Getting a clerkship after accepting offer from firm - what to do?

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Getting a clerkship after accepting offer from firm - what to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:09 pm

Current 3L here. I'm on track to start work at a large law firm in a different state than my law school in the fall. But, over the weekend, a 5th year (at a different firm, local) mentioned to me that a federal judge he externed for years ago and is still friendly with, in my current city, is looking for a clerk for this fall, and asked if I'd be interested. I said sure, find out if they still need someone and we can go from there.

My question is, what to do if this actually comes to fruition and turns into a clerkship? Do I call up my firm and say "hey, this crazy thing happened, but I want to respect my commitment to you, what would you prefer?" Do I just say "Hey I'll see you guys next year, gonna clerk first." Also, I've already bought my bar prep course for this other state and paid all the bar exam application fees. I'm a little worried about if I pursued the clerkship that the firm would try to claw back the money they gave me for bar exam and living expenses, since I need it + a bar loan to stretch until I start working, as my partner just lost his job and my student loans/other loans are our only household income.

This could all be for naught, as I still would need to interview and all, but I want to have a plan going in if I do interview and the judge does want me to clerk. I'm presuming I can't be wishy-washy when a federal judge asks me to come work for him. So, penny for anyone's thoughts!

EDIT: I also don't want to be on the firm's bad side, since I only accepted their offer after three months while I pursued DOJ Honors. I worry if I come back with yet another exceptional demand they'll just lose their patience with me and tell me to screw off.
Also, apologies for not posting this in the clerkships section, I wasn't sure about category but wanted to ensure anonymity due to the sensitive nature of my inquiry.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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LaLiLuLeLo

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Re: Getting a clerkship after accepting offer from firm - what to do?

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:25 pm

Woman in my class did this. Wasn't a big deal and it's a non-NY office so we didn't have a big class. Firms don't care if you clerk, in fact they usually like it. Just tell the recruiter you got an offer to clerk and you'd like to accept. Nbd.

lavarman84

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Re: Getting a clerkship after accepting offer from firm - what to do?

Postby lavarman84 » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:28 pm

The firm may or may not hold their offer open for you, but they're not going to hate you for clerking. They'll get it. However, I don't know what they'll do about paying for bar review expenses.

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rpupkin

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Re: Getting a clerkship after accepting offer from firm - what to do?

Postby rpupkin » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:22 pm

This situation is pretty common. The firm won't like it, but they'll probably be cool about it if they otherwise like you and if they need junior litigation associates.

As far as bar expenses go, be aware that you may have to refund those expenses even if the firm doesn't ask you to do so. Many judges insist that you sever all relationships with law firms before you start your clerkship. That means that the firm can't leave open an official offer for you, and it means that you'll have to reimburse the firm for any bar expenses/stipend before your clerkship commences.

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Re: Getting a clerkship after accepting offer from firm - what to do?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:18 am

rpupkin wrote:This situation is pretty common. The firm won't like it, but they'll probably be cool about it if they otherwise like you and if they need junior litigation associates.

As far as bar expenses go, be aware that you may have to refund those expenses even if the firm doesn't ask you to do so. Many judges insist that you sever all relationships with law firms before you start your clerkship. That means that the firm can't leave open an official offer for you, and it means that you'll have to reimburse the firm for any bar expenses/stipend before your clerkship commences.


OP here. Thank you for your thoughts. So, to clarify, if I literally have no financial means to reimburse the firm in order to accept the clerkship, I'd be in a catch-22.

I suppose I could find out if the judge has those kinds of strict rules before I go too far with my application. Would you advise that's the best way to see if this whole thing is worth the trouble, rather than finding something for a year from now?

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rpupkin

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Re: Getting a clerkship after accepting offer from firm - what to do?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:This situation is pretty common. The firm won't like it, but they'll probably be cool about it if they otherwise like you and if they need junior litigation associates.

As far as bar expenses go, be aware that you may have to refund those expenses even if the firm doesn't ask you to do so. Many judges insist that you sever all relationships with law firms before you start your clerkship. That means that the firm can't leave open an official offer for you, and it means that you'll have to reimburse the firm for any bar expenses/stipend before your clerkship commences.


OP here. Thank you for your thoughts. So, to clarify, if I literally have no financial means to reimburse the firm in order to accept the clerkship, I'd be in a catch-22.

I suppose I could find out if the judge has those kinds of strict rules before I go too far with my application. Would you advise that's the best way to see if this whole thing is worth the trouble, rather than finding something for a year from now?

Do you want to clerk? And do you want to clerk for this judge? If the answer to both questions is "yes," then go for it. If you get the clerkship, and if the judge (or the court) has a rule about reimbursing bar expenses, deal with the problem then. It seems rather unlikely that you would have literally no way to deal with this problem, should it arise. One way or another, I bet you could get a short-term loan of a few thousand dollars. Your financial worry here isn't worth giving up a clerkship opportunity.

dixiecupdrinking

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Re: Getting a clerkship after accepting offer from firm - what to do?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:39 am

I would guess, if push came to shove, your firm and judge would agree you could pay back the bar expenses in installments once you begin clerking. Don't even worry about that issue, you will work it out if necessary.

Also, if you're interested in this judge, do not pass it up in order to clerk for someone else in a year or two. Firms are actually less happy to have 2nd or 3rd years leaving for clerkships, for one thing. For another, there is no guarantee you'll find something else when you want to.

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OutCold

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Re: Getting a clerkship after accepting offer from firm - what to do?

Postby OutCold » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:18 am

I was in a similar situation. I accepted the clerkship and let the firm know after. There was no issue at all, though I was going to one of the huge NY firms that you wouldn't expect to have a problem with numbers.



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