Clerks Taking Questions

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theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Fri May 04, 2012 12:10 am

I'm pretty sure you can land district court clerkships in places like n. dakota, louisiana, georgia, etc. by being top 5% at regional TTTs.


Um, no. No no no. Three times more no.

From a "TTT," you need to be top five in the class -- minimum -- for an AIII clerkship. Probably more like top three. Look at the numbers. You have lower top 50 schools and second tier schools placing like 2-3 grads a year in AIII clerkships. Once you get to the real third tier schools, it's basically the valedictorian or salutatorian, and maybe the next guy if they both pass at the local district court.

The class of schools where top 5% makes you competitive for an AIII clerkship are those just outside of the T14, like in the 15-25 range.

As for the the relative difficulty of clerking vs. biglaw out of a TTT, I think this depends on the TTT and home market. At the (non-NYC) V20 firm I was at, the local TTT schools usually placed a person or two at my firm in every class. If the other big firms hired even half that many, that's a lot more biglaw associates (between 5% and 10% of the class) than AIII clerks (maybe 3 or 4) in the class.

People reeeeeaaallly don't know how competitive AIII clerkships are these days, especially out of the T14 (and really T6, and really really HSY). You have people from (say) Michigan with top 15% grades with LR applying broadly and not getting an interview.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 04, 2012 12:23 am

theaccidentalclerk wrote:The class of schools where top 5% makes you competitive for an AIII clerkship are those just outside of the T14, like in the 15-25 range.


I feel like this is the case at my T10. These days, it seems like only the students in the top 5% seem "very likely" to get some Art. III clerkship. And even then, they usually have to be geographically flexible. A good number outside of the top 5% get clerkships, too. But not as many as I would have thought.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 04, 2012 12:44 am

Ther's definitely a regional bias among bumblefuck districts and their judges, most of whom don't require HYS magna cum laude creds.

Judges in bubmlefuck districts do dip into local talent a lot more than you seem to indicate. im feeling lazy as shit or i'd pull up law firm bio links where ppl going to ttts like bloomington or whatever have indiana clerkships, or ppl attending like uga have ndga clerkships

maybe im using ttt incorrectly, im thinking anything outside top 20 is like a ttt

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Fri May 04, 2012 1:03 am

Actually, on second thought, TMI.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 04, 2012 3:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Ther's definitely a regional bias among bumblefuck districts and their judges, most of whom don't require HYS magna cum laude creds.

Judges in bubmlefuck districts do dip into local talent a lot more than you seem to indicate. im feeling lazy as shit or i'd pull up law firm bio links where ppl going to ttts like bloomington or whatever have indiana clerkships, or ppl attending like uga have ndga clerkships

maybe im using ttt incorrectly, im thinking anything outside top 20 is like a ttt

You are using "TTT" incorrectly, but you're still wrong. Top 5% from a true TTT (e.g. John Marshall Atlanta) does not get a sniff from even the "lowliest" AIII judges. The top student or couple of students, maybe. From a top 50 school (e.g. UGA), top 5% is getting a look at a reasonably competitive local district (e.g. N.D.Ga) or local circuit (e.g. 11th). The top student of handful of students will get a look at more competitive circuits, and could certainly land Cravath or other V5/V10 if that's what they're after.

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Fri May 04, 2012 4:10 pm

From a top 50 school (e.g. UGA), top 5% is getting a look at a reasonably competitive local district (e.g. N.D.Ga) or local circuit (e.g. 11th).


I'm not sure I disagree with you, but I'll note two things. The first is that UGA is probably a bad example. It's just outside the top 30, and it's also a relatively well-reputed state school in a state with a disproportionately big market with several districts and a COA. Let's take a look at some of the schools in the 40-50 range, and specifically, the raw number of federal clerks that they had as reported by LST. The number in the parenthetical is how many students are in the top 5% of the class.

Arizona: 6 (8)
Colorado: 3 (9)
Wake Forest: 7 (8)
Florida: 8 (22)
Pepperdine: 3 (10)
Utah: 5 (6)
American: 18 (23)
Hastings: 4 (21)

I think what these numbers show is that except for American, the general rule is going to be that class size doesn't really matter. You really want to be in the top 10 or so students of the class from the schools in the 40-50 range to have a shot at a clerkship.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 04, 2012 8:31 pm

I'm a Hastings student and we have 5 this year. Womp womp womp. Our valedictorian is doing a Magistrate one.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby 012grad » Fri May 04, 2012 10:45 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote:
From a top 50 school (e.g. UGA), top 5% is getting a look at a reasonably competitive local district (e.g. N.D.Ga) or local circuit (e.g. 11th).


I'm not sure I disagree with you, but I'll note two things. The first is that UGA is probably a bad example. It's just outside the top 30, and it's also a relatively well-reputed state school in a state with a disproportionately big market with several districts and a COA. Let's take a look at some of the schools in the 40-50 range, and specifically, the raw number of federal clerks that they had as reported by LST. The number in the parenthetical is how many students are in the top 5% of the class.

Arizona: 6 (8)
Colorado: 3 (9)
Wake Forest: 7 (8)
Florida: 8 (22)
Pepperdine: 3 (10)
Utah: 5 (6)
American: 18 (23)
Hastings: 4 (21)

I think what these numbers show is that except for American, the general rule is going to be that class size doesn't really matter. You really want to be in the top 10 or so students of the class from the schools in the 40-50 range to have a shot at a clerkship.


This is very interesting. If these numbers are for all federal clerks, it'd be interesting to know how many are Art. III, how many Mag., how many BK. etc. I'm impressed by American. Do D.C. schools get better chances at D.C. based Court of Claims/Tax Court type openings?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 04, 2012 10:49 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote:
From a top 50 school (e.g. UGA), top 5% is getting a look at a reasonably competitive local district (e.g. N.D.Ga) or local circuit (e.g. 11th).


I'm not sure I disagree with you, but I'll note two things. The first is that UGA is probably a bad example. It's just outside the top 30, and it's also a relatively well-reputed state school in a state with a disproportionately big market with several districts and a COA. Let's take a look at some of the schools in the 40-50 range, and specifically, the raw number of federal clerks that they had as reported by LST. The number in the parenthetical is how many students are in the top 5% of the class.

Arizona: 6 (8)
Colorado: 3 (9)
Wake Forest: 7 (8)
Florida: 8 (22)
Pepperdine: 3 (10)
Utah: 5 (6)
American: 18 (23)
Hastings: 4 (21)

I think what these numbers show is that except for American, the general rule is going to be that class size doesn't really matter. You really want to be in the top 10 or so students of the class from the schools in the 40-50 range to have a shot at a clerkship.


I don't have any reason to doubt the other numbers you posted, but I go to one of these schools and the data for it here is flat-out wrong (overstated size of top 5% and understated number of Art III clerks). Also, be careful what conclusions you draw from these numbers. Not everyone at the top of the class applies to clerkships; it's probably much less than half at many of these schools. This data makes it look like, except at Hastings, Top 10% is competitive, and Top 5% has a pretty good shot at each of these schools. (assuming you are otherwise well-credentialed: LR, good job, good writing sample etc.)

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 04, 2012 11:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a Hastings student and we have 5 this year. Womp womp womp. Our valedictorian is doing a Magistrate one.


Not that a magistrate clerkship isn't a great thing, but I'm surprised the valedictorian isn't doing a D.Ct. clerkship. What about the other four?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 05, 2012 12:59 am

Hey, has anyone ever thought about pursing the career clerk path? It seems like it would be cool if you are happy with a govt salary and just want to research and write all day without the stresses of clients and billable hours.

Any thoughts about this career path and how to break in?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 05, 2012 8:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:Hey, has anyone ever thought about pursing the career clerk path? It seems like it would be cool if you are happy with a govt salary and just want to research and write all day without the stresses of clients and billable hours.

Any thoughts about this career path and how to break in?

All the career clerks I have ever met clerked for a year or two after graduation, went to a big law firm for 2-10 years, had kids, then went back to be a career clerk.

Note 1: these positions are mostly, but not entirely, filled with women. Big-time mommy-track job. No way to know if that is self-selection, but I would think it is.
Note 2: most career clerks did their post-grad term clerkship in one of two places: the same court or a closely-related court (e.g. clerked on 2d Circuit, career clerk at SDNY)

And depending on the judge, it can be a great job. Salary between 100 and 150 thousand per year, 9-5 hours, no problem with leaving early, missing days, etc.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 05, 2012 2:05 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:All the career clerks I have ever met clerked for a year or two after graduation, went to a big law firm for 2-10 years, had kids, then went back to be a career clerk.

Note 1: these positions are mostly, but not entirely, filled with women. Big-time mommy-track job. No way to know if that is self-selection, but I would think it is.
Note 2: most career clerks did their post-grad term clerkship in one of two places: the same court or a closely-related court (e.g. clerked on 2d Circuit, career clerk at SDNY)

And depending on the judge, it can be a great job. Salary between 100 and 150 thousand per year, 9-5 hours, no problem with leaving early, missing days, etc.

Career clerks are some of the happiest lawyers I know. They earn a pretty solid salary -- often north of $100k -- and work extremely light hours. Although I have met a few "mommy track" career clerks, I disagree that most career clerks fall into that category. Most of the ones I know are older guys who just get along really well with the judge (with the initial connection often arising during a term clerkship). Obviously, the job is not for everyone. And one downside of career clerkships is that I doubt they help you for any future jobs; indeed, they likely hurt you for any kind of return to biglaw, etc.


Anecdotally, the career clerk in my chambers fits the first description--externed for the Judge in law school, practiced for 10+ years, had kids, then came back as a career clerk.

GTL: I've also noticed that career or career-ish clerks (clerking for 5-6 years w/ same judge) are having difficulty getting jobs in private practice. Why are 1 year clerkships so admired but multi-year clerkships a detriment? Do people think you're lazy for wanting to clerk for so long?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 06, 2012 5:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:All the career clerks I have ever met clerked for a year or two after graduation, went to a big law firm for 2-10 years, had kids, then went back to be a career clerk.

Note 1: these positions are mostly, but not entirely, filled with women. Big-time mommy-track job. No way to know if that is self-selection, but I would think it is.
Note 2: most career clerks did their post-grad term clerkship in one of two places: the same court or a closely-related court (e.g. clerked on 2d Circuit, career clerk at SDNY)

And depending on the judge, it can be a great job. Salary between 100 and 150 thousand per year, 9-5 hours, no problem with leaving early, missing days, etc.

Career clerks are some of the happiest lawyers I know. They earn a pretty solid salary -- often north of $100k -- and work extremely light hours. Although I have met a few "mommy track" career clerks, I disagree that most career clerks fall into that category. Most of the ones I know are older guys who just get along really well with the judge (with the initial connection often arising during a term clerkship). Obviously, the job is not for everyone. And one downside of career clerkships is that I doubt they help you for any future jobs; indeed, they likely hurt you for any kind of return to biglaw, etc.


Anecdotally, the career clerk in my chambers fits the first description--externed for the Judge in law school, practiced for 10+ years, had kids, then came back as a career clerk.

GTL: I've also noticed that career or career-ish clerks (clerking for 5-6 years w/ same judge) are having difficulty getting jobs in private practice. Why are 1 year clerkships so admired but multi-year clerkships a detriment? Do people think you're lazy for wanting to clerk for so long?


Yes, an interesting question here. To add a variation, at what point does this taint of unemployability begin to set in -- 2 years, 3 years, 4 years? Can clerking at a different court or in different city play a role in giving you more time?

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rayiner
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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby rayiner » Sun May 06, 2012 6:04 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote:People reeeeeaaallly don't know how competitive AIII clerkships are these days, especially out of the T14 (and really T6, and really really HSY). You have people from (say) Michigan with top 15% grades with LR applying broadly and not getting an interview.


At the same time, 10% of Michigan is still getting a federal clerkship at graduation, and it's not like everyone in the top 10% is doing one off the bat. As a statistical matter, the pool of federal clerks is probably drawn from the top 20% in a fairly random and arbitrary manner.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 07, 2012 11:34 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a Hastings student and we have 5 this year. Womp womp womp. Our valedictorian is doing a Magistrate one.


Not that a magistrate clerkship isn't a great thing, but I'm surprised the valedictorian isn't doing a D.Ct. clerkship. What about the other four?

Different Hastings student here.

One guy landed a senior 9th Cir. judge, one gal a C.D. Cal. Another two magistrates. (Also, a dude got a job clerking for a few special masters in Federal Claims Court in D.C. Not sure what that means exactly, but the school will probably - incorrectly - report it as an A3 clerkship.)

In an effort to make lemonade out of all this, I'll note that two of the three magistrate judges have kept placing into the top 2-3 names for elevation in N.D. Cal. these last couple of years. If Obama is re-elected, the valedictorian's judge will be elevated. Probably too late for the valedictorian's sake, I guess. Anyway: if you're gonna clerk for magistrates, N.D. Cal. is one of the best places to do it.

Still. As a 2L prepping my apps, I mourn.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Mon May 07, 2012 1:05 pm

At the same time, 10% of Michigan is still getting a federal clerkship at graduation, and it's not like everyone in the top 10% is doing one off the bat. As a statistical matter, the pool of federal clerks is probably drawn from the top 20% in a fairly random and arbitrary manner.


I'd highly doubt the last sentence. My guess is that at everywhere except Yale and Stanford and maybe Harvard, the pool of federal clerks in a particular year is disproportionately populated by people in the top 10%, and probably even the top 5%. So for the (say) 40 AIII clerks at Michigan (btw, I can't find the federal/state breakdown for 2011, so I'm assuming that 25% are at the state level), fourteen are in the top 5%, twelve are in the next 5%, eight are in the next 5%, and six are in the next 5%. This is certainly how it worked at my school.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby rayiner » Mon May 07, 2012 1:54 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote:
At the same time, 10% of Michigan is still getting a federal clerkship at graduation, and it's not like everyone in the top 10% is doing one off the bat. As a statistical matter, the pool of federal clerks is probably drawn from the top 20% in a fairly random and arbitrary manner.


I'd highly doubt the last sentence. My guess is that at everywhere except Yale and Stanford and maybe Harvard, the pool of federal clerks in a particular year is disproportionately populated by people in the top 10%, and probably even the top 5%. So for the (say) 40 AIII clerks at Michigan (btw, I can't find the federal/state breakdown for 2011, so I'm assuming that 25% are at the state level), fourteen are in the top 5%, twelve are in the next 5%, eight are in the next 5%, and six are in the next 5%. This is certainly how it worked at my school.


I didn't mean to imply they were uniformly distributed throughout the top 20%. I agree that they're disproportionately out of the top 10%. My point is that a substantial number of people outside the top 10% must get clerkships because not everyone in the top 10% does a clerkship. I would guess your split (2/3 from the top 10%, 1/3 from the top 10-20%) is probably typical.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 07, 2012 6:02 pm

If there are 1-2 judges you KNOW you want to target, but your faculty have no connection to, is there anything I can do to increase my odds? No alumni have clerked for these judges because it's not a huge market (it's my hometown). Should I reach out to a former clerk?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 10, 2012 5:56 pm

I understand from this thread that judges tend not to give much weight to stellar 2L grades, but that a semi-exception exists for classes that are regarded as more competitive. Some clerks have referenced these as simply large, non-seminar classes, but I'm curious if what is really meant are Bar classes--corporations, trusts & estates, etc.--since those classes are generally larger. Is it generally true that judges will pay more attention to Bar-oriented classes, which are more likely to be large? Do they pay extra attention to classes that are known to be gunner heavy, like Fed Courts? I ask because I did well first semester and not so well second semester, and now I'm trying to figure out how I can attempt to make up for it in 2L. I don't know if I should try to select classes that I think judges will view with more weight (and which I wouldn't mind taking anyways, because the professors are pretty good) versus classes that I have a higher chance of doing well in (i.e., seminar classes where the curve is skewed toward more higher grades).

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Thu May 10, 2012 8:48 pm

My understanding is that better grades are more important than tougher classes, but that these days, you want/need both (a) tough classes AND (b) strong grades to have a shot with a lot of judges.

I took mostly 2L bar/"doctrinal" classes and found a lot of them to be quite challenging (much more so than 1L classes). In addition to the ones you mentioned, I think Criminal Procedure and other constitutional law subjects are seen as particularly valuable (but I wouldn't know for sure, because I'm still just a law student). Maybe Admin Law and Sec Reg, too, depending on where you want to clerk?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2012 11:02 am

Question for the clerks - I had not been planning to apply for clerkships but I have been thinking over the last two weeks whether maybe it would be a good idea. I'm wondering if there is any career drawback to applying for clerkships that would start after a year or two of work. I'm a t14 transfer and with one grade outstanding have all A+ and As. I took 4 curved bar/doctrinal classes during 2L, and no LR. I just got to thinking that while I'm not dying to clerk, I'd probably like it, and if my grades give me a chance to do it, I'd hate to waste the chance. I haven't asked for letters of rec. At this late stage, I could email a couple of profs who I think know me well enough that they might consider it, although I imagine it's bad form to ask for LORs by email in May. But I'm leaning toward just applying next spring as an alumnus if my grades keep up. Does that sound smart?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Fri May 11, 2012 12:05 pm

I'm wondering if there is any career drawback to applying for clerkships that would start after a year or two of work.


I think the easiest way to answer this is that almost any biglaw firm will let you go and take you back if you clerk within two years of graduation, but there may (or may not) be some resentment. Not at the clerkship so much, but at the perceived fact that you wasted their time and money for a year or two while you waited for the clerkship to open up. That said, some firms won't care, and some firms will want you to clerk for the usual reasons. So as I've said before, it's probably worth having an informal conversation with someone not in your chain of command to feel out what the ramifications of the work->clerk route will be.

I just got to thinking that while I'm not dying to clerk, I'd probably like it, and if my grades give me a chance to do it, I'd hate to waste the chance


Do it. If you don't but could, you'll likely be kicking yourself in ten years. I speak from experience on this.

But I'm leaning toward just applying next spring as an alumnus if my grades keep up. Does that sound smart?


I'd probably ask CSO if it was possible to get the ball rolling now (a straight-out-of-school clerkship is preferable to work->clerk for a number of reasons), but if they discourage you, or (more likely) you don't land a clerkship applying next fall, then yes, it sounds smart. And I'll conclude by noting that applying as an alum is substantially easier.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2012 4:19 pm

Hey accidental clerk why are you kicking yourself in 10 years.
What is it about clerking that you value so much
Please explain
What exactly could be different in 10 years with the clerkship than without
Are you referring to partnership chances

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2012 4:32 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote:
But I'm leaning toward just applying next spring as an alumnus if my grades keep up. Does that sound smart?


I'd probably ask CSO if it was possible to get the ball rolling now (a straight-out-of-school clerkship is preferable to work->clerk for a number of reasons), but if they discourage you, or (more likely) you don't land a clerkship applying next fall, then yes, it sounds smart. And I'll conclude by noting that applying as an alum is substantially easier.


Poster you replied to here. Thanks for the advice. Do you mean applying as an alum is easier logistically, or easier to actually land a clerkship?




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