traydeuce wrote:UT/Vandy guy: yes, your chances go up when you get a district clerkship. A lot of judges prefer district clerks.
On calls, don't tell the judges to call your references; they won't unless it's someone they're really close with. Just give the numbers of the judges who you want called to your recommenders; ask them to call in the days after you expect the judges to receive your application. Callers need not be recommenders, but generally if someone's offering to call for you they'd make a good recommender. I agree that 5 calls verges on overkill, but less doesn't. The judge who hired me told me out and out that the reason I was his top choice is that he got three really good calls about me.
Any advice about how best to target your phone calls?
I go to SLS, but have significant connections to the 7th/8th Circuits and flyover districts in the Midwest. I will be applying heavily in these places, and given I'm a transfer without straight Hs/Law Review I suspect they're my best chance of landing something.
Does it make sense to have my recommenders call judges in the Midwest even if their names might not have as great an impact (None of my recommenders are on the Karlan/McConnell level of name recognition)? Or does it make more sense to have them call judges on the 9th Cir or N.D. Cal. where they clerked and are better known and have my local connections call the judges in the Midwest?
Also any insight on the optimum distribution of calls for most judges? Better to have each recommender call different judges or place several calls to a target judge? I would ordinarily leave it to recommender's prerogative, but I will have at least one person writing and calling from my previous school, and a couple local connections calling in the Midwest.
You raise some interesting questions. A few things. First of all, few 7th/8th cir judges are even going to know who Pam Karlan is. To the average non-scholarly judge on the 7th or 8th circuit (and most judges aren't great scholars), a Stanford professor is a Stanford professor. Outside of people who have relationships with a judge, or extremely household names, or applications to judges who are more aware of who the heavy hitters on HYS faculties are, recommender identity is more something for the clerks who read your application. And even then it depends; once I was interning for a pretty well-known COA judge and their clerk, reading an application, asks me who Philip Bobbitt is.
Second, I think you might be right that your chances are best on the 7th and 8th circuits - but with the caveat that, as far as I can tell from public hiring data/Google (your school would have better info), SLS just hasn't placed many people on the 8th or, with the exceptions of some of the 7th's most selective hirers, on the 7th. The 7th, of course, is a weird mix of superstars/up-and-coming superstars, a few very solid but not outstanding judges, and more pedestrian types from Indiana and Wisconsin who aren't necessarily into hiring HYS clerks. Many of the 8th circuit judges have a weird HLS/local flagship school hiring pattern. Maybe your midwest connections overcome that, but maybe not. A lot depends on how far from straight H's you are. If you're pretty close, your chances with the 9th might actually be better.
So third, how that calculus actually plays out, after you get a better sense, from Stanford hiring data, of whether your chances at the 9th are better than you think/whether I'm right or wrong about the rarity of Stanford clerks making it to the 8th Circuit/7th Cir judges who aren't Posner, Wood or Sykes, is what determines where you send your Stanford recommenders' calls. A call from any Stanford professor will have value pretty much anywhere, so if you do have a strong chance at 8th Circuit judges, but not so much at 9th Circuit judges, you want your SLS recommenders to call the 8th. If the other way around, vice versa. Calls only do so much; they can't get an otherwise weakly qualified applicant an interview, so you want your callers to call places where you have a shot. And indeed, when coming up with target judges, your target judges shouldn't be, you know, Kozinski because you think it would be awesome to clerk for him, but rather, the judges you like out of the judges you have a good chance with, or even just the judges you think you have an extremely good chance with, e.g. judges who've hired from your journal, who hired your recommenders, who have hired from the school you transferred from as well as SLS, who attended your college, who for some reason are attracted to your particular types of experience, who share your politics.
Fourth, as to call distribution, in my experience multiple calls meant a lot. A single call, more often than not unanswered by the judge and translated into a mere post-it note on your file, may not do much. At the same time, there are a lot of judges on the 9th Circuit, even after you lop off the ones you're not competitive with. So you really want to get a sense from your recommenders of how many judges they're willing to call before you start making lists of names and sending them to recommenders. The lower the number of calls they're willing to make, the less room, obviously, you have for overlap. Still, though, selecting out at least a few judges who get multiple calls is a priority. Multiple calls are interpreted both as enthusiasm on the part of your recommenders, and, more accurately, as a way of your showing interest.