Clerkship chances (district court)

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Clerkship chances (district court)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:45 am

I'm at about top ten percent at MVP... some interesting things on my resume, but nothing published. I'd like to do a district court clerkship.

I have good relationships with a few very well connected professors who I think are pretty much my only hope in getting a clerkship. I'm curious if I should just wait it out and continue to develop the relationship I have with the professor who I am currently working for, in the hopes that he'll be more likely to make calls later down the road, or if I should just get a recommendation now (which I am sure I can) and start the application process earlier. It doesn't seem likely to me that many district court judges (at least those who I would be competitive with) would be hiring now, but you never know. Any thoughts?

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Re: Clerkship chances (district court)

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:35 am

As I said on another thread, right at the top 10% mark at MVP makes you competitive in most districts (though maybe not the most competitive ones), BUT you're going to have a problem getting your resume in front of the judge.

Here's how it works in our chambers. About a year before a clerk's (or clerks') anticipated departure, judge decides he needs to hire. He posts on OSCAR. Applications roll in. The clerks take the first cut. Apps generally go into one of two piles. Most go into the reject pile. Some -- maybe a few dozen -- go into the judge review pile. Top 10% at MVP would probably go in the second pile.

But here's the thing. There are a handful (less than a dozen, probably like five or so) of applications that get flagged for high priority judge review. It can be exceptional academic/professional prowess -- really good grades from a top 5 school with a big name firm or an interesting post-law school job, like DOJ or a big city DA office. It could be slightly lesser credentials but with a call from one of judge's former clerks (I don't think judge puts much stock in professor calls, but I'm not 100% sure on that).

Most of the high priority people will get interviews. What then happens is that judge goes through the "judge review" pile to fill in the rest of the interview slots (usually around five per spot). How many of those people he decides to interview depends on how many of the high priority people there were. Could be seven (if he's hiring for two spots and there are three high priority people) or could be one (if he's only hiring for one spot and there are four). Whether you are chosen for one of those spots depends on the competition in the pile, and honestly, probably whether you are towards the top -- sort of like how it gets harder to get into a school as the application season progresses and spots get filled.

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