Becoming a State/Federal Judge

(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.
User avatar
t-14orbust
Posts: 2064
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:43 pm

Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby t-14orbust » Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:22 pm

I was just looking for advice on what I should be doing to better my chances at becoming a state or federal justice.

User avatar
ph14
Posts: 3224
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:15 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby ph14 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:25 pm

t-14orbust wrote:I was just looking for advice on what I should be doing to better my chances at becoming a state or federal justice.


Go to the best law school you can, do really well, get on law review, clerk for a federal judge or judges (or state judge or judges), and develop political connections. Also, don't do anything controversial.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273141
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:00 pm

get a nanny accountant from day 1 when you start your job

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22809
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:07 pm

Also, for the state part, I think the route will differ a bit depending on whether you're in a state that appoints or a state that elects.

User avatar
t-14orbust
Posts: 2064
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:43 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby t-14orbust » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:get a nanny accountant from day 1 when you start your job


I'm not really sure what this is supposed to mean. I'm assuming it's an inside joke lol.

I'm more interested in California or the 9th circuit

adonai
Posts: 1033
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 9:09 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby adonai » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:32 pm

Become well-connected in your legal community. Know people high up in a political party. Become someone important/high up in the legal community. Develop a good reputation in the legal world. Most of these things require you to have such a related job which means good school/grades/clerkship/etc. Federal magistrate/district court judges can just nominate themselves/apply when an opening comes up. From what I heard from a fed. judge I worked for, no one really wants to be a dist. judge because you work biglaw hours and don't get good pay. Circuit courts are a different matter, and is where I think more politics/prestige/background come into play.

And as someone mentioned above, keep your mouth shut and don't express radical/extreme political views in public.

User avatar
t-14orbust
Posts: 2064
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:43 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby t-14orbust » Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:43 pm

Wow I must be severely uninformed- I wasn't aware that judges work biglaw hours. Anyone have any resources on where I can inform myself about different legal jobs?

User avatar
BearState
Posts: 239
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:37 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby BearState » Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:41 pm

T-14 -> AIII clerkship -> biglaw -> AUSA-> befriend politicians -> profit

User avatar
t-14orbust
Posts: 2064
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:43 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby t-14orbust » Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:45 pm

BearState wrote:T-14 -> AIII clerkship -> biglaw -> AUSA-> befriend politicians -> profit


What is AUSA? Thanks again for all the replies, everyone!

062914123
Posts: 1846
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:11 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby 062914123 » Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:47 pm

.
Last edited by 062914123 on Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273141
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:51 pm

From personal experience working in a Federal District Court Judge's chambers, I can assure you that they do not work big law hours. It is a very, very cushy job.

Advice from one judge I spoke to about how he/she would recommend getting a position as a judge:

"Become independently wealthy and then get really, really lucky"

Anonymous User
Posts: 273141
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:10 pm

In most states, judges are elected. Becoming a judge isn't much different than becoming a state legislator. The elections might technically be "non-partisan," but it still involves a political campaign.

At the federal level and in some states, judges are appointed. Being appointed requires strong political connections. U.S. Senators typically recommend attorneys for judicial vacancies in their home states to the White House. If I were serious about becoming a federal judge, I'd probably return home after law school (i.e. not go for NYC or DC big law), try to become well-known in the legal community, and do some campaign legal work on the side. Basically you'd want your state's senators (or people close to them) to know your name and think favorably of you.

As far as the workload goes, I've met two former judges who both felt the job wasn't worth the low pay. Although given that former federal judges can make more than $1000/hour as mediators (my firm is currently paying one $1300/hour), it's not terribly surprising that some judges leave.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273141
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:12 pm

I've interned/clerked for a 6 different judges (4 CA state, 2 federal) and they all said it was due to connections, with the exception of one who just applied to a vacancy decades ago in a small jurisdiction. I went to an event a few months ago where COA judges spoke and 2 of them also said connections, but one said making herself known as a highly respected litigator in the jurisdiction got peoples' attention.

User avatar
IAFG
Posts: 6665
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:26 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby IAFG » Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:15 pm

adonai wrote:Move to a small (by population) state. Become well-connected in your legal community. Know people high up in a political party. Become someone important/high up in the legal community. Develop a good reputation in the legal world. Most of these things require you to have such a related job which means good school/grades/clerkship/etc. Federal magistrate/district court judges can just nominate themselves/apply when an opening comes up. From what I heard from a fed. judge I worked for, no one really wants to be a dist. judge because you work biglaw hours and don't get good pay. Circuit courts are a different matter, and is where I think more politics/prestige/background come into play.

And as someone mentioned above, keep your mouth shut and don't express radical/extreme political views in public.

FTFY

iconoclasttt
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:51 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby iconoclasttt » Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:12 pm

Re federal courts, consider this: 874 Article III positions in total. This, in contrast to about 200 ABA-accredited law schools with, say, at least fifteen faculty members apiece (a deliberately conservative estimate).

If you have to ask the hoi polloi on TLS, odds are you're already out of the running.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22809
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:18 pm

IAFG wrote:
adonai wrote:Move to a small (by population) state. Become well-connected in your legal community. Know people high up in a political party. Become someone important/high up in the legal community. Develop a good reputation in the legal world. Most of these things require you to have such a related job which means good school/grades/clerkship/etc. Federal magistrate/district court judges can just nominate themselves/apply when an opening comes up. From what I heard from a fed. judge I worked for, no one really wants to be a dist. judge because you work biglaw hours and don't get good pay. Circuit courts are a different matter, and is where I think more politics/prestige/background come into play.

And as someone mentioned above, keep your mouth shut and don't express radical/extreme political views in public.

FTFY

One of my classmates moved to a really really really REALLY small town in a REALLY underpopulated rural county in our state. Six weeks after we passed the bar he got appointed as a county judge. I mean, it's a part-time gig in very small potatoes court (he's also town and county attorney and works in a local firm), but he's a judge. So small helps.

User avatar
t-14orbust
Posts: 2064
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:43 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby t-14orbust » Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:26 pm

iconoclasttt wrote:Re federal courts, consider this: 874 Article III positions in total. This, in contrast to about 200 ABA-accredited law schools with, say, at least fifteen faculty members apiece (a deliberately conservative estimate).

If you have to ask the hoi polloi on TLS, odds are you're already out of the running.


What does the number of faculty have to do with chances?

r6_philly
Posts: 10707
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:32 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby r6_philly » Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:04 pm

For federal judgeship, at least in some districts, local practice (AUSA or private) -> magistrate judge -> district judge is a good avenue.

User avatar
JamMasterJ
Posts: 6688
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:17 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby JamMasterJ » Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:08 pm

t-14orbust wrote:Wow I must be severely uninformed- I wasn't aware that judges work biglaw hours. Anyone have any resources on where I can inform myself about different legal jobs?

Chambers-Associate

r6_philly
Posts: 10707
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:32 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby r6_philly » Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:From personal experience working in a Federal District Court Judge's chambers, I can assure you that they do not work big law hours. It is a very, very cushy job.


Depends on the district and how you want to handle the work.


Advice from one judge I spoke to about how he/she would recommend getting a position as a judge:

"Become independently wealthy and then get really, really lucky"


For the most part, if you are independently wealthy, then you wouldn't need to be very lucky, especially in states where judges are elected. I would modify your statement by changing the "and" to a "or."

iconoclasttt
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:51 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby iconoclasttt » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:13 am

t-14orbust wrote:
iconoclasttt wrote:Re federal courts, consider this: 874 Article III positions in total. This, in contrast to about 200 ABA-accredited law schools with, say, at least fifteen faculty members apiece (a deliberately conservative estimate).

If you have to ask the hoi polloi on TLS, odds are you're already out of the running.


What does the number of faculty have to do with chances?


Becoming a tenure-track faculty member at an ABA school is an extremely unlikely outcome for most.

The number of Article III positions is substantially smaller--arguably by an order of magnitude--than the number of tenured/tenure-track faculty positions.

You work the odds.

ket310
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:08 pm

Re: Becoming a State/Federal Judge

Postby ket310 » Wed May 01, 2013 10:21 pm

A lot of recently appointed federal district court judges are either from very famous schools, or state school that has big alumni formed up in that state. Few district courts (ex, SDNY, DC, EDNY) judges are all either from Harvard or Yale, or at least Columbia or Chicago. But rural areas, some of the schools I've never heard of (meaning, not in T1).

Depending on what state you want to be a judge, the schools you want to go might be different. But if you get into T6, go there without looking back. Then try to get AIII clerkship, because that will make you actually work with judges, who can give you a lot better advice than anybody else. Most common thing I've noticed is that many judges were either former AUSA or USA, or magistrate judges.

You can look up profiles of AIII judges online, then you will begin to form an idea of what you should be doing.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.