True Value of a Clerkship?

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anon168
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby anon168 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi, all. Looking for some general TLS wisdom here: what is the true value of a clerkship (think USDC)? I'm trying to decide how broadly to apply and what benefits a clerkship actually has for my career.

Background: I will be SAing at a V100 firm in DC doing regulatory/litigation work. Goal is to continue working at said firm for at least the foreseeable future. If I end up liking it, gun for partner. If not, I'd like to lateral to an agency or AUSA position either in DC or somewhere in the South.

Just wondering how much a clerkship affects my career advancement and what benefits it bestows. Thanks in advance.


Let me preface what I am about to write below by saying that I am a big proponent of clerking -- even if you have no intentions of doing litigation.

The obvious value of a clerkship is the "experience" and supposed prestige that goes along with being the select few that get to see how the sausage factory works. But there are other benefits that are less obvious. One, is the personal growth you get working in an environment where your decisions have immediate and sometimes dramatic visceral impacts on the lives of people and/or companies. Deny a summary judgment motion on a SSA case and a disabled person may lose their livelihood. Grant a motion to dismiss, and a company that was facing potentially a messy multi-billion dollar 10b-5 securities case is all of a sudden in the clear. Very rarely do you have that kind of power as a lawyer -- young or old. You learn alot about yourself when you have to either make, or recommend, decisions like that. It's not just the experience you get in researching, drafting and writing tentative rulings, bench memos or draft opinions, it's the insight you learn about yourself when you have to make decisions that are sometimes life-altering. Are you a person that will be sympathetic to the "small guy" even though the law says otherwise? Are you more of a "so what" kind of a person and the law is what it is? Those are the experiences and insights you learn about yourself that you rarely ever have an opportunity to encounter in the "real world".

Of course, there's also the personal growth you get from just working for a judge. Just speaking from experience (my own and other clerks), no biglaw partner, or DOJ supervisor, is as intimidating as having to answer and please a federal judge, especially one that you admire. If you clerk, and then transition to private practice, you will be eons ahead of your peers in terms of maturity -- both professionally and to a certain degree intellectually.

The other benefit to clerking that many people do not recognize is the networking opportunities. The chances are that your direct co-clerk(s) and the other clerks in the building will more likely than not be the movers-and-shakers ten years down the line -- e.g., the GC of Acme Corp., or the biglaw partner at WX&Z, politicians, future judges, etc. It's generally the overachievers, A-type personalities that clerk, and it's generally those people that succeed in life. Not always, but the odds certainly are in their favor. So, regardless of whether you want to litigate or do transactional work, it never hurts to know people in power. And it never hurts to know one extra federal judge.

So take that as you will. Ultimately the "true value" of a clerkship will depend on your perspective about life, and your own career goals.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:48 pm

It's not just the experience you get in researching, drafting and writing tentative rulings, bench memos or draft opinions, it's the insight you learn about yourself when you have to make decisions that are sometimes life-altering. Are you a person that will be sympathetic to the "small guy" even though the law says otherwise? Are you more of a "so what" kind of a person and the law is what it is? Those are the experiences and insights you learn about yourself that you rarely ever have an opportunity to encounter in the "real world".

I think this is absolutely true. Clerking has helped me a LOT in figuring out what I want to do post-clerkship/what kind of lawyer I want to/can be.

(I don't actually think the maturity thing is necessarily true, because I think it depends a great deal on your pre-law experience and what you already bring to the table. But it's certainly sometimes true.)

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20160810
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby 20160810 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:31 pm

For me the advantage has just been the learning. I've learned more in 6 months as a clerk than I did in 3 years of law school. I can't even begin to count the ways this experience will make me more effective when I start practicing.

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kalvano
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby kalvano » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:12 am

Aside from possible money bonuses, I know several smaller but very nice firms in the Dallas area will give local federal clerks ridiculous credit towards partnership track. I know of one giving 5 years of credit to the required 7 years for a 2-year clerkship.

So if you think Biglaw sucks, but the USAO isn't working out either, you'll have options at boutique firms too.

Anonymous User
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:40 pm

[/quote]
No one said a law clerk was a judge. But a law clerk sure as shit isn't a secretary, either. (And by the way? The judge doesn't say, "You're guilty," the jury does.)[/quote]


you don't know about bench trials do you?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:43 pm

You're right, sorry, I forgot about bench trials. We haven't had one since I've been here. (That said, a clerk still isn't like a secretary.)

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howlery
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby howlery » Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:48 pm

John_rizzy_rawls wrote:
thelawdoctor wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
thelawdoctor wrote:I suspect the legal community would fall apart without free lawstudent labor.

13th amendment be damned.

You realize clerkships are paid, right?


not a lot of the ones done while in school


What in the bejesus are you talking about?
http://lawclerksalary.net/


How accurate is that site? It lists the average and low-level starting salaries of federal clerks in NYC as being $100k+. I'm pretty sure that the clerking handbooks I've read from CLS and Cornell list the salaries to be somewhere between 30 to 50k+ for depending on state/federal/etc. Wouldn't everyone be rushing to clerk if the positions regularly paid six figures? Also, some schools like CLS offer LRAP loans for clerks that may or may not have to be repaid depending on post-clerk employment. Why would they offer LRAP, if even temporarily, to students making so much money?

0L here, not sure if we're allowed to post in these forums. I apologize if I'm breaking any rules.

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ndirish2010
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby ndirish2010 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:55 pm

What is that site? I'm so confused. Federal clerk salaries start at JSP 11-1. http://www.uscourts.gov/Careers/Compens ... Rates.aspx

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:52 pm

I wonder if the lawclerksalary website just aggregates salaries from listings for jobs with the title "law clerk"? It looks kind of generic like that, and it doesn't specify judicial.

(Career clerks in the federal judiciary can make 6 figures, although not right away.)

GreentoJD
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby GreentoJD » Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:13 pm

On the topic of salary, does anyone know if several years of prior federal service alters at all which grade you come in as for federal clerkship purposes? If it matters I'm referring to over five years of active duty military.

Citizen Genet
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby Citizen Genet » Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:38 pm

GreentoJD wrote:On the topic of salary, does anyone know if several years of prior federal service alters at all which grade you come in as for federal clerkship purposes? If it matters I'm referring to over five years of active duty military.


Will not affect if unless it was legal (i.e. requires a JD) experience.

madame defarge
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby madame defarge » Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:40 pm

Only post-JD experience (government or otherwise) counts for purposes of coming in at a higher grade, I believe.

GreentoJD
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Re: True Value of a Clerkship?

Postby GreentoJD » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:59 pm

Citizen Genet wrote:Will not affect if unless it was legal (i.e. requires a JD) experience.

madame defarge wrote:Only post-JD experience (government or otherwise) counts for purposes of coming in at a higher grade, I believe.

Thank you both, this seems to make sense.




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