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.