Clerks Taking Questions

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Anonymous User
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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:44 pm

Would you guys recommend getting business cards printed up? If so, what would they say- law clerk on XXX Court?

GertrudePerkins
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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby GertrudePerkins » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:09 am

Anonymous User wrote:Would you guys recommend getting business cards printed up? If so, what would they say- law clerk on XXX Court?
I can only pray you're joking, but if not, I recommend you use Silian Rail for the lettering.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:35 pm

GertrudePerkins wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Would you guys recommend getting business cards printed up? If so, what would they say- law clerk on XXX Court?
I can only pray you're joking, but if not, I recommend you use Silian Rail for the lettering.


Not joking actually, but I always like a American Psycho reference.

ClerkAnon
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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby ClerkAnon » Sun Oct 07, 2012 2:56 pm

You know, I missed having business cards about 3-5 times during each of my clerkships, typically during networking events when trying to exchange contact information. It honestly wasn't a big deal, though - attorneys generally know that the courts don't give term law clerks business cards. Even if an attorney doesn't realize this, it's easy to say this, take their business card, and tell them that you will email them to facilitate the exchange of contact information. This situation just didn't arise often enough to make me wish I'd made my own business cards.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:07 pm

I accepted a 2-year district court clerkship (2013-15). When do you guys think I should start sending things out to circuit courts for 2015? Or should I bother clerking a second time at all. I mean, I think I'd like to try for COA, but will it look bad employment-wise to have clerked for my first three years following law school?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I accepted a 2-year district court clerkship (2013-15). When do you guys think I should start sending things out to circuit courts for 2015? Or should I bother clerking a second time at all. I mean, I think I'd like to try for COA, but will it look bad employment-wise to have clerked for my first three years following law school?

I was wondering the same thing, but with one addition: will it look bad to do a two-year district court clerkship followed by a two-year COA clerkship? I externed for a COA judge in school who liked me and seemed to indicate he would strongly consider me for a clerkship if I did a district court clerkship beforehand, but I know he likes clerks who stick around longer than a year.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby ClerkAnon » Sun Oct 07, 2012 3:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I accepted a 2-year district court clerkship (2013-15). When do you guys think I should start sending things out to circuit courts for 2015? Or should I bother clerking a second time at all. I mean, I think I'd like to try for COA, but will it look bad employment-wise to have clerked for my first three years following law school?


When you should start sending applications out:
- For a clerkship starting in September 2015, consider sending out most applications in March-April 2014.
- Research specific COA judges you're interested in to determine when they hire; for judges who move especially early, apply earlier (e.g., late 2013/early 2014.)
- You should also talk to your judge about your interest in a COA clerkship. Because you are clerking for two years, I'd have this conversation a few months after starting, when your judge knows how good your work product is and what they are willing to do on your behalf. If your judge feels comfortable calling certain COA judges to recommend you directly, follow the timeline your DCt judge advises for applying to those COA judges.

Whether it will look bad employment-wise: Unlikely, unless you are planning to become a corporate associate, in which case spending your first three years on litigation would indeed look odd. I knew litigation associates at my BigLaw firm who clerked for three years. However, here are some practical things to consider:

If you are going to a firm, you will have to negotiate how much class credit you get - and you are unlikely to get all three years. (Nor would you want all three years: your clerkships aren't going to prepare you to hit the ground running as a fourth year associate.) If you are planning to go to government or non-profit, I don't think they will view your clerkships negatively, but if they prefer to hire "experienced" attorneys, they may not view you as having all the experience they prefer (e.g., dealing with clients, handling discovery, in-court speaking experience, deposition taking, etc.) Honestly, I think the COA experience is worth it, but YMMV. The good news is that you don't have to make up your mind right away - you can see how you like your first few months of clerking, and whether you enjoy it enough to want to devote three years to it.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby anon168 » Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I accepted a 2-year district court clerkship (2013-15). When do you guys think I should start sending things out to circuit courts for 2015? Or should I bother clerking a second time at all. I mean, I think I'd like to try for COA, but will it look bad employment-wise to have clerked for my first three years following law school?


Send them out after your first year of your 2-year clerkship (i.e., around 2014).

Will it look bad to clerk for a 3rd year with a COA? I think the general answer is, No. Most firms who care about clerkships will view it as a positive (and firms that don't, I'm not really sure I would want to work them anyway, even if I had not clerked that 3rd year with a COA). The only downside is you'll be starting at your firm job with people you don't really know, even if you are given full credit for all 3 years, and start as a 4th year, it'll still be awkward in the sense you don't really understand firm politics like a typical 3rd/4th year, you don't have the connections or pipelines to work developed like a typical 3rd/4th year, and even though clerking gave you great experience, you are not going to have the hands-on experience like a typical 3rd/4th year would have (e.g. you'll be taking your first depo, sending out your first set of rogs/subpoenas, etc. whereas your peers will treat this as a matter of course that they've been doing for years). So, in essence, you'll be a 4th year in name only -- sort of like a midlevel with no clothes (to mix my metaphors).

Anonymous User wrote:I was wondering the same thing, but with one addition: will it look bad to do a two-year district court clerkship followed by a two-year COA clerkship? I externed for a COA judge in school who liked me and seemed to indicate he would strongly consider me for a clerkship if I did a district court clerkship beforehand, but I know he likes clerks who stick around longer than a year.



Wow, that's really tough. While I am a big proponent of clerks, 4 years is a god awful long time. It's a close call, but if you wanted to go into academia I think it would definitely be worth it. But without knowing more about your situation (e.g. career choices, which judge or circuit, etc.) it's hard to give any more definitive of a response.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:31 pm

Is one's opinion about the death penalty something judges ask about in interviews? Do some judges allow clerks not to work on death penalty cases?

I'd be interested to hear from anybody with a strong objection to the death penalty who clerked in a jurisdiction (including federal) where the death penalty is allowed. How you navigated this, etc...

Apologies if this has been asked and answered -- a quick search and I couldn't find it in these forums.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is one's opinion about the death penalty something judges ask about in interviews? Do some judges allow clerks not to work on death penalty cases?

I'd be interested to hear from anybody with a strong objection to the death penalty who clerked in a jurisdiction (including federal) where the death penalty is allowed. How you navigated this, etc...

Apologies if this has been asked and answered -- a quick search and I couldn't find it in these forums.

My judge did ask whether I had any strong religious/moral/ethical beliefs that would make any kind of category of cases a problem - then explained he'd interviewed a candidate who had certain activities on her resume that made clear she was opposed to the death penalty (this is a federal district). I don't remember exactly what I answered - I think something along the lines that I saw my role as applying the law as it stands, and I didn't know of anything that would get in the way of that. (He hired the anti-death penalty clerk, so she must have had a good answer for him.) But in part that's because I don't actually know how I would react to working on a death penalty case (and for the record, I am anti-death penalty, but do believe that as a clerk it's not my job to decide that kind of thing, and I just don't know what kind of emotional reaction I would have if actually faced with the issue).

I think my judge would be sympathetic to allowing someone not to work on a DP case, but the problem is, anything involving the DP is such a big case it would be a hardship to put it all on one clerk (there are 2 clerks in our chambers). In my previous clerkship (state appellate in state with the DP), the other clerk and I divvied up the cases among ourselves, so I could have asked her to do a DP case if it had arisen. But a lot of that depends on the circumstances of a given chambers - personality of the judge and the other clerks. That said, I think even in jurisdictions with the DP, it's fairly uncommon.

Edited to add: I would NOT bring up unwillingness to work on DP in an interview, though - unless it really is a dealbreaker for you and you're willing to turn down a clerkship if it would require working on a DP case. For me, I don't think clerking in a DP jurisdiction would be as difficult as prosecuting in one, and being in a position to decide whether to pursue it or not. As the clerk/judge, you're responding to circumstances others have created. Still could be difficult, of course.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby ClerkAnon » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is one's opinion about the death penalty something judges ask about in interviews?


Answer: sometimes. Although I clerked for a California district court, the death penalty cases were handled by specialized law clerks, so my judge (and other judges I interviewed with on the same court) did not ask term law clerks about their views. On the other hand, several Ninth Circuit judges ask about this, because the reality of working for the circuit is that your judge reviews death sentences from several active death penalty states. For example, one judge made clear that she was open to hiring people who were personally opposed to the death penalty, so long as they could work on a death penalty case - and potentially draft a bench memo or first draft of an opinion affirming a death sentence.

Do some judges allow clerks not to work on death penalty cases?


Yes, but it can be a bit difficult to research. For example, I know a former Fifth Circuit clerk who was strongly opposed to the death penalty. After his first time being assigned to an imminent death case (being assigned to review last minute appeals as the execution neared), he realized that he could not in good conscience participate in the process again. He was able to request his three co-clerks to cover for him on these cases, and to take on other work of theirs instead. One judge I encountered hires both one-year and two-year clerks, but only asks the two-year clerks in their second year of their clerkship to handle capital cases; a one-year clerkship with this judge would allow a candidate to avoid working on death cases.

I'm not sure if there's a risk-free way to research a judge's practices on this topic. The lowest-risk approach I see would be to contact former clerks of that judge from your school's alum database and ask this question. (If there are no relevant alums, you can use Google to find former clerks and contact them via their employer once you have an interview with the judge.) Both strategies involve some risk, because the judge may hear about your question. It's easier to ask for confidentiality if you use the alumni network, but it's not guaranteed. I think this approach is slightly less risky than talking to a judge or his/her current clerks directly.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby ClerkAnon » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:For me, I don't think clerking in a DP jurisdiction would be as difficult as prosecuting in one, and being in a position to decide whether to pursue it or not. As the clerk/judge, you're responding to circumstances others have created. Still could be difficult, of course.


Your mileage may vary, but I think the concern about handling federal capital habeas cases is that the petitioner whose case you are working on is nearing the end of the appellate road. Especially at the circuit level, if you participate in the denial of a habeas petition in a jurisdiction that is currently conducting executions, you are likely to read about that person's execution in the news in the next 1-2 years. For some people, this can be more difficult than even prosecuting a capital case - where a death sentence only means, depending on the jurisdiction, the person might be executed in 15-30 years (especially if they are not in Virginia or Texas, which are especially fast-moving states.)

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:23 pm

ClerkAnon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:For me, I don't think clerking in a DP jurisdiction would be as difficult as prosecuting in one, and being in a position to decide whether to pursue it or not. As the clerk/judge, you're responding to circumstances others have created. Still could be difficult, of course.


Your mileage may vary, but I think the concern about handling federal capital habeas cases is that the petitioner whose case you are working on is nearing the end of the appellate road. Especially at the circuit level, if you participate in the denial of a habeas petition in a jurisdiction that is currently conducting executions, you are likely to read about that person's execution in the news in the next 1-2 years. For some people, this can be more difficult than even prosecuting a capital case - where a death sentence only means, depending on the jurisdiction, the person might be executed in 15-30 years (especially if they are not in Virginia or Texas, which are especially fast-moving states.)

True. (Not at circuit level, so not something that's come up, thankfully.)

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby anon168 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is one's opinion about the death penalty something judges ask about in interviews? Do some judges allow clerks not to work on death penalty cases?

I'd be interested to hear from anybody with a strong objection to the death penalty who clerked in a jurisdiction (including federal) where the death penalty is allowed. How you navigated this, etc...

Apologies if this has been asked and answered -- a quick search and I couldn't find it in these forums.


From a previous COA clerk's viewpoint ...

This will vary judge to judge, obviously, and it is a question better reserved to the clerks when you interview with them.

But even before you get to that point, you really need to ask yourself whether you are personally OK with dealing with habeas petitions generally. It really isn't fair to the rest of the clerks to get stuck with all the habeas death penalty cases if you get to opt out -- because those cases are a major fucking pain in the ass to work up. Also, it's really not fair to the system on a systemic basis.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby TatteredDignity » Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:12 pm

My SA firm is in a secondary market and is heavily lit focused. Their stated policy is to give no credit toward partnership for clerking, even at the federal level. Had anyone had success negotiating through this kind of policy?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:42 pm

My judge was clear in the interview that no one works on a death penalty case who doesn't want to. But he encourages us to get involved if we don't have any moral objections.

(Edited to cut a sentence or two that might be mildly identifying.)

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:Is one's opinion about the death penalty something judges ask about in interviews? Do some judges allow clerks not to work on death penalty cases?

I'd be interested to hear from anybody with a strong objection to the death penalty who clerked in a jurisdiction (including federal) where the death penalty is allowed. How you navigated this, etc...

Apologies if this has been asked and answered -- a quick search and I couldn't find it in these forums.


A couple thoughts that mostly reiterate what others have already said. As far as district courts go, many courts have staff attorneys that handle the 2254 (state habeas) matters. And, federal death penalty cases are very, very uncommon. So, if you're a district court law clerk, you probably won't see much death penalty stuff and its very unlikely that you would see the sentencing of a defendant to the death penalty.

-DoubleClerk

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:25 am

What are some important questions to ask/information to elicit when talking to a judge's former law clerks?
Obviously at the broadest level I want to find out what it was like to work for the judge, and maybe a little about his/her criteria for clerks.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby anon168 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What are some important questions to ask/information to elicit when talking to a judge's former law clerks?
Obviously at the broadest level I want to find out what it was like to work for the judge, and maybe a little about his/her criteria for clerks.


1. Ask the clerks why they chose to work for this judge as opposed to any other one (this is a good ego stroke for the clerks b/c it assumes they had multiple offers).

2. What's the interaction like for the clerks with the judge's judicial assistant and courtroom deputy (if district court), or with the judge's legal assistants (if COA).

3. Why did they want to clerk.

4. How many clerks travel with the judge (more apt if COA). And are there any idiosyncrasies with the judge's travel routine/schedule.

5. What did they get the most out of their clerkship experience, and what they wished they did differently during their year with the judge.

6. What's a good way to prepare to work this particular judge.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:31 pm

That's really helpful. Thanks.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:39 pm

any clerks going to the simpson thacher bartlett clerk reception in LA next week?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:47 pm

Thread bump - Any general idea what kind of grades it would take from SLS for a district (or COA 6/8) clerkship in a non-Chicago, midwestern state with strong ties? Judicial intern experience, secondary journal (law review up in the air). Thanks in advance.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thread bump - Any general idea what kind of grades it would take from SLS for a district (or COA 6/8) clerkship in a non-Chicago, midwestern state with strong ties? Judicial intern experience, secondary journal (law review up in the air). Thanks in advance.


I assume if law review is up in the air, you are a 1L. First off, don't think about this stuff for about a year.

Anyway, I'd guess about an even split of Hs and Ps would put you in the running.

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:19 am

To those who clerked twice, I'm just trying to get a sense of what kind of chances I'll have in the spring or fall to make the jump to Circuit....2013 clerkship in relatively un-competitive district within Fourth Circuit, probably around top 10% (3.65ish) at T25 with LR (non e-board)/publication, to the extent that individual grades matter in clerkship classes I have A's in Fed Courts, Admin, and Con Law II. Obviously not looking at DC/2/9 but do I at least have a chance if willing to apply fairly broadly?

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Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:46 am

How do you get a judicial internship.

And is there any way to find judge's emails? I know some want hard copies, but I am just as willing not to work for those Luddites. I hear more and more don't mind the emailed entreaty, but it's hard to find their emails.




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