Clerkship questions

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Clerkship questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:38 pm

I'm a 2L interested in federal clerkships. I'm at a lower tier 1 school (ranked 30-40) and am ranked at the top of my class, on law review, and have profs willing to bat for me. I have a few questions on how to approach everything.

Are appellate courts within reach? Or do these only go to T-14 students?
If they are within reach, should I apply everywhere? Or should I only be applying to places where I would want to practice in a firm after the clerkship?
What about district clerkships? Are these worth it? Or would it be adviseable to go into biglaw first and then apply to appellate courts after a few years?

Thanks in advance. I'm trying to wrap my head around everything and figure out what I should be doing. CSO advised that I should basicallly apply everywhere, and I wasn't sure if this was correct.

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ph14
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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby ph14 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L interested in federal clerkships. I'm at a lower tier 1 school (ranked 30-40) and am ranked at the top of my class, on law review, and have profs willing to bat for me. I have a few questions on how to approach everything.

Are appellate courts within reach? Or do these only go to T-14 students?
If they are within reach, should I apply everywhere? Or should I only be applying to places where I would want to practice in a firm after the clerkship?
What about district clerkships? Are these worth it? Or would it be adviseable to go into biglaw first and then apply to appellate courts after a few years?

Thanks in advance. I'm trying to wrap my head around everything and figure out what I should be doing. CSO advised that I should basicallly apply everywhere, and I wasn't sure if this was correct.


Apply everywhere. What exactly are you ranked?

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:40 pm

ph14 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L interested in federal clerkships. I'm at a lower tier 1 school (ranked 30-40) and am ranked at the top of my class, on law review, and have profs willing to bat for me. I have a few questions on how to approach everything.

Are appellate courts within reach? Or do these only go to T-14 students?
If they are within reach, should I apply everywhere? Or should I only be applying to places where I would want to practice in a firm after the clerkship?
What about district clerkships? Are these worth it? Or would it be adviseable to go into biglaw first and then apply to appellate courts after a few years?

Thanks in advance. I'm trying to wrap my head around everything and figure out what I should be doing. CSO advised that I should basicallly apply everywhere, and I wasn't sure if this was correct.


Apply everywhere. What exactly are you ranked?


2nd. So apply any and everywhere, both district and appellate?

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ph14
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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby ph14 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
ph14 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L interested in federal clerkships. I'm at a lower tier 1 school (ranked 30-40) and am ranked at the top of my class, on law review, and have profs willing to bat for me. I have a few questions on how to approach everything.

Are appellate courts within reach? Or do these only go to T-14 students?
If they are within reach, should I apply everywhere? Or should I only be applying to places where I would want to practice in a firm after the clerkship?
What about district clerkships? Are these worth it? Or would it be adviseable to go into biglaw first and then apply to appellate courts after a few years?

Thanks in advance. I'm trying to wrap my head around everything and figure out what I should be doing. CSO advised that I should basicallly apply everywhere, and I wasn't sure if this was correct.


Apply everywhere. What exactly are you ranked?


2nd. So apply any and everywhere, both district and appellate?


Yes, absolutely.

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nevdash
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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby nevdash » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:44 pm

If by "top of the class," you mean literally number one in your class, then COA clerkships are definitely within reach. If I were you, in the next few months, I would begin sending paper apps to COA judges in your most desired areas. If you don't hear anything by the beginning of summer, then I would consider applying more broadly to on-plan judges. Both district court and court of appeals clerkships are valuable experiences, and you should be happy to do either one no matter where it takes you.

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:45 pm

ph14 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ph14 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 2L interested in federal clerkships. I'm at a lower tier 1 school (ranked 30-40) and am ranked at the top of my class, on law review, and have profs willing to bat for me. I have a few questions on how to approach everything.

Are appellate courts within reach? Or do these only go to T-14 students?
If they are within reach, should I apply everywhere? Or should I only be applying to places where I would want to practice in a firm after the clerkship?
What about district clerkships? Are these worth it? Or would it be adviseable to go into biglaw first and then apply to appellate courts after a few years?

Thanks in advance. I'm trying to wrap my head around everything and figure out what I should be doing. CSO advised that I should basicallly apply everywhere, and I wasn't sure if this was correct.


Apply everywhere. What exactly are you ranked?


2nd. So apply any and everywhere, both district and appellate?


Yes, absolutely.


Okay. So are appellate courts within reach in my situation?

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:47 pm

nevdash wrote:If by "top of the class," you mean literally number one in your class, then COA clerkships are definitely within reach. If I were you, in the next few months, I would begin sending paper apps to COA judges in your most desired areas. If you don't hear anything by the beginning of summer, then I would consider applying more broadly to on-plan judges. Both district court and court of appeals clerkships are valuable experiences, and you should be happy to do either one no matter where it takes you.


Okay. So general consensus is that it's worth it regardless of location/level of court??

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ph14
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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby ph14 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Okay. So are appellate courts within reach in my situation?


I'm not familiar with data for someone with your stats, but I would imagine that you have at least a shot at a CoA clerkship somewhere. It's certainly worth it to apply.

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ndirish2010
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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby ndirish2010 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:07 am

Depends on the school, but in general if you are #2 in the class at a Tier 1 school, you can get CoA.

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:30 am

ndirish2010 wrote:Depends on the school, but in general if you are #2 in the class at a Tier 1 school, you can get CoA.


And I'm assuming that any CoA fed clerkship is a great thing, correct? Regardless of goals etc.?

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ph14
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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby ph14 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:
ndirish2010 wrote:Depends on the school, but in general if you are #2 in the class at a Tier 1 school, you can get CoA.


And I'm assuming that any CoA fed clerkship is a great thing, correct? Regardless of goals etc.?


No.

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:32 am

ph14 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ndirish2010 wrote:Depends on the school, but in general if you are #2 in the class at a Tier 1 school, you can get CoA.


And I'm assuming that any CoA fed clerkship is a great thing, correct? Regardless of goals etc.?


No.


Can you elaborate? You were just saying to apply everywhere above. I'll be in litigation afterwards (firm will defer) if that's wy you say no.

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thesealocust
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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby thesealocust » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:
ndirish2010 wrote:Depends on the school, but in general if you are #2 in the class at a Tier 1 school, you can get CoA.


And I'm assuming that any CoA fed clerkship is a great thing, correct? Regardless of goals etc.?


Nope.

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ph14
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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby ph14 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:33 am

Anonymous User wrote:
ph14 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ndirish2010 wrote:Depends on the school, but in general if you are #2 in the class at a Tier 1 school, you can get CoA.


And I'm assuming that any CoA fed clerkship is a great thing, correct? Regardless of goals etc.?


No.


Can you elaborate? You were just saying to apply everywhere above. I'll be in litigation afterwards (firm will defer) if that's wy you say no.


It's not a great thing "regardless of goals" and for everyone in every situation whatsoever. Generally speaking, it is perceived as being worth it if you are going to be a litigator. But there are still lots of factors to consider such as salary/experience foregone, etc.
Last edited by ph14 on Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:34 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:33 am

thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ndirish2010 wrote:Depends on the school, but in general if you are #2 in the class at a Tier 1 school, you can get CoA.


And I'm assuming that any CoA fed clerkship is a great thing, correct? Regardless of goals etc.?


Nope.


Can you explain when it wouldn't be?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:46 am

If you don't want to litigate, clerking may not be worth the year of salary you forego. Even if you do want to litigate, depending on your personal situation, you may not want to forego tha salary. You may hate staring at a computer 8 or more hours a day doing nothing but research and writing. It can be a fairly isolating gig. You might work for an awful judge. And if you want practical, on the ground exposure to trial work, a district court clerkship would be more useful.

(No idea if that's what others here meant, though.)

The #1 student at my T1 got a CoA clerkship. My sense is that students at regional schools tend to have the most luck with judges in their own circuit - not that it's impossible to go elsewhere, just that chances might be better more locally.

It's true that (some/most) district court clerkships aren't as hard to get as (some) CoA clerkships, but they're still great experience - just very different.

I think at the district court level, it helps to clerk where you want to work after, because that's where the connections you make will help you most. I don't know if that's true for CoA, though. (I'm clerking in a federal district, though I did a state appellate clerkship first.)

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:36 pm

Definitely do not overlook district courts. Federal district court clerkships are highly valued, and very difficult to get these days.

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:54 pm

Tangerine Gleam wrote:Definitely do not overlook district courts. Federal district court clerkships are highly valued, and very difficult to get these days.


regardless of location/judge?

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.

Postby Myself » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:56 pm

.
Last edited by Myself on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tangerine Gleam wrote:Definitely do not overlook district courts. Federal district court clerkships are highly valued, and very difficult to get these days.


regardless of location/judge?


Yes, I would say that there is no such thing as an Article III clerkship that is not highly valued (depending on what you want to do) and fairly difficult to get. Some people may have better luck stumbling into them than others, but if you want to do litigation and are open to spending a year of your life anywhere, I wouldn't rule out any district court clerkship.

That said, there are judges that people don't like working for, and places you really may not want to live. But these days, district court clerkships are competitive enough that Top 10% students from T14 schools are applying broadly and striking out fairly often.

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby buddingjd » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:55 am

Bit of a thread-jack, but is there a general consensus on what you need to be ranked at mid T1s for COA and for District Court clerkships? Both for local and non-local (flyover).

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:23 pm

Bit of a thread-jack, but is there a general consensus on what you need to be ranked at mid T1s for COA and for District Court clerkships? Both for local and non-local (flyover).


Look at Law School Transparency -- they break down schools by employment stats, including federal clerkships (which mostly will be AIII). My general rule is that if you are ranked better than the percentage of students who get AIII clerkships, you've got an excellent chance (75%+), if you're ranked worse than twice the percentage, you've got virtually no chance, and it's around 1.5x the percentage where it becomes a 50-50 shot.

So to take the two schools ranked #24 (one of which will be right at the midpoint of the T1):

Emory -- 6.7% did federal clerkships. That means you'd to be top 7% to feel safe, you'd have a fighting chance up to roughly top 10%, and if you're worse than top 13% or so, don't bother.

Washington & Lee -- 7.8% did federal clerkships. So pretty similar to the above, with maybe a percent more give.

But note that both of these place REALLY well for their cohort. Looking at the next few schools in the 20-30 range:

ASU -- 1.5%.
BU -- 1.8%
BC -- 3.9%.

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby bk1 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:23 pm

Moved to clerkship forum.

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby clerker » Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:46 pm

buddingjd wrote:Bit of a thread-jack, but is there a general consensus on what you need to be ranked at mid T1s for COA and for District Court clerkships? Both for local and non-local (flyover).


If you want to know what rank you need to be fairly confident that you'll land a federal clerkship, it's going to be something very high, perhaps top 5%. If you want to know what absolute minimum rank you need to have an outside shot, it's a lot lower, possibly as low as top 25%. This isn't what the board consensus is though, and there will probably be lots of folks who disagree.

The clerkship hiring process is idiosyncratic, highly specific, and seemingly random. Even being top 10% at a T14 with Law Review doesn't necessarily mean you'll get an offer *somewhere* although your odds are probably pretty good. So to ask what you need at a minimum from a mid T1 is pretty tough to say.

That said, there are lots of things outside of your grades that give you a huge leg up. Are you on Law Review? Do you have connections? How strong are your connections to the judge, and how strong is your reputation with your connection? What is your demographic / socioeconomic / political background? Does it match up with a judge in your target city? Do you have some outstanding, highly unusual, or otherwise distinguishable extracurricular factor that raises eyebrows? These are the things that help get a clerk with subpar credentials hired, and they're rarely discussed by law students or career counselors.

Meet clerks and ask around, and you'll hear stories like I did. Like the kid who graduated from a tier 3 school without being on law review but landed an COA clerkship because he, his dad, and the judge were all alums of a private, prestigious high school. A word here, and a favor there, landed this kid in one of the top clerkships in the country. Or like another clerk who had undistinguished credentials but got in because a really old judge needed a last minute clerk hire and asked his law professor buddy to forward him the name of some student. Or like the girl who graduated a few years ahead of me in law school who failed to graduate with honors or law review, but landed a COA clerkship in a highly desirable city because she came from a disadvantaged background but was the student body president at her UG and became SBA president during law school.

So in the end, get the best grades you can, get the best rank you can, instead of worrying too much about the minimum necessary credentials. Exploit every advantage you have, and you may be the first median student from your T1 school to land a COA clerkship.

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Re: Clerkship questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:52 am

for what it's worth, i graduated magna from a school towards the bottom of the second-tier and was somehow able to get a clerkship with a district judge (competitive district nowhere near the law school) straight out of school. no LR. moot court. i got the interview and then killed it. weirder things have happened. OP: don't sell yourself short - i'd recommend applying to all COA judges and only the most competitive district judges.




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