Judicial Internships

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littleboyblue
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Judicial Internships

Postby littleboyblue » Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:18 pm

What do you do as a summer intern for a judge? Can you try to get this type of position the summer before your first year of law school?

helfer snooterbagon
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby helfer snooterbagon » Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:24 pm

Would probably be pretty difficult to get the position before 1st year. Generally you will be helping with drafting opinions, and will also be researching specific areas of law. If you have not read any opinions it will probably be difficult to help write one. However, I am sure there is someone out there with some anecdotal evidence to prove me wrong.

red_sox
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby red_sox » Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:24 pm

.
Last edited by red_sox on Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

littleboyblue
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby littleboyblue » Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:33 pm

thanks for your replies.

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rucoach
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby rucoach » Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:11 pm

So, I have my first interview with a judge this Thursday. Anybody done one yet this cycle, and if so, what was it like? Also, this is my first interview this cycle (I only sent out resumes end of last week), if the judge makes an offer, do I have to accept it or can I wait and see what other interviews I get? I would prefer an SA spot, but a judicial internship would be my second choice. I'm going to be in Philly this summer regardless, if that matters.

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thedogship
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby thedogship » Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:54 pm

I'm going to be doing a judicial internship for a 2nd Circuit judge this summer. Pretty much all of my SA applications came back no go, so I figure that a federal appeals internship in New York City is the next best option. Now I just need to figure out a way to finance it (since I will be making a lot less than a SA, um, like 0).

I've found the judicial internship interviews to be pretty easy. Usually they are with one or two of the judge's clerks, or the judge and clerks together (I've done it both ways both in person and over the phone). I'm doing a district court internship this spring, so I think that made getting an appeals internship and the actual interview easier, but generally i've found the interviews to be pretty easy going. They just basically ask about the stuff on your resume and what your goals are. I think if you get an interview, they've generally already done most of the weeding, and are picking amongst five or six candidates, so the job is likely yours to lose. I'd just emphasize as much as possible any and all of your research and writing experience and sound like you have specific interests in the law, but want to get a broad range of exposure to how different areas of the law are crafted and treated by a judge and arguing lawyers.

As far as holding on to offers before you commit - I'm not sure how long you can reasonably do that. I had two judges that offered me positions give me 48 hours to give them a decision, because if I didn't want it, they had other equally qualified people to give it to. I wouldn't expect to hold onto an offer for like 2 weeks without committing. What I would say is that you should try to make up your mind ahead of time of which judges you would really accept an offer from. At a certain point, most judges in certain courts are fungible (like in general, working for any SDNY judge is the same). I told myself that the first 2nd Circuit judge to offer me a position was the one I was going to take - I just got lucky that it was the one that I was actually hoping for. Of course, you can always say yes to one judge, and then later break that commitment if you get a better offer from another. It's not the right thing to do, but it's not like you've signed a contract. You just would want to make sure that if you break a commitment to a judge, that you don't go trying to apply for a clerkship with them later on, and you probably don't want to break a commitment to a judge in favor of an offer from another judge in the same court (like one SDNY judge for another SDNY judge). Who knows how much they talk to each other about who's working in their chambers.

1981be
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby 1981be » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:42 pm

I would strongly disagree with the last poster. Do not accept an offer from a judge and then later rescind your acceptance for another position. You never know who knows who and judges are powerful people. Reputation is extremely important, and you do not want to start out your career like this.

Even if it does not come back to bite you in the ass, you need to ask yourself whether you want to be known as a person of your word or not?

patentlaw
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby patentlaw » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:17 pm

1981be wrote:I would strongly disagree with the last poster. Do not accept an offer from a judge and then later rescind your acceptance for another position. You never know who knows who and judges are powerful people. Reputation is extremely important, and you do not want to start out your career like this.

Even if it does not come back to bite you in the ass, you need to ask yourself whether you want to be known as a person of your word or not?


I'd also counsel against breaking offers unless you absolutely have to. It could definitely bite you in the ass.

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thedogship
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby thedogship » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:20 pm

1981be wrote:I would strongly disagree with the last poster. Do not accept an offer from a judge and then later rescind your acceptance for another position. You never know who knows who and judges are powerful people. Reputation is extremely important, and you do not want to start out your career like this.

Even if it does not come back to bite you in the ass, you need to ask yourself whether you want to be known as a person of your word or not?


hey clown, I wasn't endorsing doing that. I said it was probably not a good idea and it's not the right thing to do. I said he should think ahead of time what judge he would accept a position from and stick to that. Obviously it's not a good idea to back out on a judge; I just said that it's an option, even if it's ill-advised. Learn to read.

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joonbug
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby joonbug » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:50 pm

thedogship wrote:
1981be wrote:I would strongly disagree with the last poster. Do not accept an offer from a judge and then later rescind your acceptance for another position. You never know who knows who and judges are powerful people. Reputation is extremely important, and you do not want to start out your career like this.

Even if it does not come back to bite you in the ass, you need to ask yourself whether you want to be known as a person of your word or not?


hey clown, I wasn't endorsing doing that. I said it was probably not a good idea and it's not the right thing to do. I said he should think ahead of time what judge he would accept a position from and stick to that. Obviously it's not a good idea to back out on a judge; I just said that it's an option, even if it's ill-advised. Learn to read.


dogship, chill the fuck down, son.

1981be
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby 1981be » Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:49 pm

thedogship wrote:Of course, you can always say yes to one judge, and then later break that commitment if you get a better offer from another. It's not the right thing to do, but it's not like you've signed a contract.


You said it was a possibility, I strongly disagree that it should even be thought of as a possibility.

I'm quite comfortable with my ability to read.

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rucoach
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby rucoach » Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm

I wasn't considering trading one judge for another. But what if I did get a firm interview? Could you still do the interview after accepting an offer from a judge? I know that's wishful thinking this hiring season, but what's the etiquette?

1981be
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby 1981be » Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:26 am

Talk with your career services. You really should not accept any position and then interview for better positions afterwards, especially not a judge.

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DelDad
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby DelDad » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:06 pm

Once you accept an offer from anyone, as 1981be says, you should consider yourself done.

As law students, we're still building our bridges, so it's a little early to start burning them by ticking off people more established than we are in our surprisingly small field. It's is amazing how much lawyers and judges talk/gossip - don't be the person they talk about negatively, and don't be the person who some firm's hiring department calls your school to kvetch about (They do this occasionally to complain about the quality of applicants' resumes - they will certainly do it if they feel like you've merely used them to leverage a better offer.)

If you want to keep you options open, be judicious about when you schedule your interviews - schedule them from most desirable to least, for example. But you should not accept any offer from an entity if you aren't willing to withdraw from consideration by others.

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bobjr
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby bobjr » Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:29 pm

our career center told us that you should never turn down a job offer from a judge + that if you apply for an internship with them you are expected to accept if unless you already have a job elsewhere

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rucoach
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby rucoach » Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:28 pm

Got my internship, federal district judge!

Da Stain
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby Da Stain » Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:57 pm

Congrats, Coach! Locked mine up yesterday as well. Gotta love people who hire without grades. :P
(EDIT: one note I'll add here about grades. If you have a stellar UG transcript, it might be worth sending. I didn't have one and didn't send it. As a result, I think, I've gotten nothing but grade requests from SDNY, while EDNY has netted me interviews. If it's a competitive court, and you have something grade-wise to send, I think it's a good idea.)

Even though this thread has been answered, I'll throw in my two cents for reference:

1) One piece of advice regarding breaking offers that I got, was do not interview if you wouldn't be willing to take the job. It's a bit extreme, but essentially if you wouldn't accept on the spot, which judges are known to ask for, then why waste your time. Especially if it's where you plan on practicing, I think it's a bad idea to give a judge you will probably be before at some point to have a negative reason to remember your name. This is obviously tough to really do, but if you need more time then ask for it. If they don't give you more time, then ask whether that's someone you'd want to work for anyway.

2) Interviewing:

My interview was fairly smooth and informal. (I can't say that this is the norm or not, just how mine went.) Met with the two clerks, talked about law school some of my work experience and why I was interested in the internship. They then explained to me how their "program" works. All in all it was very laid-back, and I don't even remember them looking at my resume. Conversation was mostly driven by me. I asked a few questions about the judge, what he's like to work for, how is he about mentoring and feedback. Career Services gave me a good piece of advice on this: Don't ask anything you would be embarrassed that the judge knew you asked. That was in response to my question about whether it would be appropriate to ask if I would be able to take a writing sample from the summer, which makes sense.

Next, I met with the Judge. Very informal interview. We spent some time on the same general questions about law school, work experience. He again explained his "program". A few questions that I was told would probably come up and did:
How was law school? What classes did you take? (For this, have something substantive to say about a class beyond it was good or professor was funny. I did Civ Pro and how I was interested in th development of the rules from writ to FRCP. Nothing big deal, but at least something.)
Why do you want to work HERE? (Tougher question to answer without resorting to cliche, but doable. Just have something beyond I'm interested in litigation.)
Then we talked about my undergrad for a while, of which Judge was an alumnus. So, that was beyond easy. Then, he offered me the job and 10 days or so to let him know.

His "Program": not sure what most judges do with interns, but he had developed a little program for the interns. Each is assigned a habeas petition to research and write for the summer. With 10 weeks it should be manageable to have a completed draft by the end ready for filing. You work with the clerks and the judge on this.
A lot of time is spent in court watching. Each morning, judge meets with the interns, goes over the schedule for the day and issues to keep an eye for. Afterwards, we all meet in chambers and interns give their opinions on what they saw, then Judge gives his opinion on what he saw. In between court, work on the habeas petition. Finish it earlier and maybe get some additional work with the clerks.

It was good that he explained it because it sounded like a good idea. Some judges may not interact or care nearly as much about thier interns, so make sure you know what you're getting into in either direction (you may want the other direction, who knows!).

Hope some people find this useful as they interview in the coming weeks.

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DelDad
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby DelDad » Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:30 pm

Congrats, Da Stain and Coach!

Last year when I was interviewing for my internship, I interviewed solely with the clerks I would be working with - Basically the judge looked at the resumes he received, picked a few he wanted interviewed, and then left it to the clerks to decide who they wanted to work with. (Lesson: be nice to everybody at the courthouse.)

The summer was little slower than the rest of the year as far as courtroom activity, so I probably spent significant time observing in court for about three days per week, with the odd motion here and there on the other days. During the time in court, I sat at the clerk's desk in front of the judge and occasionally kept the minutes, received and entered exhibits presented by the parties, etc. I got to listen in on all the attorney's sidebar conversations with the judge, and generally get a really good idea of what it would like to be the clerks, who were doing all that stuff I mentioned, plus swearing in witnesses etc. most of the time.

The rest of my time was spent writing. I started off with a very quick summary judgment order which took a few days to do because I was getting used to the prcess and with trying to write using the judge's voice. My second day, I was sent upstairs to observe a special master conducting scheduling hearings for a massive IP case, and actually got to help out in setting the number of depositions and the amount of time each side would have for discovery - very cool in a very geeky sort of way. Next, the judge had me work on claim construction for a different patent-infringement case (A claim construction is an opinion in which the court decides on the meanings that particular disputed words have for the purposes of the patents at issue. Pretty incredible experience because I knew nothing about either patent law or the technology in question - The judge had me come to the hearing, handed me the briefs, as well as a hornbook, and said "Go!" Turned out to be about the longest thing I'd ever written in my life.). Over the summer I wrote drafts of about 20 opinions, mostly concerning motions to dismiss, summary judgments, and motions to reconsider (the clerks get the more complicated stuff, they occasionally assigned me some research tasks to help with their opinion drafts), in areas of law ranging from criminal and IP (the most common) to ERISA, sovereign immunity, and others.

The courthouse has a great partnership with the US Attorney's Office and the Office of the Federal Public Defender, so I got to tour each of those offices and talk about careers there, and attend (pretty useful) career panels with the FBI, Secret Service, etc. We toured places like the area's federal and state prisons, and the federal medical examiner's office to get a tour and observe an autopsy in progress. (I was absent the day they went to the ATF firing range)

I also got a ton of one-on-one time with the judge, who gave me career advice (which firms in the region would be the best to work for, what areas of law he thought I would most enjoy and how to make contacts in those areas, etc.), law school advice, and pet advice. Great summer. Hope you guys have similarly great experiences.
Last edited by DelDad on Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

didi
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby didi » Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:32 pm

I got an email from a judge's clerk, who said that the judge would like to review a writing sample before scheduling an interview with me. I do think I got something decent to send him (as I scored an offer from an appellate court judge with that sample already), but it would be hugely embarrassing to me if I got another email: "after reviewing your sample ... no interview ...."

by the way, this is a federal judge in a neighbor state, and I have no ties at all to that state. a bit surprised.

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rucoach
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby rucoach » Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:34 pm

Yeah, I was kind of surprised that I was asked to interview without grades, but the judge said he pulled my resume because of my work experience, said he liked people who had a career before law school. Also, he's an alum of the school I go to, so that probably helped. No on to the task of figuring out how to get some money over the summer.

And I have to second everything that was said about the interview (mine was E.D. Pa). Very informal, and it seemed like the clerks were really doing the screening. I don't think mine involves any formal pieces like the above poster's, but they did say there would be a significant amount of writing to do. Aside from no pay, I'm pretty excited.

didi
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby didi » Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:45 pm

sigh ... very worried that the reply after review of my writing sample will be "no interview ...."
that would make me lose my confidence in my writing class too.

didi
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby didi » Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:24 am

by the way, confirmed the interview day and time. I will have to fly to that city where the federal judge works and fly back in the same day so that I only miss 1 day of classes...

I dont know if it was stupid of me to stress that I would be available for personal, face to face interview and the first week of class is not busy ... bla bla bla.

now I have ordered the expensive ticket with no hope of reimbursement I think I will get really sad if I dont get the post. This is not even a paid position .... :cry:

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bobjr
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby bobjr » Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:32 am

did anybody apply to state trial courts? I plan on staying in DC and would rather intern at a trial court than an appellate court, but the local district courts are going to be flooded w/ apps, so I think I might try to intern for a MD or VA state trial ct...

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thedogship
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby thedogship » Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:37 am

didi wrote:by the way, confirmed the interview day and time. I will have to fly to that city where the federal judge works and fly back in the same day so that I only miss 1 day of classes...

I dont know if it was stupid of me to stress that I would be available for personal, face to face interview and the first week of class is not busy ... bla bla bla.

now I have ordered the expensive ticket with no hope of reimbursement I think I will get really sad if I dont get the post. This is not even a paid position .... :cry:


All the more reason you've got to blow them out of the water - you are pot committed now to the position. Best of luck to you. Keep your spirits, and most importantly, confidence high - confidence in an interview is 3/4 of the game. They wouldn't have asked you to come out there, especially fly there, if there wasn't a good chance that they were going to give you the job. This is just to see if you are a complete weirdo. Just practice your interview answers (most of their questions are very predictable - what are your interests? why this court? why this region? where do you see yourself in 5 years (be sure to mention that you'd like to clerk after law school)?) make sure you know your resume up and down and can speak intelligently about everything on there. You really shouldn't be making up answers in the interview - it should all be rehearsed, but obviously not sound rehearsed or stiff. Really try to think of things that would make you notable or different from other candidates and try to weave them in, so they remember you. Good luck!

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thedogship
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Re: Judicial Internships

Postby thedogship » Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:42 am

bobjr wrote:did anybody apply to state trial courts? I plan on staying in DC and would rather intern at a trial court than an appellate court, but the local district courts are going to be flooded w/ apps, so I think I might try to intern for a MD or VA state trial ct...


This is definitely true. the DC federal district courts and even the DC "state" courts get inundated with apps (from students all over the country). You should try to also apply to VA and MD state courts. I had friends last year that worked for VA and MD judges in Alexandria and Rockville, respectively. Getting any court experience is better than no court experience, and the DC courts are probably the most sought after ones by all law students around the country (along with NYC and LA). I'd get your apps in asap though - judges are definitely looking to fill their rosters in the coming weeks if they have not done it yet. As soon as you get your first semester grades, I'd get those things in the mail.




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