Helmholtz wrote:If there is a "prestige difference," it's not enough to matter at OCI or beyond (and only the douchiest of your douchey classmates will care either way). You will probably be doing substantially different work, though. I had a couple upperclassmen specifically say that it's not a bad idea to go after federal magistrate clerkship over an Art III judge because it's easier to get hands-on work with the magistrate, who will also probably be taking significantly fewer clerks. I've heard some say that Art III judge is the way to go. In the end, it doesn't really matter, and I wouldn't be sweating the difference between COA judge / Art III district judge / federal magistrate judge when it comes to looking for a summer job. Law school students will probably tell you that an Art III district judge is more "prestigious" but it's more important to get something in a convenient location to you. And if you hear that one magistrate judge is particularly great to work for, don't look back. The summer can be a terrific mentoring process as well, and a lot of magistrate judges are incredibly generous with the amount of time they'll show you in explaining things and offering suggestions. Same goes for a lot of Art III judges as well.
The "significantly fewer clerks" most certainly isn't true as a blanket rule, or generalized assumption. In my courthouse, the magistrate judges had the most interns. Some had as many as 6 or 7 people around a table working. I was with an Art. III judge and I was the only intern in the chambers. Magistrates often have very full dockets, so there is no reason to think they have any less work or any less need for assistance.