Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

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Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:30 pm

A couple of burning questions:

1) If you end up pursuing corporate, is there any value-add from doing a clerkship?

2) Can you realistically pursue academia down the road without having clerked first?

3) If you do corporate work instead of litigation post-grad, do you essentially close off any possibility of going into academia?

Thanks!

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A couple of burning questions:

1) If you end up pursuing corporate, is there any value-add from doing a clerkship?

2) Can you realistically pursue academia down the road without having clerked first?

3) If you do corporate work instead of litigation post-grad, do you essentially close off any possibility of going into academia?

Thanks!


1) No.

2) Yes.

3) I don't think Lit/Corp really matter, but I believe most academic paths close pretty soon after you start practicing. You don't lateral from biglaw to professorship, except in rare cases. Like if you are a coked out former Kirkland corp partner who buys his way into Northwesterns faculty.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:11 pm

Desert Fox wrote:I don't think Lit/Corp really matter, but I believe most academic paths close pretty soon after you start practicing. You don't lateral from biglaw to professorship, except in rare cases. Like if you are a coked out former Kirkland corp partner who buys his way into Northwesterns faculty.

Sounds like a challenging path, but still easier than getting into Yale, clerking for SCOTUS, and then toiling for three years in a low-paying fellowship.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby rinkrat19 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:05 pm

Desert Fox wrote:Like if you are a coked out former Kirkland corp partner who buys his way into Northwesterns faculty.
Hypothetically speaking.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:16 pm

I know that TCR is that you need to go to HYS, + Chicago to some degree, to have any realistic shot at academia that matters. But if you are just looking to become a law professor at some Big State University, does lower half of T-14 work as well?

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I know that TCR is that you need to go to HYS, + Chicago to some degree, to have any realistic shot at academia that matters. But if you are just looking to become a law professor at some Big State University, does lower half of T-14 work as well?


No. You need HY.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Desert Fox » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I know that TCR is that you need to go to HYS, + Chicago to some degree, to have any realistic shot at academia that matters. But if you are just looking to become a law professor at some Big State University, does lower half of T-14 work as well?


No. You need HY.


You don't need it, they just place a lot more people. It's also hard to tell how much of it is self selection.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I know that TCR is that you need to go to HYS, + Chicago to some degree, to have any realistic shot at academia that matters. But if you are just looking to become a law professor at some Big State University, does lower half of T-14 work as well?


No. You need HY.

No. I think "legal academia" and "going in-house" are tied for first in the TLS category of "Shit People Know Nothing About and Yet Post About Anyway"

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Cobretti » Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:49 am

rinkrat19 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Like if you are a coked out former Kirkland corp partner who buys his way into Northwesterns faculty.
Hypothetically speaking.
He's good people.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:I know that TCR is that you need to go to HYS, + Chicago to some degree, to have any realistic shot at academia that matters. But if you are just looking to become a law professor at some Big State University, does lower half of T-14 work as well?

The problem is that academic hiring is down, and with law school applications declining, it's not likely to recover any time soon. So there isn't really an undesirable law prof gig. If you take a look at law profs even in the bottom tier schools, they still tend to have top credentials (my unscientific impression is that as you go down the food chain you see more alums getting hired as profs by their schools, but they're usually the top 1-2 students who were able to get the federal clerkship + biglaw or fellowship credentials expected of academics. You'll still see plenty of HY people at bottom schools, though).

It's possible to get academia out of the lower T14. A huge part of academic success is placing articles in highly-ranked law reviews, not strictly dependent on your pedigree. It's just that a huge proportion of the people who succeed at placing those articles are from HY (whether that's due to self-selection or that those schools offer more resources/opportunities/guidance in publishing or somewhere inbetween).

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:45 am

What's this "HY" ridiculousness? I can't think of a reason to go to Harvard over Stanford for academia (and a number of reasons why Stanford would be clearly preferable).

In any event, to answer the OP's questions:

1. Yes, but far smaller than for litigation. The value add is big enough that most top biglaw places will still give you a clerkship bonus (but definitely not all).
2. Yes if you have a Phd. Yes if you've published extraordinarily well. For a 0L with no intentions to get a PhD or definitive publications, realistically, no.
3. Not at all. In fact, if you want to teach a corporations-type subject, transactional experience would be very helpful (if not a necessity). On the flip side, don't expect two years of transactional work at biglaw to wow the hiring committee if you're interviewing for a crimpro position. FWIW, transactional academic hiring has been somewhat less competitive over the past decade or so than other subjects, so it's strategically not a bad area to

Re legal academia hiring, most of the "accepted wisdom" on this board seems fairly far off.* You absolutely could have a shot from a lower T14 -- especially if you have a PhD. Without a PhD, the biggest factors in you being hired will be your publication record, your school, law review (and position, if any), and your clerkship(s) (followed by any relevant practice experience and your recommendations). Your chance of getting a clerkship out of a lower T14 are far lower than they are out of YS and significantly lower than H. This is important. But assuming you get a clerkship, your publication record is going to have a far greater impact than the difference between, say, Cornell and Chicago. Don't be fooled, though -- things are incredibly competitive right now whether you're coming from Yale or somewhere else. Flagship state schools generally hire candidates close-to-indistinguishable from those who end up at T14s, so I wouldn't assume that you're aiming reasonably low. Aiming at reasonable positions in this market (which is more likely to get worse than better over the next 5 years) generally means looking for non-tenure track positions, or looking for tenure track positions at unranked or unaccredited schools. Tenure track somewhere like LSU is, realistically, pretty close to a best case scenario for the vast majority of candidates.

*I'm a T6 graduate (and former fed clerk) with one foot in the academia door, so I do think I have some idea of what I'm talking about.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:59 am

I used HY (which is weird) only because of the specific post that said "you need HY." Not meant as a comment on Stanford.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:50 pm

The problem is that academic hiring is down, and with law school applications declining, it's not likely to recover any time soon.


This 100x.

Entry-level hiring is down by maybe 2/3 since the height of the market in the late 00s. And even that is misleading -- the top schools (T14, well-regarded state flagship schools like UT, UCLA, etc.) are still hiring about the same. But their hiring standards are ludicrously high -- as in you need to be a SCOTUS clerk or have a PhD in a tough field like econ. So if you're merely a run-of-the-mill superstar (T14, COA clerkship, a couple of decent post-LS publications, etc.), then the spots open to you are down by maybe 4/5 or so. Conservatively, I'd guess 500 people chasing 20 spots. It's so bad that anyone who is thinking about trying to leave a practice job for a VAP or fellowship (other than the super high end ones like Bigelow or Climenko) is crazy.

All of that said...

It's always hard for schools to find profs to teach transactional subjects. Those attorneys tend to not have the "academic"-quality resumes, and the ones that who survive long enough in biglaw to be attractive tend to make a lot of money. So if you can build the typical top notch academic CV plus get great transactional experience at one of the big NYC firms, you'd be a better candidate than most.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Aeon » Sat Mar 28, 2015 1:25 am

Hiring might be down, but so is the number of applicants for teaching positions. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but the percentage of applicants securing academic positions might actually not be significantly lower.

That said, the year-to-year vagaries of the meat market aside, what should give any aspiring law professor pause is the uncertain future of many law schools. Although law school enrollment might increase again in later years, it is hard to predict exactly what will happen. In the face of this uncertainty, law schools will attempt to cut costs, which could mean reduced tenure-track hiring and greater reliance on adjunct faculty. This will probably be less of a concern at the top schools, but positions there tend to open up less frequently and are extraordinarily competitive.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby lacrossebrother » Sat Mar 28, 2015 1:46 am

Not to detract too much from this helpful thread, but going into legal academia is actually a ridiculously dick move at this point.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 28, 2015 11:57 am

Hiring might be down, but so is the number of applicants for teaching positions. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but the percentage of applicants securing academic positions might actually not be significantly lower.


The drop in the applicant pool has been relatively minimal. I'm talking like 500 people registering for the hiring conference down from 550 or 600.* Entry level hires, on the other hand have dropped from 200 to 70. (These numbers are all more or less correct.) And again, if you take out the 30-40 people the elite schools hire annually, you're talking about 30-40 jobs that non-SCOTUS clerks/econ PhDs (or similar super-super-stars) can get.

* A lot of the reason the drop has been small is that there are a lot of people who gave up a practice job to try to go into academia -- VAPs and fellows -- and they're basically locked in because they can't go back to practice.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Desert Fox » Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Hiring might be down, but so is the number of applicants for teaching positions. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but the percentage of applicants securing academic positions might actually not be significantly lower.


The drop in the applicant pool has been relatively minimal. I'm talking like 500 people registering for the hiring conference down from 550 or 600.* Entry level hires, on the other hand have dropped from 200 to 70. (These numbers are all more or less correct.) And again, if you take out the 30-40 people the elite schools hire annually, you're talking about 30-40 jobs that non-SCOTUS clerks/econ PhDs (or similar super-super-stars) can get.

* A lot of the reason the drop has been small is that there are a lot of people who gave up a practice job to try to go into academia -- VAPs and fellows -- and they're basically locked in because they can't go back to practice.


The last part is the worst part of academic hiring. You have to essentially burn your career to the ground to have a shot.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Aeon » Sat Mar 28, 2015 1:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Hiring might be down, but so is the number of applicants for teaching positions. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but the percentage of applicants securing academic positions might actually not be significantly lower.


The drop in the applicant pool has been relatively minimal. I'm talking like 500 people registering for the hiring conference down from 550 or 600.* Entry level hires, on the other hand have dropped from 200 to 70. (These numbers are all more or less correct.) And again, if you take out the 30-40 people the elite schools hire annually, you're talking about 30-40 jobs that non-SCOTUS clerks/econ PhDs (or similar super-super-stars) can get.

* A lot of the reason the drop has been small is that there are a lot of people who gave up a practice job to try to go into academia -- VAPs and fellows -- and they're basically locked in because they can't go back to practice.


That's interesting. If the number of law school applicants will continue to stay low, I wonder if there will be fewer qualified people going for VAPs and fellowships down the road.

The lock-in effect is definitely an issue. I have known some lawyers who were able to return to a good job in private practice after a VAP or fellowship, but they were likely the exception. Curious what happens to those who are unable to either secure an academic position or return to practice.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 28, 2015 2:01 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Hiring might be down, but so is the number of applicants for teaching positions. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but the percentage of applicants securing academic positions might actually not be significantly lower.


The drop in the applicant pool has been relatively minimal. I'm talking like 500 people registering for the hiring conference down from 550 or 600.* Entry level hires, on the other hand have dropped from 200 to 70. (These numbers are all more or less correct.) And again, if you take out the 30-40 people the elite schools hire annually, you're talking about 30-40 jobs that non-SCOTUS clerks/econ PhDs (or similar super-super-stars) can get.

* A lot of the reason the drop has been small is that there are a lot of people who gave up a practice job to try to go into academia -- VAPs and fellows -- and they're basically locked in because they can't go back to practice.


The last part is the worst part of academic hiring. You have to essentially burn your career to the ground to have a shot.


Interesting... I've actually recently heard the opposite?

One of my professors had mentioned that the difference between a PhD pursuing academia and a JD doing the same is that a JD can essentially return to practice instead of running the post-doc gamut. I got the sense that having already worked a couple of years before applying for an academia position, you have made enough connections at your old firm and in the field to transition back if things don't work out. Tack on that the fact that most of those who try to get into academia have stellar resumes, they should be welcomed back with "open arms" should they decide to return to practice. I get the feeling that it would be different if you were purely devoted to academia, e.g. you never worked at a firm post-grad.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 28, 2015 2:57 pm

One of my professors had mentioned that the difference between a PhD pursuing academia and a JD doing the same is that a JD can essentially return to practice instead of running the post-doc gamut. I got the sense that having already worked a couple of years before applying for an academia position, you have made enough connections at your old firm and in the field to transition back if things don't work out. Tack on that the fact that most of those who try to get into academia have stellar resumes, they should be welcomed back with "open arms" should they decide to return to practice. I get the feeling that it would be different if you were purely devoted to academia, e.g. you never worked at a firm post-grad.


Yes, you'd think that the demand for sixth year associates with two years' practice experience and zero portable business -- who have demonstrated they would prefer to be teaching and not practicing -- would be particularly high.

Your professor is full of it. I know a number of people who struck out on the academic market. One guy managed to land as a nonequity partner at a decent biglaw-ish firm, but he had like a decade-plus of experience, including significant government experience in a hot field, to go along with his sterling CV. One woman landed a pretty nice state government position (also in a hot field), but it took her the better part of a year, and she was lucky to have a spouse to pay the bills. Everyone else is either unemployed, solo or with a two or three lawyer firm, or chasing the dream while working an endless string of one- or two-year non-tenure track jobs (if they're lucky enough to get one) that pay maybe $60k and require you to move across the country when they're over.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 28, 2015 4:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
One of my professors had mentioned that the difference between a PhD pursuing academia and a JD doing the same is that a JD can essentially return to practice instead of running the post-doc gamut. I got the sense that having already worked a couple of years before applying for an academia position, you have made enough connections at your old firm and in the field to transition back if things don't work out. Tack on that the fact that most of those who try to get into academia have stellar resumes, they should be welcomed back with "open arms" should they decide to return to practice. I get the feeling that it would be different if you were purely devoted to academia, e.g. you never worked at a firm post-grad.


Yes, you'd think that the demand for sixth year associates with two years' practice experience and zero portable business -- who have demonstrated they would prefer to be teaching and not practicing -- would be particularly high.

Your professor is full of it. I know a number of people who struck out on the academic market. One guy managed to land as a nonequity partner at a decent biglaw-ish firm, but he had like a decade-plus of experience, including significant government experience in a hot field, to go along with his sterling CV. One woman landed a pretty nice state government position (also in a hot field), but it took her the better part of a year, and she was lucky to have a spouse to pay the bills. Everyone else is either unemployed, solo or with a two or three lawyer firm, or chasing the dream while working an endless string of one- or two-year non-tenure track jobs (if they're lucky enough to get one) that pay maybe $60k and require you to move across the country when they're over.


Since you know some of these people, I'll defer to your expertise.

I totally agree that someone who has been out searching for academic jobs and or have been teaching for multiple years may have trouble breaking back into the firm/in-house environment. But are you really saying that the connections made and your resume can't get you back if you've just been away for a year or so?

For example, let's say you graduate, clerk, work at a Biglaw for 2-3 years, and then try your hand on the academic market. You can't get a bite, but within the year, you call up your contacts at your firm/equivalent lateral positions. Are they really going to lock you out?

I think this is what my Prof had been saying in terms of the academic search being not as risky. You can give it a shot without jeopardizing your career in the private sector. If you fail within a reasonable period of time, you can still return.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:12 pm

For example, let's say you graduate, clerk, work at a Biglaw for 2-3 years, and then try your hand on the academic market. You can't get a bite, but within the year, you call up your contacts at your firm/equivalent lateral positions. Are they really going to lock you out?


In your example, assuming three years biglaw and that you're scrambling to find employment in the fourth semester of a two-year VAP or fellowship (they're almost all two years), you've now been out of law school for six years. You're senior enough that you'd probably have to come in at a firm as senior associate or of counsel, off the lockstep partnership track (most firms have a three year look-see minimum). At that level of seniority, firms will expect you to run your own cases or deals, or if you're on the regulatory side of things, to come in and handle an "issue" on your own from start to finish. That's the only reason why they're hiring a 35 year-old lawyer with the better part of a decade of experience with no clients. They have work that they can't get done with current staffing, so they want someone to come in and just take ownership of the matter (but not the billing partner's cut of the fees!).

Yet you've only had three years experience practicing law! If you're a litigator, you've maybe taken a couple of depositions or drafted "easy" briefs on your own -- but you likely haven't even had primary responsibility for a SJ brief, and you certainly haven't run a trial. If you're a deal lawyer, you have drafted collateral agreements or maybe even run program deals, but it's all been at a "do this and do it this way" level. You almost certainly don't have significant industry-specific experience. You definitely don't have any portable business.

And to top it all off, you've just wrapped up a failed stint on a career path that is notorious for its super chill hours and lack of stress (whether it is that cushy is a different -- and pretty much irrelevant -- question). Why would a firm want to hire you? You don't really bring any expertise or experience or skill set that it couldn't find on the traditional lateral market -- and those candidates (i) will have practiced law in the past two years, (ii) will be cheaper than you, seniority-wise, (iii) won't have the perception that they failed at what they wanted to do, (iv) won't have the perception that they want to work 20-30 hours a week, and (v) paradoxically, won't come with the concern that they'll bolt as soon as a preferred teaching job opens up. (The reality is that one won't in this academic hiring market or one even close to it, but the firms don't know that.)

Maaaaaybe you were so stellar at your first firm and left on such good terms that they're willing to hire you back despite everything. But they saw you bolt after paying you a clerkship bonus and three years of biglaw comp (the last eight months of which after you had secured your VAP or fellowship and were just running out the clock). There's probably going to be some hard feelings. Maybe you have enough contacts at other firms that someone will take a shot on you. But again, what can you provide that a lateral can't.

I'm not saying it's impossible, necessarily. Just that the people who I know who did it had something really special that explains why they were able to. Not all of us are going to have eleven years practicing finance industry consumer fraud litigation with five years spent at the FTC and the rest at a high profile V20 practice..

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:One of my professors had mentioned that the difference between a PhD pursuing academia and a JD doing the same is that a JD can essentially return to practice instead of running the post-doc gamut. I got the sense that having already worked a couple of years before applying for an academia position, you have made enough connections at your old firm and in the field to transition back if things don't work out. Tack on that the fact that most of those who try to get into academia have stellar resumes, they should be welcomed back with "open arms" should they decide to return to practice. I get the feeling that it would be different if you were purely devoted to academia, e.g. you never worked at a firm post-grad.

I think the key thing here is that your professor was comparing a JD going into academia with a PhD going into academia. Getting a non-academic position after doing a PhD and trying for academia is frequently very very very hard. That doesn't necessarily make going back into practice as a JD easy, just maybe easier than if you put all your eggs in the PhD/academic basket (because that basket really sucks).

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby PMan99 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
I think this is what my Prof had been saying in terms of the academic search being not as risky. You can give it a shot without jeopardizing your career in the private sector. If you fail within a reasonable period of time, you can still return.


Yea, half of my profs talked about how they could be rainmaking Wachtell partners if they weren't being noble and spending time teaching. Personally, I could have been in the NFL but I really wanted to be a lawyer.

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Re: Are clerkships/academia mutually exclusive from corporate?

Postby rpupkin » Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:52 pm

PMan99 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
I think this is what my Prof had been saying in terms of the academic search being not as risky. You can give it a shot without jeopardizing your career in the private sector. If you fail within a reasonable period of time, you can still return.


Yea, half of my profs talked about how they could be rainmaking Wachtell partners if they weren't being noble and spending time teaching. Personally, I could have been in the NFL but I really wanted to be a lawyer.

Seriously? Most of my profs in law school were self-aware enough to know that they would have made horrible big-law lawyers. The skills/traits it takes to succeed in legal academic are quite different from the skills/traits it takes to succeed in big law.




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