Clerks Taking Questions

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:When I graduate, I'll be clerking for a district judge and then for a circuit judge. My understanding is that my district judge likes clerks to attend court.

I'm wondering how I should plan to dress for my clerkship(s)? Suit every day? Or can I get away with business formal dresses that aren't actually a suit. I'm trying to plan my wardrobe and am wondering what percentage of it needs to be made up of suits versus nice dresses/sweaters/etc.

If it makes a difference in answering, the courts are two of the following: EDNY/SDNY/DDC, 2/DC/1.

I suspect those courts are a little more formal than not, but my rule of thumb for court was that separates were okay as long as I at least wore a jacket (but that all went together). My co-clerk definitely got away with dresses/very nice non-suit clothes (she dressed nicely, period) but was also permanent so in a different position. You may find once you’re there that you don’t need to be formal, but I would err on the side of caution.

Or contact the current clerks and ask them, actually. That would be totally acceptable.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby ramadar » Sun Apr 29, 2018 1:52 pm

Just accepted a clerkship offer to start in Fall 2019. Any general advice on approaching the next year and a half (preparation, maintaining contact with chambers, etc.)?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby daedalus2309 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:08 pm

ramadar wrote:Just accepted a clerkship offer to start in Fall 2019. Any general advice on approaching the next year and a half (preparation, maintaining contact with chambers, etc.)?


viewtopic.php?f=34&t=286648

tl;dr - not really.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby B4L » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:10 am

How does a professor cold-calling judges work?

For background, I have one professor I am very close with. I was a teaching assistant for them, then a research assistant, and also took several classes with them. We have a great relationship and they have served as a stellar recommender in the past. But even with that, I think it's odd to ask them to cold-call judges for me. I am in NYC and looking to apply to clerkships in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan--so this would be the professor cold calling, not connecting me with their network or someone they actually know.

So is requesting a professor cold-call judges normal and expected if you are applying to clerkships?

If I do this, should I just give the professor's secretary a list of chambers and contact info so they can work through the list? Or do I reach out to chambers first and try to schedule something for the professor?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:23 pm

B4L wrote:How does a professor cold-calling judges work?

For background, I have one professor I am very close with. I was a teaching assistant for them, then a research assistant, and also took several classes with them. We have a great relationship and they have served as a stellar recommender in the past. But even with that, I think it's odd to ask them to cold-call judges for me. I am in NYC and looking to apply to clerkships in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan--so this would be the professor cold calling, not connecting me with their network or someone they actually know.

So is requesting a professor cold-call judges normal and expected if you are applying to clerkships?

If I do this, should I just give the professor's secretary a list of chambers and contact info so they can work through the list? Or do I reach out to chambers first and try to schedule something for the professor?


No, don't schedule anything. In fact, most likely, the professor won't speak directly with the judge. Rather, the JA or clerk who answers the phone will let the judge know that the professor called, will pull your application to show the judge, and the judge can call back if he/she desires. The real benefit of a professor calling is the fact that your application is pulled from a pile of many hundreds of applications and put in front of the judge.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 01, 2018 10:32 am

I have a somewhat political resume, but it is bipartisan. I worked in the state/federal legislature for BOTH SIDES before law school. Also, I am in FedSoc but did some legal internships in law school that could be considered on the center-left side of things. I have a strong resume with lots of experience that I can tilt to be left or right. I was thinking I would just give all the judges nominated by R presidents my conservative resume, then soften it up and give the center-left version to judges nominated by a D president. I would be changing about 5% of my resume that could lightly signal politics.

Is this crazy?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Barrred » Tue May 01, 2018 11:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:I have a somewhat political resume, but it is bipartisan. I worked in the state/federal legislature for BOTH SIDES before law school. Also, I am in FedSoc but did some legal internships in law school that could be considered on the center-left side of things. I have a strong resume with lots of experience that I can tilt to be left or right. I was thinking I would just give all the judges nominated by R presidents my conservative resume, then soften it up and give the center-left version to judges nominated by a D president. I would be changing about 5% of my resume that could lightly signal politics.

Is this crazy?


I actually had this same intuition when I was applying for clerkships, and I was advised by a professor I trust not to do it, because there is a slight risk that a judge may forward your resume to another judge (or talk about you as a candidate) and realize that you have two versions. Further, having a politically balanced resume would probably be a big plus for a lot of judges (even the most political of judges often don't view themselves as partisan hacks).

But, at the end of the day, you have discretion over what goes on your resume, so feel free to add/subtract things from specific applications that you think would be helpful (obviously so long as the application remains truthful). (I think I ultimately ended up removing FedSoc for a few very liberal judges.) That said, if leaving something off creates a noticeable temporal gap on your resume, you are going to get asked about it, so you are better off leaving it on there.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 02, 2018 12:43 pm

I'm currently at an employer that strongly dislikes people leaving. You agree to stay for a certain amount of time when you accept, but last year, someone stayed that required minimum, found a job elsewhere, and the office fired him anyways (the person put in a 4-week notice and they responded by "firing" the person that day).

For that reason, I don't want my employer to find out I am applying to clerkships. I know no one on TLS can speak for what all judges or clerks do, but if I start applying, they won't contact my employer without asking me, right?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Laser Lady » Wed May 02, 2018 1:27 pm

If you don't use someone at your office as a reference/recommender, I don't see any good reason why a judge or clerk would contact your employer. Hiring already takes enough time just looking at the applications; why would a judge or clerk want to give themselves more work to do by looking up and contacting random people who might be connected to an applicant?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Wed May 02, 2018 2:34 pm

Laser Lady wrote:If you don't use someone at your office as a reference/recommender, I don't see any good reason why a judge or clerk would contact your employer. Hiring already takes enough time just looking at the applications; why would a judge or clerk want to give themselves more work to do by looking up and contacting random people who might be connected to an applicant?


If you're applying to judges where your firm is, and the judge knows somebody at the firm he trusts (maybe a former clerk), the judge may well call his contact at the firm even if the person isn't mentioned the application. This isn't far fetched.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 02, 2018 3:06 pm

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Laser Lady wrote:If you don't use someone at your office as a reference/recommender, I don't see any good reason why a judge or clerk would contact your employer. Hiring already takes enough time just looking at the applications; why would a judge or clerk want to give themselves more work to do by looking up and contacting random people who might be connected to an applicant?


If you're applying to judges where your firm is, and the judge knows somebody at the firm he trusts (maybe a former clerk), the judge may well call his contact at the firm even if the person isn't mentioned the application. This isn't far fetched.



Gah, hate this. I am applying out of state, but it still worries me. Judges would at least interview you before going around calling, right?

I would much rather explain "please don't contact anyone without telling me" in person rather than in a cover letter.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Wed May 02, 2018 5:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Laser Lady wrote:If you don't use someone at your office as a reference/recommender, I don't see any good reason why a judge or clerk would contact your employer. Hiring already takes enough time just looking at the applications; why would a judge or clerk want to give themselves more work to do by looking up and contacting random people who might be connected to an applicant?


If you're applying to judges where your firm is, and the judge knows somebody at the firm he trusts (maybe a former clerk), the judge may well call his contact at the firm even if the person isn't mentioned the application. This isn't far fetched.



Gah, hate this. I am applying out of state, but it still worries me. Judges would at least interview you before going around calling, right?

I would much rather explain "please don't contact anyone without telling me" in person rather than in a cover letter.


It's hard to say. One of my judges calls before inviting, which may be common among judges that don't do lots of interviews (more screening on the front end rather than after).

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 03, 2018 9:53 am

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Laser Lady wrote:If you don't use someone at your office as a reference/recommender, I don't see any good reason why a judge or clerk would contact your employer. Hiring already takes enough time just looking at the applications; why would a judge or clerk want to give themselves more work to do by looking up and contacting random people who might be connected to an applicant?


If you're applying to judges where your firm is, and the judge knows somebody at the firm he trusts (maybe a former clerk), the judge may well call his contact at the firm even if the person isn't mentioned the application. This isn't far fetched.



Gah, hate this. I am applying out of state, but it still worries me. Judges would at least interview you before going around calling, right?

I would much rather explain "please don't contact anyone without telling me" in person rather than in a cover letter.


It's hard to say. One of my judges calls before inviting, which may be common among judges that don't do lots of interviews (more screening on the front end rather than after).


So the judge would just call up the people who were recommenders? Or you mean the judge would reach out to any office he was familiar with on the resume?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Thu May 03, 2018 5:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Laser Lady wrote:If you don't use someone at your office as a reference/recommender, I don't see any good reason why a judge or clerk would contact your employer. Hiring already takes enough time just looking at the applications; why would a judge or clerk want to give themselves more work to do by looking up and contacting random people who might be connected to an applicant?


If you're applying to judges where your firm is, and the judge knows somebody at the firm he trusts (maybe a former clerk), the judge may well call his contact at the firm even if the person isn't mentioned the application. This isn't far fetched.



Gah, hate this. I am applying out of state, but it still worries me. Judges would at least interview you before going around calling, right?

I would much rather explain "please don't contact anyone without telling me" in person rather than in a cover letter.


It's hard to say. One of my judges calls before inviting, which may be common among judges that don't do lots of interviews (more screening on the front end rather than after).


So the judge would just call up the people who were recommenders? Or you mean the judge would reach out to any office he was familiar with on the resume?


First question: not necessarily, no—that was the point of my first post. A judge might pick up the phone to call someone at a school or office you worked at who is not a recommender or otherwise mentioned in your application. Second question: no, the judge isn't going to call up an office out of the blue, but if there's someone there he knows and trusts that judge might pick up the phone to find out if his friend/contact knows you and what they think of you.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2018 9:25 am

MVP top third, two years big law experience, and district clerkship 19-20.

Late to the circuit clerkship game, but are there still openings for 2019-20? Planning to return to biglaw after district clerkship if I don't have a circuit clerkship lined up for 19-20, but I would consider working for a year or two and then clerking in 2020-21 or 2021-22, with the idea that I would finally transition into government after the circuit clerkship. Is this too far out given that I graduated in 2016? If I clerked in 2020-21 or 2021-22 I almost certainly would not plan to return to biglaw, but if I clerk in 2019-20, I would like to return to big law for a few years and then transition to government.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby GoneSouth » Fri May 11, 2018 5:10 pm

Most circuit court judges have probably hired for 2019, but there are some who hire later each year (Thomas on CA9 is one that comes to mind), and I'd guess there might be some senior judges who haven't hired yet either. Check with your clerkship office.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2018 6:13 pm

I’ve had three clerkship interviews, with another coming up this Monday. It’s too late for this next interview, but would it be weird to reach out to one of the clerks who conducted a previous interview to find out what I’m doing wrong? If they (or the judge) like me enough to request an interview, it must be something about me personally, or something I’m doing/not doing. Is it bad form to ask for feedback? They’ll never see me again, so there would be no reason for them to not be honest. I may have already wasted my chances, but just in case I do get a fifth interview, is it a good idea?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2018 6:47 pm

I’ve had three clerkship interviews, with another coming up this Monday. It’s too late for this next interview, but would it be weird to reach out to one of the clerks who conducted a previous interview to find out what I’m doing wrong? If they (or the judge) like me enough to request an interview, it must be something about me personally, or something I’m doing/not doing. Is it bad form to ask for feedback? They’ll never see me again, so there would be no reason for them to not be honest. I may have already wasted my chances, but just in case I do get a fifth interview, is it a good idea?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby GoneSouth » Fri May 11, 2018 7:58 pm

GoneSouth wrote:Most circuit court judges have probably hired for 2019, but there are some who hire later each year (Thomas on CA9 is one that comes to mind), and I'd guess there might be some senior judges who haven't hired yet either. Check with your clerkship office.


Also look into newly appointed Trump judges. They'll probably be scrambling for clerks, I know Nalbandian was looking for some for this year and he hasn't even been confirmed yet

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 11, 2018 10:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I’ve had three clerkship interviews, with another coming up this Monday. It’s too late for this next interview, but would it be weird to reach out to one of the clerks who conducted a previous interview to find out what I’m doing wrong? If they (or the judge) like me enough to request an interview, it must be something about me personally, or something I’m doing/not doing. Is it bad form to ask for feedback? They’ll never see me again, so there would be no reason for them to not be honest. I may have already wasted my chances, but just in case I do get a fifth interview, is it a good idea?

I wouldn't ask for feedback unless the clerk is someone you already knew before applying. Mostly there's going to be very little they can say, because the reality is likely "the judge just clicked with the other person better." When they pick you for an interview they like your qualifications on paper, but at the interview they have to like you and be able to see themselves working with you - it's often much more about personality. It's unlikely you're doing anything wrong so much as you're just not the right personal fit, compared to a different candidate. Obviously there are better and worse ways to interview, but you can't figure out how to change your personality for an hour and you don't know what you should try to be like because you don't know what the judge is looking for. One judge might be all about a kind of bro-y sports-obsessed chambers culture, another might be more like a medieval monk, some judges want eager acolytes, some judges want people who need very little care and feeding, etc. etc.

Also three interviews (I'm presuming you've been rejected from them already) is not really a lot. To have got as many as 4 interviews means you're a good candidate; you'll find the right judge. I'm pretty sure there are stories on this site of not getting a clerkship until after 11 interviews.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Sat May 12, 2018 11:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:I’ve had three clerkship interviews, with another coming up this Monday. It’s too late for this next interview, but would it be weird to reach out to one of the clerks who conducted a previous interview to find out what I’m doing wrong? If they (or the judge) like me enough to request an interview, it must be something about me personally, or something I’m doing/not doing. Is it bad form to ask for feedback? They’ll never see me again, so there would be no reason for them to not be honest. I may have already wasted my chances, but just in case I do get a fifth interview, is it a good idea?


If one of the clerks you met with gave you contact info and invited you to reach out with any questions, then I'd say go for it. Btw, do you actually know you've been rejected from those interviews? If you just haven't heard back and it's been a while, I wouldn't jump the gun and assume you're out of the running.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 12, 2018 12:51 pm

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I’ve had three clerkship interviews, with another coming up this Monday. It’s too late for this next interview, but would it be weird to reach out to one of the clerks who conducted a previous interview to find out what I’m doing wrong? If they (or the judge) like me enough to request an interview, it must be something about me personally, or something I’m doing/not doing. Is it bad form to ask for feedback? They’ll never see me again, so there would be no reason for them to not be honest. I may have already wasted my chances, but just in case I do get a fifth interview, is it a good idea?


If one of the clerks you met with gave you contact info and invited you to reach out with any questions, then I'd say go for it. Btw, do you actually know you've been rejected from those interviews? If you just haven't heard back and it's been a while, I wouldn't jump the gun and assume you're out of the running.


Yeah, definitely rejections. I received letters from all three. From one of the clerks of the first judge I interviewed with, I also received a nice personal email saying that she had lobbied for me, but the judge had decided to go in a different direction. There wasn’t really any “feel free to keep in touch” invitation, though. Maybe I’ll have better luck Monday. Thanks guys!

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Sat May 12, 2018 1:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I’ve had three clerkship interviews, with another coming up this Monday. It’s too late for this next interview, but would it be weird to reach out to one of the clerks who conducted a previous interview to find out what I’m doing wrong? If they (or the judge) like me enough to request an interview, it must be something about me personally, or something I’m doing/not doing. Is it bad form to ask for feedback? They’ll never see me again, so there would be no reason for them to not be honest. I may have already wasted my chances, but just in case I do get a fifth interview, is it a good idea?


If one of the clerks you met with gave you contact info and invited you to reach out with any questions, then I'd say go for it. Btw, do you actually know you've been rejected from those interviews? If you just haven't heard back and it's been a while, I wouldn't jump the gun and assume you're out of the running.


Yeah, definitely rejections. I received letters from all three. From one of the clerks of the first judge I interviewed with, I also received a nice personal email saying that she had lobbied for me, but the judge had decided to go in a different direction. There wasn’t really any “feel free to keep in touch” invitation, though. Maybe I’ll have better luck Monday. Thanks guys!


I don't think it could hurt to reach out to the clerk that emailed you.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 13, 2018 10:16 pm

I don't think it would hurt, but since they already said "the judge decided to go in a different direction" I doubt you're going to get much input that would help for future judges. That sounds to me mostly like "the judge just liked candidate X better" and you can't really know why that was the case, or whether another judge would look for the same things that that judge did (so if the judge that "went a different direction" liked, say, how outgoing the other candidate was, that won't help you if you interview with a judge who wants clerks to keep their heads down and work). Or it might be other stuff entirely out of your control like that candidate had more practice experience than you did, or more writing experience than you did, or the like. This is just a super idiosyncratic process, I'm afraid.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:59 am

I know the hiring plan for clerkships is out of whack. But with that said, is there a "hot" season at all for COA clerkships? I have an EDNY district court clerkship for 2019-2020 so I am applying COA for 2020-2021. I sent in apps yesterday but was curious if there are any months where there is more action than others. Applying feels like sending apps out into a black hole.



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