Clerks Taking Questions

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 01, 2012 11:31 pm

Can any of you speak to the merits of spending a year before an appellate clerkship at a district court clerkship, as opposed to spending that time working for a year at a law firm or somewhere other than a courthouse?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 02, 2012 6:34 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:A couple people contacted judges (directly spoke to them) within the last week for me. I haven't heard from any of the judges, and the people helping me think that's a really bad sign. According to conventional wisdom/their clerks, a couple of these judges are "on plan" (although I know a lot of judges in this district say they're on plan when they're really not). Does it sound like I'm out of luck? Someone who's been a clerk might be helpful here- might the supposedly on-plan judges have just noted it for a future date, or would I have probably heard by now?

Based on what you say, I would not worry. If these judges supposedly are on plan, they might well still be. And even if they have gone off plan, they might reserve hiring for later in the summer -- for instance once most applicants have spring grades. Also relevant: springtime off plan district court hiring is still relatively uncommon.

Some district judges have recently proposed a new hiring plan, under which interviews would occur over the summer rather than in September. The judges you are talking about might even subscribe to that view.


Thanks for the response. Does it change anything that I know for a fact that a good number of judges in this district have already hired (including having hired current 2Ls)? I'd guess that I'm out on the judges who have been hiring now, but maybe not for the others.

In your experience, what do judges do when they are contacted by people (profs/practitioners) that they know well? Do they check out that person's application and bring them in if they like it, even if they're not technically looking to hire yet? Do they put a note on that application for later? Just trying to get some insight on the process and what I should expect (and sorry if I should just sit tight and be more patient).

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby KellyFan2000 » Wed May 02, 2012 9:34 pm

For those with significant law school debt, do any clerks have advice on how to handle it while clerking? Following a clerkship, there is obviously the opportunity to go into private practice and pay it down. Just curious about the conventional wisdom on how best to handle the 1 or two years when your salary will be significantly less. IBR?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 02, 2012 10:00 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any tips for SAs? I'm pretty sure a clerkship won't land in my lap, but if your associate or partner mentor has clerked, is it unusual for you to get an interview through that connection?


My friend got a pretty great clerkship largely through the recommendation of senior associate who was a former clerk. This obviously varies - some people will be willing to go to bat for SAs and some won't, and similarly some judges care what their former clerks have to say and some don't. But it happens.

I don't know if there are any special tips though. Do really good work, have a positive attitude, and try to get along with the people you work with. Regardless of whether you're hoping for someone to help you out with clerkships, SAs are not just about doing enough to safely get an offer. Without going crazy, it's worthwhile to try hard to do a good job, either because it will help your reputation when you come back (read: better work), and because you never know who might know someone.

To the degree that your firm is clerk-friendly (as most are), I would also make it known (tactfully) that you are thinking about clerkships. Some people may volunteer their help - whether that means making a call or even if it's just giving you advice.
Good points. I agree with all of this. Clerkships are something you can bring up after a few weeks at the firm, for instance at a lunch with associates or partners who clerked. Like the poster above said, you have to be tactful about it. But assuming you are, well-connected associates & partners can have a significant impact on the clerkship hiring process. One way they do so is by passing along (often via e-mail) applications to their judge.
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any tips for SAs? I'm pretty sure a clerkship won't land in my lap, but if your associate or partner mentor has clerked, is it unusual for you to get an interview through that connection?


My friend got a pretty great clerkship largely through the recommendation of senior associate who was a former clerk. This obviously varies - some people will be willing to go to bat for SAs and some won't, and similarly some judges care what their former clerks have to say and some don't. But it happens.

I don't know if there are any special tips though. Do really good work, have a positive attitude, and try to get along with the people you work with. Regardless of whether you're hoping for someone to help you out with clerkships, SAs are not just about doing enough to safely get an offer. Without going crazy, it's worthwhile to try hard to do a good job, either because it will help your reputation when you come back (read: better work), and because you never know who might know someone.

To the degree that your firm is clerk-friendly (as most are), I would also make it known (tactfully) that you are thinking about clerkships. Some people may volunteer their help - whether that means making a call or even if it's just giving you advice.
Good points. I agree with all of this. Clerkships are something you can bring up after a few weeks at the firm, for instance at a lunch with associates or partners who clerked. Like the poster above said, you have to be tactful about it. But assuming you are, well-connected associates & partners can have a significant impact on the clerkship hiring process. One way they do so is by passing along (often via e-mail) applications to their judge.


Thank you for the great tips!

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby newyorker88 » Wed May 02, 2012 10:04 pm

How many clerks does each SCOTUS justice have?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby newyorker88 » Wed May 02, 2012 10:43 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
newyorker88 wrote:How many clerks does each SCOTUS justice have?

Current justices get four each; retired justices one each. I believe the Chief is entitled to five, but does not exercise that option.


thanks

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby quiver » Wed May 02, 2012 10:59 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:Current justices get four each; retired justices one each.
Out of curiosity, what's the deal with clerking for a retired justice? How much less competitive are those positions than normal SCOTUS justices? How much judging do they actually still do (I'm assuming that varies)?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby vacate123 » Thu May 03, 2012 8:03 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
quiver wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:Current justices get four each; retired justices one each.
Out of curiosity, what's the deal with clerking for a retired justice? How much less competitive are those positions than normal SCOTUS justices? How much judging do they actually still do (I'm assuming that varies)?

Clerks for retired justices usually work in the chambers of one of the nine active justices. Judge Sutton did this; he was hired by Justice Powell after his retirement and assisted in Justice Scalia's chambers. If the retired justice sits elsewhere by designation, which happens from time to time, then the clerk assists with that. See, e.g., United States v. Garcia, 672 F.3d 58 (1st Cir. 2012) (Souter, J., sitting by designation); Demings v. Nationwide Life Ins. Co., 593 F.3d 486 (6th Cir. 2010) (O'Connor, J., sitting by designation).


Do you work, GT? How the hell do you find time to research CASE LAW and write memos to random naked dudes on this here forum? And with bluebook-accurate citations too.

Are you employed? I mean, this is great stuff, but damn dude! Bluebook? On a friggin internet forum? Really?

TLS should pay you. We should start a petition to pay GT some money for this shit.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Thu May 03, 2012 9:34 am

No need for TLS to pay him: He could monetize clerkship scramble in a heartbeat, if he wanted to.

Also, of all the things to latch on to as amazing, clerks can bluebook in our sleep and find cases like that while simultaneously playing 4 games of Starcraft. Not that I'd know, of course;)
Last edited by ToTransferOrNot on Thu May 03, 2012 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby vacate123 » Thu May 03, 2012 9:46 am

ToTransferOrNot wrote:clerks can bluebook in our sleep and find cases like that while simultaneously playing 4 games of Starcraft. Not that I'd know, of course;)

that makes clerking sound like a really expensive legal research and writing class..
oh wait..

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Thu May 03, 2012 9:58 am

vacate123 wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:clerks can bluebook in our sleep and find cases like that while simultaneously playing 4 games of Starcraft. Not that I'd know, of course;)

that makes clerking sound like a really expensive legal research and writing class..
oh wait..


Meh. On an hourly post-tax basis, many clerks (not all) get paid far more than a first-year biglaw associate. But yes, clerking is basically an extensive research and writing exercise. As is, you know, the practice of law. The research and writing class is the only class you take in law school that actually teaches anything relevant, short of clinics and so on :lol:

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby vacate123 » Thu May 03, 2012 12:46 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:Meh. On an hourly post-tax basis, many clerks (not all) get paid far more than a first-year biglaw associate. But yes, clerking is basically an extensive research and writing exercise. As is, you know, the practice of law. The research and writing class is the only class you take in law school that actually teaches anything relevant, short of clinics and so on :lol:


Faulty premise, "many" clerks work way more than 40 hours a week.
Last edited by vacate123 on Thu May 03, 2012 12:59 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Contacting chambers when in the area

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 03, 2012 12:50 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have an application for the 2013 term pending with a judge, and I will be in the judge's city in a month or so. Would it be acceptable form to call chambers and let them know that I will be in the area and ask if the judge would be interested in meeting while I'm in town?

Unless you have another interview in that courthouse (or reasonably nearby), no. Clerkship applications are very much a "don't call us, we'll call you" affair -- particularly off-plan.


I think a bit more nuanced of an answer might be appropriate here. I completely agree with GTL if the chambers are in a major city. But, if the chambers are in the middle of nowhere then it might be worth a call - at worst they say no, but they might be inclined to say yes if you are a candidate who is otherwise competitive.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Thu May 03, 2012 1:21 pm

vacate123 wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:Meh. On an hourly post-tax basis, many clerks (not all) get paid far more than a first-year biglaw associate. But yes, clerking is basically an extensive research and writing exercise. As is, you know, the practice of law. The research and writing class is the only class you take in law school that actually teaches anything relevant, short of clinics and so on :lol:


That kind of use of the word "many" is going to get you in trouble. As is the glaring false premise that clerks work 40 hours a week. "Many" more clerks work 50-60 hour weeks than the "many" clerks you claim earn more hourly than first-year biglaw associates.

And, uh, no, clerking, especially at the appellate level, is a whole lot more like a glorified research and writing class than working in big law. Let me guess, you've only summered in big law yet, correct? Appellate clerkships don't carry over much value into litigation. And no, you won't be doing appellate work in a law firm for a living. They're basically resume puffs which help with lateraling. They don't help with partnership prospects. And they don't make up the difference financially in the long run. The only context where an appellate clerkship makes true financial sense is for academics. The "big fed" thing is totally oversold. You don't need a clerkship for big fed.

District clerkships, on the other hand, that's good use of time.


First, I'm not sure why you seem so mad. "Many" doesn't even have to mean "greater than 50%". Many clerks work far more than 40 hours a week, some work less, and many work right around 40.

Second, I'm currently clerking, and I'm fully aware that there is a range of hours involved. That said, "many" of my colleagues are closer to 40-50 per week than to 60. The people I know at my future firm are billing 250+ hours a month right now (maybe that number is higher than average--I couldn't tell you), and you add non-billable time on top of that. 70-80 hours per week. Once you factor in taxes, it works out that biglaw is making more, but not a whole lot more, on an hourly basis. Sorry for the inaccurate statement in the first go. Getting away from the hourly comparison, on an absolute basis, after taxes, a clerkship ends up costing you somewhere well under $50k. (Gross: $167,500k at a firm vs. $112,909 as a clerk, after taxes, the difference is around 30-40k, depending on where you live.) To be sure, that's a lot of money. I wouldn't give up the year of clerking for a lump-sum payment, though.

Third, the folks in the group I'm going to do plenty of research and writing as first-years, and I'm not going into an appellate group. (Or even a pure litigation group, for that matter.) A clerkship--any clerkship, be it district court or appellate--isn't going to prepare you for the "fact investigation"/doc review aspects of biglaw. A district clerkship will put your eyes on a greater number of the day-to-day motions, but trying to dismiss an appellate clerkship as nothing but a resume puff is absurd. And even if that is all they are, people make decisions based on what they do for lateral prospects--or even just for vain feathers in the cap--all the time.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 03, 2012 6:59 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:First, I'm not sure why you seem so mad. "Many" doesn't even have to mean "greater than 50%". Many clerks work far more than 40 hours a week, some work less, and many work right around 40.


Different anon. I think he gets that many doesn't equal > 50%. That's the point. You're using "many" like CLS used "many" when describing their "fellowships now have full-time employment" claim on the Campos blog.

Getting back to the original point. Maybe clerks don't understand compound interest. Even $25k left on the table is a *shit* ton of inflation-adjusted money 40 years from now. And it doesn't enhance partnership-odds, which really flattens the sole remaining financial argument. A firm I worked at flatly told me don't clerk for partnership prospects. In fact, the managing partner said this criticizing contemporary big law partnership practices: "A prestigious appellate clerk is less likely to make professor/big law partner/big fed career attorney than a Cooley grad is to make big law in the first place." Of course, this firm thinks they're an "exception" - although that is changing every year.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu May 03, 2012 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby leobowski » Thu May 03, 2012 7:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:First, I'm not sure why you seem so mad. "Many" doesn't even have to mean "greater than 50%". Many clerks work far more than 40 hours a week, some work less, and many work right around 40.


Different anon. I think he gets that many doesn't equal > 50%. That's the point. You're using "many" like CLS used "many" when describing their "fellowships now have full-time employment" claim on the Campos blog. I don't know much about clerkships but I do have a good b/s detector. But this argument, and frankly this entire thread, is a monumental waste of life called the "rat race."

I once worked at a "very prestigious" law firm, where the managing partner had this to say to summer associates asking about clerkships: "A prestigious appellate clerk is less likely to make professor/big law partner/big fed career attorney than a Cooley grad is to make big law in the first place." I'm pretty sure he didn't use "Cooley" - I think he used another TTT law school (students of which had no chance to even serve as doc-review attorneys at this hellhole). But you get the point. Unless you're clerking because you have a real boner for a particular judge, most reasons for clerking fail the same sniff test that enrolling at Cooley does.

What's funny is that while law review might help you land a job in the first place, clerking doesn't really "land" you jobs in quite the same way. Clerks rarely lateral up if they didn't have the stuff to make it in their target firms in the first place. And clerks almost always have biglaw jobs. Very few clerks (and I know they exist) actually strike out at OCI and magically land Art III clerkships. For that narrow slice of candidates, I think clerking makes sense because they get to dance around in a holding pattern - much like PhDs and post-docs.



1) Nice use of anon
2) Superb anecdote about the partner, which is colossally wrong on oh so many different levels
3) Plenty of clerks strike out at OCI and/or go govt./PI over their 2L summer. You're talking to one.
4) Caught you before the ninja edit.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 03, 2012 7:37 pm

leobowski wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:First, I'm not sure why you seem so mad. "Many" doesn't even have to mean "greater than 50%". Many clerks work far more than 40 hours a week, some work less, and many work right around 40.


Different anon. I think he gets that many doesn't equal > 50%. That's the point. You're using "many" like CLS used "many" when describing their "fellowships now have full-time employment" claim on the Campos blog. I don't know much about clerkships but I do have a good b/s detector. But this argument, and frankly this entire thread, is a monumental waste of life called the "rat race."

I once worked at a "very prestigious" law firm, where the managing partner had this to say to summer associates asking about clerkships: "A prestigious appellate clerk is less likely to make professor/big law partner/big fed career attorney than a Cooley grad is to make big law in the first place." I'm pretty sure he didn't use "Cooley" - I think he used another TTT law school (students of which had no chance to even serve as doc-review attorneys at this hellhole). But you get the point. Unless you're clerking because you have a real boner for a particular judge, most reasons for clerking fail the same sniff test that enrolling at Cooley does.

What's funny is that while law review might help you land a job in the first place, clerking doesn't really "land" you jobs in quite the same way. Clerks rarely lateral up if they didn't have the stuff to make it in their target firms in the first place. And clerks almost always have biglaw jobs. Very few clerks (and I know they exist) actually strike out at OCI and magically land Art III clerkships. For that narrow slice of candidates, I think clerking makes sense because they get to dance around in a holding pattern - much like PhDs and post-docs.



1) Nice use of anon
2) Superb anecdote about the partner, which is colossally wrong on oh so many different levels
3) Plenty of clerks strike out at OCI and/or go govt./PI over their 2L summer. You're talking to one.
4) Caught you before the ninja edit.


Don't much care about the edits. The partner may be wrong.

Again, you're part of the "plenty of" camp. Welcome!

The "many" and "plenty of" camp keep growing.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 03, 2012 7:57 pm

leobowski wrote:1) Nice use of anon
2) Superb anecdote about the partner, which is colossally wrong on oh so many different levels
3) Plenty of clerks strike out at OCI and/or go govt./PI over their 2L summer. You're talking to one.
4) Caught you before the ninja edit.


I find it amusing that you think you're an authority to question a big law firm partner, given that you couldn't get a big law job last summer.

I worked there for several years before law school and will work there again after law school.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby boredatwork » Thu May 03, 2012 8:56 pm


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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 03, 2012 9:01 pm

ok non-abrasive anon here from few above, this thread has gone into a tailspin.

ToTransfer: you're doing some real funky math there bud. But to your credit, I'll submit that working as a first-year NYC associate at Cravath (what with their TTT bonus) is probably worse in purely financial terms than clerking in like Ohio or Louisiana or something. And it's probably a LOT easier to get a Louisiana district clerkship than landing Cravath.

Either way, clerking is useful but a lot of it is puffery. The only people who beat the clerkship drum loud, hard, and incessantly are law schools themselves and law profs - mostly because it makes the schools look good. And of course, former clerks, who use it just like the law review kids - something illusory to get your sense of self-worth from.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 03, 2012 9:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Either way, clerking is useful but a lot of it is puffery. The only people who beat the clerkship drum loud, hard, and incessantly are law schools themselves and law profs - mostly because it makes the schools look good. And of course, former clerks, who use it just like the law review kids - something illusory to get your sense of self-worth from.



But former clerks are partners at law firms, gc's at companies, ausa's, etc. My friend who graduated 15 years ago from HLS still gets asked about her clerkship when she goes on job interviews.
It's used, like law review, as a way to weed people out (or in). people like people who are liked (chosen) by other people.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby quiver » Thu May 03, 2012 9:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:And it's probably a LOT easier to get a Louisiana district clerkship than landing Cravath.
Wouldn't bet on that at all. Not sure why there are so many people bashing clerking on this page. If you don't think clerking is worth it then how about not coming into this thread; there's at least a few other threads that bash clerking, go comment in one of those.

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:Some say the retired justice clerkships are less competitive (HLS career services has said this, for instance). Assuming that is right -- and it may not be -- the difference in competitiveness likely is not great. Recent hiring data bears this out. If you look, many of the recent clerks for Justices Stevens, O'Connor, and Souter come from the same type of appellate clerkships you would expect for the active justices. See --LinkRemoved--.

Clerks for retired justices usually work in the chambers of one of the nine active justices. Judge Sutton did this; he was hired by Justice Powell after his retirement and assisted in Justice Scalia's chambers. If the retired justice sits elsewhere by designation, which happens from time to time, then the clerk assists with that. See, e.g., United States v. Garcia, 672 F.3d 58 (1st Cir. 2012) (Souter, J., sitting by designation); Demings v. Nationwide Life Ins. Co., 593 F.3d 486 (6th Cir. 2010) (O'Connor, J., sitting by designation).
Very interesting stuff, thanks GTL.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 03, 2012 9:17 pm

quiver wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:And it's probably a LOT easier to get a Louisiana district clerkship than landing Cravath.
Wouldn't bet on that at all. Not sure why there are so many people bashing clerking on this page. If you don't think clerking is worth it then how about not coming into this thread; there's at least a few other threads that bash clerking, go comment in one of those.



im pretty sure you can land district court clerkships in places like n. dakota, louisiana, georgia, etc. by being top 5% at regional TTTs. and i know for a fact that top 5% at TTTs in those states are sure as hell not landing cravath.

big law can be harder than landing "a" clerkship job somewhere.

of course, clerking in sdny, ndcal, cdcal is obviously much harder

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 03, 2012 9:20 pm

you know what's a muuuuch better way to make partner than clerking?
ausa

or at least, a curosry glance at quinn emanuel's webpage indicates so

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Citizen Genet » Thu May 03, 2012 10:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:you know what's a muuuuch better way to make partner than clerking?
ausa

or at least, a curosry glance at quinn emanuel's webpage indicates so



You know what is becoming a virtual requirement for being an AUSA in almost all districts, and certainly in districts with significant white collar and litigation sections?

Clerking.




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