Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

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What the f.supp?

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Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

Postby What the f.supp? » Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:32 pm

My wife is a midlevel at a large firm and thinking about clerking. Would it be easier to get a clerkship as a biglaw midlevel than fresh out of law school? If a particular district court clerkship would have been out of her reach at graduation, would she have a better shot at it now, or does the biglaw experience not really make a difference?

Hopefully some current or former clerks that have been involved in hiring can chime in. Many thanks in advance.

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Re: Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:48 pm

Experience absolutely matters and midlevels clerk all the time. I am not a clerk but I have observed this first hand. At Finnegan for example (large IP "boutique"), juniors and midlevels routinely go clerk at the Fed Cir for a year or two before returning to the firm or seeking different opportunities. I personally know several people this way.

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grand inquisitor

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Re: Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

Postby grand inquisitor » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:25 pm

there's a good number of threads on this topic in the 'judicial clerkships' subforum. experience can help smooth over flaws in your underlying credentials, especially if that work experience is interesting/notable. but i don't think experience routinely gets people in a door if their law school credentials wouldn't have already gotten them there.

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Re: Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:31 pm

Current mid-level federal district clerk: There is a trend among "non-feeder" judges to hire clerks with experience. Having experience lets you integrate more quickly and understand the practical implications of what you are doing. If she wants to do it, she should figure out a way to target these judges. They are no longer looking only for GPA and law school.

That being said, she should think about what she wants to do after. Many at the mid-level use the clerkship as a transition period into government service or public interest.

What the f.supp?

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Re: Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

Postby What the f.supp? » Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:53 pm

Thanks for these helpful posts. How would we go about identifying non-feeder judges? We haven't talked about post-clerkship plans, but I assume she would return to the firm afterwards with the added benefits of having the credential and the experience.

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Re: Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

Postby Jchance » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:09 pm

What the f.supp? wrote:Thanks for these helpful posts. How would we go about identifying non-feeder judges? We haven't talked about post-clerkship plans, but I assume she would return to the firm afterwards with the added benefits of having the credential and the experience.


Identify the feeder judges (not that many, like 20-30ish). Those not on that list are non-feeder judges.

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Re: Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Current mid-level federal district clerk: There is a trend among "non-feeder" judges to hire clerks with experience. Having experience lets you integrate more quickly and understand the practical implications of what you are doing. If she wants to do it, she should figure out a way to target these judges. They are no longer looking only for GPA and law school.

That being said, she should think about what she wants to do after. Many at the mid-level use the clerkship as a transition period into government service or public interest.


I agree with this. I actually helped hire incoming clerks when I clerked for a non-feeder. A lot of applications we got were from students still in law school. The applications from people with one or two years of experience stood out. I remember one had 4 years of experience at a firm and that was a huge plus. Of course, we still looked at grades, school, journal work, etc. But the experience definitely made up for any blemishes in grades or having gone to a slightly lower ranked school. At the end of the day, you want someone who's mature, independent, and able to do the work well. So it's better to take someone with real life post-law school experience than someone who's coming straight out of law school with good grades and school but has pretty much written just one or two pieces of legal work, like a brief that took over two months on some fake hypo in a school class, which now actually seems silly compared to more legitimate and real-world writing samples submitted by practicing lawyers.

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Re: Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

Postby Jchance » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Current mid-level federal district clerk: There is a trend among "non-feeder" judges to hire clerks with experience. Having experience lets you integrate more quickly and understand the practical implications of what you are doing. If she wants to do it, she should figure out a way to target these judges. They are no longer looking only for GPA and law school.

That being said, she should think about what she wants to do after. Many at the mid-level use the clerkship as a transition period into government service or public interest.


I agree with this. I actually helped hire incoming clerks when I clerked for a non-feeder. A lot of applications we got were from students still in law school. The applications from people with one or two years of experience stood out. I remember one had 4 years of experience at a firm and that was a huge plus. Of course, we still looked at grades, school, journal work, etc. But the experience definitely made up for any blemishes in grades or having gone to a slightly lower ranked school. At the end of the day, you want someone who's mature, independent, and able to do the work well. So it's better to take someone with real life post-law school experience than someone who's coming straight out of law school with good grades and school but has pretty much written just one or two pieces of legal work, like a brief that took over two months on some fake hypo in a school class, which now actually seems silly compared to more legitimate and real-world writing samples submitted by practicing lawyers.


Is this also true for fed. CoA judges (non-feeder)?

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Re: Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

Postby FascinatedWanderer » Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:42 pm

But if you're currently a mid-level applying for clerkships now that mean's you'll be a senior by the time you actually start your clerkship. I can't imagine going back to a firm is a possibility in that scenario.

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bruinfan10

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Re: Biglaw Midlevel to Clerkship?

Postby bruinfan10 » Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:55 pm

OP, run some searches in the clerkship forum. This is a well-trodden topic. A select subset of judges, often clustered in a particular district or circuit, give serious preference to those with experience (judges in E.D. Cal and to a lesser extent N.D. Cal, for example---some Second Circuit judges also welcome work experience, as another example), others will only hire straight from law school, and a solid range of judges see work experience as a soft to big plus supporting your app.



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