Effect of Bad Fed Courts Grade

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Anonymous User
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Effect of Bad Fed Courts Grade

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:54 pm

I'm a 3L doing a 1-year district court clerkship in 2013-2014. I've kicked around the idea of applying for COA clerkships in the spring/summer, and would be applying to about 3 Circuits, maybe 40-50 judges at the most. I ended up getting pwned hard by the fed courts curve and all of the gunners this past fall, and getting a B in the class. T14 school that curves to around a B+ on curved exam courses, so the B is clearly below median for the class. I still have a ~3.9 GPA and only have one other grade in law school that doesn't start with 'A'. I'm curious whether those who have vetted transcripts in chambers can comment on how heavily a bad grade in Fed Courts is weighed compared to the overall transcript.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Effect of Bad Fed Courts Grade

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:43 pm

2L with same grade on same relative curve, also interested.

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Effect of Bad Fed Courts Grade

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:12 pm

Each judge is going to be different, but I think that for the vast majority of them, a slightly-below-median Fed Courts grade won't be disqualifying.

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Re: Effect of Bad Fed Courts Grade

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:31 pm

Is it going to hurt more for competitive clerkships (e.g., N.D. Ill.) versus less competitive ones (D. Mont.)? I got a B+ and am wondering whether that pushes me more into the latter pool.

clerker
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Re: Effect of Bad Fed Courts Grade

Postby clerker » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is it going to hurt more for competitive clerkships (e.g., N.D. Ill.) versus less competitive ones (D. Mont.)? I got a B+ and am wondering whether that pushes me more into the latter pool.


The short answer is that it probably will hurt you. By how much depends on the hiring preferences of the specific judge, how the rest of your record looks, and whether that B+ reflects a trend or if it's an outlier.

If you're applying to a relatively less competitive clerkship, your competitors likely have weaker grades, went to worse schools, and so on. There, you lose just a little bit for the B. But if you're applying to a highly competitive clerkship, you're likely going up against those with near-perfect grades, law review, and good grades in federal courts.

However, some judges just don't care. Or even if they do, they might see that it's the only B in an otherwise flawless record. In that instance, it won't really make that big a difference.

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Effect of Bad Fed Courts Grade

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:13 pm

Is it going to hurt more for competitive clerkships (e.g., N.D. Ill.) versus less competitive ones (D. Mont.)? I got a B+ and am wondering whether that pushes me more into the latter pool.


I guess I'd probably answer you like this. Having a medianish (or even slightly below) Fed Courts grade could theoretically hurt you in one of two ways. First, there may be some judges out there who require a good grade in the subject as a sort of weeding out mechanism. Meaning that just like some judges go through the stack of applicants (note: not the judge personally, probably his clerks) and throw out anyone outside of the top 10% or without law review or whatever, some judges might go through and throw out anyone who didn't get an A or A-. Voila. They've just cut their stack in half (or my 2/3 or whatever). I don't think there are many of these judges, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were some out there.

Second, some judges might use a Fed Courts grade to distinguish between two very competitive candidates. Meaning you make it to the last half dozen or so resumes in contention for the four interview slots, and then you get dinged because although your 3.9 from NYU with law review e-board is just as impressive as her 3.9 from Columbia with the same, she got a better Fed Courts grade than you did. I'd suspect that there are far more of these out there than the ones who use Fed Courts as an absolute disqualifier.

So anyway, as for your question. My guess is that the former type of judge does not necessarily concentrate in the more competitive markets. I mean MAYBE you could tell a story where those judges get a ton more applications and are more likely to be forced to adopt the Fed Courts threshold, but I doubt it -- the fact is that everyone (at least other than the alum-only judges) is getting several hundred applications. I think that the latter scenario might be a little more likely to occur in a more competitive market because you're talking about a situation where there are more really, really qualified people than interview spots.

But in any event guys, don't freak out about this. I'd be surprised if there were more than a handful of the first type of judge (well, unless you mean the feeder-type judges that require you to have As in everything). And if you are in the position for the second scenario to occur, you're probably getting a clerkship in any event because you have a really strong resume.

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Re: Effect of Bad Fed Courts Grade

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:02 pm

OP here; thanks for the replies.




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