Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

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Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:04 pm

Does doing a COA clerkship help your chances of becoming a partner in Big Law? I have a district clerkship lined up after graduation, and now I'm debating whether I should do a COA clerkship. I think the experience would probably be great, and I think I can learn a ton from a COA judge. But I'm getting old. I'm tired of moving around. I'd like a decent paycheck for once. So are there any pragmatic reasons for doing a COA clerkship if I have no shot at SCOTUS and am I'm slated to work for a V-15 firm after my district clerkship? Does it help with the partnership track at all?

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L’Étranger
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Re: Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby L’Étranger » Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Does doing a COA clerkship help your chances of becoming a partner in Big Law? I have a district clerkship lined up after graduation, and now I'm debating whether I should do a COA clerkship. I think the experience would probably be great, and I think I can learn a ton from a COA judge. But I'm getting old. I'm tired of moving around. I'd like a decent paycheck for once. So are there any pragmatic reasons for doing a COA clerkship if I have no shot at SCOTUS and am I'm slated to work for a V-15 firm after my district clerkship? Does it help with the partnership track at all?


Just curious if you don't mind, how old does "getting old" mean you are?

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Re: Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:19 pm

L’Étranger wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Does doing a COA clerkship help your chances of becoming a partner in Big Law? I have a district clerkship lined up after graduation, and now I'm debating whether I should do a COA clerkship. I think the experience would probably be great, and I think I can learn a ton from a COA judge. But I'm getting old. I'm tired of moving around. I'd like a decent paycheck for once. So are there any pragmatic reasons for doing a COA clerkship if I have no shot at SCOTUS and am I'm slated to work for a V-15 firm after my district clerkship? Does it help with the partnership track at all?


Just curious if you don't mind, how old does "getting old" mean you are?


Early 30s

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:25 pm

I think it has a lot more impact on your marketability and potentially on the work that you get at your firm than on actual partnership chances. If you weren't otherwise "partner material" a COA clerkship isn't going to magically make you so. Could impact your exit options if you don't make partner though.

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Re: Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:15 pm

An associate at a big firm told me that he hurt his chances at partner by doing a COA because in the eyes of the firm it was not a good use of time because he already had a COA. I've wondered about clerking myself because I'm early 30s and don't want to give up another year, on the other hand it can be a big resume line.

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Re: Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 03, 2015 2:17 am

I'm a former COA clerk (2/9/DC) and current senior associate gunning for biglaw partnership. Honestly, I don't think my COA clerkship makes any significant difference to the big picture question of whether I'll make partner.

Here's where the clerkship has helped me:
- Best year of my legal career. Simply couldn't imagine a better experience.
- Vastly improved writing skills.
- A judge turned mentor who has served as a valuable reference and sounding board.
- Shown me my ultimate dream job - to become a judge on the same court where I clerked. Pipe dream? Maybe. Probably. But it's worth fighting for.
- In post-clerkship hiring processes, both biglaw and otherwise.
- Getting appellate work and other significant writing responsibilities at my firm.

But here's what I need to show to make partner:
- Ability to generate external business
- Deep subject matter expertise that's indispensable to the firm
- Relationships with established rainmaker partners, including corporate partners, who will be internal sources of business
- Excellent litigation skills, including fighting for all-too-hard opportunities to get into court
- Commitment to the firm'firm "citizenship" (e.g., committee service)
- Ties to the legal community that the firm views as valuable

The clerkship doesn't really factor into those things at all, except to the extent that it contributed to my litigation skills. I don't expect it to be a weighty consideration to the partners making my partnership decision, although the optics of having clerked don't hurt.

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Re: Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 03, 2015 5:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a former COA clerk (2/9/DC) and current senior associate gunning for biglaw partnership. Honestly, I don't think my COA clerkship makes any significant difference to the big picture question of whether I'll make partner.

Here's where the clerkship has helped me:
- Best year of my legal career. Simply couldn't imagine a better experience.
- Vastly improved writing skills.
- A judge turned mentor who has served as a valuable reference and sounding board.
- Shown me my ultimate dream job - to become a judge on the same court where I clerked. Pipe dream? Maybe. Probably. But it's worth fighting for.
- In post-clerkship hiring processes, both biglaw and otherwise.
- Getting appellate work and other significant writing responsibilities at my firm.

But here's what I need to show to make partner:
- Ability to generate external business
- Deep subject matter expertise that's indispensable to the firm
- Relationships with established rainmaker partners, including corporate partners, who will be internal sources of business
- Excellent litigation skills, including fighting for all-too-hard opportunities to get into court
- Commitment to the firm'firm "citizenship" (e.g., committee service)
- Ties to the legal community that the firm views as valuable

The clerkship doesn't really factor into those things at all, except to the extent that it contributed to my litigation skills. I don't expect it to be a weighty consideration to the partners making my partnership decision, although the optics of having clerked don't hurt.


Super helpful. Thank you!

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Re: Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 05, 2015 12:26 pm

For what it's worth, I'm a biglaw senior associate who didn't clerk at all, currently gunning for partner in a litigation specialty. And no one has ever mentioned my lack of clerkship as a hurdle in my path or suggested that it would have helped me. It's just not relevant to how I'm being evaluated for partner.

Not saying clerking isn't a good thing to do if you want to, but it just doesn't have relevance to your partnership prospects.

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Re: Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:21 pm

For what it's worth, I'm a biglaw senior associate who didn't clerk at all, currently gunning for partner in a litigation specialty. And no one has ever mentioned my lack of clerkship as a hurdle in my path or suggested that it would have helped me. It's just not relevant to how I'm being evaluated for partner.

Not saying clerking isn't a good thing to do if you want to, but it just doesn't have relevance to your partnership prospects.


I think this is like 95% right, but I'll add a caveat. Your clerkship can get you staffed to certain matters (i.e., cases in your former court), or brought in to help on certain stages of the case (e.g., a former COA clerk brought in when the case is taken up on appeal), that have a particularly high profile in your firm. That, in turn, can increase your visibility, especially among the partners with a lot of cache, which can help your partnership prospects.

(For example, I work at a satellite office of a national firm in a secondary market. We have two main industry-specific practice groups out of this office. I'm the only former AIII clerk in my practice group [the other practice group also has one], so when there is a federal case, I usually get brought in on it. Not surprisingly, those cases -- because they're in federal court -- tend to be the more high stakes ones, so I work pretty closely with the big rainmakers on them. That theoretically could help my partnership prospects.)

Anonymous User
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Re: Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 05, 2015 3:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
For what it's worth, I'm a biglaw senior associate who didn't clerk at all, currently gunning for partner in a litigation specialty. And no one has ever mentioned my lack of clerkship as a hurdle in my path or suggested that it would have helped me. It's just not relevant to how I'm being evaluated for partner.

Not saying clerking isn't a good thing to do if you want to, but it just doesn't have relevance to your partnership prospects.


I think this is like 95% right, but I'll add a caveat. Your clerkship can get you staffed to certain matters (i.e., cases in your former court), or brought in to help on certain stages of the case (e.g., a former COA clerk brought in when the case is taken up on appeal), that have a particularly high profile in your firm. That, in turn, can increase your visibility, especially among the partners with a lot of cache, which can help your partnership prospects.

(For example, I work at a satellite office of a national firm in a secondary market. We have two main industry-specific practice groups out of this office. I'm the only former AIII clerk in my practice group [the other practice group also has one], so when there is a federal case, I usually get brought in on it. Not surprisingly, those cases -- because they're in federal court -- tend to be the more high stakes ones, so I work pretty closely with the big rainmakers on them. That theoretically could help my partnership prospects.)


A similar anecdote: I'm currently a d. ct. in semi-flyover. My predecessor went to a biglaw firm and, when feasible, gets staffed to every single case in our district that his firm has here (there's been about a handful in 2014-15) because he's the only one who clerked here for the entire firm, not just their office.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Big Law Partner & COA Clerkship

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Sun Apr 05, 2015 4:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
For what it's worth, I'm a biglaw senior associate who didn't clerk at all, currently gunning for partner in a litigation specialty. And no one has ever mentioned my lack of clerkship as a hurdle in my path or suggested that it would have helped me. It's just not relevant to how I'm being evaluated for partner.

Not saying clerking isn't a good thing to do if you want to, but it just doesn't have relevance to your partnership prospects.


I think this is like 95% right, but I'll add a caveat. Your clerkship can get you staffed to certain matters (i.e., cases in your former court), or brought in to help on certain stages of the case (e.g., a former COA clerk brought in when the case is taken up on appeal), that have a particularly high profile in your firm. That, in turn, can increase your visibility, especially among the partners with a lot of cache, which can help your partnership prospects.

(For example, I work at a satellite office of a national firm in a secondary market. We have two main industry-specific practice groups out of this office. I'm the only former AIII clerk in my practice group [the other practice group also has one], so when there is a federal case, I usually get brought in on it. Not surprisingly, those cases -- because they're in federal court -- tend to be the more high stakes ones, so I work pretty closely with the big rainmakers on them. That theoretically could help my partnership prospects.)


A similar anecdote: I'm currently a d. ct. in semi-flyover. My predecessor went to a biglaw firm and, when feasible, gets staffed to every single case in our district that his firm has here (there's been about a handful in 2014-15) because he's the only one who clerked here for the entire firm, not just their office.


Yeah, I would think d. ct. clerkships would be a lot more valuable in this respect than COA clerkships. My old BL firm had a bajillion cases in D. Del., but I don't even know of any 3rd Cir. appeals we had (although I'm sure there were probably a few of them).




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