Clerks Taking Questions

Seek and share information about clerkship applications, clerkship hiring timelines, and post-clerkship employment opportunities.
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are sharing sensitive information about clerkship applications and clerkship hiring. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned."
Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 23, 2011 5:45 pm

So I'm a very nontraditional applicant. I've been out of law school for the better part of a decade. Top 5 school, editor of a secondary journal, published student comment (that has since been cited a few times), and based on honors designations, top quarter -- but not top 10% -- of the unranked class. I didn't even try to clerk because (1) firms were paying close to $100k more at that time, and (2) I was stupid. I worked at a Vault 20 firm for about half the time since graduation, and a non-firm employer for the rest of the time. I've been lead counsel in some pretty interesting cases resulting in several published decisions, some of which garnered media attention.

I decided a while back that I wanted to try to move to academia. I have since been pursuing that on two tracks. First, I started writing, and a Top 50 general law review is publishing my first article this fall. Second, I've been looking for a job that is a little better suited to an academic job search (i.e., clerkship, staff attorney, maybe AUSA). Well, a judge called last week to schedule an interview, and it occurs to me that I know nothing about the clerkship application process. So here are a few questions:

1.) I'm told to bring "writing samples." First, how many? Second, what? If I'm limiting this to really well-written stuff, I can produce recent state court briefs, federal briefs from a few years back, a mock judicial opinion from close to five years ago that I prepared in connection with a staff attorney job application (I was the second choice, and when they called back a few months later, I had already accepted a new job elsewhere), or my accepted article (50+ pages though!).

2.) I'm told to bring contact info for references (they don't want letters). Again, how many? And who? The obvious choices are old bosses who liked me. But I also have a guy who has been opposing or co-counsel in several cases who has offered to be a reference if I'm ever looking. And there is the former colleague who is now a bigwig in legal circles (think high profile professor or COA judge), but who never actually supervised me. And of course, I could give them a few professors' names, though they probably have mostly forgotten me by now.

Assume that for these first two questions, I either asked and the response was ambiguous, or I forgot to ask and don't want to bother them.

3.) What is the usual interview:opening ratio? In other words, if I'm an interviewee, do I have a 10% chance? A 25% chance? A 50% chance?

4.) Is it realistic to "parlay" interviews if the other opening is a several hour drive away, but you live on the other side of the country? So, hypothetically, should someone from New York try to parlay an interview in LA to one in SF?

Alright, I've gone on long enough. Thanks in advance!

JusticeJackson
Posts: 454
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:26 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby JusticeJackson » Mon May 23, 2011 6:30 pm

.
Last edited by JusticeJackson on Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 23, 2011 6:52 pm

I’d pick the three people you think will say the best things, and then call them and make sure they’ll do that.


Thanks for the advice! I know two of the three -- my law firm boss, and my old non-firm boss who moved on (but with whom I still interact with professionally). What would you recommend for the last one: The opposing/co-counsel who is effusive about my work and says I write the best briefs he's ever seen, or the (hypothetically) now-COA judge with whom I practiced and who should say "merely" nice things about me? So in other words, superlative praise from a relative nobody, or "only" good praise from a more prominent somebody? Or both?

JusticeJackson
Posts: 454
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:26 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby JusticeJackson » Mon May 23, 2011 7:05 pm

.
Last edited by JusticeJackson on Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 24, 2011 12:04 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:did you have to undergo a background check? was it similar to the ones they do at DoJ? thanks

Some clerkships require a security clearance, which does involve a background check commensurate with the level of clearance needed. Most clerkships, however, do not have this requirement, and thus do not involve a background check of the kind used for DOJ positions.

are there any particular district courts etc. that are known for this? or could it pretty much happen in any court

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 24, 2011 3:01 am

G.T.L.,

Thank you so much for the information you have given. You are a gentleman and a scholar.

Nevertheless, despite your generous outpouring of fact, opinion, and guidance, I have one remaining question.

Here is my situation: I have a very, very well-known Professor (Think Dick Posner, Erwin Chemerinsky, Richard Epstein, Lawrence Tribe, Cass Sunstein) who will be writing me a strong letter of recommendation. This Professor really likes me. In fact, this Professor told me he knows more judges than a midget hooker knows fetishists (not his exact words). He also offered to call judges he knew on my behalf. Additionally, he assured me that he would "get me a clerkship". He has already done so with a few of my classmates, though I don't know what there grades were.

Here's the catch: my grades are at median or slightly above, but I am on LR. I don't think my knew that at the time he gave me his guarantee. I know that puts me out of the running for COA clerkships. But, would this Professor's recommendation and phone call be enough to get me to district court? I'm willing to go anywhere in the country and I know this Professor knows judges all over.

So, what do you think? Do you know any judges who, if they got a call from a superstar Professor, would overlook median grades?

Thanks again.

P.S. Posting anonymous because my previous posts would give away my identity and my Professor's identity.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 24, 2011 8:37 am

.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 24, 2011 11:08 am

In general, it is both realistic and desirable to try to parlay one interview into more. But SF people might be a little less likely to do that when your "anchor" interview is in LA. In the cases I know of, people have generally stuck to the same courthouse or city/metro area when seeking to parlay. I do know of one candidate who parlayed a single PA district court interview into several throughout the state, but that is still a more compact area than LA --> SF. The fact that you are traveling so far for the first interview gives you some license to reach, but be careful as to how far you go.

Calling to parlay is always super awkward. It is no fun. But the rewards are huge when it works out. Good luck!!


Hey, thank you very much for the advice. Like I said -- I never did this when I should have. (By the way, just to give you a historical perspective, when I graduated the standards were a good bit lower. Top half of the class would get you a district court gig; top third would get you a good district court gig; and top 15% or so would put you in the running for COA.)

Also, just to be clear, the LA-SF example really was hypothetical. It probably would be more accurate to use something like W.D. Tex., but the interviews are in San Antonio and El Paso -- so the same district, but a long drive or short plane ride apart. My deal is that I just don't want to have to fly across the country twice -- much easier to rent a car or book a puddle-jumper ticket. In addition to the $$$, I do have a job and a wife and small children, you know?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 24, 2011 10:04 pm

FWIW, Easterbrook usually exclusively hires from Chicago, only two clerks.

User avatar
iagolives
Posts: 687
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:24 pm

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby iagolives » Tue May 24, 2011 10:16 pm

One more question GTL Rev.:

I don't know how your financial situation is, but did you find it hard to afford paying off your loans (assuming you have them) and working at a clerk's salary? (I know its kind of personal, so feel free to PM me.)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 25, 2011 3:54 pm

Another parlay question:

How soon after applying can you parlay? In other words, if you get an interview in a particular courthouse/city, could you immediately apply to other judges in that same locale, wait a week or so, then try to parlay at that point? Or is there a window after application during which time it's frowned upon?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 25, 2011 4:01 pm

iagolives wrote:One more question GTL Rev.:

I don't know how your financial situation is, but did you find it hard to afford paying off your loans (assuming you have them) and working at a clerk's salary? (I know its kind of personal, so feel free to PM me.)

I'm not GTL Rev., but I am a current clerk with massive loans. I've been pleasantly surprised at how manageable the monthly payments are, thanks to loan consolidation + IBR + my school's LRAP. Even without LRAP the payments would be bearable.

The cost-of-living salary bump ("locality pay differential") that the govt gives you for living in an expensive city helps, too. (I'm in 2/9/DC.)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 25, 2011 9:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
iagolives wrote:One more question GTL Rev.:

I don't know how your financial situation is, but did you find it hard to afford paying off your loans (assuming you have them) and working at a clerk's salary? (I know its kind of personal, so feel free to PM me.)

I'm not GTL Rev., but I am a current clerk with massive loans. I've been pleasantly surprised at how manageable the monthly payments are, thanks to loan consolidation + IBR + my school's LRAP. Even without LRAP the payments would be bearable.

The cost-of-living salary bump ("locality pay differential") that the govt gives you for living in an expensive city helps, too. (I'm in 2/9/DC.)


You should check with your individual school, but as far as I am aware, most schools do not consider clerks eligible for LRAP.

For me personally, if I look only at what I make and sum up my monthly loan payment, housing, food, etc. expenses, I barely break even. My loans are unfortunately all fixed at 6.8%. Two things to note though: (1) I am maxing out my 401k/pension as well--if you don't do this, you'll have about $15k more each year (sans taxes), which would probably make things a little more comfortable; and (2) I have not done IBR, because I'm married and my spouse's income would count against me.

westbayguy
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:41 pm

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby westbayguy » Thu May 26, 2011 12:05 am

You can qualify for ibr if you file married/separate (not joint) returns

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 26, 2011 6:29 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
westbayguy wrote:You can qualify for ibr if you file married/separate (not joint) returns

Maybe, but doesn't "married filing separately" come with all kinds of other negative tax consequences? Paging nealric/other tax LLMs!


Correct. MFS status disqualifies you for several tax credits/breaks. Importantly, MFS filers are not eligible for any of the education tax breaks, such as the tuition and fees deduction, and the Hope or Lifetime Learning tax credits. MFS is really only useful in two situations: (1) when one person owes a lot of taxes, but the other would get a refund; or (2) you want separate tax liabilities (because you're about to get a divorce, are separated but not yet divorced, or you think your spouse is up to something nefarious with his/her business dealings and you want to protect yourself, etc.)

westbayguy
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:41 pm

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby westbayguy » Thu May 26, 2011 1:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
westbayguy wrote:You can qualify for ibr if you file married/separate (not joint) returns

Maybe, but doesn't "married filing separately" come with all kinds of other negative tax consequences? Paging nealric/other tax LLMs!


Correct. MFS status disqualifies you for several tax credits/breaks. Importantly, MFS filers are not eligible for any of the education tax breaks, such as the tuition and fees deduction, and the Hope or Lifetime Learning tax credits. MFS is really only useful in two situations: (1) when one person owes a lot of taxes, but the other would get a refund; or (2) you want separate tax liabilities (because you're about to get a divorce, are separated but not yet divorced, or you think your spouse is up to something nefarious with his/her business dealings and you want to protect yourself, etc.)


But isn't this one of those situiations?

If one spouse is making 160 and the other 60, and both have 150k in debt, wouldn't filing separately to get the ibr savings make sense (even if you lose the crdits?)- assuming it results in tax free debt forgiveness at 10 years (public interest job?)- make sense?

I Know that's a big if- but just thinking out loud here.

Maybe this is one of those tweaks to the law (like clarifying there is no tax bomb at the end of ibr) we should be clamoring for?

Alyosha
Posts: 104
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2008 8:34 pm

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Alyosha » Thu May 26, 2011 5:47 pm

Thanks again for taking questions. Some of the district courts in my jx require two-year commitments. Are there any downsides to taking a two-year clerkship as opposed to one year? For example, are firms more reluctant about letting SA's come back if the clerkship is two years?

westbayguy
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:41 pm

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby westbayguy » Thu May 26, 2011 7:36 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
westbayguy wrote:tax bomb at the end of ibr

I have been wondering about this. Is the worry that IBR is effectively a loan forgiveness program, such that the taxpayer/student will realize taxable income in the amount of the forgiven loan when the IBR period ends? If so, that's one seriously screwed up program.


Elsewhere on these fora somone has said that there is no tax bite if you get forgiveness at 10 years for PI (govt/501(c)(3)) work, but that you could get hit with a huge tax bill if you get 20 or 25 year forgiveness otherwise under IBR. Rumor was a bill was going to be put up to correct this.

User avatar
iagolives
Posts: 687
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:24 pm

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby iagolives » Thu May 26, 2011 8:05 pm

Alyosha wrote:Thanks again for taking questions. Some of the district courts in my jx require two-year commitments. Are there any downsides to taking a two-year clerkship as opposed to one year? For example, are firms more reluctant about letting SA's come back if the clerkship is two years?


Hey, I've asked a few people I know about this and, while I defer to GTL, I don't think so beyond losing 2 years of firm-level income (if that's your thing) instead of one. In fact, ITE, I would imagine being safely out of the market for 2 years instead of one might actually be an asset.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 26, 2011 8:21 pm

Question here... and I know the answer is probably not good, but I thought I would ask. If I am currently externing for a federal district court judge in a secondary market, rising 3L with median grades from a T18 but strong writing skills, and an good personality (so I've been told...) what do you think my chances would be of securing a federal clerkship in this secondary market? Are grades really everything? Do you think I even have a chance of networking my way into a clerkship here? How bout in the absence of heavy networking? My gut says that there is something to be said for externing for a judge that other judges know. Do you think it might at least get me an interview?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 26, 2011 9:28 pm

westbayguy wrote:If one spouse is making 160 and the other 60, and both have 150k in debt, wouldn't filing separately to get the ibr savings make sense (even if you lose the crdits?)- assuming it results in tax free debt forgiveness at 10 years (public interest job?)- make sense?


I haven't done the math to work out the numbers, but if you do MFS, then the spouse making 160k will take a much much bigger tax hit than the 60k spouse. Remember, MFJ gives you the greatest benefit when the two incomes are rather disparate, because you can spread the excess income from the higher salary over to the lower-earning person. That benefit gets wiped out though when the two incomes are essential equal (hence, the marriage "penalty"). The higher-earning person's AGI will also likely exceed the limit for a lot of personal exemptions (varies by state).

According to http://www.smartmoney.com/taxes/income/Married-but-Filing-Separately-15597/, the other drawbacks of MFS include:

    You can't claim the child and dependent-care tax credit.
    You can't claim the deduction for college tuition and related expenses.
    You can't claim the Hope Scholarship or Lifetime Learning tax credits for higher education expenses.
    You can't claim the college loan interest write-off.
    You can't deduct more than $1,500 of capital losses against ordinary income (compared to $3,000 if you file jointly).
    You can't make a Roth IRA contribution if your AGI exceeds $10,000.
    You can't convert a traditional IRA into a Roth account.
    You must itemize deductions if your spouse itemizes (you can't claim the standard deduction).

The biggest of those might be the loan interest write-off and possibly childcare tax credit (I have no idea how much the childcare tax credit is worth because I don't have kids). Not being able to contribute to a Roth IRA is huge too (for retirement).

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 26, 2011 9:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Question here... and I know the answer is probably not good, but I thought I would ask. If I am currently externing for a federal district court judge in a secondary market, rising 3L with median grades from a T18 but strong writing skills, and an good personality (so I've been told...) what do you think my chances would be of securing a federal clerkship in this secondary market? Are grades really everything? Do you think I even have a chance of networking my way into a clerkship here? How bout in the absence of heavy networking? My gut says that there is something to be said for externing for a judge that other judges know. Do you think it might at least get me an interview?


If your current judge is willing to make calls on your behalf, I think you stand a good shot within the district. But otherwise, I think you face an uphill battle. Truth be told, the vast majority of interns/externs I've worked with wind up creating negative work for the law clerks. So unless I hear directly from your judge that your work product is stellar, I'm not putting a whole lotta stock into the fact you intern/externed for someone who is my colleague.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 27, 2011 12:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:You should check with your individual school, but as far as I am aware, most schools do not consider clerks eligible for LRAP.

At least at Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Chicago, NYU, and Berkeley, law clerks are eligible for LRAP. At some of these schools, however, in order to be eligible, a clerk must commit to taking a post-clerkship PI/government job, too. (In other words, no LRAP help if you plan to join a firm after clerking.)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 27, 2011 12:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You should check with your individual school, but as far as I am aware, most schools do not consider clerks eligible for LRAP.

At least at Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Chicago, NYU, and Berkeley, law clerks are eligible for LRAP. At some of these schools, however, in order to be eligible, a clerk must commit to taking a post-clerkship PI/government job, too. (In other words, no LRAP help if you plan to join a firm after clerking.)


Not true for Yale- clerks are eligible for loans that can be rolled into LRAP. Of course if you take a 160k job after clerking you will get no help from LRAP- even at YLS.

http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/Financial_Aid/COAP_later.pdf

JUDICIAL CLERKSHIPS
Graduates working as judicial clerks may participate in COAP, but program benefits for
clerkships will be in the form of a loan rather than a grant. The amount of loan for which a
graduate may qualify is calculated the same way that non-clerkship COAP eligibility is
calculated. The cumulative maximum amount of clerkship loans will be $10,000. The loan will
carry an interest rate equal to the Yale Student Loan rate (currently 7.5%), and it will be payable in full within one year of leaving the clerkship. Extensions may be arranged for graduates who have multiple year or consecutive clerkships.

If, after the clerkship, the graduate takes a position that qualifies for the COAP Program, the loan will be treated as a qualifying educational loan covered by the Program, and the Program will make the necessary payments of principal and interest on the participant’s behalf for as long as the participant is in the Program. Clerkship loan recipients should consult with their tax
advisors about the appropriate treatment of imputed interest. Upon leaving a qualifying position, any remaining balance due on the loan will be payable in full within one year. The one year repayment requirement is based on the assumption that a graduate in a high paying postclerkship position will be able to repay the loan or refinance the loan through manageable
commercial options and thereby free Program funds for others. Should this assumption be
inaccurate, individual adjustments sensitive to the graduate's circumstances may be made.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273567
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 27, 2011 12:12 pm

.




Return to “Judicial Clerkships”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.