (and especially the top 5%), then I take it all back. But in that case, you should also apply to COA judges as well.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273387
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:12 pm

DDC probably isn't happening; or, rather, it's probably not happening right out of law school. I have a few friends clerking/who've already accepted clerkships there, and not a single one of their judges hires 3Ls for right out of law school. Mostly alumni hiring, with a smattering of people who interview 3Ls and then offer them clerkships for a year or two after graduation (contingent on them working in the interim). Maybe one or two hire for right out of law school. So, unknown class-rank aside, DDC is just unlikely.

For the others, knowing your class rank would be helpful.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273387
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:21 pm

thanks for the advice, all. my class rank is probably around top 15%, but its hard to know since Vandy doesn't rank.

User avatar
ExBiglawAssociate
Posts: 2092
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:06 pm

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:08 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote:Hard to say what your ultimate chances will be without knowing where a 3.6 puts your class rank. I guess my initial thought is that you are probably fighting an uphill battle applying this fall, but you probably would have a good shot applying as an alum in a couple of years. That's for two reasons. First, the DDC and ED Va. are hugely competitive -- I tend to slough off "this district is more competitive than some circuits" statements as hyperbole, but if there are places where that's true, these probably would come close to qualifying.

Second, a lot of USDC judges these days are transitioning to an alum-only model. I'm not super familiar with the other three districts you list (although I did have an interview with a judge in one of them -- s/he was alum-only), but you should probably do some research to find out.

All of that said, if your grades are such that you are well within the top 10% (and especially the top 5%), then I take it all back. But in that case, you should also apply to COA judges as well.


Applying as an alum usually doesn't help your chances that much if your grades don't make the cutoff. What might give you a leg up is building connections and getting a recommendation from a former clerk. In general, using connections has always been the best way to get a clerkship.

theaccidentalclerk
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:29 am

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:17 pm

Applying as an alum usually doesn't help your chances that much if your grades don't make the cutoff.


Yes and no, but more no. Alum status doesn't magically add points to your GPA, but applying to alum-only judges does put you in a pool of applicants that is substantially smaller (and probably less competitive) than the one for 3Ls. That necessarily means muuuuuch lower grade cutoffs (especially when combined with an "employer prestige" threshold -- for example I interviewed with several judges that only would consider V50 associates).

To put some numbers on it, when I applied as a 3L (T6, top 20% or so), I pretty much struck out. When I applied as an alum with V20 experience, I think I sent out about 30 applications to judges who I was told like alums. I got six interviews (though I didn't end up taking them all).

User avatar
ExBiglawAssociate
Posts: 2092
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:06 pm

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:22 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote:
Applying as an alum usually doesn't help your chances that much if your grades don't make the cutoff.


Yes and no, but more no. Alum status doesn't magically add points to your GPA, but applying to alum-only judges does put you in a pool of applicants that is substantially smaller (and probably less competitive) than the one for 3Ls. That necessarily means muuuuuch lower grade cutoffs (especially when combined with an "employer prestige" threshold -- for example I interviewed with several judges that only would consider V50 associates).

To put some numbers on it, when I applied as a 3L (T6, top 20% or so), I pretty much struck out. When I applied as an alum with V20 experience, I think I sent out about 30 applications to judges who I was told like alums. I got six interviews (though I didn't end up taking them all).


But how many alum only judges are there? I was under the impression that the vast majority of judges still hire clerks straight out of law school.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22846
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:45 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
theaccidentalclerk wrote:
Applying as an alum usually doesn't help your chances that much if your grades don't make the cutoff.


Yes and no, but more no. Alum status doesn't magically add points to your GPA, but applying to alum-only judges does put you in a pool of applicants that is substantially smaller (and probably less competitive) than the one for 3Ls. That necessarily means muuuuuch lower grade cutoffs (especially when combined with an "employer prestige" threshold -- for example I interviewed with several judges that only would consider V50 associates).

To put some numbers on it, when I applied as a 3L (T6, top 20% or so), I pretty much struck out. When I applied as an alum with V20 experience, I think I sent out about 30 applications to judges who I was told like alums. I got six interviews (though I didn't end up taking them all).


But how many alum only judges are there? I was under the impression that the vast majority of judges still hire clerks straight out of law school.

This has changed a lot in the wake of the various biglaw meltdowns at the beginning (middle? whenever) of the recession. My understanding is that because of all the deferrals/furloughs/layoffs from big firms, you had a pool of candidates with very top credentials who were desperate for something to do, so many turned to clerking who hadn't originally intended to do so. And then judges got a taste of candidates with experience and found they were preferable to complete newbies. (Okay, those who were deferred wouldn't have had legal experience, but I hope otherwise that makes sense.) Even if a judge doesn't care if the candidate actually does have experience, limiting the applicants to experience-only is a way to weed out what are literally 1000s of applications in some chambers. (Because application numbers have gone up, too, ITE.) So I think more and more judges are taking this route.

(I also found that applying as an alum made me a much more desirable candidate - although I didn't come from a firm, I came from a state clerkship.)

User avatar
ndirish2010
Posts: 2950
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:41 pm

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby ndirish2010 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:00 am

I have almost identical stats/position to OP, though at a slightly worse school (I think a clerkship peer however). DDC/EDVA are definitely out. SDFL is pretty competitive and MDFL and D MD are moderately competitive (these are all relative terms, they're all hard to get). Your odds of getting any one clerkship is so slim that if you are only applying to these five districts, I think it would be a long shot. With your stats I applied almost everywhere and only picked up 3 interviews, all in districts probably less competitive than the five you listed.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273387
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:26 am

ndirish2010 wrote:I have almost identical stats/position to OP, though at a slightly worse school (I think a clerkship peer however). DDC/EDVA are definitely out. SDFL is pretty competitive and MDFL and D MD are moderately competitive (these are all relative terms, they're all hard to get). Your odds of getting any one clerkship is so slim that if you are only applying to these five districts, I think it would be a long shot. With your stats I applied almost everywhere and only picked up 3 interviews, all in districts probably less competitive than the five you listed.


this is very helpful, thank you! any idea which districts would be best to apply to? for personal and family reasons, i can't apply too broadly.

User avatar
ndirish2010
Posts: 2950
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:41 pm

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby ndirish2010 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:
ndirish2010 wrote:I have almost identical stats/position to OP, though at a slightly worse school (I think a clerkship peer however). DDC/EDVA are definitely out. SDFL is pretty competitive and MDFL and D MD are moderately competitive (these are all relative terms, they're all hard to get). Your odds of getting any one clerkship is so slim that if you are only applying to these five districts, I think it would be a long shot. With your stats I applied almost everywhere and only picked up 3 interviews, all in districts probably less competitive than the five you listed.


this is very helpful, thank you! any idea which districts would be best to apply to? for personal and family reasons, i can't apply too broadly.


It is really difficult to give you advice without some other districts that you might be willing to go to. I think with those stats you need to apply as broadly as possible, unfortunately.

theaccidentalclerk
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:29 am

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:08 am

But how many alum only judges are there? I was under the impression that the vast majority of judges still hire clerks straight out of law school.


Certainly not the "vast" majority. I suspect not even the bare majority, either -- at least depending on how you classify "prefers alums but will hire new grads on occasion" judges.

This is really a wild guess, but I'd guess that maybe a third of district judges will only hire alums, a much smaller group (maybe 20% or so) will only hire new grads, and the rest will do either with varying degrees of preference.

But even if I'm way off on those numbers, the fact is that the alum applicant pool is waaaay smaller than the crop of 3Ls applying every year. Talking to clerks in various chambers, I'd guess that judges that hire new grads on plan get roughly four times as many applications (600 to 150 or so for a run-of-the-mill district).

Anonymous User
Posts: 273387
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:07 pm

To add a data point, I would note that I'm clerking for a district judge in SDNY/EDNY/DDC, and I applied as an alum. In fact, my co-clerks also applied as alums, and my immediate predecessors were all alums as well.

In contrast, when I applied as a 3L, I struck out, despite having a strong profile and several interviews.

User avatar
jessuf
Posts: 12548
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:27 pm

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby jessuf » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:23 pm

I know several MD FL clerks. ~Top 15% at Vandy seems pretty competitive based on what I know of my clerk friends. MD FL does really like local schools and many judges like hiring someone who graduated from either their UG or LS alma mater, but since you have ties and Vandy is in the South, I think you could definitely get some bites.

Now, with that said, a lot of the MD FL judges have career clerks, so there are less open spots than you'd think.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273387
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerkship Question and Chances

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:44 pm

Does anyone have suggestions for what specific districts (or kinds of districts) I should target? I'm open to more than I initially listed if need be.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.