Am I Competitive?? If So, When/Where to Apply?

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Am I Competitive?? If So, When/Where to Apply?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:24 am

I'd ideally like to do an appellate clerkship but I don't know how competitive I am for those (I have the impression you need to be solidly top 5%, which I presently am not). Basically, I'd really appreciate any sense of which, if any, circuits/districts I'm competitive for and when they start taking applications. I know a lot of COA spots are off-plan, but I have no clue when off-plan applications/hiring actually commence. I also know DC Circuit and feeder judges are no-go.

-Top 10% at one of the MVPB range. Closer to the bottom of the range than the top, although obviously that might change by the end of this year.
-LR position, but not EIC or any of the other big, important positions.
-One publication in a secondary journal (might have another by middle of 3L).
-One strong recommendation who might make some calls, but am at a loss for the other two...I could ask professors whose classes I've done well in (and who know me, though not very well). I am making a conscious effort to cultivate some stronger relationships this semester, thought that probably won't help much if I need to apply before late May/early June.
-A couple 'book' awards.
-Summering at a non-V10 big firm. 1L summer was with a D. Ct., but I don't think the judge will do a recommendation/reference (just chambers policy, or at least it was for on campus interviewing).

If I apply before the end of this semester, I'll probably be using lower quality recommendations than I'll hopefully have by the end of the semester. Any info/advice/suggestions is much appreciated!

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ndirish2010
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Re: Am I Competitive?? If So, When/Where to Apply?

Postby ndirish2010 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:45 am

You should be competitive for non DC/2/7/9 Circuits and all but the most competitive districts (SDNY/CDCA/EDVA/DDC/EDNY, etc). I wouldn't even rule out some of those (some of the NYC district judges may be impressed by your firm). At least this is my impression. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

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Re: Am I Competitive?? If So, When/Where to Apply?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:42 pm

ndirish2010 wrote:You should be competitive for non DC/2/7/9 Circuits and all but the most competitive districts (SDNY/CDCA/EDVA/DDC/EDNY, etc). I wouldn't even rule out some of those (some of the NYC district judges may be impressed by your firm). At least this is my impression. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.


I'd say competitive everywhere, including 2/7/9 Circuits (maybe not DC) and the competitive districts, but not for feeder judges. Also, they won't care about the summer firm. Grades, recs, connections, maybe writing sample, will be the factors.

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Re: Am I Competitive?? If So, When/Where to Apply?

Postby ClerkAdvisor » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
ndirish2010 wrote:You should be competitive for non DC/2/7/9 Circuits and all but the most competitive districts (SDNY/CDCA/EDVA/DDC/EDNY, etc). I wouldn't even rule out some of those (some of the NYC district judges may be impressed by your firm). At least this is my impression. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.


I'd say competitive everywhere, including 2/7/9 Circuits (maybe not DC) and the competitive districts, but not for feeder judges. Also, they won't care about the summer firm. Grades, recs, connections, maybe writing sample, will be the factors.


I'm going to disagree a bit here.

I would say:

COA - you will be somewhat competitive with non-urban, non-feeder judges. Any coastal city/major city COA judge will probably be much less likely. I eschew the random 2/9/DC etc. moniker because its just not all that accurate. E.g., outside of the major Chicago judges, the 7th Circuit is no better than any other circuit and judges in a major city (e.g., Houston or Denver) will be much more selective than upstate NY judges. It's been said many times around here, but most people care far more about the reputation of a judge than a circuit.

District - here too, I think the most competitive districts (e.g., Midatlantic and CA coastal) will be difficult. You should still apply, but many of those judges are able to hire: alums, higher ranked law students, and top of the class students from the local schools.

So, my recommendation is this: if you apply broadly, then you'll have pretty decent shots of landing something. But, unless you apply everywhere and have faculty go to bat for you, there's a decent chance that things won't pan out. I don't say that to discourage you, but to just keep it realistic -- I've known people with better stats strikeout and I've known people with worse stats that have gotten great COA clerkships.

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Re: Am I Competitive?? If So, When/Where to Apply?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:15 pm

The above anon is being overly optimistic in this atmosphere. Top 10% at that tier is a stretch to be competitive on 2/9/DC. You are competitive at other circuits (excepting feeders) and SDNY/etc. and better than 50/50 for a competitive district.

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Re: Am I Competitive?? If So, When/Where to Apply?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:28 pm

ClerkAdvisor wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ndirish2010 wrote:You should be competitive for non DC/2/7/9 Circuits and all but the most competitive districts (SDNY/CDCA/EDVA/DDC/EDNY, etc). I wouldn't even rule out some of those (some of the NYC district judges may be impressed by your firm). At least this is my impression. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.


I'd say competitive everywhere, including 2/7/9 Circuits (maybe not DC) and the competitive districts, but not for feeder judges. Also, they won't care about the summer firm. Grades, recs, connections, maybe writing sample, will be the factors.


I'm going to disagree a bit here.

I would say:

COA - you will be somewhat competitive with non-urban, non-feeder judges. Any coastal city/major city COA judge will probably be much less likely. I eschew the random 2/9/DC etc. moniker because its just not all that accurate. E.g., outside of the major Chicago judges, the 7th Circuit is no better than any other circuit and judges in a major city (e.g., Houston or Denver) will be much more selective than upstate NY judges. It's been said many times around here, but most people care far more about the reputation of a judge than a circuit.

District - here too, I think the most competitive districts (e.g., Midatlantic and CA coastal) will be difficult. You should still apply, but many of those judges are able to hire: alums, higher ranked law students, and top of the class students from the local schools.

So, my recommendation is this: if you apply broadly, then you'll have pretty decent shots of landing something. But, unless you apply everywhere and have faculty go to bat for you, there's a decent chance that things won't pan out. I don't say that to discourage you, but to just keep it realistic -- I've known people with better stats strikeout and I've known people with worse stats that have gotten great COA clerkships.


Original Anon from quote. I don't think we're disagreeing, and I've bolded the last part of your sentence to show that. I merely suggested that the OP is "competitive" for these positions. Not that he's a shoe-in, but that other than maybe DC Cir, he should have at least a chance of consideration for a spot anywhere else as is evidenced by people with similar stats landing those clerkships. Again, it will come down to connections and recommendations, but with the stats alone he should be "competitive."

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Re: Am I Competitive?? If So, When/Where to Apply?

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:56 pm

I'm going to stake out a middle position and say that whether or not the OP is competitive (say more than 33% chance) at a COA clerkship depends on whether s/he is closer to the 5% mark or the 10% mark.

In any event, my general rule of thumb is to look at the percentage of the class that clerks for an AIII judge. If you're above that, you've got a 75%+ chance. If you are outside 2x that, you have a less than 25% chance (and probably much less -- it's not a normal distribution). Within that range, and it depends on where you are -- with 1.5x being roughly 50-50.

ETA: Forgot to add -- I would look at COA chances the same way. My guess is that it probably shakes out to top 5% is good, outside of top 10% is bad, and around 7-8% is where the 50-50 mark is.




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