Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

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Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:25 am

I'm currently clerking for a USDC judge in a big city. After the clerkship, I'll probably have to move back to a difficult secondary market for spousal career reasons (I do have substantial ties to that market). One option that I'm toying with is trying to get a second clerkship in that market, but the timing for currently sitting judges is tough. However, Obama recently nominated a couple of people in/near there. I'm thinking of maybe sending them my resume to see if they're interested.

Question 1: How should I go about it? One is currently a judge; my thought was to go through his/her current clerks -- just send a cover letter and resume and if they're interested, they can request additional info (letters, writing sample, etc.) or call my current judge to get a rec. The other is an attorney, so I'd probably need to contact him/her directly.

Question 2: I assume that I need my judge's permission before reaching out, right? The only thing I'm worried about in this regard is that he might be a bit concerned about the uncertain timing of the confirmation process -- they could be confirmed next month or next year -- which makes replacing me difficult (he hasn't hired my replacement yet).

eerie_erie
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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby eerie_erie » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:04 pm

These seem to be very nuanced questions that a clerkship office would be better able to address. I'm not sure if your law school helps alums, but I imagine this would be the case. Best of luck.

chipchip
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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby chipchip » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:46 pm

Personally, I wouldn't bother applying until they've been confirmed. Where would you even send the application, to be honest? Generally, once a new judge is confirmed, the website for the district court will put up a job vacancy notice for new clerks. At this point, you'd just be wasting your own time. Moreover, if these people somehow do sail through the confirmation process---which is only just going to get started again for the new Congress---then they'll be looking for clerks much sooner. And it seems ridiculous to me that you would just up and leave your current clerkship.

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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:24 am

chipchip wrote:Personally, I wouldn't bother applying until they've been confirmed. Where would you even send the application, to be honest? Generally, once a new judge is confirmed, the website for the district court will put up a job vacancy notice for new clerks. At this point, you'd just be wasting your own time. Moreover, if these people somehow do sail through the confirmation process---which is only just going to get started again for the new Congress---then they'll be looking for clerks much sooner. And it seems ridiculous to me that you would just up and leave your current clerkship.


I don't think this is correct. A couple thoughts:

(1) People often apply to clerkships with people who are only nominated, and not yet confirmed, for judgeships. It's good to get your foot in the door before the flood of applicants starts.

(2) Most new judges try to get on the regular clerkship cycle pretty quickly - so the first hired clerks may only do a few months. Further, it's pretty well known that, in general, new judges tend to look very favorably on applicants who are current/former clerks - they specifically look for that experience.

So, I think its fine to apply to people who are not yet confirmed. But, one important note - you really can't plan to start a clerkship until your current term is finished. I would imagine that you have some idea when your current term is complete, right?

-DoubleClerk

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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:31 am

I would imagine that you have some idea when your current term is complete, right?


Flexible. The earliest I could/would leave is August, but I can stay up to a year after that. Judge just wants a couple months notice whenever the departure date is. (Yes, he's awesome for this and many other reasons.)

clerker
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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby clerker » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
chipchip wrote:Personally, I wouldn't bother applying until they've been confirmed. Where would you even send the application, to be honest? Generally, once a new judge is confirmed, the website for the district court will put up a job vacancy notice for new clerks. At this point, you'd just be wasting your own time. Moreover, if these people somehow do sail through the confirmation process---which is only just going to get started again for the new Congress---then they'll be looking for clerks much sooner. And it seems ridiculous to me that you would just up and leave your current clerkship.


I don't think this is correct. A couple thoughts:

(1) People often apply to clerkships with people who are only nominated, and not yet confirmed, for judgeships. It's good to get your foot in the door before the flood of applicants starts.

(2) Most new judges try to get on the regular clerkship cycle pretty quickly - so the first hired clerks may only do a few months. Further, it's pretty well known that, in general, new judges tend to look very favorably on applicants who are current/former clerks - they specifically look for that experience.

So, I think its fine to apply to people who are not yet confirmed. But, one important note - you really can't plan to start a clerkship until your current term is finished. I would imagine that you have some idea when your current term is complete, right?

-DoubleClerk


Agreed with DoubleClerk. I wouldn't trust the court website to post law clerk vacancies as soon as possible. Newly confirmed judges who have not already hired, are looking to hire ASAP. Those who move quickest have an edge. And as you can imagine, competition for these positions are not quite as fierce as it would be for a traditional position, because most people aren't flexible, or can't move that quickly. It's certainly not a waste of time.

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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:40 pm

Thanks clerker. Another question: Really bad idea to email the nominee directly? He's currently a judge and I'm currently a clerk (so I can get his email from Lotus). I'd prefer to go through his clerks all things being equal, but I can't figure out who they are. I also suppose I can ask my current judge to email him, though I'd hate to impose like that.

clerker
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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby clerker » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks clerker. Another question: Really bad idea to email the nominee directly? He's currently a judge and I'm currently a clerk (so I can get his email from Lotus). I'd prefer to go through his clerks all things being equal, but I can't figure out who they are. I also suppose I can ask my current judge to email him, though I'd hate to impose like that.


If you're going to e-mail the nominee, I would say to e-mail him directly. You don't know if his current clerks have a conflict of interest--they might be aiming to stick with him when he moves up, or they might be trying to set up a friend for a clerkship. The downside is that it's "presumptuous" for a lowly junior lawyer to directly contact a big shot federal judge, and somehow the judge might take offense at that. I think that's baloney, but I suppose reasonable minds can differ.

I think you should absolutely rely on your current judge to e-mail the nominee. That's one of the huge benefits of having a clerkship. Your judge can attest to your work ethic and ability. An e-mail written by one federal judge to another judge is far more likely to be read. And even though you might feel like you're imposing on your boss, remember he or she already has a stake in your future success. The reputation of a judge is partly connected to the prominence of his or her former clerks. Unless there's a really strong reason why your boss wouldn't want to help you out (maybe you were really lazy, etc) he or she will definitely go to bat for you.

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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:10 pm

My only hesitation relying on my judge is that he might be concerned with the uncertain timing of the process -- the nominee could be confirmed next month or next year, and while my judge is flexible (as I said above), I really couldn't leave before August. Though that's still somewhat of an issue even if I send the email directly because I need to get his OK. (That said, I wouldn't be surprised if "hey judge, mind if I send a resume to a nominee" might result in less thought -- and thus less concern -- than "judge, will you email the nominee for me.")

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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:55 am

I've had a "ton" of success reaching out to judges either right before they're expected to get confirmed, or right after.

Of the three I did that with, I got two interviews (but accepted an offer elsewhere prior to hearing back).

clerker
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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby clerker » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My only hesitation relying on my judge is that he might be concerned with the uncertain timing of the process -- the nominee could be confirmed next month or next year, and while my judge is flexible (as I said above), I really couldn't leave before August. Though that's still somewhat of an issue even if I send the email directly because I need to get his OK. (That said, I wouldn't be surprised if "hey judge, mind if I send a resume to a nominee" might result in less thought -- and thus less concern -- than "judge, will you email the nominee for me.")


You should tell current judge that you want to clerk for this other nominee but that you'd honor your commitment to current judge until August. If current judge is cool about it, he'll say something like "no worries, let's see what happens, and if you want to leave early you can." If not, that's okay; you lose nothing by asking.

I don't think I emphasized this above, but when I said to rely on current judge to e-mail the nominee, I didn't mean that you should straight up ask him to e-mail the nominee. You should tell him your current situation, how much you want to go to the secondary market, how much you love clerking (based on your experience with current judge of course) and that you want to do it again in the other city. Your judge will probably then volunteer to help you out. The specifics of this convo are hard to predict, but I imagine that at some point, current judge might volunteer to e-mail the nominee on his own.

Remember, not only does the nominee need to be confirmed, he or she has to wind things down at their current employer, and perhaps take some time off to prepare to transition to the bench. This can add a few weeks to the process. And even if confirmation happens tomorrow, and the nominee wants to hire you immediately, you can just say that you have to honor your commitment to current judge. Something similar happened to a friend of mine, and the judge decided to hire him early, for the next cycle. So really, you never know.

Anonymous User
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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:36 pm

I don't think I emphasized this above, but when I said to rely on current judge to e-mail the nominee, I didn't mean that you should straight up ask him to e-mail the nominee. You should tell him your current situation, how much you want to go to the secondary market, how much you love clerking (based on your experience with current judge of course) and that you want to do it again in the other city. Your judge will probably then volunteer to help you out.


Funny, it was just me and judge in chambers yesterday, and we had Part I of this conversation. He said it was totally OK to start sending off my resume for a second clerkship, I'd probably be an attractive candidate for a COA clerkship (I think he was blowing smoke on this one), and he would write a great rec letter if I need it. My thought is that next week I'll ask him specifically if he has a problem with me emailing a few of the current-judge nominees -- hopefully he'll offer to do it himself.

clerker
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Re: Applying for a clerkship with a yet-to-be-confirmed judge.

Postby clerker » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
I don't think I emphasized this above, but when I said to rely on current judge to e-mail the nominee, I didn't mean that you should straight up ask him to e-mail the nominee. You should tell him your current situation, how much you want to go to the secondary market, how much you love clerking (based on your experience with current judge of course) and that you want to do it again in the other city. Your judge will probably then volunteer to help you out.


Funny, it was just me and judge in chambers yesterday, and we had Part I of this conversation. He said it was totally OK to start sending off my resume for a second clerkship, I'd probably be an attractive candidate for a COA clerkship (I think he was blowing smoke on this one), and he would write a great rec letter if I need it. My thought is that next week I'll ask him specifically if he has a problem with me emailing a few of the current-judge nominees -- hopefully he'll offer to do it himself.


Nice work. And even if he doesn't e-mail them (perhaps he thinks it's unseemly for a sitting federal judge to put pressure on a nominee to hire a specific clerk) he may make a phone call. And even if he doesn't offer to do anything at the moment, he may know someone who knows someone. The possibilities are endless, and you should be flexible in leveraging his experience, reputation, and contacts, as long as he's cool with it.




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