Clerks Taking Questions

Seek and share information about clerkship applications, clerkship hiring timelines, and post-clerkship employment opportunities.
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are sharing sensitive information about clerkship applications and clerkship hiring. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned."
Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:20 pm

Ding, just a bit of a neg, or don't worry too much?


The chance that chambers will notice it before they decide to give you an interview are approximately 1 in 100. There's just sooooo many applicants that they really won't look at your resume in tons of detail other than to see school, class rank, LR, recommenders, and that you have publications. After you score an interview, they may study the resume in more detail and conceivably could notice a typo -- but at that point, it's not going to be anything more than a very, very slight negative (if that).

(And if it makes you feel any better, my application to my judge had at least two typos that I can think of. Including thinking that OSCAR would calculate my GPA automatically from the inputted grades, so I left the "GPA" field blank. Seriously, I had 0.00 listed on that line. Though I did have it on my resume and in the "comments" part of the grade sheet. But still.)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:30 pm

If I want to do a lot of work on criminal cases as a clerk, what courts/judges should I be targeting? Is it correct that COA clerks generally will get to do a fair amount of work on Habeas cases as well as sentencing guideline stuff, while district court judges usually handle the criminal cases themselves? Any circuits or particular judges (either COA or district) known for letting their clerks do a lot of criminal stuff?

To give some perspective: My ultimate goal is academia with a scholarship interest in crim law related areas (crim law, crim pro, and evidence as relating to crim law).

traydeuce
Posts: 680
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:07 pm

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:59 am

Anonymous User wrote:If I want to do a lot of work on criminal cases as a clerk, what courts/judges should I be targeting? Is it correct that COA clerks generally will get to do a fair amount of work on Habeas cases as well as sentencing guideline stuff, while district court judges usually handle the criminal cases themselves? Any circuits or particular judges (either COA or district) known for letting their clerks do a lot of criminal stuff?

To give some perspective: My ultimate goal is academia with a scholarship interest in crim law related areas (crim law, crim pro, and evidence as relating to crim law).


It is true that most district judges handle their criminal docket themselves. I don't know which district judges give you a lot of crim work.

As to COA, the short answer is that almost any COA clerkship will involve a lot of criminal. At the DC Circuit, maybe just 30% of the cases you'll work on will be criminal - or at least, 30% of the judge's cases will be. The individual clerk may just handle one criminal case. At the Ninth, it's about 40%. At the Second, about half. At the Tenth, it's more like 70%. Now, crim stuff on the coa level varies; there's sentencing stuff, which is usually pretty desultory, habeas, crim pro stuff (often suppression), and sometimes you get a fun case about the interpretation of a federal crim statute. It should be said that if you're looking to be a law prof, taking the clerkship where you'd get to do the most crim in favor of a more prestigious clerkship would be a dumb idea.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:25 pm

traydeuce wrote:It is true that most district judges handle their criminal docket themselves. I don't know which district judges give you a lot of crim work.


I don't know what information you have to back this up. I'm currently a district court clerk, and my judge has us just as involved in the criminal docket as the civil docket. We write memos and recommendations on pretrial motions, attend arraignments and pleas, prepare jury instructions, sentencing memos, etc. The only thing we don't give recommendations on is sentencing.

From what I understand in our District, the practice varies widely from judge to judge, and is something best asked in interviews.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:39 pm

From what I understand in our District, the practice varies widely from judge to judge, and is something best asked in interviews.


My judge volunteered in the interview that he generally doesn't use his clerks on criminal cases, except for the isolated and rare research project. Another judge (different district) I interviewed with said something similar. Both were federal prosecutors before the bench.

traydeuce
Posts: 680
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:07 pm

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby traydeuce » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
traydeuce wrote:It is true that most district judges handle their criminal docket themselves. I don't know which district judges give you a lot of crim work.


I don't know what information you have to back this up. I'm currently a district court clerk, and my judge has us just as involved in the criminal docket as the civil docket. We write memos and recommendations on pretrial motions, attend arraignments and pleas, prepare jury instructions, sentencing memos, etc. The only thing we don't give recommendations on is sentencing.

From what I understand in our District, the practice varies widely from judge to judge, and is something best asked in interviews.


Nothing that you've said is inconsistent with what I said. Most, I believe, handle their criminal docket themselves; I don't know which give clerks a lot of crim work, but I knew, I implied, that some did - and yes, the practice varies widely from judge to judge, from no involvement to a great deal. Consider, though, the impact that your "something best asked in interviews" line could have on our would-be crim prof. He applies to a lot of district judges, not knowing which ones give their clerks crim work, not knowing where to begin as far as calling ex-clerks and asking, schedules interviews at times that may conflict with COA interviews, especially if he applies on-plan, and then discovers that the judges he interviews with don't give him any crim! Then maybe he gets an exploding offer, at which point he feels compelled to accept even though ultimately he probably needs to COA clerk to get a prof job, forestalls his ascension to the professorial ranks by a year, possibly foregoes $100,000 or so in earnings, spends a year doing something he's not that interested in and that doesn't much advance his career, etc. So if doing crim during his clerkship is really so important to him, he probably should do a lot of asking around as to who gives their clerks crim work. Unless he's on the bubble for COA, in which case a district clerkship would be useful either way.

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11724
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby kalvano » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:19 pm

On OSCAR, it appears my LOR writers cannot just upload one LOR that I can then associate with different applications. It looks like they will have to click through all my applications and associate their LOR with each one. And they can upload or modify their LOR with each application, so as to personalize them.

I'd like to make it as easy as possible on my LOR writers, so I have two questions:

1) Must they do each LOR as I fill out applications for each judge, or can they wait until I have all my applications filled out and then just go through each one as a batch? I feel like it would get old getting an email each time I needed a new one, and having them all together would be better.

2) From the judge's standpoint, how important is it that the LOR be personalized? Can the recommender just go through and associate a standard LOR with each judge, or will the judge get upset if it isn't personalized?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:33 pm

1. They can wait until you've completed all the apps to do it, but they have to approve their letter with each judge individually. And they get a new e-mail for each judge you're applying to. It's got to be extremely annoying for them and I know my professors ignored the e-mails and just give their secretaries control their OSCAR accounts to periodically approve the letters (I'm sure this is pretty standard).

2. They definitely do not need to personalize the letters. That would be way too much to ask. Unless the prof personally knows a judge or has some other weird connection to him/her, don't even ask.

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11724
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby kalvano » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:1. They can wait until you've completed all the apps to do it, but they have to approve their letter with each judge individually. And they get a new e-mail for each judge you're applying to. It's got to be extremely annoying for them and I know my professors ignored the e-mails and just give their secretaries control their OSCAR accounts to periodically approve the letters (I'm sure this is pretty standard).

2. They definitely do not need to personalize the letters. That would be way too much to ask. Unless the prof personally knows a judge or has some other weird connection to him/her, don't even ask.



Great, thanks. I think they can shut off email alerts so they don't get one each time, and I can just let them know when to log on.

I'm not so much worried about my profs as I am about my other recommenders who are judges and attorneys. Profs, I feel it's part of their jobs, but the judge and attorneys are doing it as a favor to me, so I want to keep it as easy as possible.

In a generic LOR, what's the appropriate heading - "Dear Judge"?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:57 am

traydeuce wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
traydeuce wrote:It is true that most district judges handle their criminal docket themselves. I don't know which district judges give you a lot of crim work.


I don't know what information you have to back this up. I'm currently a district court clerk, and my judge has us just as involved in the criminal docket as the civil docket. We write memos and recommendations on pretrial motions, attend arraignments and pleas, prepare jury instructions, sentencing memos, etc. The only thing we don't give recommendations on is sentencing.

From what I understand in our District, the practice varies widely from judge to judge, and is something best asked in interviews.


Nothing that you've said is inconsistent with what I said. Most, I believe, handle their criminal docket themselves; I don't know which give clerks a lot of crim work, but I knew, I implied, that some did - and yes, the practice varies widely from judge to judge, from no involvement to a great deal. Consider, though, the impact that your "something best asked in interviews" line could have on our would-be crim prof. He applies to a lot of district judges, not knowing which ones give their clerks crim work, not knowing where to begin as far as calling ex-clerks and asking, schedules interviews at times that may conflict with COA interviews, especially if he applies on-plan, and then discovers that the judges he interviews with don't give him any crim! Then maybe he gets an exploding offer, at which point he feels compelled to accept even though ultimately he probably needs to COA clerk to get a prof job, forestalls his ascension to the professorial ranks by a year, possibly foregoes $100,000 or so in earnings, spends a year doing something he's not that interested in and that doesn't much advance his career, etc. So if doing crim during his clerkship is really so important to him, he probably should do a lot of asking around as to who gives their clerks crim work. Unless he's on the bubble for COA, in which case a district clerkship would be useful either way.


This is the wanna-be crim prof. Thanks traydeuce and the other anons for the responses. I will definitely make sure to do my research on district court judges by talking to previous clerks about this issue. Also, COA is my preferred option at this point, but I am on the bubble.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:52 am

My dct judge took senior status about a month after I got the job; how will this affect my experience? will it just be a lighter caseload? i'm guessing there will only be 2 clerks? will we still get interesting cases?

User avatar
tww909
Posts: 247
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:41 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby tww909 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:55 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:For a D. Ct. judge who is known to hire off-plan, when is the best time to apply? I don't want to apply so early that it's awkward, but I also don't want to get scooped by other Type A applicants.

Hard to give a general answer to this. Off-plan hiring varies tremendously from judge to judge. I think the best bet would be to call chambers & ask. Failing that, I think you should see what they have to say on OSCAR and work from that. As a total, "no information available" fallback, you should send something as soon as you have spring grades. Very few judges -- primarily at the COA level -- hire before those come out.


does this hold true for SLS students, given that we are on quarters and therefore won't have all spring grades until (probably) july?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:52 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My dct judge took senior status about a month after I got the job; how will this affect my experience? will it just be a lighter caseload? i'm guessing there will only be 2 clerks? will we still get interesting cases?

Senior status will likely have very little effect on your clerkship. Senior district judges can choose to tailor their caseload somehwat, in terms of the types of the cases they get. For instance, they could opt not to take criminal cases or death penalty cases. They usually cannot choose what they do want to hear, however. The difference in most cases is the volume of work. But as I think others have said before, if a district judge cuts down to 50% caseload, s/he must cut down to 50% clerks. So the work per clerk remains constant. Some senior district judges travel and sit by designation on other courts (active judges can do this as well, but seem to do so with less frequency).

At the COA level senior status is even less meaningful. On most circuits, senior judges do not participate in en banc cases. Senior circuit judges can opt out of some other aspects, like screened cases, motions panels, etc., but still must keep a proportionate number of clerks. And as far as I know, senior circuit judges do not have any control over the type of cases they get (i.e., they cannot say "no more criminal cases" or "I only want antitrust appeals").


Senior judges in at least three jurisdictions (CD Cal, ND Ill, SDNY) usually can choose the type of cases they want to hear. Maybe they cannot do so in smaller districts.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:26 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
tww909 wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:For a D. Ct. judge who is known to hire off-plan, when is the best time to apply? I don't want to apply so early that it's awkward, but I also don't want to get scooped by other Type A applicants.

Hard to give a general answer to this. Off-plan hiring varies tremendously from judge to judge. I think the best bet would be to call chambers & ask. Failing that, I think you should see what they have to say on OSCAR and work from that. As a total, "no information available" fallback, you should send something as soon as you have spring grades. Very few judges -- primarily at the COA level -- hire before those come out.


does this hold true for SLS students, given that we are on quarters and therefore won't have all spring grades until (probably) july?

Probably not. But remember: there are very few off-plan district judges. If your question is about off-plan circuit judges, then you need to tailor your timing to each judge. It is already too late to apply to Wilkinson, for instance. But it is too early to apply to O'Scannlain.


Is it really too late for Wilkinson? At least 6 people that I know of at my HYS school are applying to him, and some of them won't have their applications out until later this week. Since our profs seem hopeful, I think he's probably not done yet. But maybe they are misinformed.

lsatcrazy
Posts: 388
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 8:08 pm

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby lsatcrazy » Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:04 pm

At both Columbia and NYU ASWs, faculty were making claims that "If you are geographically open-minded, landing a clerkship is a near-guarantee". Any/how much truth to this sentiment?

User avatar
patrickd139
Posts: 2883
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:53 pm

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby patrickd139 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:30 pm

Anyone care to slide on over to this thread and offer a valid, experienced opinion?

No dog in the fight, just curious how it shakes out.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:00 pm

Anyone care to slide on over to this thread and offer a valid, experienced opinion?

No dog in the fight, just curious how it shakes out.


Not an ADA, but similar.

In my office, there are two units (out of dozens) that I can think of that would value a federal clerkship. One probably requires it -- the last hire was a double USDC/COA clerk with biglaw experience. Not surprisingly, they do a ton of appellate and federal work, and oftentimes in really high profile cases. As in, I probably spent 20 hours over the past few months helping brief and moot court a SCOTUS case.

With respect to the rest, they value practice experience much more than your typical legal pedigree (law school, clerkship, journal, etc.). In fact, in many, they'd be affirmatively hostile to it. For example, a month or so ago I was tangentially involved in a criminal case in federal court. My immediate boss disparaged the AUSAs as "no-nothing Harvard and Yale graduates who don't know what they're doing." Our recent hires have tended to be T2 grads with a demonstrated interest in the relevant practice area, and not T1 grads with better academics. (Though we haven't had any elite applicants lately, either.)

User avatar
patrickd139
Posts: 2883
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:53 pm

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby patrickd139 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:47 pm

Fair enough. Thanks for the input guys!

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:16 pm

If, on the other hand, they meant "a federal Article III clerkship" (i.e., U.S. court of appeals or district court), then the claim is one hundred percent false. Fraudulently so. Tons of people from CCN apply for clerkships every year and strike out. This includes people on Law Review at those schools. CLS & NYU place something like eight to ten percent of their class into Art. III clerkships. Those numbers would go up if every applicant applied broadly and hustled (many do not), but there would still be quite a few strikeout victims.


As someone who went through this process relatively recently, what I would say is this: CCN students in the top third or so, if they want any AIII clerkship and are open geographically, should be able to get one at some point in their legal career -- but it could be only after a few years of practicing in biglaw, and it could require them at that point to move across the country for a year or two.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:18 pm

There's only about 800 Article III judges in the entire country. These clerkships are a lot tougher to get than people seem to think.

Citizen Genet
Posts: 516
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:03 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Citizen Genet » Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:02 pm

Stupid question. (I've followed the thread from the start and done some mad Googling, can't see it answered.) When judges give page limits on a writing sample, is it assuming single- or double-spaced?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:14 pm

3L applying off-plan for 2013-2014 to a handful of judges. Received an invitation to interview with one judge, is it fair to inform contacts (current clerks) in other chambers to try to speed up the process? If so, how would one go about phrasing?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:31 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote:
Citizen Genet wrote:Stupid question. (I've followed the thread from the start and done some mad Googling, can't see it answered.) When judges give page limits on a writing sample, is it assuming single- or double-spaced?

Beats me. Personally, I think either is fine, but some judges might object to single spacing.


I think double spaced is the norm for work product in most chambers, isn't it? At least in my chambers, all bench memos and opinions are double-spaced, 14pt. font. I think my judge (89 y/o) would be most unhappy at trying to read a single-spaced 12pt. font writing sample. Just an anecdote obviously, but I think its something to take into account since I bet a lot of life-tenure federal judges are probably pretty old.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273265
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:46 pm

Starting 1-year district court clerkship in August. When I begin applying for jobs for after, will it be tough for me to find one at a big firm because I no private sector summer experience? (1L year I worked for DA, 2L I externed for a district judge.)

rando
Posts: 908
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:57 pm

Re: Clerks, taking questions for a bit

Postby rando » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:33 pm

I don't frequent this site much anymore but was tipped off about something on this site and saw this thread.

In any event, I am a current CoA clerk and saw this thread so I have perused a good bit. Point being, the poster who is answering questions is pretty much dead on regarding most questions I have seen. Any disagreements I have are judge/circuit specific. So more than actually being helpful, I hope to at least add some cred to those of you relying on this info in your clerkship application process.




Return to “Judicial Clerkships”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.