2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 04/19/13

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TatteredDignity
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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby TatteredDignity » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:04 pm

For judges to whom I'm mailing paper applications based on their posting on OSCAR, should I include my unofficial law school transcript, or should I print the PDF of the OSCAR grade sheet and mail that in?

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:10 pm

TatteredDignity wrote:For judges to whom I'm mailing paper applications based on their posting on OSCAR, should I include my unofficial law school transcript, or should I print the PDF of the OSCAR grade sheet and mail that in?


I would print the OSCAR grade sheet .PDF. If they have any familiarity with OSCAR, it's a format they'll be used to seeing.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby TatteredDignity » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:18 pm

Tangerine Gleam wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:For judges to whom I'm mailing paper applications based on their posting on OSCAR, should I include my unofficial law school transcript, or should I print the PDF of the OSCAR grade sheet and mail that in?


I would print the OSCAR grade sheet .PDF. If they have any familiarity with OSCAR, it's a format they'll be used to seeing.


Thanks!

One more... I've been told that at least some of my application needs to be on nice bond paper. I'd assume the resume, at the very least. Does anything else need to be on bond paper, like the cover letter or transcript? And certainly not my whole writing sample, right?

On that note, what precise thickness/color of bond paper is best? Should it be pure white or off-white?

Thanks, everyone.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:32 pm

I don't recall using nice paper for any of my clerkship applications. But I did use nice paper when applying for some 1L jobs -- I would put the cover letter and resume on nice paper, and the rest on printer paper.

I want to say "it doesn't matter, man," but for all I know, maybe some of my applications got tossed because of it. :D But I'd really like to think a judge wouldn't do that...

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby bk1 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:46 pm

Tangerine Gleam wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:For judges to whom I'm mailing paper applications based on their posting on OSCAR, should I include my unofficial law school transcript, or should I print the PDF of the OSCAR grade sheet and mail that in?


I would print the OSCAR grade sheet .PDF. If they have any familiarity with OSCAR, it's a format they'll be used to seeing.

Why not just send an official transcript?

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:47 pm

This is totally anecdotal, but any sense of where we are in the process for "regular" COA judges (i.e., not feeders or semi-feeders)?
Should be competitive for these, and I don't really trust my clerkship office entirely. I should be able to get out a first wave of apps within seven days. screwed or no?

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:16 pm

bk1 wrote:
Tangerine Gleam wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:For judges to whom I'm mailing paper applications based on their posting on OSCAR, should I include my unofficial law school transcript, or should I print the PDF of the OSCAR grade sheet and mail that in?


I would print the OSCAR grade sheet .PDF. If they have any familiarity with OSCAR, it's a format they'll be used to seeing.

Why not just send an official transcript?


No good reason at all -- I'm sure either would be fine.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:This is totally anecdotal, but any sense of where we are in the process for "regular" COA judges (i.e., not feeders or semi-feeders)?
Should be competitive for these, and I don't really trust my clerkship office entirely. I should be able to get out a first wave of apps within seven days. screwed or no?


You're definitely not screwed, but it also appears (just from observing internet talk and hearing anecdotal stories) that a good number of COA judges have already hired or are interviewing candidates now -- and these aren't just the feeders. I'm sure there are still a lot of COA positions out there, but if you had particular judges/circuits in mind, it may be that they've already begun to look.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby TatteredDignity » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:06 pm

Tangerine Gleam wrote:I don't recall using nice paper for any of my clerkship applications. But I did use nice paper when applying for some 1L jobs -- I would put the cover letter and resume on nice paper, and the rest on printer paper.

I want to say "it doesn't matter, man," but for all I know, maybe some of my applications got tossed because of it. :D But I'd really like to think a judge wouldn't do that...


Yeah, I was wondering if I'm over thinking this and regular copy paper would be fine. But I have no one else to ask, and that's why I turned here. I figure it can't hurt to put the resume and cover letter on nice paper.

bk1 wrote:Why not just send an official transcript?



Good point. Thanks.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:10 pm

TatteredDignity wrote:
Tangerine Gleam wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:For judges to whom I'm mailing paper applications based on their posting on OSCAR, should I include my unofficial law school transcript, or should I print the PDF of the OSCAR grade sheet and mail that in?


I would print the OSCAR grade sheet .PDF. If they have any familiarity with OSCAR, it's a format they'll be used to seeing.


Thanks!

One more... I've been told that at least some of my application needs to be on nice bond paper. I'd assume the resume, at the very least. Does anything else need to be on bond paper, like the cover letter or transcript? And certainly not my whole writing sample, right?

On that note, what precise thickness/color of bond paper is best? Should it be pure white or off-white?

Thanks, everyone.

I used nice paper for the cover letter and resume, and ordinary paper for the transcript and writing sample. The clerks in the chambers that hired me actually commented on the fact that I'd used the fancy paper, and made it sound like no one usually does? But they might have been poking a little bit of fun at the intern, who'd apparently looked at the application and was surprised by the fancy paper. I really doubt any of it really matters, but writing samples are kind of big and unwieldy on bond paper.

(I also used the unofficial school transcript, mostly because I'm not sure I realized you could even print out the OSCAR grade sheet...)

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby TatteredDignity » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:23 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:
Tangerine Gleam wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:For judges to whom I'm mailing paper applications based on their posting on OSCAR, should I include my unofficial law school transcript, or should I print the PDF of the OSCAR grade sheet and mail that in?


I would print the OSCAR grade sheet .PDF. If they have any familiarity with OSCAR, it's a format they'll be used to seeing.


Thanks!

One more... I've been told that at least some of my application needs to be on nice bond paper. I'd assume the resume, at the very least. Does anything else need to be on bond paper, like the cover letter or transcript? And certainly not my whole writing sample, right?

On that note, what precise thickness/color of bond paper is best? Should it be pure white or off-white?

Thanks, everyone.

I used nice paper for the cover letter and resume, and ordinary paper for the transcript and writing sample. The clerks in the chambers that hired me actually commented on the fact that I'd used the fancy paper, and made it sound like no one usually does? But they might have been poking a little bit of fun at the intern, who'd apparently looked at the application and was surprised by the fancy paper. I really doubt any of it really matters, but writing samples are kind of big and unwieldy on bond paper.

(I also used the unofficial school transcript, mostly because I'm not sure I realized you could even print out the OSCAR grade sheet...)


Cool cool, thanks for sharing.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby jrf12886 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:32 pm

I printed out the OSCAR grade sheet instead of using an unofficial/official transcript.

I used bond paper on the cover letter, resume, and grade sheet and regular printer paper for the writing sample.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:52 pm

bk1 wrote:
Tangerine Gleam wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:For judges to whom I'm mailing paper applications based on their posting on OSCAR, should I include my unofficial law school transcript, or should I print the PDF of the OSCAR grade sheet and mail that in?


I would print the OSCAR grade sheet .PDF. If they have any familiarity with OSCAR, it's a format they'll be used to seeing.

Why not just send an official transcript?
For what it's worth, HLS OCS actively tells students to use the OSCAR grade sheets even with paper applications: "You should use the same OSCAR grade sheets for your judges who want paper application materials. The OSCAR grade sheets look much cleaner than the official transcripts, and they allow you more flexibility to explain anything unusual (an extension or withdrawal, for example)."

I don't mean to suggest that it's harmful to use your schools official/unofficial transcript, but you should definitely feel comfortable using the OSCAR sheets for paper apps.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby TatteredDignity » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
bk1 wrote:
Tangerine Gleam wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:For judges to whom I'm mailing paper applications based on their posting on OSCAR, should I include my unofficial law school transcript, or should I print the PDF of the OSCAR grade sheet and mail that in?


I would print the OSCAR grade sheet .PDF. If they have any familiarity with OSCAR, it's a format they'll be used to seeing.

Why not just send an official transcript?
For what it's worth, HLS OCS actively tells students to use the OSCAR grade sheets even with paper applications: "You should use the same OSCAR grade sheets for your judges who want paper application materials. The OSCAR grade sheets look much cleaner than the official transcripts, and they allow you more flexibility to explain anything unusual (an extension or withdrawal, for example)."

I don't mean to suggest that it's harmful to use your schools official/unofficial transcript, but you should definitely feel comfortable using the OSCAR sheets for paper apps.


That's great info. Thanks!

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
bk1 wrote:
Tangerine Gleam wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:For judges to whom I'm mailing paper applications based on their posting on OSCAR, should I include my unofficial law school transcript, or should I print the PDF of the OSCAR grade sheet and mail that in?


I would print the OSCAR grade sheet .PDF. If they have any familiarity with OSCAR, it's a format they'll be used to seeing.

Why not just send an official transcript?
For what it's worth, HLS OCS actively tells students to use the OSCAR grade sheets even with paper applications: "You should use the same OSCAR grade sheets for your judges who want paper application materials. The OSCAR grade sheets look much cleaner than the official transcripts, and they allow you more flexibility to explain anything unusual (an extension or withdrawal, for example)."

I don't mean to suggest that it's harmful to use your schools official/unofficial transcript, but you should definitely feel comfortable using the OSCAR sheets for paper apps.


Just to provide a counterpoint, I used an unofficial transcript for all of my paper applications. I had multiple interviews and secured a clerkship, and nobody ever mentioned a thing about the transcript I used (this was all in the last month). I wouldn't overthink this. OSCAR is fine if you want it to look cleaner, but nobody is going to be suspicious of the authenticity of anything you provide.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby TatteredDignity » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Just to provide a counterpoint, I used an unofficial transcript for all of my paper applications. I had multiple interviews and secured a clerkship, and nobody ever mentioned a thing about the transcript I used (this was all in the last month). I wouldn't overthink this. OSCAR is fine if you want it to look cleaner, but nobody is going to be suspicious of the authenticity of anything you provide.


This served primarily to freak me out about how far behind I am. Please tell me you're #1 at Harvard or something. (but seriously, thanks for the anecdote.)

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:56 pm

TatteredDignity wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Just to provide a counterpoint, I used an unofficial transcript for all of my paper applications. I had multiple interviews and secured a clerkship, and nobody ever mentioned a thing about the transcript I used (this was all in the last month). I wouldn't overthink this. OSCAR is fine if you want it to look cleaner, but nobody is going to be suspicious of the authenticity of anything you provide.


This served primarily to freak me out about how far behind I am. Please tell me you're #1 at Harvard or something. (but seriously, thanks for the anecdote.)


Don't freak out. I was in the group of people who had to move quickly. But I'd get my stuff out soon.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:03 am

Protip #1: No one cares about the paper stock that you use. If anything, using fancy weight for resume and then regular paper for the writing sample will flag you as a ponce (though even this is unlikely).

Protip #2: We're reviewing apps now. Folks, make sure your cover letter SINGS. I've read so many that I've dinged because it's obvious from the 250 or whatever words that the person can't write. I mean, if your prose is so painful in a one pager that you should have honed for months, how will the fifteen page opinion that you need to crank out in three days read?

Protip #3: Here's a free tip for everyone. Every paragraph of your cover letter should begin with a short, active-tense sentence. NO PREFATORY PHRASES. No "with respect to," no "in that regard," no "as a result of." You can reword a sentence beginning with those phrases as two shorter and more declarative sentences. It reads sooooo much cleaner. (Seriously, this is a lesson that a lot of practitioners should learn. It's a really powerful rhetorical trick to start every paragraph with a very short and sweet -- and hopefully punchy -- topic sentence.)

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby TatteredDignity » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:16 am

theaccidentalclerk wrote:Protip #1: No one cares about the paper stock that you use. If anything, using fancy weight for resume and then regular paper for the writing sample will flag you as a ponce (though even this is unlikely).

Protip #2: We're reviewing apps now. Folks, make sure your cover letter SINGS. I've read so many that I've dinged because it's obvious from the 250 or whatever words that the person can't write. I mean, if your prose is so painful in a one pager that you should have honed for months, how will the fifteen page opinion that you need to crank out in three days read?

Protip #3: Here's a free tip for everyone. Every paragraph of your cover letter should begin with a short, active-tense sentence. NO PREFATORY PHRASES. No "with respect to," no "in that regard," no "as a result of." You can reword a sentence beginning with those phrases as two shorter and more declarative sentences. It reads sooooo much cleaner. (Seriously, this is a lesson that a lot of practitioners should learn. It's a really powerful rhetorical trick to start every paragraph with a very short and sweet -- and hopefully punchy -- topic sentence.)


I notice one of your gripes isn't that the cover letter seems generic. Have you selected anyone for an interview who has a well-written but obviously stock cover letter?

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby GertrudePerkins » Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:41 am

theaccidentalclerk wrote:Protip #2: We're reviewing apps now. Folks, make sure your cover letter SINGS. I've read so many that I've dinged because it's obvious from the 250 or whatever words that the person can't write. I mean, if your prose is so painful in a one pager that you should have honed for months, how will the fifteen page opinion that you need to crank out in three days read?
You actually care about the content of the cover letter? I'm a 3L and my clerkships are already lined up, so it's not like I have anything personally at stake, but aren't cover letters purely pro forma? God knows mine were. And "honed for months"? That seems crazy. I guess I understand that if the cover letter is actively bad, contains errors, etc., then it's going to hurt you -- but I think writing a clerkship cover letter should take about 15 minutes. You just copy the template that your OCS hopefully provides and plug in your own info.

Maybe I'm overreading your post, but do you really think people should be putting much effort into crafting their cover-letter prose? Or are you just saying that people need to watch out for errors? Again, nothing personal at stake here, I just thought cover letters were a no-brainer.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:22 am

I haven't reviewed letters for federal clerkships, but I have for state clerkships, and while I realize it's not entirely the same pool, we got a lot of TERRIBLE cover letters. Mostly, they were too long - they repeated way too much from the resume and were incredibly wordy. I believe there's a "Harvard" school of clerkship cover-letter writing advising very minimal letters - just, "I'm a 2L at ----, I'm applying for a clerkship for ---, I enclose -----, letters of recommendation from ---, ---, and --- will follow." (Presumably if you have a particular connection to the area/judge you'd mention that, too.) But there must still be a lot of OCSs advising people to write elaborate cover letters all about their burning desires to clerk and why they'd be brilliant at it etc., because that's what people do. I think there's a sense that if you're not actually at Harvard (or Y/S/T-14) you have to sell yourself even in the cover letter.

(I had a bit more detail than the Harvard model, but tried to keep mine short and sweet. But it was still a bit more involved than plugging my info into blanks on a form that my OCS provided.)

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:32 am

I'm just a 2L going through the process, but my own conclusion is that matching expected cover letter depth/quality to chambers' expectations is just a crapshoot. E.g., GT L Rev used to complain about long cover letters and said people should only include bare minimums + GPA/honors/etc; for chambers like his, it seems the cover letter is just a formality with your GPA stuck on it. Other clerks I've talked to have been very much in the camp of "Definitely explain a little why you want to clerk, and if you can, a little about why you want to clerk for Judge X." They actually care what you have to say beyond basic cogency + GPA/LR.

My guess is that the former approach is more pervasive among chambers for judges that are either (a) in a metropolitan, or (b) feeders/near feeder status. Personally, I've settled on a 2-sentence into paragraph with all the hard data, a 4-sentence 2nd paragraph on clerking, and a 2 sentence closer ("X, Y, and Z are attached."). Well within the one-page limit, and it's easy for them to skip the soft stuff if they want. (Current/former clerks feel free to tell me if this is a mistake so I can proceed to freak out and rewrite everything.)

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Flips88 » Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm just a 2L going through the process, but my own conclusion is that matching expected cover letter depth/quality to chambers' expectations is just a crapshoot. E.g., GT L Rev used to complain about long cover letters and said people should only include bare minimums + GPA/honors/etc; for chambers like his, it seems the cover letter is just a formality with your GPA stuck on it. Other clerks I've talked to have been very much in the camp of "Definitely explain a little why you want to clerk, and if you can, a little about why you want to clerk for Judge X." They actually care what you have to say beyond basic cogency + GPA/LR.

My guess is that the former approach is more pervasive among chambers for judges that are either (a) in a metropolitan, or (b) feeders/near feeder status. Personally, I've settled on a 2-sentence into paragraph with all the hard data, a 4-sentence 2nd paragraph on clerking, and a 2 sentence closer ("X, Y, and Z are attached."). Well within the one-page limit, and it's easy for them to skip the soft stuff if they want. (Current/former clerks feel free to tell me if this is a mistake so I can proceed to freak out and rewrite everything.)

You put your GPA in your cover letter?

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:09 am

Flips88 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm just a 2L going through the process, but my own conclusion is that matching expected cover letter depth/quality to chambers' expectations is just a crapshoot. E.g., GT L Rev used to complain about long cover letters and said people should only include bare minimums + GPA/honors/etc; for chambers like his, it seems the cover letter is just a formality with your GPA stuck on it. Other clerks I've talked to have been very much in the camp of "Definitely explain a little why you want to clerk, and if you can, a little about why you want to clerk for Judge X." They actually care what you have to say beyond basic cogency + GPA/LR.

My guess is that the former approach is more pervasive among chambers for judges that are either (a) in a metropolitan, or (b) feeders/near feeder status. Personally, I've settled on a 2-sentence into paragraph with all the hard data, a 4-sentence 2nd paragraph on clerking, and a 2 sentence closer ("X, Y, and Z are attached."). Well within the one-page limit, and it's easy for them to skip the soft stuff if they want. (Current/former clerks feel free to tell me if this is a mistake so I can proceed to freak out and rewrite everything.)

You put your GPA in your cover letter?

Heh. I sure didn't, because it wasn't going to help me.

I think any statements about why you want to clerk, generally, are not especially helpful. Judges know why applicants want to clerk. Statements about why you want to clerk for that particular judge or in that particular court, those are helpful ("I worked for your former clerk, X, who suggested I apply," or "I plan to practice in City X after clerking," or "I'm particularly interested in X practice [where the court is known for that practice]"). But why clerking is great isn't very useful. (Your "2nd paragraph on clerking" may not be doing this, I don't know, but just in case it does.)

Most people do hit the highlights of their qualifications - LR, legal employment, anything that suggests you're a good writer - even though they're all in the resume. I think that works as long as it's brief. But anon 2L above, I agree that it's really hard to know how to pitch your letter exactly since different chambers do have different expectations. And I don't mean to suggest there's anything wrong with your letter.

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Re: 2014-2015 Clerkship Application Thread - OP Updated 03/01/13

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:20 am

Flips88 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm just a 2L going through the process, but my own conclusion is that matching expected cover letter depth/quality to chambers' expectations is just a crapshoot. E.g., GT L Rev used to complain about long cover letters and said people should only include bare minimums + GPA/honors/etc; for chambers like his, it seems the cover letter is just a formality with your GPA stuck on it. Other clerks I've talked to have been very much in the camp of "Definitely explain a little why you want to clerk, and if you can, a little about why you want to clerk for Judge X." They actually care what you have to say beyond basic cogency + GPA/LR.

My guess is that the former approach is more pervasive among chambers for judges that are either (a) in a metropolitan, or (b) feeders/near feeder status. Personally, I've settled on a 2-sentence into paragraph with all the hard data, a 4-sentence 2nd paragraph on clerking, and a 2 sentence closer ("X, Y, and Z are attached."). Well within the one-page limit, and it's easy for them to skip the soft stuff if they want. (Current/former clerks feel free to tell me if this is a mistake so I can proceed to freak out and rewrite everything.)

You put your GPA in your cover letter?


Sort of; I included the academic honors from 1L.




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