Clerking as a mid-level associate

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AttorneyEsq
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Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby AttorneyEsq » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:32 am

Has anyone heard of mid-level associates leaving to clerk? I'm talking about people 4-6 years out of law school by the time their clerkship starts. I got a call asking if I'd be interested in interviewing out of the blue (I applied a year or two ago) for a clerkship next year. By then, I'll be 5 years out. Is this too late? Will firms take you back after clerking as a mid level? Would it make it tough to go to a new firm with the timing and all? Just curious if anyone has seen people at their firms do this.

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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:24 am

I'm in a similar situation and will be starting a clerkship this fall. I know of at least two others who have done this, so it isn't completely unheard of. I too am curious about any specifics on post-clerkship job prospects under these circumstances.

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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:08 am

Current USDC clerk. I've been out even longer -- roughly a decade. I did it to try to move back to private practice after several years working for the [non-federal but well-regarded] government. I recently started to put out feelers for post-clerkship employment. The results have been a little mixed. On the one hand, headhunters just aren't interested. The couple who have talked to me seem pretty pessimistic -- one even said that I should think about staff attorney or contract jobs. I should note that I have a reasonably impressive resume -- cum laude/honors/Stone at a top 5 school, several years at a V20, several years at the government, first chair experience in dozens of cases, 5-10 published decisions as lead counsel, a half-dozen articles in both trade journals and law reviews, great references, etc. So this was not what I was wanting (and to a lesser extent, expecting) to hear.

On the other hand, I've had some luck reaching out to firms through personal contacts. I did first round interviews at a few places in the past few weeks and think that at least one will result in a final round interview. This is a firm that's specifically looking for someone like me -- government experience in a particular field -- to help build that side of the practice. (Incidentally, if anyone is curious about whether I'd go in as an associate or counsel or nonequity partner, I've been telling firms that I don't care what you call me -- I just want to be considered for "real" partner within a reasonable time period.)

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los blancos
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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby los blancos » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:35 pm

Question: for those of you getting interviews for things like D.Ct. - were you competitive for D.Ct. coming out of law school, or did working make your profile more attractive/reduce the importance of grades?

i.e, can some good work experience (and maybe a prior state court or mag judge clerkship) make grades almost irrelevant in the hiring process or do judges still screen heavily based on that?

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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:57 pm

los blancos wrote:Question: for those of you getting interviews for things like D.Ct. - were you competitive for D.Ct. coming out of law school, or did working make your profile more attractive/reduce the importance of grades?

i.e, can some good work experience (and maybe a prior state court or mag judge clerkship) make grades almost irrelevant in the hiring process or do judges still screen heavily based on that?


Biglaw associate here. I've gotten interviews from two D. Ct. judges with only top 1/3 grades (3.4+) from UVA. This is not extremely unusual for UVA students, but it is unusual. I definitely think my work experience and background contributed to getting these interviews. Most judges I've seen on OSCAR (85+%) do not list specialized requirements like work experience, IP, URM, certain schools, prior COA clerkship, etc. For these judges, it's going to be practically impossible for you to get your foot in the door from a school like UVA without being in the top 10-15% (3.5+ at the very least). However, the other 15+% will often dip below "traditional" clerkship credentials to get someone who truly has unique qualifications/characteristics the judge is looking for.

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los blancos
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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby los blancos » Thu May 02, 2013 3:10 am

Anonymous User wrote:
los blancos wrote:Question: for those of you getting interviews for things like D.Ct. - were you competitive for D.Ct. coming out of law school, or did working make your profile more attractive/reduce the importance of grades?

i.e, can some good work experience (and maybe a prior state court or mag judge clerkship) make grades almost irrelevant in the hiring process or do judges still screen heavily based on that?


Biglaw associate here. I've gotten interviews from two D. Ct. judges with only top 1/3 grades (3.4+) from UVA. This is not extremely unusual for UVA students, but it is unusual. I definitely think my work experience and background contributed to getting these interviews. Most judges I've seen on OSCAR (85+%) do not list specialized requirements like work experience, IP, URM, certain schools, prior COA clerkship, etc. For these judges, it's going to be practically impossible for you to get your foot in the door from a school like UVA without being in the top 10-15% (3.5+ at the very least). However, the other 15+% will often dip below "traditional" clerkship credentials to get someone who truly has unique qualifications/characteristics the judge is looking for.


Thanks. I wasn't really competitive for AIII coming out of law school. But I'm going to be getting some good work experience and then may need to move to a market in a different part of the country and I feel like clerkships can be a really good way to get established in a new market.

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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 02, 2013 3:45 am

Not to thread hijack, but does anyone have any thoughts on whether 2-3 years of biglaw might actually hurt with some CoA judges? I will be doing a district court clerkship next year and my grades/resume were already somewhat competitive for CoA (though maybe borderline). The TLS mantra I've heard is that 1-3 years of experience should only help, but I've heard through some professors and other sources that some judges really like the mentoring aspect of clerkships and they prefer people straight out of law school (or straight out of law school + other clerkship). Thoughts on whether there is some validity to this concern?

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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Thu May 02, 2013 8:36 am

Not to thread hijack, but does anyone have any thoughts on whether 2-3 years of biglaw might actually hurt with some CoA judges? I will be doing a district court clerkship next year and my grades/resume were already somewhat competitive for CoA (though maybe borderline). The TLS mantra I've heard is that 1-3 years of experience should only help, but I've heard through some professors and other sources that some judges really like the mentoring aspect of clerkships and they prefer people straight out of law school (or straight out of law school + other clerkship). Thoughts on whether there is some validity to this concern?


Probably a wash. Some judges only hire new grads; others preference alums. My completely unscientific feel is that the two populations are roughly equal.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu May 02, 2013 8:41 am

theaccidentalclerk wrote:
Not to thread hijack, but does anyone have any thoughts on whether 2-3 years of biglaw might actually hurt with some CoA judges? I will be doing a district court clerkship next year and my grades/resume were already somewhat competitive for CoA (though maybe borderline). The TLS mantra I've heard is that 1-3 years of experience should only help, but I've heard through some professors and other sources that some judges really like the mentoring aspect of clerkships and they prefer people straight out of law school (or straight out of law school + other clerkship). Thoughts on whether there is some validity to this concern?


Probably a wash. Some judges only hire new grads; others preference alums. My completely unscientific feel is that the two populations are roughly equal.

I agree with this. I also have the impression that the practice of hiring alumni with experience is a semi-recent phenom, and suspect that professors' emphasis on "judges like to mentor people straight out of school" is a little bit like law firm partners hired 30 years ago saying, it doesn't matter what law school you go to, you'll still get a job (not entirely - I'm sure it is true about some judges - but I also think the law clerk market has changed a lot in the last 5 years and not all profs realize that).

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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 02, 2013 6:11 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
theaccidentalclerk wrote:
Not to thread hijack, but does anyone have any thoughts on whether 2-3 years of biglaw might actually hurt with some CoA judges? I will be doing a district court clerkship next year and my grades/resume were already somewhat competitive for CoA (though maybe borderline). The TLS mantra I've heard is that 1-3 years of experience should only help, but I've heard through some professors and other sources that some judges really like the mentoring aspect of clerkships and they prefer people straight out of law school (or straight out of law school + other clerkship). Thoughts on whether there is some validity to this concern?


Probably a wash. Some judges only hire new grads; others preference alums. My completely unscientific feel is that the two populations are roughly equal.

I agree with this. I also have the impression that the practice of hiring alumni with experience is a semi-recent phenom, and suspect that professors' emphasis on "judges like to mentor people straight out of school" is a little bit like law firm partners hired 30 years ago saying, it doesn't matter what law school you go to, you'll still get a job (not entirely - I'm sure it is true about some judges - but I also think the law clerk market has changed a lot in the last 5 years and not all profs realize that).


Quoted anon here. Thank you both for the responses. Follow-up question for you both (and anyone else reading): Do either of y'all happen to know if the 5th Circuit or any specific 5th circuit judges are part of the crowd that favors alum? From what i've read, the 2nd circuit seems to be filled with both district and circuit judges who value alum. My hope is that the alum love happens some in the south as well.

Also, more of a nit-picky question, which is a bit more on-topic with the original thread: Do either of y'all get the impression that there is a cut-off for alums? As in, 1-2 years of work experience is the favored range and 3-4 years is too much?

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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:11 pm

Rising this thread from the dead.

Current 3rd year associate here. Will replace my 4th year with D.Ct. clerkship. Recently started receiving CoA interviews which would take my 5th year. Am somewhat worried how I will be viewed as a "6th year" with 3+ years of v50 litigation, 1 D.Ct., and 1 CoA clerkship. My goal would be either: 1) return to the firm (unclear whether or not they would - i'm well liked and there is a dearth of midlevels in this office, so I think they probably would, with no bonus, etc.); 2) lateral to another firm in my market (neither D.Ct or CoA would be in this market); or 3) go to AUSA/BigFed/some kind of government (for which I have little contacts, currently).

I guess my questions are the same in this thread - how it would affect my career afterward. As an aside, whether or not the CoA is really worth it, since it is unlikely I will be doing appellate work after.

Thanks.

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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Rising this thread from the dead.

Current 3rd year associate here. Will replace my 4th year with D.Ct. clerkship. Recently started receiving CoA interviews which would take my 5th year. Am somewhat worried how I will be viewed as a "6th year" with 3+ years of v50 litigation, 1 D.Ct., and 1 CoA clerkship. My goal would be either: 1) return to the firm (unclear whether or not they would - i'm well liked and there is a dearth of midlevels in this office, so I think they probably would, with no bonus, etc.); 2) lateral to another firm in my market (neither D.Ct or CoA would be in this market); or 3) go to AUSA/BigFed/some kind of government (for which I have little contacts, currently).

I guess my questions are the same in this thread - how it would affect my career afterward. As an aside, whether or not the CoA is really worth it, since it is unlikely I will be doing appellate work after.

Thanks.


I will be clerking for a D. Ct. during the second half of my third year and all of my fourth year. My firm said they will take me back but will only credit six months of my 18-month clerkship. I'm not sure how firm their offer to take me back is, however. I suppose they could renege, since nothing has been officially signed and agreed to, but that seems unlikely. My firm also seemed willing to give me their standard clerkship bonus, so I was surprised to hear that your firm will not.

What is your ultimate goal? If you are dead set on BIGFED, it might make sense to do a COA after your D. Ct. If not, I'm not sure firms are going to like you clerking for that long if you want to eventually come back to a firm. Are your clerkships going to give you specialized experience that will be relevant to your career?

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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:27 am

I think bigfed is the ultimate goal. But I also understand how rare, sporadic, fickle, etc. Hiring can be for that. As somewhat of an aside I have an alcohol/driving related arrest from several years back that I still worry will hinder my chances there. Nothing extremely serious, but have to think that they get 1,000 other similar apps without that red flag, no matter how old.

Regardless, it seems somewhat naive to put all eggs there. I'd like the ability to come back to a firm as a fallback (even that won't be a sure thing, as has been said). Does COA really do that much for govt? It seems that it does but also seems that it's more prestige than practical. Maybe a signifier to hiring person (not to mention a judge recommend) than anything that helps you as practicing government attorney.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:22 am

FWIW, bigfed doesn't ask about any of your background stuff until after they've made you an offer. They're not going to hire someone else over you because you have the arrest and the other person doesn't, because they won't know any of that. (You probably know that but the post above was ambiguous.) I have a hard time thinking it will hinder you.

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Re: Clerking as a mid-level associate

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 12, 2015 10:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:I think bigfed is the ultimate goal. But I also understand how rare, sporadic, fickle, etc. Hiring can be for that. As somewhat of an aside I have an alcohol/driving related arrest from several years back that I still worry will hinder my chances there. Nothing extremely serious, but have to think that they get 1,000 other similar apps without that red flag, no matter how old.

Regardless, it seems somewhat naive to put all eggs there. I'd like the ability to come back to a firm as a fallback (even that won't be a sure thing, as has been said). Does COA really do that much for govt? It seems that it does but also seems that it's more prestige than practical. Maybe a signifier to hiring person (not to mention a judge recommend) than anything that helps you as practicing government attorney.


Doubling down on this question. I have received some indication that I will be offered a 9th Cir COA (not an uber pretigious judge, but 9th Cir nonetheless) and hope to have a decision made prior to the call.




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