Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

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Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:46 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm trying to figure out what range of clerkships I'm competitive for. I'm a 2L at HLS. I was right at median after 1L. Grades went up last semester (over 4.0), but I have no idea where that puts my class rank, and I understand that some judges focus on 1L grades anyway.

I'll have 2 good rec letters from professors I've worked with. The 3rd letter might have to be more generic. I'm on a secondary journal, and I should have a good academic writing sample by the time I apply.

Any advice?

Thanks

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi everyone,

I'm trying to figure out what range of clerkships I'm competitive for. I'm a 2L at HLS. I was right at median after 1L. Grades went up last semester (over 4.0), but I have no idea where that puts my class rank, and I understand that some judges focus on 1L grades anyway.

I'll have 2 good rec letters from professors I've worked with. The 3rd letter might have to be more generic. I'm on a secondary journal, and I should have a good academic writing sample by the time I apply.

Any advice?

Thanks


Hey there. I'm also a 2L at HLS. I think I can help if you could share your grades.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hi everyone,

I'm trying to figure out what range of clerkships I'm competitive for. I'm a 2L at HLS. I was right at median after 1L. Grades went up last semester (over 4.0), but I have no idea where that puts my class rank, and I understand that some judges focus on 1L grades anyway.

I'll have 2 good rec letters from professors I've worked with. The 3rd letter might have to be more generic. I'm on a secondary journal, and I should have a good academic writing sample by the time I apply.

Any advice?

Thanks


Hey there. I'm also a 2L at HLS. I think I can help if you could share your grades.


Cool, thanks. I have 4 H, 2 DS, and 7 P. The 2L classes were all legit subjects / curved.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hi everyone,

I'm trying to figure out what range of clerkships I'm competitive for. I'm a 2L at HLS. I was right at median after 1L. Grades went up last semester (over 4.0), but I have no idea where that puts my class rank, and I understand that some judges focus on 1L grades anyway.

I'll have 2 good rec letters from professors I've worked with. The 3rd letter might have to be more generic. I'm on a secondary journal, and I should have a good academic writing sample by the time I apply.

Any advice?

Thanks


Hey there. I'm also a 2L at HLS. I think I can help if you could share your grades.


Cool, thanks. I have 4 H, 2 DS, and 7 P. The 2L classes were all legit subjects / curved.


Nice job. So I think you're at about a 3.62 "GPA." I think that puts you in line for cum laude but not magna cum laude. Cum Laude is top 1/3 or so, right? I think I would probably focus on district court clerkships in that case but maybe apply to some CoA judges where you have ties or might be slightly less selective.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hi everyone,

I'm trying to figure out what range of clerkships I'm competitive for. I'm a 2L at HLS. I was right at median after 1L. Grades went up last semester (over 4.0), but I have no idea where that puts my class rank, and I understand that some judges focus on 1L grades anyway.

I'll have 2 good rec letters from professors I've worked with. The 3rd letter might have to be more generic. I'm on a secondary journal, and I should have a good academic writing sample by the time I apply.

Any advice?

Thanks


Hey there. I'm also a 2L at HLS. I think I can help if you could share your grades.


Cool, thanks. I have 4 H, 2 DS, and 7 P. The 2L classes were all legit subjects / curved.


Nice job. So I think you're at about a 3.62 "GPA." I think that puts you in line for cum laude but not magna cum laude. Cum Laude is top 1/3 or so, right? I think I would probably focus on district court clerkships in that case but maybe apply to some CoA judges where you have ties or might be slightly less selective.

Great, thanks.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:51 pm

Also a 2L at HLS. 9 Hs, 5 Ps. Recs aren't from tenured profs though. Thoughts?

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Also a 2L at HLS. 9 Hs, 5 Ps. Recs aren't from tenured profs though. Thoughts?


Congrats on good grades. You're at about 3.64. I would probably give the same advice. Apply mainly to district courts but also apply to some courts of appeal in areas where you have ties or that might not be as grade selective.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:23 am

Just to echo what others have said, I think your grades put you around the top 30-35% at HLS. That's probably just on the wrong side of the USDC-COA cutoff. But it's certainly close enough that you'll have a fighting chance at an appellate clerkship. I'd actually be surprised if you didn't get an intervew. But maybe not three, and definitely not the four that you generally need to feel like you're a safe bet. But you probably can pick your district.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:32 am

theaccidentalclerk wrote:Just to echo what others have said, I think your grades put you around the top 30-35% at HLS. That's probably just on the wrong side of the USDC-COA cutoff. But it's certainly close enough that you'll have a fighting chance at an appellate clerkship. I'd actually be surprised if you didn't get an intervew. But maybe not three, and definitely not the four that you generally need to feel like you're a safe bet. But you probably can pick your district.

Good advice, thanks. I didn't realize my class rank was that high. I'm from a flyover area that happens to have a few COA judges, so I'll try for there + blanket district courts.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:50 am

So if I'm HLS 2L with a "GPA" of ~3.56 rounded, I assume you would think focus on district courts as well with an outside chance at non-2nd/9th/DC Circuit. Outside of SDNY, what about chances at other "competitive" markets like EDVA, DDC, NDIL, EDPA?

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:29 pm

So if I'm HLS 2L with a "GPA" of ~3.56 rounded, I assume you would think focus on district courts as well with an outside chance at non-2nd/9th/DC Circuit. Outside of SDNY, what about chances at other "competitive" markets like EDVA, DDC, NDIL, EDPA?


I think you're in the same boat as the other HLSers. Good-but-not-great grades that put you above the cum laude threshold but nowhere near the magna threshold. You should be competitive for most USDCs, and have an outside shot at a COA clerkship. (I'd probably put the O/U at 1.5 interviews.) The main problem that you'll run into in some districts is that so many judges are alum-only or alum-strongly-preferred. So if you're dead set on clerking in one of the heavy-hitter districts (the ones you mentioned, plus CD Cal and ND Cal), it wouldn't be the worst idea to apply as an alum out of a big firm job. But honestly, you're probably going to be successful either way.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi everyone,

I'm trying to figure out what range of clerkships I'm competitive for. I'm a 2L at HLS. I was right at median after 1L. Grades went up last semester (over 4.0), but I have no idea where that puts my class rank, and I understand that some judges focus on 1L grades anyway.

Anonymous User wrote:Nice job. So I think you're at about a 3.62 "GPA." I think that puts you in line for cum laude but not magna cum laude. Cum Laude is top 1/3 or so, right? I think I would probably focus on district court clerkships in that case but maybe apply to some CoA judges where you have ties or might be slightly less selective.

theaccidentalclerk wrote:Just to echo what others have said, I think your grades put you around the top 30-35% at HLS. That's probably just on the wrong side of the USDC-COA cutoff. But it's certainly close enough that you'll have a fighting chance at an appellate clerkship. I'd actually be surprised if you didn't get an intervew. But maybe not three, and definitely not the four that you generally need to feel like you're a safe bet. But you probably can pick your district.

I don't have any basis to doubt these assessments of what's median, what the honors cut-offs are, etc., at HLS, but I'm just sort of curious how you guys know it. Does it come from inferences you can draw from the alleged distribution of grades? (I say "alleged" because I've always wondered if HLS really requires profs to stick to a curve.) Is some of it based on actual knowledge of people's grades? Given the clerkship process, I just really wish it was easier to know where one's HLS grades put one within the class. Any more info that people have gleaned and are willing to share would be much appreciated.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hi everyone,

I'm trying to figure out what range of clerkships I'm competitive for. I'm a 2L at HLS. I was right at median after 1L. Grades went up last semester (over 4.0), but I have no idea where that puts my class rank, and I understand that some judges focus on 1L grades anyway.

Anonymous User wrote:Nice job. So I think you're at about a 3.62 "GPA." I think that puts you in line for cum laude but not magna cum laude. Cum Laude is top 1/3 or so, right? I think I would probably focus on district court clerkships in that case but maybe apply to some CoA judges where you have ties or might be slightly less selective.

theaccidentalclerk wrote:Just to echo what others have said, I think your grades put you around the top 30-35% at HLS. That's probably just on the wrong side of the USDC-COA cutoff. But it's certainly close enough that you'll have a fighting chance at an appellate clerkship. I'd actually be surprised if you didn't get an intervew. But maybe not three, and definitely not the four that you generally need to feel like you're a safe bet. But you probably can pick your district.

I don't have any basis to doubt these assessments of what's median, what the honors cut-offs are, etc., at HLS, but I'm just sort of curious how you guys know it. Does it come from inferences you can draw from the alleged distribution of grades? (I say "alleged" because I've always wondered if HLS really requires profs to stick to a curve.) Is some of it based on actual knowledge of people's grades? Given the clerkship process, I just really wish it was easier to know where one's HLS grades put one within the class. Any more info that people have gleaned and are willing to share would be much appreciated.

1L median being 3H or 4H is pretty well accepted. I had 2H, 1DS, so I figured I'm right there. I don't know how people are guessing for upperclassmen, but the cutoff for cum laude in past years has been 3.5 to 3.6 at graduation, so that's right around top 40%. Keep in mind that each year counts equally in your GPA regardless of how many credits.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby ClerkAdvisor » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:26 am

Anonymous User wrote:So if I'm HLS 2L with a "GPA" of ~3.56 rounded, I assume you would think focus on district courts as well with an outside chance at non-2nd/9th/DC Circuit. Outside of SDNY, what about chances at other "competitive" markets like EDVA, DDC, NDIL, EDPA?


I think that, depending on the judge, those districts might be a bit of a stretch, unless you apply as an alum.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:46 pm

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Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:18 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:51 pm

Each semester is averaged on its own - the way you're doing it now, you're double-counting your fall semester.

And GPA on its own isn't very helpful without knowing where that puts you in your class (but I suspect from HLS you're pretty competitive).

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:57 pm

^^ Thanks I edited my post to reflect the right GPA. I'm not sure where I am in the class if any HLSers can weigh in. Does anyone know what kind of class rank district judges in the South are willing to look at for interviews? I know I'm above median now, but not sure how far above

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Re: Should I focus on District Courts or COAs?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 01, 2015 7:57 pm

Outside of SDNY, what about chances at other "competitive" markets like EDVA, DDC, NDIL, EDPA?


Are you talking about 2017? I ask because these districts are almost all full for 2016.

Anonymous User wrote:^^ Thanks I edited my post to reflect the right GPA. I'm not sure where I am in the class if any HLSers can weigh in. Does anyone know what kind of class rank district judges in the South are willing to look at for interviews? I know I'm above median now, but not sure how far above


I'm also an HLS 2L and also applied mostly to districts in the South (warning: blind leading blind).

My (anecdotal) experience so far: In most cases, your grades won't help or hurt you. You're from HLS, so many judges (especially those in the South because they see very few HYS applicants) will assume you're smart. On my end, I applied with 7H/3P and didn't get any interviews. I strongly suspect it was because my recs were all from faculty, none of whom had any connections to the judges to which I applied. Even when one prof made calls, the reaction was (relayed to me as being) very meh because the judges had no idea who was calling.

Takeaway: finding connections to judges will probably be more important than grades. If you can get your foot in the door for an interview you're in pretty good shape (which is not to say that you'll definitely get an offer, but rather that the conversation rate from Interview--> Offer is seemingly much higher than the rate from App --> Interview).

I will also note that I've heard some that certain districts/judges in popular areas, like NDGA and SFLA, are sometimes reputed to be more grade sensitive than say DSC, but I can't speak intelligently to details. In any case it would make sense that popular places to live would be more competitive.




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