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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 10, 2011 2:36 pm

traydeuce wrote:I was a t35 to Georgetown transfer (screwed up the transfer process) and I landed on the Immigration Journal... and I have 3 COA interviews. Immigration might as well be no journal. I'm also top 5 out of 700 students, so there was that. I think you definitely would have a chance with District Courts, if your grades are great.

As to seminars, don't kiss ass; do the following: (a) write an A paper, (b) visit a couple times in office hours, (c) talk in class - not all the time or anything, but thoughtfully when you do speak. And that's all you need.
Thanks traydeuce! Does that still hold true if I'm trying to forge a strong enough relationship for them to make calls on my behalf? Should I do more for that? (Also, I'm not only in it for the rec, I really want a strong connection here because it would be amazing to work with this professor)

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 10, 2011 2:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey GTL (and others), I've been following this thread semi-religiously for the past few months; thanks so much for taking questions.

I'm a T2 to CCN transfer (starting 2L) and I'm hoping to do D.Ct 13-14, then CoA 14-15. Obviously great grades are a must but I was wondering how feasible this plan is without being on a journal. I'll be working hard this semester to get a great writing sample and hopefully get something published but, barring that, how does it look to judges that I don't have any journal at all?

Also, this may be a dumb question but I was wondering if you had any tips for making connections with potential recommenders. Obviously I really have only this semester to get solid recs (with a slight possibility for getting recs from spring semester professors) so any help is greatly appreciated; things to ask in office hours, ways to connect with them, etc.? I have one seminar with a well known professor but I'm sure everyone in the class will kissing ass for a possible leg up. Any tips to set myself apart from the pack?

Oh, also, I have lots of geographic mobility so I'll pretty much go anywhere. I apologize if these are dumb questions but I thought you may have some helpful advice since you've helped so many others.


I can't speak to COA, but I can say for district court w/o journal it can be done but is harder. What I did was found professors who did research in areas that I enjoyed and just sent them unsolicited emails asking if they needed research assistants (Luckily for me, both agreed). I worked for both for the entire year and asked them for recommendation letters at the end. Both agreed and made calls to judges they knew on my behalf in the fall. Another one of my friends received their clerkship in a similar manner (though at least in their case it helped they had worked both summers in a fly over state and had other ties that similar candidates probably did not have).

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 10, 2011 2:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
traydeuce wrote:I was a t35 to Georgetown transfer (screwed up the transfer process) and I landed on the Immigration Journal... and I have 3 COA interviews. Immigration might as well be no journal. I'm also top 5 out of 700 students, so there was that. I think you definitely would have a chance with District Courts, if your grades are great.

As to seminars, don't kiss ass; do the following: (a) write an A paper, (b) visit a couple times in office hours, (c) talk in class - not all the time or anything, but thoughtfully when you do speak. And that's all you need.
Thanks traydeuce! Does that still hold true if I'm trying to forge a strong enough relationship for them to make calls on my behalf? Should I do more for that? (Also, I'm not only in it for the rec, I really want a strong connection here because it would be amazing to work with this professor)


If you're trying to work with a professor, try to become his RA. You don't need to do somersaults to impress a professor sufficiently to become his RA. Unless he's God and RAing for him is a gateway to the D.C. Circuit or something, in which case that can be a quite competitive process no matter how clever you seem in class. Now, calls... calls are really, in my experience, a function of how nice a person your professor is. So at the extreme end, I had a professor for whom I wrote a great exam and met with once, in office hours - we exchanged a few emails during the semester, more after that - and he was willing to call about 15 judges for me. He also seems to have talked to one of them for half an hour and talked the judge into not only calling me but designating me as his top choice. At another extreme, I did about 200 hours of research for a professor, and wrote them a fantastic exam, and chatted with them outside of class a few times and over e-mail all the time; this professor wrote me a great letter, but didn't call anyone. They may have been willing to, and said they were willing to once or twice; they are, apparently (possibly - no one seems to know for sure) sick, but they were just really flaky about the whole thing from the beginning, before the onset of the illness. So the moral of that story is, try to find out what kind of person you're getting into a relationship with. Ask 3Ls who've worked for them or used them as recommenders, ask career services how much the person makes calls. Sometimes they know and sometimes they're useless. Similarly, before you go extern for a judge, I've learned, find out, not only if they'll write you a letter or make calls (very few do), but if they're nice enough to say glowing things when called. Some judges are pretty sketchy people.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
traydeuce wrote:I was a t35 to Georgetown transfer (screwed up the transfer process) and I landed on the Immigration Journal... and I have 3 COA interviews. Immigration might as well be no journal. I'm also top 5 out of 700 students, so there was that. I think you definitely would have a chance with District Courts, if your grades are great.

As to seminars, don't kiss ass; do the following: (a) write an A paper, (b) visit a couple times in office hours, (c) talk in class - not all the time or anything, but thoughtfully when you do speak. And that's all you need.
Thanks traydeuce! Does that still hold true if I'm trying to forge a strong enough relationship for them to make calls on my behalf? Should I do more for that? (Also, I'm not only in it for the rec, I really want a strong connection here because it would be amazing to work with this professor)


If you're trying to work with a professor, try to become his RA. You don't need to do somersaults to impress a professor sufficiently to become his RA. Unless he's God and RAing for him is a gateway to the D.C. Circuit or something, in which case that can be a quite competitive process no matter how clever you seem in class. Now, calls... calls are really, in my experience, a function of how nice a person your professor is. So at the extreme end, I had a professor for whom I wrote a great exam and met with once, in office hours - we exchanged a few emails during the semester, more after that - and he was willing to call about 15 judges for me. He also seems to have talked to one of them for half an hour and talked the judge into not only calling me but designating me as his top choice. At another extreme, I did about 200 hours of research for a professor, and wrote them a fantastic exam, and chatted with them outside of class a few times and over e-mail all the time; this professor wrote me a great letter, but didn't call anyone. They may have been willing to, and said they were willing to once or twice; they are, apparently (possibly - no one seems to know for sure) sick, but they were just really flaky about the whole thing from the beginning, before the onset of the illness. So the moral of that story is, try to find out what kind of person you're getting into a relationship with. Ask 3Ls who've worked for them or used them as recommenders, ask career services how much the person makes calls. Sometimes they know and sometimes they're useless. Similarly, before you go extern for a judge, I've learned, find out, not only if they'll write you a letter or make calls (very few do), but if they're nice enough to say glowing things when called. Some judges are pretty sketchy people.
Thanks for the advice everyone.

Anonymous User wrote:Unless he's God and RAing for him is a gateway to the D.C. Circuit or something, in which case that can be a quite competitive process no matter how clever you seem in class.
Yeeeah that's kinda what I'm up against. I can't give any more info than that, but that description seems pretty much on point.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:14 pm

Yeah for example, with Viet Dinh, I couldn't get an RA position with him in spite of the A in his class, great grades otherwise, already having RA'd for our 7th Cir. nominee on the faculty. At that level it's some mixture of ingratiation, being on the flagship journal, and so forth. But RAing for him isn't at all necessary to get a strong letter of recommendation.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:02 pm

GTLRev and other clerks:

How does/did your judge view transfers?

I went from a T25 where I was top 5% to a T14. Graded onto the law review at the old school and wrote onto the law review at the new school. Taking tough classes including fed courts.

I know I am going to have to crush my grades, I get that, but I am curious if there is any transfer stigma that might keep me out of a clerkship. Will apply for COA and DCt, realistically looking at DCt is my guess.

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:11 pm

Just in my little experience, I've known: (a) a W&L to NYU transfer on the 3d, (b) a BC to Harvard transfer on the 6th, (c) a t40 to Harvard transfer on the 3d, and (d) I have interviews on the 6th, 8th and 10th after transferring from W&L to GULC. You're better off being at the t14 for two years, but with the law review, I really don't think your being a transfer will be an impediment. The impediment is if you fall outside of the top tenth at your t14. If that's the case, you'll be hard-pressed to get COA.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:17 pm

Wow. Congrats on tearing it up dood. Awesome work.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Wow. Congrats on tearing it up dood. Awesome work.


It was all my grades, smart targeting of calls, and recommenders who were willing to call. Without that I think you're usually lost, though there are people who surprise with so-so grades and get great clerkships. I took a class with a girl, did a moot court exercise with her, had to dictate to her everything that she'd say because everything she wanted to say was awful.... and then she ended up with the biggest feeder on a reasonably solid circuit. So-so secondary and I can't imagine her grades were too good. She had some interesting work experience and some connections with the judge.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:20 pm

traydeuce wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Wow. Congrats on tearing it up dood. Awesome work.


It was all my grades, smart targeting of calls, and recommenders who were willing to call. Without that I think you're usually lost, though there are people who surprise with so-so grades and get great clerkships. I took a class with a girl, did a moot court exercise with her, had to dictate to her everything that she'd say because everything she wanted to say was awful.... and then she ended up with the biggest feeder on a reasonably solid circuit. So-so secondary and I can't imagine her grades were too good. She had some interesting work experience and some connections with the judge.



Did you work harder 2L year or 1L year? Top 5/700? Good lord.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
traydeuce wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Wow. Congrats on tearing it up dood. Awesome work.


It was all my grades, smart targeting of calls, and recommenders who were willing to call. Without that I think you're usually lost, though there are people who surprise with so-so grades and get great clerkships. I took a class with a girl, did a moot court exercise with her, had to dictate to her everything that she'd say because everything she wanted to say was awful.... and then she ended up with the biggest feeder on a reasonably solid circuit. So-so secondary and I can't imagine her grades were too good. She had some interesting work experience and some connections with the judge.



Did you work harder 2L year or 1L year? Top 5/700? Good lord.


Just means that I had a 3.9 and 695 people didn't. I probably worked less hard last year. Not a whole lot less, but significantly less. I'm just fast. I wouldn't even say that I'm especially talented, but I see my way through a legal problem very quickly, and that helps with exams.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:44 pm

T20, Top-10%, secondary journal, 1L summer job with CoA judge, 2L V10, unique skills/WE

NOT taking Fed Courts until 3L. Judge and 3 very connected profs will make calls on my behalf.

Chances at d.ct/coa/state?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:06 pm

My guess is state easily (mileage with your local state supreme court may vary, of course), d.ct probably to almost certainly if you apply to the right judges, COA hard but doable, esp. with judges with a hiring history at your school. But it's really an hellacious market for clerkships out there.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:27 pm

Thoughts on thank you's e-mail or otherwise for judges?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:04 pm

I think you tend to overrate the difficulty of landing a clerkship. I know several people at Washington and Lee in the top 10% who got district clerkships in W.D. Va. They're, what, #32 now? And not all of them are even on the law review. And COA clerkships - Sutton hires clerks from places like BYU all the time. You need some amazing credentials (#1, EIC Law Review), but then you have judges like Kermit Bye, who's hired guys from Louisville, Temple, North Dakota, William Mitchell in the past few years, without all those things. I worked for a 3d Cir. judge who had clerks from American and Arizona; others on that court have taken Seton Hall grads, Rutgers grads, Temple grads. On the 8th, Minnesota does pretty well. On the 11th, Florida and Georgia do extremely well. On the 5th, there are judges who regularly hire from Mississippi schools.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:25 pm

traydeuce wrote:I think you tend to overrate the difficulty of landing a clerkship. I know several people at Washington and Lee in the top 10% who got district clerkships in W.D. Va. They're, what, #32 now? And not all of them are even on the law review. And COA clerkships - Sutton hires clerks from places like BYU all the time. You need some amazing credentials (#1, EIC Law Review), but then you have judges like Kermit Bye, who's hired guys from Louisville, Temple, North Dakota, William Mitchell in the past few years, without all those things. I worked for a 3d Cir. judge who had clerks from American and Arizona; others on that court have taken Seton Hall grads, Rutgers grads, Temple grads. On the 8th, Minnesota does pretty well. On the 11th, Florida and Georgia do extremely well. On the 5th, there are judges who regularly hire from Mississippi schools.


Somewhat true. There are definitely people who get CoA without top credentials, but they are very few and far between and usually can only get hired with the local judge. Like your example, Judge Southwick on the 5th will hire Mississippi clerks, but they'll probably be near the top of their class, and probably wouldn't be competitive outside of him and maybe Judge Jolly, another Mississippi judge.

Point is that although you can get a clerkship without great creds, it's very unlikely and much more random (connections, etc.).

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:30 pm

I have an interview with a judge who is one of the more junior judges on the circuit. Since this judge will likely be the most junior judge presiding over any particular case, would I likely be writing bench memos on the least interesting cases? Most of the docket is obviously run of the mill, uninteresting cases, but will the few really interesting cases that come through all be snatched up by other judges, relegating clerks for the junior judge to the simple stuff? Does it vary by chamber/circuit? I can just see the more senior judges having their clerks write all the interesting bench memos while clerks for junior judges handle every singe insurance dispute or whatever else is common and mundane.

Although I'm sure it's still a great experience, I'm just slightly apprehensive that if I work for a junior judge, I won't ever get to see the really interesting cases. (Especially since the judge isn't a Gorsuch or Sutton who will get to write those heavy hitting opinions).

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:07 pm

Yeah, it's definitely the case that once you drop to a certain school, you're mostly limited to the judges who hire from that school. Though I was looking at the list of judges who have hired from W&L, my old school, today, and it's a pretty random grabbag of people. True, they used to be up in the 20s somewhere, but so is Anonymous. At all t20 schools, there will be some professors who have clerked and whose recommendations carry some weight with the judges they clerked for, so... it's doable, that's all. And I think district, from that spot, is really doable if your school has some ties to a district, or if you have geographical ties to a district.
Last edited by traydeuce on Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have an interview with a judge who is one of the more junior judges on the circuit. Since this judge will likely be the most junior judge presiding over any particular case, would I likely be writing bench memos on the least interesting cases? Most of the docket is obviously run of the mill, uninteresting cases, but will the few really interesting cases that come through all be snatched up by other judges, relegating clerks for the junior judge to the simple stuff? Does it vary by chamber/circuit? I can just see the more senior judges having their clerks write all the interesting bench memos while clerks for junior judges handle every singe insurance dispute or whatever else is common and mundane.

Although I'm sure it's still a great experience, I'm just slightly apprehensive that if I work for a junior judge, I won't ever get to see the really interesting cases. (Especially since the judge isn't a Gorsuch or Sutton who will get to write those heavy hitting opinions).


This depends on (a) whether your circuit is a bench memo pool circuit (like the 6th and 9th, though not every judge on a memo pool circuit plays in the pool), or a circuit where a judge gets a memo from one of his own clerks on every case (like, for one, the 3rd), and (b) whether the assigning judge, on the panel, necessarily scoops up all the interesting things. Of course, people's interests vary, but yes, I've worked for judges on panels where they were the most senior, and I would actually successfully lobby for us to grab cases I thought were fun - even though we were in the middle of a clerk transition and frankly, by grabbing this fun case and ultimately giving it to a new clerk who turned out to be kind of awful or at least extremely untested (I, the extern, was headed out too), we screwed up the case. So what you should really do is (a) ask whether your circuit is a memo pool circuit and whether the judge participates in the pool, and (b) look up the judge's opinions on Westlaw by putting in JU(Nameofyourjudge). Then, you can see whether the judge is getting screwed in assignments. I've found that that is very blatantly the case for junior judges on the Third, to the extent where Greenaway and Vanaskie just don't get to write much at all, but not at all the case on the Fifth or Sixth or Tenth.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:00 am

GTL can you tell us a little bit about what questions will be asked at interviews? What kind of substantive things should we know about the judge or law in general (i.e is it common to get "what is the supreme court decision you most agree/disagree with?")

Sorry if this has already been hit on in the thread, I did a quick skim but didn't see anything. I think as we all head into interviews in a couple days this would be very helpful.

Thanks!

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:45 am

What's the best way to find a judge's key opinions? I have used westlaw and found all the judge's opinions, but often the most cited cases are quite dull but cited for some proposition that arises in many cases. Is there a way to find the more interesting/contentious cases without simply culling through every single opinion?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby anongoodnurse » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:54 am

Limit it to just the published opinions. That will cut your list by probably 75%. Plus, since the published decisions mostly were designated by the judge him/herself (I think there's a mechanism for litigants to force publication, but I've never even seen it attempted, much less accomplished), they're the ones that he/she thinks are important.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:08 pm

Almanac of the federal judiciary, available on westlaw, lists opinions it thinks are key. It does a decent job.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What's the best way to find a judge's key opinions? I have used westlaw and found all the judge's opinions, but often the most cited cases are quite dull but cited for some proposition that arises in many cases. Is there a way to find the more interesting/contentious cases without simply culling through every single opinion?

I also googled the judge, and found a few opinions that had made waves in the news and/or legal blogosphere. If you get too many results from "regular" google, try site:nytimes.com, google news, google blogs, site:[major city paper in judge's state].com, site:volokh.com and similar.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:32 pm

What
do I do if I disagree with every recent notable opinion a judge has written? Some judges of course will welcome a friendly debate, but others would be freaked out. I feel I can usually guess which type a judge is (for example, on the Supreme Court, Breyer and Scalia would like an interviewee who got into it with them, so would kagan, but Kennedy wouldn't like it and Thomas would get angry), but one can overestimate a judge's tolerance for disagreement.




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