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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:04 pm

In my opinion, this is the single best thread on TLS.

Trying to weigh transfer options here and clerking post-law school is the top goal (district court, not a COA gunner). working a good summer gig right now.

I can do one of the following:

1) Stay at my T25, ranked between top 5-10%, graded onto law review. Solid $$, would probably be given more. Debt doesnt concern me much.

2) Transfer to T14, have a crack at their law review during the write-on (not quite a long shot but not a sure thing), school is in the major city I want to practice/clerk in (already accepted)

3) Transfer to T6, law review is a way long shot, school places well in the city I want. (havent gotten in yet)

Would take a clerkship anywhere. Have a good pre-LS resume (relevant masters degree, solid high level work experience, published once (not law related)). Yes, that was a nested parenthetical.

I think the question really comes down to how important is law review and is it worth the gamble of writing on...

Thoughts?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:In my opinion, this is the single best thread on TLS.

Trying to weigh transfer options here and clerking post-law school is the top goal (district court, not a COA gunner). Working for a fed dist ct judge this summer in the district I want to wind up in. We are getting along well.

I can do one of the following:

1) Stay at my T25, ranked between top 5-10%, graded onto law review. Solid $$, would probably be given more. Debt doesnt concern me much.

2) Transfer to T14, have a crack at their law review during the write-on (not quite a long shot but not a sure thing), school is in the major city I want to practice/clerk in (already accepted)

3) Transfer to T6, law review is a way long shot, school places well in the city I want. (havent gotten in yet)

Would take a clerkship anywhere. Have a good pre-LS resume (masters degree from top program, solid high level work experience, published once (not law related)). Yes, that was a nested parenthetical.

I think the question really comes down to how important is law review and is it worth the gamble of writing on...

Thoughts?



I've got a similar question, but top 2-3% at a T35, my school places reasonably well for Federal District Court, especially in the Atlanta market, but I'd love to clerk for the Federal Circuit (I have an engineering degree). Trying to decide whether or not transferring is worth the headache and the additional debt.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Corwin » Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:40 pm

UVA alumni seem to have been very successful in getting SCOTUS clerkships relative to rank (3rd most clerks after HY). Does this translate to some sort of boost for UVA applicants for COA clerkships?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:24 pm

HLS 2L. 14th Amdt./Admin in the fall, Evidence/Corporations in the spring, plus other non-fluffy seminar type classes. Plan to take Fed Courts as a 3L and my enrollment (but obv. not my grade) will appear on my unofficial transcript by the time I apply for clerkships. Is this enough "core" stuff for a clerkship or should I be worried that the schedule looks too light?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Moxie » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:35 pm

Corwin wrote:UVA alumni seem to have been very successful in getting SCOTUS clerkships relative to rank (3rd most clerks after HY). Does this translate to some sort of boost for UVA applicants for COA clerkships?


http://www.leiterrankings.com/new/2010_ ... ment.shtml - This compilation of SCOTUS clerk data from 2000-2010 has UVA as the school with the 5/6th most SCOTUS clerks per capita and total. It seems to have a big advantage over Penn, but only a marginal one over UM.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Corwin » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:52 pm

Moxie wrote:
Corwin wrote:UVA alumni seem to have been very successful in getting SCOTUS clerkships relative to rank (3rd most clerks after HY). Does this translate to some sort of boost for UVA applicants for COA clerkships?


http://www.leiterrankings.com/new/2010_ ... ment.shtml - This compilation of SCOTUS clerk data from 2000-2010 has UVA as the school with the 5/6th most SCOTUS clerks per capita and total. It seems to have a big advantage over Penn, but only a marginal one over UM.

Whoops, meant to say over the last 3 years.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:19 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the top 10% at a T25, hoping to be on law review, won a few awards during 1L etc. Am told I have an interesting resume, went to a top (and very well liked) UG and I had a very interesting sounding job between UG and LS. I also have a security clearance. Any shot at a decent clerkship, preferably in a city? I would be open to anywhere, I'm just curious what types of opportunities I might have, or whether I should whore out any and all connections.

Thanks for your input! Appreciate you doing this. Also appreciate chuckling at your picture when I look at this thread.

At this point, I am tempted to stop responding to 1L questions, at least when it comes to "chances." I don't mean to be rude, but it is just way, way too early for rising 2Ls to be talking about specific clerkships. Too much uncertainty as to where you will be when it matters next spring and summer. Planning for the things you need to do in order to land a clerkship is different, and I am happy to indulge questions on that issue, as it pays dividends to start thinking about the process (rather than the judges/courts) your 1L summer. Examples of these procedural questions might include: What sort of writing sample should I be trying to have ready by clerkship application season? How do I network with professors during 2L year to be in a good position for recommendations/calls? Which classes should I take and when?
So do you mind answering some of those questions you posed?

Is there a particular writing sample that works well? Obviously the one with the best legal analysis, but do judges tend to prefer legal-writing class briefs? Memoranda? Journal comments, even if unpublished or in-progress? Or memos from 1L summer with a firm or judge?

Do you have particular tips for professor networking? Obviously stopping in every once in a while, maintaining relationships with profs, talking about your career prospects, course selection, etc., helps...as well as RA'ing, getting a prof to be a comment advisor, etc are the standard ways -- anything else?

And w/r/t course selection: we've all heard that having at least 2 "core" classes per semester is a good idea. Is that a good rough number? Or should you aim for 3? Is it better to have Fed Jur on your transcript (i.e. should take 2L year), or is taking it 3L okay? What courses are prerequisites for a clerkship app? I'd think Corps, Evidence, Admin, Fed Jur...what else? Crim Pro? Employment? Advanced Civ Pro?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:05 pm

Do you suggest fed courts 2L year over 3L?

Are you generally shut out of COA and high demand district ct clerkships if you're not at a T6/10/14 etc school?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Vronsky » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:48 pm

GTLR - I'm not trying to bother you with a 1L "what are my chances" type question, but more generally, how should the possibility of clerking affect a potential transfer student from T2/lower T1 into T14?

For most people in this situation will have T5% grades at the T2/T1, but the typical scenario involves giving up T2/T1 LR for T14 secondary journal... which is more favorable for landing your average District Court Clerkship? i.e. am I better of staying at my T2 with LR or transferring and (most likely) having only a secondary journal?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:59 pm

Thanks for answering/thanks to whoever asked the fed cts question, very helpful.

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:Yes and no. Yes as in it is much harder from outside the top schools with most COA judges and sought-after district court judges. No as in you are not shut out of COA clerkships if you are not at a top flight school, since many rural/more remote COA judges prefer to hire top 1% types from local, lower-ranked schools. And if you are #1 at Fordham or top 2% at GW, I would think you'd have a great shot at SDNY or DDC, respectively.


What about schools comparable to GW trying to get to DDC etc- is it the location that matters? Do significant ties to the area help, or is it about the school's ties?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:00 pm

Vronsky wrote:GTLR - I'm not trying to bother you with a 1L "what are my chances" type question, but more generally, how should the possibility of clerking affect a potential transfer student from T2/lower T1 into T14?

For most people in this situation will have T5% grades at the T2/T1, but the typical scenario involves giving up T2/T1 LR for T14 secondary journal... which is more favorable for landing your average District Court Clerkship? i.e. am I better of staying at my T2 with LR or transferring and (most likely) having only a secondary journal?


For what it's worth, I made the transfer to a T6 and got a CoA gig. I know for a fact I would not have gotten the judge I got without the transfer, and I do not think I would have gotten any CoA judge had I stayed. Honestly not sure about how district courts would have fallen out had I stayed.

Losing LR obviously makes things harder. Based on my own experience, I would say that getting a solid writing sample (i.e., journal or not, get something published) during the 2L year would have helped to make up for my lack of LR. Being on a secondary - even getting an editor position - doesn't really seem to make up for much (nor is being on a secondary a sure-fire thing, at least at my T6: only about 1/3 of the people who applied for journal membership was extended an offer from any journal).

Also: be aware of your need for recommenders when you select classes. I ended up taking classes I wanted to take, instead of taking classes with big-name professors. I had one major exception, and he's the reason I got my clerkship - but even now, I only have one big-name professor I could use if I wanted to try for a second clerkship, or Bristow/SCOTUS/etc., and that is really limiting my options.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:14 pm

Thanks so much for your help, GTLR. This has been an eye-opening thread.

How seriously does your chambers take publication? I wrote a paper for a seminar my 1L spring, got very good feedback, and would like to polish it up into a journal note submission. Does something like this change the overall calculus by much? Otherwise, I feel like I'm a little out of the CoA range (~top 1/4 at HYS).

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:27 am

Top 5-10%, EIC of L Rev at T30, and have lived all over. I know I should limit my apps to D Cts, but should I apply all over or just to ones in places where I have ties? Kind of lost.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby jonas » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:10 am

Anonymous User wrote:Top 5-10%, EIC of L Rev at T30, and have lived all over. I know I should limit my apps to D Cts, but should I apply all over or just to ones in places where I have ties? Kind of lost.

There's no reason for you to limit your apps to d cts or to places where you have ties.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:43 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:[re: writing samples] I do not think any particular format is preferred. The keys are qualify legal analysis, solid organization, and careful attention to detail (no errors). Some judges also want to be sure that the piece has not been edited by others, and I would add that the piece should not be too long (~50 pages is probably the limit, IMO).


I have an (20 page) appellate brief from Legal Writing class that I'm very proud of -- I went out of my way to pull out all the stops on the draft version (we also submit a "final" version responsive to professor comments) -- included Cover, Tables of Contents and Authorities even though they aren't required at the draft stage. I think it shows thorough research of the issues (Title VII) as well as some novel arguments (identified in advance to the professor as subsidiary). I also relentlessly bluebooked it.

Here's the problem (if it is a problem). It was a "joint" project. I'm sure this comes up a lot, but couldn't find any references to it. My partner is a solid student, pretty comfortably above median, but a little out of the top 25%. I'm sure she would have produced some very good writing had she really had to do (she had the second best grades in my LRW class prior to the brief). But as it turned out, I wrote nearly all of it. After I did a lot of research and placed the cases relevant to her portion in folders on Westlaw, she sent wrote and then sent me drafts sections I, II and part of III, which I edited extremely heavily and bluebooked myself. Statements of Jx/Case/Facts, Standard of Review, Summary of Argument, most of III and then all of IV-VII and the conclusion and appendices were all mine, as was all the formatting. And again, the sections she wrote were largely rewritten by me.

I don't want to minimize her effort and contribution -- as I said before, I'm sure she would have done a very good job if I hadn't done all this. I think we still would have gotten the best grade in the class had I done far less work (but I had an eye on writing sample at the time, so I wasn't simply shooting for an A). I asked her to cite check the document (not for blue book compliance, but for accuracy of pincites and quotations), which she did and located several small errors (misplaced quotes, failure to note that i omitted original quotation marks). She also corrected a few typos and helped with a few stylistic choices (and convinced me me abandon some language that probably went a little too far past "persuasive"). I don't think I could have chosen a better partner.

Nevertheless, does the division of labor question come up in interviews? Should it be addressed in an explanatory cover sheet to the actual sample? Does this happen a lot (presumably the very best students carry a disproportionate load on team assignments and then are the ones that go on to apply for clerkships)? How deferential should I be to her contributions if I do mention it in a cover sheet or interview? Should I made clear that this was a draft completely unseen by the professor --- or is a final submitted version with small alterations also acceptable because that was also submitted for a grade?

Finally, would it be better to just submit a note? -- I'm proud of it as well, but it's more specialized and doesn't show off the exact skills that seem relevant for appellate clerking. Perhaps for a Law and Economics sort of judge, but I am sort of hoping that because that it is on my resume, if he's really that intrigued by the topic (which he won't be I'm sure, voluntarily seeking to reading a second piece for one applicant seems unlikely given the volume of applications) he could just go online and read it?

Thanks for the advice (here and in the thread as a whole)!

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:52 pm

When is too early to send in an application? I'm a rising 2L just outside top 5% at a T30 school and I'm hoping that with a lot of leg work and an early start, I'll hopefully find something. Assuming I know a judge is off-plan, when is the ideal time to get an application in?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby twistedwrister » Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:33 pm

Are most of the new hires recent grads or rising 3Ls applying off-plan, as far as you can tell?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:48 pm

What are good and bad questions to ask during a circuit court interview? I'm told to anticipate a two hour interview, so I'm hoping to come up with more than a few questions.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:58 am

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What are good and bad questions to ask during a circuit court interview? I'm told to anticipate a two hour interview, so I'm hoping to come up with more than a few questions.

Good question. A few ideas:

1. Ask about how chambers runs. How are cases divided among the clerks? What sort of preparation does the judge go through before oral argument (Bench memo? If so, how long? If not, what else?)? What is the opinion drafting process like?

2. If the judge is not co-located with the court as a whole (e.g., Ninth Circuit judges), how often does the judge travel for court? How long is each trip? Do all of the clerks go each time, or just some of them?

3. What kind of cases tend to make up the court's docket? The COAs vary widely on this, although there are some common threads (e.g., 1983 suits, employment discrimination suits, etc.).

4. Relatedly, what are the clerks' favorite cases from the prior term? What do they know now about clerking that they wished they had known on day 1? What will they miss most? Least?

5. Do the judge's clerks work on habeas/pro se appeals? Does the circuit have a "staff attorney" office that filters out some of the appeals? If such an office exists, what role, if any, do the clerks play in the cases initially routed through the office?

6. Does the judge tend to gravitate towards certain kinds of opinions? Away from others? Do the clerks assist the judge with law review articles, speeches, or any other "outside" work like that?

Awesome. Thank you so much.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:06 pm

What's the best way to address a judge in an interview? Judge ___? Your honor? Sir?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:18 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:Depends on the judge. For some judges, your app needs to be in as early as February of your 2L year to realistically have a shot. Those judges are few and far between, however, and in the main your professors will be telling you to apply if you are truly competitive. In other words, if you have to ask who they are, you are not competitive.


Thanks, G.T.L. I am currently a rising 2L, and am conservatively top 3% at a lower T14. Not looking for chances, and such, but I was wondering if you could explain the process for applying to a District Court clerkship for right after school (either on plan or off, I do not really know too much about either) and then a COA after that. Ideally, I would want to do both in the same region. I.e., S.D.N.Y. and then 2nd Cir. (but I do not actually want this combination). How does the timeline work for this? Also, I know people do back to back clerkships, but does this makes sense given my goals of wanting to do biglaw for a few years, and then hopefully working as an AUSA or DOJ job. I have heard that District Court clerkships are more applicable in this regard. Thanks!

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:29 pm

Do judges who also teach have any ethical bars to hiring their students? I have a professor who has offered to pick up the phone in the spring and talk to a certain judge to recommend hiring me as a clerk. However, that judge teaches a class at my school. Obviously if I can treat it as a semester long interview, I'll do it to get the leg up. However, is there any particular reason why the judge might avoid hiring his students?

The other side of the question -- if judges DO hire their students, are the classes complete gunnervilles? It seems like everyone would want to take part in this "semester long interview."

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby phoenixsoars » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:11 pm

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Last edited by phoenixsoars on Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:52 pm

Hello, Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. I feel like I am having a difficult time getting straight answers from my career services/ clerkship coordinator, so here goes: My law school is in the 25-30 range (think Illinois/ Wisconsin-ish). I am in the top 10% and on LR Board. I am also from Wyoming. My clerkship advisor is REALLY pushing me to apply for federal clerkships in Wyoming. I know I would have a much better shot at clerkships there than I would in cities where I would actually like to live (Chicago, D.C. . . ) I DO NOT want to end up in Wyoming. The thought of going back for a year is not one that I would entertain, other than the fact that it might open up doors down the road. Of course, I know that ALL federal clerkships are competitive, and a clerkship, even one in WY, is in no way a safe bet.

So my question: If I were to get a clerkship with a district court judge in Wyoming (or any other similarly situated, less-popular state), how much of a benefit would it be to me when applying for post-clerkship jobs? Particularly, because I would be looking at cities that are not anywhere near my clerkship location. (Not tied to any particular location, but would like to end up in Chicago/ D.C.)

Thank you-- I really appreciate any input.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby iagolives » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:24 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What's the best way to address a judge in an interview? Judge ___? Your honor? Sir?

Judge _____ is best, in my experience. "Your honor" sounds too formalistic and wooden. Likewise "sir."


I think its a personal thing; as long as you use one of them, you're fine. Personally, I call everyone sir/ma'am (upbringing thing) so that seems much more natural to me than "Judge So-and-so." You are going to be nervous for your interview, especially if it's your first. I wouldn't sweat the small stuff and just remember to show respect like you would for any seasoned professional in the workplace.




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