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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:54 pm

I'm at MVP, top 5% plus LR with recommenders who are willing to make calls. Would you mind hazarding a guess on my chances at the more competitive circuits? Thanks!

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:59 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I guess this is the correct thread. Would you mind predicting my chances?

Top 15% (just outside top 10%) at a T-40, great writing skills (CALI'd all my writing classes and TA for them). Looking to stay in the Southeast -- NC (main goal), TN, SC, etc. I would be happy with Bankruptcy or District Court. Several judges in the region are alumni from my school. Anything else that would help in evaluating?

You are fortunate to go to a school in a region where judges seem to be particularly interested in hiring locally or regionally. If you grew up in or went to college in that region, all the better. I would target the judges you have the strongest ties to, make sure you apply in a timely fashion (lots of southern judges hire early; some hire quite late), and try to network with 3Ls, alumni, and current clerks this spring -- that can often get your app a closer look than it otherwise might receive. Make sure to mention your interest in staying in the area in your cover letters, too. Getting a rec from your writing instructor(s?) would help as well.

I am quite bad at predicting district/BK court chances, but I think if you do all of the above, you stand a reasonable shot at landing at least one interview. The process can be quite random, however, so you could easily get a lot more than one or strike out entirely.


Good to know. Thanks!

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:14 am

G. T. L. or Friends, any advice for a 1L on how to get recommendations. I'm about .1 below my school's average GPA for district court clerkships but I hope that upper level classes might balance that out and I'm interested in less competitive districts anyway. I really don't have many questions so don't know what to ask at office hours. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:17 am

GTL I am the #1 @ a T30. Thank you very much for your advice. When you say that I have a good shot off-plan, when should I have my application ready and start submitting apps to off-plan judges?

I do go to school in the 8th and have ties to two 8th Circuit judges, so hopefully that will help.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:G. T. L. or Friends, any advice for a 1L on how to get recommendations. I'm about .1 below my school's average GPA for district court clerkships but I hope that upper level classes might balance that out and I'm interested in less competitive districts anyway. I really don't have many questions so don't know what to ask at office hours. Any advice would be appreciated.


I would strongly recommend either being a research assistant for a professor or doing independent writing under a professor's supervision. If neither is possible, try to take some seminars that are small and more discussion-based rather than the 100+ anonymous classes.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:42 am

What class rank and/or # of H's/book awards makes a student at Stanford competitive for a SCOTUS feeder or semi-feeder? I'm not talking what rank makes feeders your target, but just where does one have to be to be in the conversation (where prof calls, publications, etc can make a difference?)

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:46 pm

My sense is that you generally need around +66% Hs and +2 book awards (assuming LR, good recs, + something else interesting about your resume, which most people at S have) to be in the range where feeders become a real possibility. "Something else interesting" could be another graduate degree, EIC position on a legit secondary journal (you know which ones are legit), SLR Board, strong connections to a region, REALLY good recommendations, etc).

Add +2 book awards OR ~+15% Hs if you're missing anything on that list (e.g., if you don't have LR, you're still in range if you have +66% Hs and +4 book awards and something else going for you, or +80% Hs, 2 book awards and something else going for you, etc).

Note: this isn't the same as being in the range for a Sup Ct clerkship. The minimum required to be competitive for a feeder out of S is less than the minimum required to be competitive for a Sup Ct clerkship out of S.

Also note: by "competitive for a feeder," I mean that you'll be seriously considered by at least some feeders with a professor call or a clerk pull. That doesn't mean that you will necessary get an offer or even interviews--but you will be in the final pile (for interview consideration) for at least some feeders.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:01 pm

HLS 2L here, wondering about my chances for 2/9/DC COA. Grades stand at ~9H/6P right now, on LR w/ a substantive (but not blockbuster) board position. Probably one stellar recommendation, w/ others merely being good. I recognize I have no shot at the feeders in these circuits, but am still a bit unclear about whether I'll be able to break in at all with some of the less competitive judges. Also, if I'm able to get the grades up to something like 13H/6P or 12H/7P after spring semester, would that change the game for me at all?

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:09 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:HLS 2L here, wondering about my chances for 2/9/DC COA. Grades stand at ~9H/6P right now, on LR w/ a substantive (but not blockbuster) board position. Probably one stellar recommendation, w/ others merely being good. I recognize I have no shot at the feeders in these circuits, but am still a bit unclear about whether I'll be able to break in at all with some of the less competitive judges. Also, if I'm able to get the grades up to something like 13H/6P or 12H/7P after spring semester, would that change the game for me at all?

Thanks in advance.

You have strong grades and LR from one of the three best law schools in the country. For that reason, you will get some looks if you apply broadly. But my sense is that, absent truly special recs, strong rural ties, or an unbelieveable resume, your chances on 2, 9, and DC are quite low, even if you improve to 13H/6P. Same for feeders and semi-feeders. There are simply far too many apps in the pile from your school, with LR, featuring all or substantially all Hs. I remember a moment last year when I pulled the HLS apps and saw that four of the first five (the apps had not been sorted yet) had GPAs at or above 4.0 on the 3/4/5 scale. That's what you are up against.

This does not mean you should not try for 2 & 9 (I think DC is futile). The best approach, I think, would be to apply broadly to all COAs + a reasonable number of district courts. If you are set on COA, you could try applying for that with a district court clerkship in hand -- and I do think your district court chances are very high.


Thank you so much, that's amazingly helpful. If you don't mind me picking your brain a bit more, what would you say about the 1st, 4th and 3rd Circuits (for the 3rd, specifically those judges in PA and NJ)?

ETA: I'm also curious about district courts. My understanding is that SDNY is probably out given my grades and the fact that I'll be applying as a 3L rather than having post-LS work experience. What about EDNY or some of the better district courts in California, assuming no ties to the area? GTL I know you've said before you're less familiar with district court selectivity, so I welcome input from anyone who might know.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:12 pm

double post

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:34 am

Anonymous User wrote:My sense is that you generally need around +66% Hs and +2 book awards (assuming LR, good recs, + something else interesting about your resume, which most people at S have) to be in the range where feeders become a real possibility. "Something else interesting" could be another graduate degree, EIC position on a legit secondary journal (you know which ones are legit), SLR Board, strong connections to a region, REALLY good recommendations, etc).

Add +2 book awards OR ~+15% Hs if you're missing anything on that list (e.g., if you don't have LR, you're still in range if you have +66% Hs and +4 book awards and something else going for you, or +80% Hs, 2 book awards and something else going for you, etc).

Note: this isn't the same as being in the range for a Sup Ct clerkship. The minimum required to be competitive for a feeder out of S is less than the minimum required to be competitive for a Sup Ct clerkship out of S.

Also note: by "competitive for a feeder," I mean that you'll be seriously considered by at least some feeders with a professor call or a clerk pull. That doesn't mean that you will necessary get an offer or even interviews--but you will be in the final pile (for interview consideration) for at least some feeders.


You seem like you have more SLS specific knowledge than most people.

What is your sense of the baseline for competitiveness for flyover CoA or district courts outside the super popular ND Cal/CD Cal/SDNY/DDC type courts. is ~60% Hs + real board position (EIC or Articles Editor) of a secondary (not SLPR, but also not the animal law journal (side question: does that even exist?)) somewhat competitive given faculty calls, and legit ties to a couple flyover circuits competitive if I'm not on SLR? Or would I be lucky to get flyover district court with those stats? I really have no idea what is good around here.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:You seem like you have more SLS specific knowledge than most people.

What is your sense of the baseline for competitiveness for flyover CoA or district courts outside the super popular ND Cal/CD Cal/SDNY/DDC type courts. is ~60% Hs + real board position (EIC or Articles Editor) of a secondary (not SLPR, but also not the animal law journal (side question: does that even exist?)) somewhat competitive given faculty calls, and legit ties to a couple flyover circuits competitive if I'm not on SLR? Or would I be lucky to get flyover district court with those stats? I really have no idea what is good around here.

I imagine > 50% H's + a real board position is more than adequate for the big district courts. That being said, I hear many N.D. Cal. judges and some other district court judges prefer legal work experience. Anyone else want to weigh in, though?

In a similar vein, where should someone with ~ 50% H's, SLR, and all the other prerequisites (good recs, decent writing sample) be looking for appellate clerkships? Are most 9th/2nd Cir. judges out of play? And how about well known (but not feeder) judges in the 5th, 7th, 10th, etc.?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:And how about well known (but not feeder) judges in the 5th, 7th, 10th, etc.?


I think the answer is that that could work, but out of curiosity, just who is a well known judge who isn't a feeder on the 10th? Strikes me that all the well-known judges on the circuit left, leaving one feeder and a bunch of unknowns, though I guess O'Brien's known for his very odd opinions. Same could be said for the 7th, really - Posner, Easterbrook, Wood, and Sykes are all feeders, leaving only Cudahy, a senior, as a well-known non-feeder. (I think Hamilton will be a very well-respected judge before long, but he's pretty new.)

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:19 pm

Wow, that's both true and shocking. In fact, the last clerk Easterbrook sent was Nicholas Rosenkranz 11 years ago, and Wood's never sent anyone. How could that be?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:05 pm

How could that be?


Not sure on Wood. With respect to Easterbrook, I suspect it is because he generally only hires Chicago students, and since he isn't a traditional feeder, my guess is that the tip top Chicago students are going elsewhere. So if you assume that Easterbrook is hiring outside of the top 5 or so Chicago students, then it shouldn't be surprising that he doesn't place on SCOTUS.

(He also claims that he generally doesn't let clerks draft opinions, but (1) who knows how true that is and (2) who knows how that reputation would affect SCOTUS chances.)

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:11 pm

Chances at acquiring some sort of Federal Clerkship w/ Order of the Coif from UVa, but no LR(secondary journal) after working for 1-2 years at a major NYC firm?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:07 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Chances at acquiring some sort of Federal Clerkship w/ Order of the Coif from UVa, but no LR(secondary journal) after working for 1-2 years at a major NYC firm?

Sounds like DNJ or EDNY to me. At least, people with your says were getting those a few years ago. Things could be tougher now. I would apply broadly and early to maximize your odds. If you do that, I think you are a strong favorite to get a district court gig somewhere.


What would early be for someone who is working? During 1st year?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby 5ky » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Chances at acquiring some sort of Federal Clerkship w/ Order of the Coif from UVa, but no LR(secondary journal) after working for 1-2 years at a major NYC firm?


btw, for you, don't forget you can grade on to LR your third year if you're above the grade-on GPA after 4 semesters:
Grade on. The twenty-five highest-ranking members of the second-year class are invited to join based on grades from their first two semesters. Also, as many as five members of the third-year class will be invited to join if, after four semesters, they meet the minimum grade-point-average qualifications from the previous year.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:57 pm

5ky wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Chances at acquiring some sort of Federal Clerkship w/ Order of the Coif from UVa, but no LR(secondary journal) after working for 1-2 years at a major NYC firm?


btw, for you, don't forget you can grade on to LR your third year if you're above the grade-on GPA after 4 semesters:
Grade on. The twenty-five highest-ranking members of the second-year class are invited to join based on grades from their first two semesters. Also, as many as five members of the third-year class will be invited to join if, after four semesters, they meet the minimum grade-point-average qualifications from the previous year.


Don't think i'm going to quite make it in that regard. Will probably need something like a 4.1 this semester, b/c of the number of credits i'm taking etc.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
How could that be?


Not sure on Wood. With respect to Easterbrook, I suspect it is because he generally only hires Chicago students, and since he isn't a traditional feeder, my guess is that the tip top Chicago students are going elsewhere. So if you assume that Easterbrook is hiring outside of the top 5 or so Chicago students, then it shouldn't be surprising that he doesn't place on SCOTUS.

(He also claims that he generally doesn't let clerks draft opinions, but (1) who knows how true that is and (2) who knows how that reputation would affect SCOTUS chances.)


On (1), it's plainly true because every word of his opinions sounds like it was written by Easterbrook. (Whereas with someone like Sutton, he writes parts and clerks write parts in their best approximation of his voice.) On (2), not much, seeing as how Posner and Kosinski place quite well.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:02 pm

What is the common clerk wisdom on lengths for letters of recommendation? Suppose we have a work contact or professor asking us for a suggestion on length, what should we tell them?

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:25 pm

I'm not sure if Ebel or Gorsuch count as feeders (although Gorsuch is fast getting there), but are certainly well known. On the 7th, Flaum comes immediately to mind as a well-known non-feeder judge (to add to your list of other well-known non-feeders on the 7th...I'm not sure that any other circuit has more well-known judges who aren't feeders).

To the SLS posters:

There is a big step down from SLPR to the other journals in the eyes of some judges (and, let's be honest, reality). However, many judges will not distinguish between all non-Animal Law secondary journals, and assuming your board position is something substantial, that should give you a small but noticeable boost. 60% Hs non-SLR will put you in good shape for most CoA judges who aren't especially competitive by virtue of their fame, location, or feeder status (e.g., you should be in good shape for some non-"flyover" CoA judges). If there are some regions that you have a tie to and are less competitive, I'd find a handful of judges there who you're excited about and go after them hard with your recommenders. If you time your applications right with these judges, you have a very strong shot of getting interviews.

50% Hs + SLR puts you in a similar position to the 60% Hs poster above. You're in good shape, but far from a sure thing--I'd pick some CoA judges who you're interested in who aren't especially competitive for one of the above described reasons, make sure you know when they're hiring, and go after them hard with your recommenders.

For both the the SLS posters, you're in a fortunate position where you don't have to necessarily target flyover CoA judges hard to be competitive--you have some shot with most of the non-feeders. I had some friends take this approach (e.g., they were a bit more picky), and it mostly worked out. Keyword: mostly. How picky you want to be and how hard you want to pursue the least competitive judges depends mostly on how risk averse you are. I'd bet money that if you two had your hearts set on one of the more competitive circuits and applied broadly, at least one of you would land a clerkship there. However, there's a real opportunity cost associated with that approach.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby steve_nash » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:19 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What is the common clerk wisdom on lengths for letters of recommendation? Suppose we have a work contact or professor asking us for a suggestion on length, what should we tell them?

1-2 pages.


Yup. Only to add: letters that have only a paragraph don't really count as "1 page." I've seen quite a few one paragraph letters.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:22 am

Wondering about chances of clerking in my home market in a weird situation. I transferred to Columbia from one of the top schools in my home market and was near the top of my class first year (within the top 5 students). My home market would be considered "fly over." Wondering about my chances at a district court clerkship, state supreme clerkship, or bankruptcy court clerkship (in that order). The problem is that I transferred out of this market, and a good amount of the judges are alumni of my previous school (is this a ding?).

Assume I can get a few good recs from professors at my previous school and 1 - 2 from my current school. Any suggestions would be appreciated, from G.T.L. or anyone else. I am not set on clerking but have been thinking about it lately.

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Re: Clerk, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:26 am

Hoping for some input on my chances. I'm top 10% at a T20, on the exec board of law review and have strong recs lined up. Although I will apply for some COAs, I'm hoping for a federal district court clerkship anywhere but the deep south. What are my odds?




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