Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Seek and share information about clerkship applications, clerkship hiring timelines, and post-clerkship employment opportunities.
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are sharing sensitive information about clerkship applications and clerkship hiring. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned."
theaccidentalclerk
Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:29 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:45 pm

From what you've seen, how quickly is the turnaround from interview to offer for judges (on average)? I interviewed with a judge about a week and a half ago and haven't heard anything back yet. I'm assuming the worst, because I know he interviewed at least three other people.


No way to generalize. Some judges hire on the spot, some hire immediately after all of the interviews are done (either same day or the next morning), and some wait a week or two to think it over. I think that it's probably safe to say that your chances are decreasing the longer it is before you hear, but I wouldn't give up hope just yet. My judge, for example, didn't call me with the offer until a little over two weeks after the interview.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273386
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:56 pm

theaccidentalclerk wrote:
From what you've seen, how quickly is the turnaround from interview to offer for judges (on average)? I interviewed with a judge about a week and a half ago and haven't heard anything back yet. I'm assuming the worst, because I know he interviewed at least three other people.


No way to generalize. Some judges hire on the spot, some hire immediately after all of the interviews are done (either same day or the next morning), and some wait a week or two to think it over. I think that it's probably safe to say that your chances are decreasing the longer it is before you hear, but I wouldn't give up hope just yet. My judge, for example, didn't call me with the offer until a little over two weeks after the interview.


Mine called two months after interview. Don'tose hope.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273386
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:02 am

I am currently a 1L and have been offered a district court summer internship. Does this really increase 1) my chances at a clerkship post grad., and 2) my longer term career prospects. I guess the jist of my question is whether or not I should take the unpaid summer clerkship with the Judge or a paid firm job. I'm a non-traditional student with a diverse background at a T2 school. Thanks for all your input.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273386
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:28 am

wow, thanks for offering all this advice.

my question is about when to clerk for a jd/phd student. specifically, say i finish my JD and the go back to school for another 3 years to write a dissertation/finish a ph.d, will that hurt my application? do i need to stay in the 'law world' in order to maintain credibility? what is your impression of how judges view academia generally in terms of hiring a clerk?

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22846
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:wow, thanks for offering all this advice.

my question is about when to clerk for a jd/phd student. specifically, say i finish my JD and the go back to school for another 3 years to write a dissertation/finish a ph.d, will that hurt my application? do i need to stay in the 'law world' in order to maintain credibility? what is your impression of how judges view academia generally in terms of hiring a clerk?

I only have an anecdote: I have a Ph.D., and I think it helped me get clerkships beyond my grades. However, I went Ph.D. --> J.D., so not quite the same. Honestly, I think it's hard to speak about how judges "generally" view something like this - based on my experience, it's going to vary a lot by judges (and possibly by level of court. This is speculation, but it seems to me COAs might be more welcoming of someone coming out of a Ph.D. program and hence clearly currently heading for academia than district courts, which are pretty fast-paced and pragmatic - things academics [including this former academic!] are not noted for being. :wink: But I don't have experience on federal COA, so again, speculation. I'll be really interested to see how others respond).

Anonymous User
Posts: 273386
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:08 am

Thank you for all the helpful information and advice.

Did you let your firm know you were looking for a clerkship or did you wait and tell them after you secured one? I did not get a clerkship this cycle and am hoping to clerk after a year or two with my firm, but I also don't want to place myself in a situation where I get less favorable assignments because I might be leaving for a clerkship. And to my knowledge my office isn't quite as flexible as yours is. We are a big firm, but I will be in a small office with a big firm.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273386
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:51 pm

Current district court clerk who was at a major firm prior to the clerkship here.

What's the point in telling your firm that you're looking to apply? I don't see the upside. And if you know any of the practicing attorneys well enough to ask them to write you a recommendation, chances are such recommenders would not "rat" on you by telling management or HR. Moreover, my firm knew I was leaving for my clerkship within a relatively short time from my start date. It was never brought up, nor did I see any difference in the type or quality of the work that was assigned to me based on this fact.

User avatar
jrsbaseball5
Posts: 290
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:41 pm

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby jrsbaseball5 » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:55 pm

Without getting too specific for your own sake, what was the most interesting or exciting thing about your work?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273386
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:I am currently a 1L and have been offered a district court summer internship. Does this really increase 1) my chances at a clerkship post grad., and 2) my longer term career prospects. I guess the jist of my question is whether or not I should take the unpaid summer clerkship with the Judge or a paid firm job. I'm a non-traditional student with a diverse background at a T2 school. Thanks for all your input.


It can certainly help. I was a District Court intern 1L summer and am clerking for another judge in the same courthouse. The networking definitely helped me. However, my stats were also very competitive to begin with. I don't think it can make up for being really under-qualified. If you have really good grades and really want to clerk in the district you were offered it might not be a bad idea. But I think the chances of it being a huge help are probably small, and you are probably better off taking the paid firm job.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22846
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am currently a 1L and have been offered a district court summer internship. Does this really increase 1) my chances at a clerkship post grad., and 2) my longer term career prospects. I guess the jist of my question is whether or not I should take the unpaid summer clerkship with the Judge or a paid firm job. I'm a non-traditional student with a diverse background at a T2 school. Thanks for all your input.


It can certainly help. I was a District Court intern 1L summer and am clerking for another judge in the same courthouse. The networking definitely helped me. However, my stats were also very competitive to begin with. I don't think it can make up for being really under-qualified. If you have really good grades and really want to clerk in the district you were offered it might not be a bad idea. But I think the chances of it being a huge help are probably small, and you are probably better off taking the paid firm job.

I agree with this, that interning can be helpful if you're already competitive. To be honest, at a T2 school, I think it will probably help less with federal judges than it might if you were T-14 (I'm not - lower T1). I say this because tons of my classmates have had internships with the local federal judges but it doesn't raise our federal clerkship success rate appreciably - we generally have a few, but not many federal clerks, and the judges we intern with happily hire people from fancy schools (though usually with local ties) over us. However, I do think that interning for state judges (in my state at least) is helpful, because my school's students are very competitive for state clerkships and there, the interning helps build more useful connections. So you might want to think about where students from your school are already competitive for clerkships, if that makes any sense.

I think interning is good experience, mind you, but I wouldn't take it over a paid job. I don't think it would have any effect on your long-term career prospects (aside from whatever marginal effect it may have in helping land a clerkship). Plus, people can usually intern during the school year (and there's often less competition because it's only local students, rather than students all over the country heading somewhere for the summer. Though that depends on how many local schools are in your market).

DreamingInDigital
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:08 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby DreamingInDigital » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:I am currently a 1L and have been offered a district court summer internship. Does this really increase 1) my chances at a clerkship post grad., and 2) my longer term career prospects. I guess the jist of my question is whether or not I should take the unpaid summer clerkship with the Judge or a paid firm job. I'm a non-traditional student with a diverse background at a T2 school. Thanks for all your input.


I know of at least two district court judges who won't hire (their own) former interns/externs as clerks. Still, like another poster said, the networking opportunities are good. If you're in a busy district, you can meet a lot of judges and their clerks.

clerker
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:58 pm

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby clerker » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am currently a 1L and have been offered a district court summer internship. Does this really increase 1) my chances at a clerkship post grad., and 2) my longer term career prospects. I guess the jist of my question is whether or not I should take the unpaid summer clerkship with the Judge or a paid firm job. I'm a non-traditional student with a diverse background at a T2 school. Thanks for all your input.


It may increase your chances for a clerkship in the future, but probably not by as much as you think. At lower ranked schools, many, many students do these externships, so having the experience on your resume won't distinguish you from the rest of the pack. What will distinguish you is if you are top 2-3%, are on law review AND you have a strong recommendation from the judge you externed for. That would set you apart from the other top 2-3% LR candidates. So on the whole, it's a small difference.

That being said, I think it's a great opportunity. Doing well enough at a T2 school to land a federal clerkship is very difficult, and this may be your only chance to see how the federal courts work from the inside. You'll make connections (not only with the judge, but with the clerks, other externs, and anyone in the courthouse) and you'll see the process by which opinions are created. It's a great learning experience and you will benefit from it tremendously if you put a lot of effort in.

Edit: Just saw that you said you have a paid firm job offer. Is it a big law firm or is it a firm that does the kind of work you know you want to do in the future? If so, it might be better to take that job. But if it's some random small firm that pays very little, and you want to take it just to get "experience" I would go with the judicial externship.
Last edited by clerker on Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

clerker
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:58 pm

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby clerker » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thank you for all the helpful information and advice.

Did you let your firm know you were looking for a clerkship or did you wait and tell them after you secured one? I did not get a clerkship this cycle and am hoping to clerk after a year or two with my firm, but I also don't want to place myself in a situation where I get less favorable assignments because I might be leaving for a clerkship. And to my knowledge my office isn't quite as flexible as yours is. We are a big firm, but I will be in a small office with a big firm.


I didn't tell them until I secured one. No sense in telling them anything until you have something locked down, and even then, it might be best to wait until it's almost time to go. You really never know what your seniors think about you leaving to go clerk, and you lose very little by not telling them.

DreamingInDigital
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:08 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby DreamingInDigital » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:19 pm

clerker wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thank you for all the helpful information and advice.

Did you let your firm know you were looking for a clerkship or did you wait and tell them after you secured one? I did not get a clerkship this cycle and am hoping to clerk after a year or two with my firm, but I also don't want to place myself in a situation where I get less favorable assignments because I might be leaving for a clerkship. And to my knowledge my office isn't quite as flexible as yours is. We are a big firm, but I will be in a small office with a big firm.


I didn't tell them until I secured one. No sense in telling them anything until you have something locked down, and even then, it might be best to wait until it's almost time to go. You really never know what your seniors think about you leaving to go clerk, and you lose very little by not telling them.


I agree with this analysis completely. There's no upside to telling your firm that you're applying.

clerker
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:58 pm

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby clerker » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:26 pm

DreamingInDigital wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am currently a 1L and have been offered a district court summer internship. Does this really increase 1) my chances at a clerkship post grad., and 2) my longer term career prospects. I guess the jist of my question is whether or not I should take the unpaid summer clerkship with the Judge or a paid firm job. I'm a non-traditional student with a diverse background at a T2 school. Thanks for all your input.


I know of at least two district court judges who won't hire (their own) former interns/externs as clerks. Still, like another poster said, the networking opportunities are good. If you're in a busy district, you can meet a lot of judges and their clerks.


I agree that this is true in general. I was told that the reason is because judges like to use the extern pool to bring in diverse candidates, students who are uncertain about whether they want to do litigation, or other folks who aren't the standard clerk types. They want to be able to be flexible in hiring. However, if word gets out that externships are a great way to back-door your way into a clerkship, then the extern applicant pool will be filled with candidates similar to the vanilla clerk types.

That being said, I think once in a while you do run into a judge who will hire a former extern. I've heard of at least one judge who does this. But it's pretty rare.

clerker
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:58 pm

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby clerker » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:40 pm

jrsbaseball5 wrote:Without getting too specific for your own sake, what was the most interesting or exciting thing about your work?


The most interesting aspect of my job was that I was able to see a ton of different types of cases. For example, I'd had no exposure to civil rights litigation in law school or at my firm, but I saw tons of these cases as a clerk. And during my entire clerkship, I worked on employment, securities, class actions, breach of contract, and tons of other different types of cases. As an attorney you will have the rest of your career to specialize, but in the beginning, it helps to see different types of cases so you have some idea of what else is out there.

I think law students at top schools benefit the most from this. If you read the forums, you will see the same law firms again and again. When people ask about exit options, the answer is usually "go AUSA or a small firm." But beyond that, nobody can provide specifics. As a clerk, you can see all the different types of practices out there. And you get a very good sense of which firms and attorneys are respected by the judges and clerks, and which ones are not.

The other interesting aspect of clerking that doesn't get discussed very much (although I did see one poster mention this) is that you learn more about yourself than you would as a practitioner. As a law clerk you have some influence (not a ton, but it's not insignificant) with the judge. My judge liked to ask me at the beginning of our opinion meetings, "So, what do you think?" Although he didn't always go with my recommendation, there were times when he was on the fence and I brought a perspective he didn't see exactly.

With this kind of freedom and influence, you quickly see patterns with how you recommend results. Most of the time, there is no clear cut right or wrong legal answer (or, both results are legally defensible). When that happens, how you weigh the factors and what you recommend to the judge tells you a lot about what kind of lawyer you will be. For example, I found myself frequently siding with the little guy when they went up against a formidable defendant. That's been incredibly informative to me about what type of attorney I want to be in the future, and who I want to represent.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273386
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:42 pm

re: telling your firm you're applying

I agree that it's probably generally not necessary, but don't take this to mean you should never do it. For example, I was applying on a rolling basis to a lot of newly confirmed judges. These judges would most likely be looking to hire someone to start immediately. I had one interview where the judge was looking for someone to start 9 days from the day I interviewed. If you're staffed on cases where you have any sort of responsibility, it could look really, really bad to give such short notice that you're leaving to clerk. You're inconveniencing everyone else on the case (or the new person who gets suddenly pulled onto the case). That's a good way to burn bridges and get a reputation as being unreliable or even dishonest. This is also true if you need to keep people posted on your availability to travel/your other deadlines/etc. There's no way to really do those things honestly and still hide the fact you're looking to leave to clerk on fairly short notice.

I also found that every judge asked me if my firm was OK with me leaving so quickly. While I was able to answer that they were, because I told them about my plans, I got the feeling it wouldn't have gone over as well if I said I hadn't told anyone yet.

Now if you're applying for a clerkship that's going to start in a year, or even in a few months, there's no need to tell them, since you'll be hired and have plenty of time to give notice.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273386
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:59 pm

Did you write a personal statement? Is that a thing?

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22846
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Did you write a personal statement? Is that a thing?

For a clerkship application? If so, no, it's not a thing. (If not, my apologies for not knowing what you're referring to.)

arizonairish
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:21 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby arizonairish » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:55 pm

If you want to do corporate, is their any reason to shoot for a District Court Clerkship?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273386
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:49 pm

Writing sample question:

I'm solely interested in D. Ct. clerkships and am struggling to choose my two writing samples. I have two excellent writing samples from my 1L legal practice course that are well-suited to a trial court (a memo assessing the merits of a criminal case and an opposition to summary judgment), however I am concerned that judges want to see writing from summer jobs, internships, etc. now that I'm well into 2L. I have worked on immigration petitions, memos, and a complaint submitted to a fedgov agency for my internship, but for various reasons I either can't use those writing samples (too client-sensitive or substantially edited/co-written by a partner) or don't think they would be effective (very fact-intensive without much legal analysis; too idiosyncratic).

Is a judge/clerk going to scoff at my application if I include two 1L writing samples? My other alternatives would be to beef up a 10-12 page section of my (unpublished) note that includes a decent amount of legal analysis, or to edit an informal memo from my summer job which was comprehensive but answered a pretty obtuse question of statutory interpretation.

Thoughts? Thanks for your input.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273386
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:31 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Writing sample question:

I'm solely interested in D. Ct. clerkships and am struggling to choose my two writing samples. I have two excellent writing samples from my 1L legal practice course that are well-suited to a trial court (a memo assessing the merits of a criminal case and an opposition to summary judgment), however I am concerned that judges want to see writing from summer jobs, internships, etc. now that I'm well into 2L. I have worked on immigration petitions, memos, and a complaint submitted to a fedgov agency for my internship, but for various reasons I either can't use those writing samples (too client-sensitive or substantially edited/co-written by a partner) or don't think they would be effective (very fact-intensive without much legal analysis; too idiosyncratic).

Is a judge/clerk going to scoff at my application if I include two 1L writing samples? My other alternatives would be to beef up a 10-12 page section of my (unpublished) note that includes a decent amount of legal analysis, or to edit an informal memo from my summer job which was comprehensive but answered a pretty obtuse question of statutory interpretation.

Thoughts? Thanks for your input.

I don't think writing samples being from 1L is a problem - you want to use the best samples you have, regardless of where/when they're from. And a lot of student jobs don't let you use written material (I tried to get a memo I wrote for the USAO to use as a sample and all the security stuff was such a nightmare that it never happened). However, I could see using one 1L sample and then the note, to give samples of two kinds of writing - practical and more scholarly. As long as the samples are good, I don't think a judge would scoff at a 1L sample (especially if you're applying now, before even having worked your 2L summer. It would be different if you were 3L/alum. If you end up applying later to on-plan judges, you could always add something more recent).


I hoped as much. Thanks for your input.

cryingashley
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:53 pm

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby cryingashley » Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:08 pm

Hi!

I know this thread is super old but thought I would try my luck at asking a couple of questions here. I am trying to gauge what my chances might be at getting a federal district court clerkship or a state supreme court clerkship with my stats (HYS, URM, top 50% grades, secondary journal). I have 3 years of post law school experience at a federal agency in DC (legal honors but not DOJ, no litigation) and plan on spending at least the next couple of years in an OIG office at another federal agency in DC. I'd like to transition to an AG office eventually but with no lit experience (even after the OIG stint unless I can get a detail at DOJ), I wonder if a clerkship may be necessary. If I were to leave the DC area, the market I would consider would be MA, western MA, among a few others. I think I am pretty strong writer, but worry about my very avg grades not really having relationships with professors, and in any case, having left law school long enough ago that they would not remember me.

Any thoughts from former clerks? Should I give up before even trying?

User avatar
ndirish2010
Posts: 2950
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:41 pm

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby ndirish2010 » Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:33 pm

cryingashley wrote:Hi!

I know this thread is super old but thought I would try my luck at asking a couple of questions here. I am trying to gauge what my chances might be at getting a federal district court clerkship or a state supreme court clerkship with my stats (HYS, URM, top 50% grades, secondary journal). I have 3 years of post law school experience at a federal agency in DC (legal honors but not DOJ, no litigation) and plan on spending at least the next couple of years in an OIG office at another federal agency in DC. I'd like to transition to an AG office eventually but with no lit experience (even after the OIG stint unless I can get a detail at DOJ), I wonder if a clerkship may be necessary. If I were to leave the DC area, the market I would consider would be MA, western MA, among a few others. I think I am pretty strong writer, but worry about my very avg grades not really having relationships with professors, and in any case, having left law school long enough ago that they would not remember me.

Any thoughts from former clerks? Should I give up before even trying?


It seems pretty unlikely with median grades from H (if Y or S, that's different), especially if you're limited to DDC and D. Mass. Do you have people from your current job that could provide recommendations re: your writing skills? If not, you might have some difficulty finding recommenders that would give a judge useful feedback on your potential as a clerk.

I don't really know how the URM thing plays out, but that's been debated on other threads.

User avatar
BearState
Posts: 239
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:37 pm

Re: Former District Court Clerk - taking questions

Postby BearState » Tue Aug 04, 2015 4:35 pm

About to start a dist. clerkship in a week. Any last minute advice/things you wish you knew when you started?




Return to “Judicial Clerkships”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.