Clerks Taking Questions

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BearState
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby BearState » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:50 pm

Asked in another thread, but I would like any advice available here: I am starting a d. ct. clerkship in a week, and wanted to ask if anyone had any advice or things they wish they knew when they started. TYIA

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rpupkin
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby rpupkin » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:hello clerks, I'm interviewing with a fed COA judge who does not share my political convictions (the judge is on the conservative side, republican appointee, I am definitively not) and I'm wondering how big a problem this is. I know it doesn't matter at the d. ct. level but the appellate courts are more politicized. FWIW I am perfectly happy to work for someone who I disagree with, and I think it could be interesting and intellectually challenging; that's not my concern at all. I'm assuming that since I've been granted an interview, the judge has not been repelled by my profile. But would there be a stigma against me in the profession (I don't want to only be hirable by Gibson et al), in academia, or if I were to pursue another clerkship with a democratically-appointed judge? If it would be a problem, should I bow out now before the interview?


There are a few conservative and liberal COA judges who prefer to hire clerks who share their political views. In my experience, these judges are the exception. Most judges are just trying to get the law right. Sure, political views and values can sometimes color a judge's view of a case, but I think most law students would be surprised at how apolitical the process actually is.

And here's another thing to keep in mind: most law students are liberal. If a conservative COA judge wants to hire the best students, they're probably going to have to hire at least 1-2 liberal clerks per term. Most of the conservative feeders, for example, regularly hire liberal clerks.

As for your concern about professional stigma, I wouldn't worry about it. In the world of law firms, it's a non-issue: pretty much all major law firms and boutiques won't care about the politics of the judge you clerked for. It's also not going to matter much (if at all) for academia: if you want academia, start publishing.

One place it can matter is in the realm of politically-oriented government attorney positions. If your judge is conservative and if many of his or her clerks are conservative, it might be harder to land a job in a Democratic administration because your network won't be as good. It's not like you'll be blacklisted or anything; it's just that the judge (and the judge's former clerks) will be less likely to have the connections to help you get a position.

Anonymous User
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 04, 2015 8:18 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:hello clerks, I'm interviewing with a fed COA judge who does not share my political convictions (the judge is on the conservative side, republican appointee, I am definitively not) and I'm wondering how big a problem this is. I know it doesn't matter at the d. ct. level but the appellate courts are more politicized. FWIW I am perfectly happy to work for someone who I disagree with, and I think it could be interesting and intellectually challenging; that's not my concern at all. I'm assuming that since I've been granted an interview, the judge has not been repelled by my profile. But would there be a stigma against me in the profession (I don't want to only be hirable by Gibson et al), in academia, or if I were to pursue another clerkship with a democratically-appointed judge? If it would be a problem, should I bow out now before the interview?


There are a few conservative and liberal COA judges who prefer to hire clerks who share their political views. In my experience, these judges are the exception. Most judges are just trying to get the law right. Sure, political views and values can sometimes color a judge's view of a case, but I think most law students would be surprised at how apolitical the process actually is.

And here's another thing to keep in mind: most law students are liberal. If a conservative COA judge wants to hire the best students, they're probably going to have to hire at least 1-2 liberal clerks per term. Most of the conservative feeders, for example, regularly hire liberal clerks.

As for your concern about professional stigma, I wouldn't worry about it. In the world of law firms, it's a non-issue: pretty much all major law firms and boutiques won't care about the politics of the judge you clerked for. It's also not going to matter much (if at all) for academia: if you want academia, start publishing.

One place it can matter is in the realm of politically-oriented government attorney positions. If your judge is conservative and if many of his or her clerks are conservative, it might be harder to land a job in a Democratic administration because your network won't be as good. It's not like you'll be blacklisted or anything; it's just that the judge (and the judge's former clerks) will be less likely to have the connections to help you get a position.


Thank you for this insight. I'm glad this is the case.

ETA: I don't think the judge or clerks would have missed "X Law School Dems" on my resume. I put it there explicitly for clerkship apps to guarantee that any judge bringing me in understands where I'm coming from.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 05, 2015 2:47 pm

I just realized I finalized an app on OSCAR with the cover letter for a different judge. I corrected it ~3 days later, but am nervous that they got to it before I had a chance to update. Should I email chambers to apologize?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:08 pm

I got an email from a judge's assistant today telling me that the judge was reviewing applications and asking if I was still interested in the judge.

I don't know if this was an email sent to all applicants to narrow the pool, or if it was an email only to applicants that the judge is interested in. Does anyone have thoughts? I know that all judges might be different with their conventions, but any insight would be appreciated because I don't know how to take the email.

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rpupkin
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby rpupkin » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I got an email from a judge's assistant today telling me that the judge was reviewing applications and asking if I was still interested in the judge.

I don't know if this was an email sent to all applicants to narrow the pool, or if it was an email only to applicants that the judge is interested in. Does anyone have thoughts? I know that all judges might be different with their conventions, but any insight would be appreciated because I don't know how to take the email.

It's probably the former, but it could be the latter. There's no way to know. If you're still interested in the clerkship, reply to the email and then go about your day.

BCgirl
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby BCgirl » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:09 pm

I recently graduated and I've been applying for clerkships at the state district court level. So far, 0/5, without even an interview.

I am a foreign student, went to a okay law school but not a great one. After I graduated, I followed my SO (a fellow law student) across the country to much bigger city. I did well in law school, did LR, was always in the top 10%. The state I'm currently in has 1 good law school, and several mediocre ones.

I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong, but it's really getting me down. Any insights?

newbienew
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby newbienew » Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:59 pm

Five is just too few applications to draw much from. You should apply to as many judges/courts as you're willing to work for if you want to maximize your chances. Persistence makes a huge difference in the job-application process generally, and that's certainly true for clerkships. Good luck.

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KMart
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby KMart » Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:41 pm

Tagging for future reference - thanks everyone.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:51 pm

BCgirl wrote:I recently graduated and I've been applying for clerkships at the state district court level. So far, 0/5, without even an interview.

I am a foreign student, went to a okay law school but not a great one. After I graduated, I followed my SO (a fellow law student) across the country to much bigger city. I did well in law school, did LR, was always in the top 10%. The state I'm currently in has 1 good law school, and several mediocre ones.

I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong, but it's really getting me down. Any insights?

State trial level courts (if that wasn't supposed to say state and district court) also don't always have term clerks; sometimes they use permanent ones, so don't have openings. Were you responding to specific openings or cold applying? Also, they might favor local school grads - even for the mediocre schools, some of the local judges probably went there and favor their fellow alums. A state with several law schools is likely to have a relatively glutted market. But mostly I agree that 5 is too few to draw any conclusions.

(If this is including other than state trial courts it's REALLY too few to draw conclusions - clerkship hiring is hard to predict and of course it gets more competitive as you go up the food/prestige chain.)

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:11 pm

I'm starting a COA clerkship within the next month. I've been practicing in an extremely litigation heavy position for 3 years. Does anyone have any advice or general guidance for what to expect?

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rpupkin
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby rpupkin » Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm starting a COA clerkship within the next month. I've been practicing in an extremely litigation heavy position for 3 years. Does anyone have any advice or general guidance for what to expect?

I apologize for the condescension, but I find it hard to believe that--after three years of litigation practice--you would not have at least a general idea of what an appellate court does. As a clerk, you will likely draft bench memos and write the first drafts of opinions and orders. If you want more specific details about how your judge manages chambers, you will of course need to talk to current or former clerks of the judge. I'm not sure what you're looking for from the crowd here.

BCgirl
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby BCgirl » Sat Aug 29, 2015 8:35 am

State trial level courts (if that wasn't supposed to say state and district court) also don't always have term clerks; sometimes they use permanent ones, so don't have openings. Were you responding to specific openings or cold applying? Also, they might favor local school grads - even for the mediocre schools, some of the local judges probably went there and favor their fellow alums. A state with several law schools is likely to have a relatively glutted market. But mostly I agree that 5 is too few to draw any conclusions.

(If this is including other than state trial courts it's REALLY too few to draw conclusions - clerkship hiring is hard to predict and of course it gets more competitive as you go up the food/prestige chain.)


I was responding to specific openings. I'll keep trying though!

DiliGents
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby DiliGents » Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:05 pm

Is there a general thread/resource for preparing for a clerkship interview? I've been searching around, but to no avail. Also, I can't interview in person, so will be doing the interview over Skype. Any tips on how to make it less awkward? I've been successful with biglaw interviews, but have never had a clerkship interview, or an interview over Skype.

#BigLaw
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby #BigLaw » Fri Sep 04, 2015 11:29 am

DiliGents wrote:Is there a general thread/resource for preparing for a clerkship interview? I've been searching around, but to no avail. Also, I can't interview in person, so will be doing the interview over Skype. Any tips on how to make it less awkward? I've been successful with biglaw interviews, but have never had a clerkship interview, or an interview over Skype.


Not sure about a general resource, but your best resource is talking with a current or former clerk. My school had a database of clerkship interview evaluations that we could read through to help prepare -- maybe ask your career services office?

wwwcol
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby wwwcol » Fri Sep 04, 2015 12:03 pm

#BigLaw wrote:
DiliGents wrote:Is there a general thread/resource for preparing for a clerkship interview? I've been searching around, but to no avail. Also, I can't interview in person, so will be doing the interview over Skype. Any tips on how to make it less awkward? I've been successful with biglaw interviews, but have never had a clerkship interview, or an interview over Skype.


Not sure about a general resource, but your best resource is talking with a current or former clerk. My school had a database of clerkship interview evaluations that we could read through to help prepare -- maybe ask your career services office?


Def talk to former clerks. If your school doesn't have a database or nobody has clerked for the judge, you can usually find former clerks by googling "judge X law clerk." Doesn't matter if they went to your school or not. Just let them know you're interested in clerking for Judge X and ask if they can spare 15 mins to chat sometime. Almost all will say yes.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 24, 2015 1:42 pm

What are my chances for a district court clerkship? No location preference but would prefer anywhere in CA or TX if possible. Worth applying?

my stats:
graduated a little outside top third at T20 this past may.
Currently 1st year associate at V25 in DC
former EIC of secondary, no LR
published an article in HYS secondary

notable con stats:
crap undergrad grades at top 3 public school. (3.2, but to be fair, my undergrad major curved at 2.66 lol)
no real strong connections with professors. A few adjuncts maybe but nobody awesome.

And if not worth applying, what would be the best ways to become a stronger candidate?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:27 pm

Is clerking for an IP-heavy judge a bad idea if that's not an area of interest or one you'd be looking to pursue afterward? Or do firms typically just look at complex lit as complex lit?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:46 pm

I'm a 2L at a t25 who's interested in clerking post-grad. Spent last summer with one of EPA/FCC/FTC, i.e., top-tier agency; will be externing w/ a name CoA judge next summer (someone in the midwest/east coast who sends a lot of people to SCOTUS).

At what point should I be applying to D.Ct. clerkships for 2017-2018? Would it be in bad form to list my externship for next summer on my application to real, full-time clerkships?

To throw a wrench into the mix, my grades are median and I'm not doing any journals. What helps my case is a strong batch of writing samples from 1L and summer plus I'm a decent interviewer.

So, three things: i) When should I be applying for '17-'18?; ii) If I should be looking for those clerkships now, before I complete the externship, can I still put the externship down?; and iii) Do I even have a chance at a flyover D.Ct. clerkship w/o a journal and just median grades? (Bearing in mind that I have agency and will have feeder CoA experience under my belt.)

Thanks!

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rpupkin
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby rpupkin » Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is clerking for an IP-heavy judge a bad idea if that's not an area of interest or one you'd be looking to pursue afterward? Or do firms typically just look at complex lit as complex lit?

How "IP-heavy" is the district? If it's E.D. Texas or Delaware, then I think it's a mistake if you really have zero interest in patent lit. But if it's, say, a judge in N.D. Cal or C.D. Cal, I would do it because you'll likely have enough non-patent cases to keep you interested.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:30 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is clerking for an IP-heavy judge a bad idea if that's not an area of interest or one you'd be looking to pursue afterward? Or do firms typically just look at complex lit as complex lit?

How "IP-heavy" is the district? If it's E.D. Texas or Delaware, then I think it's a mistake if you really have zero interest in patent lit. But if it's, say, a judge in N.D. Cal or C.D. Cal, I would do it because you'll likely have enough non-patent cases to keep you interested.



D. Del. The only other districts I've gotten any interest in have been flyover. This would be a mix of patent and other work. I'm not sure I'd be looking to go to a firm afterwards. Thinking about clerking mostly for the mentorship/writing & skills development/view from the bench/connections/credential.

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rpupkin
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby rpupkin » Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is clerking for an IP-heavy judge a bad idea if that's not an area of interest or one you'd be looking to pursue afterward? Or do firms typically just look at complex lit as complex lit?

How "IP-heavy" is the district? If it's E.D. Texas or Delaware, then I think it's a mistake if you really have zero interest in patent lit. But if it's, say, a judge in N.D. Cal or C.D. Cal, I would do it because you'll likely have enough non-patent cases to keep you interested.



D. Del. The only other districts I've gotten any interest in have been flyover. This would be a mix of patent and other work. I'm not sure I'd be looking to go to a firm afterwards. Thinking about clerking mostly for the mentorship/writing & skills development/view from the bench/connections/credential.

Who cares whether the districts are "flyover"? There are perhaps a few districts in the country—such as SDNY and DDC—where the "prestige" of clerking in the district carries some weight above and beyond the skills you develop from clerking. But D. Del. is not one of those districts. In fact, to the extent that D. Del. is desirable, it's because there is so much patent lit there, not because it's considered prestigious in some abstract sense. Don't clerk in D. Del. if you have no interest in patent lit.

ETA: I think the answer is different if you are at least open to doing some patent lit early in your career. You certainly don't have to be a patent specialist in order to benefit from a D. Del. clerkship. But once you have that credential on your resume, law firms—including general lit law firms that do some patent lit—are going to want you to work on patent cases.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:56 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is clerking for an IP-heavy judge a bad idea if that's not an area of interest or one you'd be looking to pursue afterward? Or do firms typically just look at complex lit as complex lit?

How "IP-heavy" is the district? If it's E.D. Texas or Delaware, then I think it's a mistake if you really have zero interest in patent lit. But if it's, say, a judge in N.D. Cal or C.D. Cal, I would do it because you'll likely have enough non-patent cases to keep you interested.



D. Del. The only other districts I've gotten any interest in have been flyover. This would be a mix of patent and other work. I'm not sure I'd be looking to go to a firm afterwards. Thinking about clerking mostly for the mentorship/writing & skills development/view from the bench/connections/credential.

Who cares whether the districts are "flyover"? There are perhaps a few districts in the country—such as SDNY and DDC—where the "prestige" of clerking in the district carries some weight above and beyond the skills you develop from clerking. But D. Del. is not one of those districts. In fact, to the extent that D. Del. is desirable, it's because there is so much patent lit there, not because it's considered prestigious in some abstract sense. Don't clerk in D. Del. if you have no interest in patent lit.

ETA: I think the answer is different if you are at least open to doing some patent lit early in your career. You certainly don't have to be a patent specialist in order to benefit from a D. Del. clerkship. But once you have that credential on your resume, law firms—including general lit law firms that do some patent lit—are going to want you to work on patent cases.


Gotcha. Wasn't sure if this was the case or not, was under the impression it'd be viewed more "favorably" than D. Kan. or w/e.

I'm not at all opposed to doing some patent lit, but I don't have a tech background and I don't want to be pigeonholed (goal is bigfed or crim prosecution).

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 01, 2015 11:43 pm

HYS. I'm sure this is answered somewhere so feel free to point me there. How receptive are judges to explanations of one semester/quarter of straight Ps if the rest of the transcript is a decent mix (probably between top 40% and top third)? When would that conversation even come up, or would it not even be necessary? I've assumed for the most part that they wouldn't care as to the why. Only looking at district clerkships, c/o 2017 looking for 2018 or 2019.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:34 am

Hello Clerks!
Is it weird to receive random emails from people asking about a current/former clerkship experience or is this par for the course? OCS keeps suggesting this, but it seems odd if I don't know the person or they aren't an alum.
Thanks!




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