Clerks Taking Questions

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:52 pm

I'm the anon that asked the questions above :)

Did you just graduate this year, or have you been working for a while? If the latter, the best advice I can give you, particularly at the district level, is to try to find someone you've worked with who knows the judge(s) you're targeting to put in a call for you. Unless the profs who are willing to go to bat for you are big names, I think a good word from a well-regarded local practitioner could get you further. As for how many, I think one should be enough to do the trick.


I graduated 2011 with a clerkship lined up for 2012, so not a lot of experience but didn't just graduate this year. For the judges that I'm targeting outside my local area, none of the profs or practitioners I'm thinking of would really know them; the closest I can get is someone that clerked in the same circuit.

It depends. Are you within spitting distance of getting an interview based on your qualifications, and not just geographical serendipity? My 9th Circuit judge (not nearly as remote as Alaska, but in a city that is out of the way for most applicants) would grant such an interview only if the applicant were already on the clerks' radar as a good prospect, or if a friend/colleague recommended the applicant. Federal judges are busy people and don't want to waste their time on interviewing tourists. You have to come up with something better than "I'm in town" to get your foot in the door someplace as competitive as the 9th Circuit.


I fully understand judges aren't interested in interviewing tourists. 9th Circuit and COA in general are always a little bit of a reach, but I believe my stats are at least within reasonable competitiveness, even if not at the top of their lists. I'm certainly never going to clerk on the Supreme Court or any feeder judges, but I've interviewed with a 9th Circuit judge in the past, and several district court judges, before getting the clerkship that I have now. My thought was basically along the lines of "this sounds like something that couldn't hurt and could only potentially help, even if it doesn't actually work out."

Also, does anyone else have any thoughts about doing a second district court clerkship? They're both for one year. I'm just worried that firms might question that choice.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Can someone talk a little bit about State Supreme Court clerkships? Specifically, I was wondering

(1) Whether they are useful as launching pads to a COA clerkship (or if they are specifically looking for district court experience)
(2) How they generally rank presige-wise (for example, is a larger-state clerkship (say, Texas) more impressive than a district court clerkship in North Dakota? Or is any fed clerkship > any state clerkship?)
(3) More generally, whether they are useful for going into biglaw litigation


SSC to COA happens, but it is less common than DCT to COA. Part of it is probably the raw numbers (SSCs being generally less competitive), part of it is the experience. There are some COA judges who strongly prefer applicants coming from DCTs. I haven't heard of a COA judge who prefers someone to have SSC experience.

As a general statement, I think federal > state is correct. For example, most large law firms pay bonuses to both DCT and COA clerks, but not all of those same firms extend the bonus to SSC clerks (though some do).

For biglaw, and setting aside the fact that most young associate tasks receive no real-world benefits from clerking, the federal experience is probably more useful and more marketable unless you know that the firm you're going to (1) is in the same state as the SSC and has hired SSC clerks, or (2) does a significant amount of state court litigation in the SSC state, especially before the court itself. NYC/LA/etc. biglaw firms in general probably care very little about SSC clerkships outside of NY/CA, and even then would probably prefer a federal clerk for the reasons stated above. (Also, don't underestimate the competitiveness of truly flyover DCT clerkships; that North Dakota clerkship could easily go to the local summa applicant as the HLS applicant who can't find North Dakota on a map.)

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Also, does anyone else have any thoughts about doing a second district court clerkship? They're both for one year. I'm just worried that firms might question that choice.


You won't benefit much from the experience, and it seems like a strange choice. It is certainly uncommon. Maybe it can make sense if you want to end up at a particular firm that practices frequently before the second judge. Why not apply for COA if you really want to clerk another year? Probably opens more doors, and is generally a safer bet than targeting a specific district court judge, who for all you know could already have alumni or current clerk recommendations lined up.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I graduated 2011 with a clerkship lined up for 2012, so not a lot of experience but didn't just graduate this year. For the judges that I'm targeting outside my local area, none of the profs or practitioners I'm thinking of would really know them; the closest I can get is someone that clerked in the same circuit.


Are you looking for a 2013-14 clerkship? If so, it might be too late to get one on the 9th Circuit, since many of the judges are already done. You could try calling the chambers of the judges you're interested in to ask if they are still hiring for next year. If so, then casually mention that you will be in the area and ask if there's any way you could meet the judge/tour the courthouse while you're in town. Maybe something will come of it, maybe not.

Anonymous User wrote:I graduated 2011 with a clerkship lined up for 2012, so not a lot of experience but didn't just graduate this year. For the judges that I'm targeting outside my local area, none of the profs or practitioners I'm thinking of would really know them; the closest I can get is someone that clerked in the same circuit.


Have you tried asking your judge if he or she can put in a good word for you? If your judge has sat by designation on the 9th Circuit as many district judges seem to, maybe he or she knows someone and can make a call.

Anonymous User wrote:Also, does anyone else have any thoughts about doing a second district court clerkship? They're both for one year. I'm just worried that firms might question that choice.


What are you doing right now? It sounds like you want to change your geographic area, in which case a second district clerkship in your target zone makes sense. If you end up staying where you are, then that choice looks questionable.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:12 pm

Oops wasn't anon, had to delete

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Also, does anyone else have any thoughts about doing a second district court clerkship? They're both for one year. I'm just worried that firms might question that choice.

You won't benefit much from the experience, and it seems like a strange choice. It is certainly uncommon. Maybe it can make sense if you want to end up at a particular firm that practices frequently before the second judge. Why not apply for COA if you really want to clerk another year? Probably opens more doors, and is generally a safer bet than targeting a specific district court judge, who for all you know could already have alumni or current clerk recommendations lined up.


I don't want to out myself with specifics but unless things have changed in the last few weeks, my chances of at least landing an interview with this particular district judge is pretty high--certainly not 100%, but still pretty high. I certainly won't benefit from the general district-court-clerkship experience, but I believe I could benefit from having more exposure to some of the more specific cases there, and the big part is the location. It's basically an opportunity I do not want to pass up if it can only help (and can't hurt, minus another year of clerkship salary). I just don't want firms going WTF at that choice, since the primary reason I'm considering the clerkship is so that I might have an easier time finding a job in that location afterwards.

I do want a COA clerkship, but I haven't even been able to get any interviews yet even though I'm actively applying. I don't want the district court clerkship opportunity to pass by just because I'm waiting to hear back from COA judges about interviews, which may never happen.

What are you doing right now? It sounds like you want to change your geographic area, in which case a second district clerkship in your target zone makes sense. If you end up staying where you are, then that choice looks questionable.


I’m working in the area prior to my clerkship starting. And yes, the primary reason is the change in geographic area. I don’t plan on staying where I am now, though it’s certainly not entirely out of the question since life can be strange sometimes.

Are you looking for a 2013-14 clerkship? If so, it might be too late to get one on the 9th Circuit, since many of the judges are already done. You could try calling the chambers of the judges you're interested in to ask if they are still hiring for next year. If so, then casually mention that you will be in the area and ask if there's any way you could meet the judge/tour the courthouse while you're in town. Maybe something will come of it, maybe not.


I am—and I’m focusing on the ones that aren’t done. I’m looking at other Circuits obviously, but it’s primarily the ones in Alaska—that wasn’t really just a hypothetical, there would be a reason for me to visit Anchorage, and I believe both 9th Cir. judges in AK still have openings available. Christen’s OSCAR openings just got posted a few days ago, so even if she had been accepting applications, there’s still at least a spot available if not more.

Have you tried asking your judge if he or she can put in a good word for you? If your judge has sat by designation on the 9th Circuit as many district judges seem to, maybe he or she knows someone and can make a call.


I haven’t just yet. He does have connections with the COA judges in the same courthouse here, so those are likely the ones I’d ask him to put in a good word for me on—but if he does happen to know the 9th Cir. ones, that would be awesome too.

Right now, I just actually do not know how to do this without sounding kinda… bad. Like I’m using him to move a step up to COA clerkships or something. I mean, I visit his chambers from time to time since I’m already in town, but it just seems a weird thing to ask someone that I haven’t even started working for. Just a personal thing and I could use some help on phrasing. 

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Madi57 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:48 am

I can't find the answer to this question: when applying off-plan with paper applications, unless it specifically states a mailing method on Oscar, does it matter whether you send the application packet via first-class mail, express, priority, etc.? Is either required/preferred/recommended?

Thanks!

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:53 am

If questions include evaluating chances, I had a separate thread that might get some more exposure here:

Top 10-15% at one of the better T30s (if that's a thing), LR (not managing board), interned with a Circuit COA judge. Struck out during OCI last year and had to take a gov job this summer (my grades improved 2L mostly from some fluffy classes, but I did book the highest grade in my Evidence class). What are my chances of getting a district court clerkship? Planning on applying literally everywhere.


Two other questions relating to my internship:
(1) If I'm applying to District Court judges in the Circuit where I interned, would it be a good idea to tailor my writing sample for each judge by using bench memos from cases that came from them? i.e., I wrote a bench memo on a case that came from Judge X and I'm applying to Judge X (and, coincidentally, I happened to agree with the judge's reasoning in my memo).

(2) If I wrote a large portion of an opinion, is it correct to provide a citation to that opinion in my cover letter? On my resume?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Two other questions relating to my internship:
(1) If I'm applying to District Court judges in the Circuit where I interned, would it be a good idea to tailor my writing sample for each judge by using bench memos from cases that came from them? i.e., I wrote a bench memo on a case that came from Judge X and I'm applying to Judge X (and, coincidentally, I happened to agree with the judge's reasoning in my memo).

(2) If I wrote a large portion of an opinion, is it correct to provide a citation to that opinion in my cover letter? On my resume?


(1) I would not do this. First, it is much better to focus on having one writing sample that is top-notch. If you try to create multiple different ones, I can pretty much guarantee the quality will suffer. Second, judges don't want yes-men. Once they've made up their minds, they want you to go with that line of reasoning, but simply sending a writing sample agreeing with them may send the wrong signal.

(2) Generally the answer is no. You should check with your judge about his feelings on this.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:(2) If I wrote a large portion of an opinion, is it correct to provide a citation to that opinion in my cover letter? On my resume?


Absolutely not. DO NOT do this. Judges stringently maintain the polite fiction that they write their opinions, even if 95% of them rely on law clerks/interns to do the work for them. The worst thing in the world is for some intern to try to pierce the veil of what goes on in another judge's chambers and out that judge as one who lets a lowly law school student usurp his Article III authority. Now the judge reading your resume can only assume that you will out him, too, by citing "his" opinions as your work product on future resumes.

You can say you helped draft opinions in a generic sense, without citations, or even say something more specific like "prepared bench memo and assisted in drafting opinion in a section 1983 case." But do not purport to take credit for a judge's opinion, signed by him and not by you, if you ever hope to get a clerkship, even if you did write the damn thing.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:27 pm

Oh wow, thanks for the input, guys. I had no idea it was such a faux pas. I had just assumed that every judge knew how the game was played and wouldn't care if other judges knew how their chambers operated in that respect. Glad you clarified that for me. I just really wanted to work it into my app somehow given that my supervising clerk said that they never let interns write opinions, but that he was going to give me one since he was so impressed with my work. I figured that vote of confidence spoke volumes even above whatever he writes about me in my letter of rec. Do you think it would be appropriate to omit it from the resume, but then bring it up in conversation during an interview?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:37 pm

No. For the reasons described, that's something for the judge to mention--not you.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:07 am

What do you all think about Judge Kozinski's continuing viability as a feeder? I have heard mixed things as the Court has changed composition.


No one? I'm curious about this as well.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:
What do you all think about Judge Kozinski's continuing viability as a feeder? I have heard mixed things as the Court has changed composition.


No one? I'm curious about this as well.


FYI - as long as he keeps hiring #1/#2 in the class people from T14 schools, he'll remain a feeder. 2/3 of a feeder's feeding capability is based on hiring clerks who are strong SCOTUS clerk candidates.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:57 am

I guess this goes along the general thread of smart but clueless people asking for advice that law schools refuse to give.

Top of the class at a non-HYSCCN T14 (I'd say "lower" but not sure what "lower" T14 means). Obviously pretty new to these boards, but I'm having trouble getting realistic advice. Anyways, LR exec board, interesting resume, full ride. Should I be taking ANY Art. III COA clerkship or should I risk it to try to get a prestige circuit or feeder district into a prestige circuit?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:I guess this goes along the general thread of smart but clueless people asking for advice that law schools refuse to give.

Top of the class at a non-HYSCCN T14 (I'd say "lower" but not sure what "lower" T14 means). Obviously pretty new to these boards, but I'm having trouble getting realistic advice. Anyways, LR exec board, interesting resume, full ride. Should I be taking ANY Art. III COA clerkship or should I risk it to try to get a prestige circuit or feeder district into a prestige circuit?


(1) Depends on what you mean by "top of the class." If you mean #1, #2, or #3 then you can probably be a little bit pickier.

(2) As far as what COA's to be looking at, it really depends on your T14 - certain schools place better into certain COA's than others.

(3) If you aren't looking at feeders (see (1) above), then you should be looking for the judge who will provide the best experience in a city you are willing to live in. It'd be far better for you to have a great clerkship experience on the 6th, for example, than clerk for a judge on the 2d who provides a "less welcoming" environment. In other words, if you aren't clerking for a feeder, so called circuit prestige doesn't get you much.

(4) A good district court judge will: (a) provide you with a great, useful experience and (b) will provide you time if you think your class rank will improve. If you're already high in your class, you probably won't get any better COA clerkships based on the district court clerkship, but it will open some doors (COA judges who only hire district court clerks/alumni) and certainly will not put you into a worse position.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I guess this goes along the general thread of smart but clueless people asking for advice that law schools refuse to give.

Top of the class at a non-HYSCCN T14 (I'd say "lower" but not sure what "lower" T14 means). Obviously pretty new to these boards, but I'm having trouble getting realistic advice. Anyways, LR exec board, interesting resume, full ride. Should I be taking ANY Art. III COA clerkship or should I risk it to try to get a prestige circuit or feeder district into a prestige circuit?


(1) Depends on what you mean by "top of the class." If you mean #1, #2, or #3 then you can probably be a little bit pickier.

(2) As far as what COA's to be looking at, it really depends on your T14 - certain schools place better into certain COA's than others.

(3) If you aren't looking at feeders (see (1) above), then you should be looking for the judge who will provide the best experience in a city you are willing to live in. It'd be far better for you to have a great clerkship experience on the 6th, for example, than clerk for a judge on the 2d who provides a "less welcoming" environment. In other words, if you aren't clerking for a feeder, so called circuit prestige doesn't get you much.

(4) A good district court judge will: (a) provide you with a great, useful experience and (b) will provide you time if you think your class rank will improve. If you're already high in your class, you probably won't get any better COA clerkships based on the district court clerkship, but it will open some doors (COA judges who only hire district court clerks/alumni) and certainly will not put you into a worse position.

Good post. From a former clerk's perspective, it sounds dead-on. But the anon needs to understand that many feeders are already finished hiring for 2013.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:Top of the class at a non-HYSCCN T14 (I'd say "lower" but not sure what "lower" T14 means). Obviously pretty new to these boards, but I'm having trouble getting realistic advice. Anyways, LR exec board, interesting resume, full ride. Should I be taking ANY Art. III COA clerkship or should I risk it to try to get a prestige circuit or feeder district into a prestige circuit?


Several years ago, you might have had your pick of COA judges (perhaps excluding a handful of judges--the creme de la creme) depending on what you mean by "top." Nowadays, you can't afford to be picky. You have to apply widely and early, targeting judges who have a connection to your school or a recommender, or who hire a lot from your school. You need to have an advocate pushing you. You also need to leverage interviews into other interviews because at the upper echelons of clerkship hiring, judges do fight over candidates.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:00 am

Anonymous User wrote: It'd be far better for you to have a great clerkship experience on the 6th, for example, than clerk for a judge on the 2d who provides a "less welcoming" environment.


Different anon here interested in the 2d cir. Was this an off-hand comment, or are there particular judges on the second who are known for having a "less welcoming environment?"

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby nymario » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:03 pm

GTLRev's purge has made me sad. This was the best thread on all of TLS. Any explanation?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: It'd be far better for you to have a great clerkship experience on the 6th, for example, than clerk for a judge on the 2d who provides a "less welcoming" environment.


Different anon here interested in the 2d cir. Was this an off-hand comment, or are there particular judges on the second who are known for having a "less welcoming environment?"


Look, there are better bosses and not as good bosses on every circuit. I don't think that anyone with that knowledge would take the risk of posting specifics in an on-line forum. As a general rule, you should talk to prior clerks for every judge that you: (a) are going to interview with or (b) are specifically targeting. Now, no one is going to directly warn you off, but you should be able to read through the lines. Also, if you know anyone else who's clerking/clerked on a circuit, talk to them about which judges they would recommend you apply to. Talk to them about who they've heard is a particularly good boss.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:57 pm

nymario wrote:GTLRev's purge has made me sad. This was the best thread on all of TLS. Any explanation?


(edited to remove speculative comment)
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:13 pm

Edit: sorry
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:20 pm

Official Mod Response

Please keep speculation/discuss to a minimum.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby nymario » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:09 am

acrossthelake wrote:Official Mod Response

Please keep speculation/discuss to a minimum.


I don't know that the mod thread responded to anything here. Or are you just saying this is an account deletion that we are not supposed to discuss?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby acrossthelake » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:18 am

nymario wrote:
acrossthelake wrote:Official Mod Response

Please keep speculation/discuss to a minimum.


I don't know that the mod thread responded to anything here. Or are you just saying this is an account deletion that we are not supposed to discuss?


The latter. Sorry I can't elaborate more.




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