Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

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Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:40 pm

Is it really true that working as a law clerk makes your experience in a biglaw firm that different? That's what I've heard, but can it really be that true at a giant NYC firm? (think, for example, PW or Cravath). I.e., if I want to litigate, is it really an advantage to clerk instead of going straight in as a first year? If someone clerks for two years, does coming in as a third year change the quality of work that you will get from that point forward? Does anyone know some examples instead of just "yeah you'll get better work." I know this is a general question... but hoping to get some insight. Thanks!

jd20132013
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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby jd20132013 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:44 pm

Yes because you will be billed out at a higher level so you'll get less doc review than you otherwise would.

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Desert Fox
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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby Desert Fox » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:22 pm

In my experience, it's very valuable. And I'm not someone who clerked. You are considered a better writer and are given better shots. I think a district court clerkship is def worth it.

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unlicensedpotato
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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby unlicensedpotato » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:23 pm

I'm not in lit but I almost think you have it backwards: if you were going to a lean firm where you would work on substantive stuff right out of the gate, there's probably less of a need to clerk. If you have a few years of grunt work ahead it's probably more productive to use at least one of those years to clerk.

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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby FascinatedWanderer » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:50 pm

unlicensedpotato wrote:I'm not in lit but I almost think you have it backwards: if you were going to a lean firm where you would work on substantive stuff right out of the gate, there's probably less of a need to clerk. If you have a few years of grunt work ahead it's probably more productive to use at least one of those years to clerk.


The thing is, the firms that will actually give you substantive work out of the gate usually require you to have clerked.

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Lincoln
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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby Lincoln » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:23 pm

I am a litigator at a big firm that is a peer of the ones you mentioned and where many people clerked (including me). From what I've seen, clerking tends to have two advantages. First, people assume you are a good writer who can handle dispositive motions, so you are more likely to get to write significant sections of MTDs/MSJs. Second, you will have seen a greater range of cases and range of procedural postures than pretty much anyone who didn't clerk, so you will have a greater understanding of the life of a case and what ultimately matters.

Clerking for more than one year can be a disadvantage because you will not have experience taking depositions, handling e-discovery, managing expert disclosures, etc., which is a big part of a junior-to-mid-level's responsibility on busy cases. So in some ways you are behind your peers, which makes it less likely you will get more of that experience (e.g., you're not likely to get to take a key deposition if you have never taken any deposition before). That stuff can snowball, and all of a sudden someone feels like you're "not where you should be" in terms of your skills for your year, and before you know it your partner chances are shot. That's obviously an extreme example, but it's not unheard of.

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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby pancakes3 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:52 pm

how close were we to reading snippets of DF hidden in 9th Circuit patent cases?

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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby EliotAlderson » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:27 am

Desert Fox wrote:In my experience, it's very valuable. And I'm not someone who clerked. You are considered a better writer and are given better shots. I think a district court clerkship is def worth it.


Second this. Also, when cases are before the judge I clerked for, I get a call/email when issues arise for my view on how the judge would think about the issue

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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:48 pm

How is clerking for more than one year a disadvantage? It seems--generally--a D.C.-->CoA path (or the reverse) is generally more desirable than just one (generally speaking---of course it depends on the judges). Plus don't you come in with third year credit if you clerk for two years/miss another year of grunt work?

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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:51 pm

Lincoln wrote:Clerking for more than one year can be a disadvantage because you will not have experience taking depositions, handling e-discovery, managing expert disclosures, etc., which is a big part of a junior-to-mid-level's responsibility on busy cases. So in some ways you are behind your peers, which makes it less likely you will get more of that experience (e.g., you're not likely to get to take a key deposition if you have never taken any deposition before). That stuff can snowball, and all of a sudden someone feels like you're "not where you should be" in terms of your skills for your year, and before you know it your partner chances are shot. That's obviously an extreme example, but it's not unheard of.

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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:00 pm

I've seen people get frustrated with "third years" who come in after two clerkships. They don't know how to handle the nuts and bolts of litigation, especially discovery, but also things like preparing deposition outlines, basic client relations instincts, understanding the expectations for your availability, etc. It's a bigger problem with associates who may not have worked before and have issues adjusting to biglaw life while being expected to handle more substantial work than a first year. Clerking is certainly a net positive but there are pitfalls.

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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:05 pm

Yeah I clerked for two years and have seen some of the downsides. They are only really bad downsides if you think you want to make partner though. They won't prevent you from doing two good years and bouncing

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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby AspiringAspirant » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:16 pm

FascinatedWanderer wrote:
unlicensedpotato wrote:I'm not in lit but I almost think you have it backwards: if you were going to a lean firm where you would work on substantive stuff right out of the gate, there's probably less of a need to clerk. If you have a few years of grunt work ahead it's probably more productive to use at least one of those years to clerk.


The thing is, the firms that will actually give you substantive work out of the gate usually require you to have clerked.


People say this often, but I think it's overblown. Very few firms, even the lean substantive ones, actually require that you clerk. It's just that most people who get into these firms have the credentials to clerk and want to do it.

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2014
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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby 2014 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How is clerking for more than one year a disadvantage? It seems--generally--a D.C.-->CoA path (or the reverse) is generally more desirable than just one (generally speaking---of course it depends on the judges). Plus don't you come in with third year credit if you clerk for two years/miss another year of grunt work?

He literally outlined how it is a disadvantage...

There are things that you do at a firm that you don't do clerking. If you have spent two junior years not getting trained in things you are supposed to be able to do and manage as a mid level people will be hesitant to trust you to do those things. It is desirable from a resume standpoint not a succeeding at a firm standpoint.

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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:46 pm

2014 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How is clerking for more than one year a disadvantage? It seems--generally--a D.C.-->CoA path (or the reverse) is generally more desirable than just one (generally speaking---of course it depends on the judges). Plus don't you come in with third year credit if you clerk for two years/miss another year of grunt work?

He literally outlined how it is a disadvantage...

There are things that you do at a firm that you don't do clerking. If you have spent two junior years not getting trained in things you are supposed to be able to do and manage as a mid level people will be hesitant to trust you to do those things. It is desirable from a resume standpoint not a succeeding at a firm standpoint.


The sorts of things you do in your first couple of years if you're not clerking (managing e-discovery, preparing depo outlines, etc) are all things that are pretty easy to pick-up--especially for clerks. In my experience, one-year and especially two-year clerks should expect to have to do some catching up in their first months at a firm. But given the sort of catching up that is required, for the vast majority of clerks, this is hardly a real disadvantage.

Somewhat ironically, I've seen clerks get good work even more quickly than they would otherwise for this reason: new associates generally get more of the work that they succeed at; clerks are more likely to succeed at their substantive and interesting assignments (and not the sort of grunt work that first years may have developed competency in); and as post-clerkship associates kill their substantive assignments while struggling with their e-discovery assignments, they progressively get fed a more strict diet of "good" work.

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Re: Does clerking really change your role in Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:09 pm

FWIW, I did two clerkships and am a little over a year in at a prominent firm and have seen zero downside so far. Those more junior tasks that you have to learn to do are considered junior tasks for a reason--they are not very difficult. Other tasks like taking a deposition I have found not many first or second years are doing anyway, so didn't feel I was at a disadvantage there (and I took and defended several depos my first year at the firm, so don't feel like clerking held me back here). Plus, having two clerkships has allowed me to bounce between trial work and appellate work, which is not impossible otherwise but probably less likely. Just one datapoint, but I don't regret clerking two years at all.




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