I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

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I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:38 pm

Oh, hello there friends.

I am presently about 60% of the way through a bankruptcy court clerkship, and figured I'd start a thread to take your questions. Just a few things I won't answer off the bat: (1) Which judge/district (I will say that it is neither SDNY/D. Del.) (2) Where exactly I went to law school (It was a non-T14 school, solid T1 - the old T1 back before USNews started using that term to describe the whole top-100.) (3) How I keep my hair so shiny and lustrous (I have to keep some things a secret.)

Feel free to put any questions to me otherwise. I will answer as much as I can without outing myself.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:06 pm

How would you describe your post clerkship job prospects? Thank you!

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How would you describe your post clerkship job prospects? Thank you!

I have accepted an offer at a mid-sized firm, doing a mix of bankruptcy and litigation work. I had one other offer from a boutique firm (which paid the market rate). Pretty much zero interest from V100 firms (I applied to about 15 and got a mix of radio silence and rejections). I interviewed at a handful of other places, with varying degrees of success.

Smaller and mid sized firms are much more likely, I discovered, to buy that a bankruptcy clerkship is beneficial if you want to pursue a career in not-exclusively-bankruptcy law (it is, by the way). Big firms have plenty of people who clerked at the District Court or COA level, so they're pretty much only going to be interested in a bankruptcy clerk if you want to work in their bankruptcy department and they have an open space therein.

All in all, I'd say my job prospects are definitely better than what one might otherwise expect from someone with my grades (top-20%, no lawl review) coming from my school, because I have a year's worth of experience doing something where I'm learning a lot and developing <Taken> a very specific set of skills </Taken>. But a bankruptcy clerkship, at least outside of SDNY/Del, is definitely not a ticket to the V100 for someone who wouldn't otherwise have a shot there.

akasabian
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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby akasabian » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:30 pm

What was your rank at your school before the clerkship?

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:52 pm

akasabian wrote:What was your rank at your school before the clerkship?

Some obligatory snark just because this was addressed in the post directly above this one.

I was basically right on the cutoff for top-20%. When we were sifting through resumes to hire my replacement, generally the consensus was that anyone in at least the top quarter or so would be considered (top-10% if we're talking about a TTT), with more slack obviously given to applicants from the very top schools. Demonstrated interest in bankruptcy is at least as important as grades, though it won't make up for bad ones. I don't know my replacement's rank because (s)he comes from a school that didn't rank its graduates, but (s)he has about a 3.5.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How would you describe your post clerkship job prospects? Thank you!

I have accepted an offer at a mid-sized firm, doing a mix of bankruptcy and litigation work. I had one other offer from a boutique firm (which paid the market rate). Pretty much zero interest from V100 firms (I applied to about 15 and got a mix of radio silence and rejections). I interviewed at a handful of other places, with varying degrees of success.

Smaller and mid sized firms are much more likely, I discovered, to buy that a bankruptcy clerkship is beneficial if you want to pursue a career in not-exclusively-bankruptcy law (it is, by the way). Big firms have plenty of people who clerked at the District Court or COA level, so they're pretty much only going to be interested in a bankruptcy clerk if you want to work in their bankruptcy department and they have an open space therein.

All in all, I'd say my job prospects are definitely better than what one might otherwise expect from someone with my grades (top-20%, no lawl review) coming from my school, because I have a year's worth of experience doing something where I'm learning a lot and developing <Taken> a very specific set of skills </Taken>. But a bankruptcy clerkship, at least outside of SDNY/Del, is definitely not a ticket to the V100 for someone who wouldn't otherwise have a shot there.


When did you start applying for post-clerkship jobs? Are you receiving a clerkship bonus and one year's credit toward partnership?

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How would you describe your post clerkship job prospects? Thank you!

I have accepted an offer at a mid-sized firm, doing a mix of bankruptcy and litigation work. I had one other offer from a boutique firm (which paid the market rate). Pretty much zero interest from V100 firms (I applied to about 15 and got a mix of radio silence and rejections). I interviewed at a handful of other places, with varying degrees of success.

Smaller and mid sized firms are much more likely, I discovered, to buy that a bankruptcy clerkship is beneficial if you want to pursue a career in not-exclusively-bankruptcy law (it is, by the way). Big firms have plenty of people who clerked at the District Court or COA level, so they're pretty much only going to be interested in a bankruptcy clerk if you want to work in their bankruptcy department and they have an open space therein.

All in all, I'd say my job prospects are definitely better than what one might otherwise expect from someone with my grades (top-20%, no lawl review) coming from my school, because I have a year's worth of experience doing something where I'm learning a lot and developing <Taken> a very specific set of skills </Taken>. But a bankruptcy clerkship, at least outside of SDNY/Del, is definitely not a ticket to the V100 for someone who wouldn't otherwise have a shot there.


When did you start applying for post-clerkship jobs? Are you receiving a clerkship bonus and one year's credit toward partnership?

My firm was pretty good about crediting me for the clerkship. I'll be coming in at a second-year associate's salary and getting a year's credit partnership-wise. I didn't ask for, nor will I be getting, a bonus. I'm not going to lie and say it wouldn't be nice, but ITE bonii for non-article-III clerks aren't the norm. (There are a handful of big firms - I think Weil is one but I'm not sure - who do give out bonuses for bk clerks, but none of them were really in my range grades/school wise).

I started applying to firms back in November when I passed the bar, which was stupid, because responses ranged from "No" to "It's too early to know." If you're a fan of getting good news, I recommend waiting until at least January, probably February. You're just not going to get movement before that.

akasabian
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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby akasabian » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Some obligatory snark just because this was addressed in the post directly above this one.


Ah crud...deserved. My bad

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:21 pm

akasabian wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Some obligatory snark just because this was addressed in the post directly above this one.


Ah crud...deserved. My bad

No sweat bro. I only sometimes read threads before I post, tbh.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:43 pm

Would you be competitive for SDNY/DE with your experience? Do those two courts care about previous clerkship experience?
You mentioned that the clerkship is not a ticket to V100 without originally having the grades to make it to V100... would that opinion change for people who had the grades but sucked at interviews or something along those lines (assuming improvement in interviewing), to make it to V100.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Would you be competitive for SDNY/DE with your experience? Do those two courts care about previous clerkship experience?
You mentioned that the clerkship is not a ticket to V100 without originally having the grades to make it to V100... would that opinion change for people who had the grades but sucked at interviews or something along those lines (assuming improvement in interviewing), to make it to V100.

I think if you had the grades but just cocked up your interviews somehow, then doing any federal clerkship (A3 or otherwise) would probably give you a second bite at the biglaw apple, so to speak. However, if you had the sort of grades that should make biglaw a lock and you got completely shut out offer-wise, then I think there's something *seriously* wrong with your interviewing style, and I'm skeptical - to be honest - that that kind of thing can be fixed. If you were kinda borderline grade-wise and it just didn't go your way for reasons other than being terrible in interviews, that's where I really think you've got the best shot at going from bankruptcy clerkship to biglaw.

I honestly don't have the foggiest idea about whether my current clerkship experience would make me competitive for a bankruptcy court clerkship in SDNY or Deleware. I have to imagine I'd be more competitive than I was a year ago, but those judges get really top quality applicants, so it would just depend on whether my judge making a phone call could get me an interview. That kind of thing is impossible to predict, really, but I guess my bottom line on that point is that it's probably unwise to take a bankruptcy court clerkship thinking that it's going to lead you to another bankruptcy court clerkship in SDNY/Del, which, in turn, will lead you into the warm and open arms of biglaw.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:18 pm

Very interesting post! Any thoughts on applying for a second BK clerkship--not necessarily in DE/SDNY--but just in another district where one might like to relocate? What about doing a second clerkship in a district court? I'm wondering if these are moves that would help or hinder one in looking for firm employment down the road.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:33 pm

T-14 Student here working a BK externship this summer.

Advice for getting the most out of my experience?

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Very interesting post! Any thoughts on applying for a second BK clerkship--not necessarily in DE/SDNY--but just in another district where one might like to relocate? What about doing a second clerkship in a district court? I'm wondering if these are moves that would help or hinder one in looking for firm employment down the road.

I was offered a second clerkship (different bankruptcy judge, same district) and turned it down to accept an offer from a firm, but it definitely was a bit of a debate. In the end, I went the firm route because (1) money, (2) I’m kind of excited to get started in practice (in retrospect, this may come to seem naive - I’m prepared for that), (3) money, (4) I’m risk-averse and taking an offer from a good firm now when I know it’s on the table seemed like the right call and (5) money. But it was actually a pretty hard decision.

I love being a bankruptcy clerk. Once I learned the ropes, the hours became pretty reasonable; I love being behind the scenes and seeing how judges think; I love that I learn something new every single day. I’ve learned more in 8 months here than I did in three years of law school, and it isn’t even close. So on the whole, I’d say I’m pretty pro-applying-for-another-clerkship, and I definitely think if you felt like you were still learning things or you felt like the other judge was someone you could really learn from to go for it.

I think the nicest thing about applying for a second clerkship once you’re a clerk is that it’s usually something of an inside job, so you can reach out to that other judge’s current clerk and kinda get the straight scoop on what (s)he’s like to work for and things of that nature. Honestly that kind of inquiry is as important as anything - a judge’s chambers is a small office, and personality/fit is a big deal.

As to whether it would help or hurt you to do a second clerkship, I certainly think it wouldn’t hurt. I also don’t know how much it would help. I think with a bankruptcy clerkship, you should honestly only do it because you want to learn and have the experience. If upping your stock with law firms is your main priority, you probably won’t be happy.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Very interesting post! Any thoughts on applying for a second BK clerkship--not necessarily in DE/SDNY--but just in another district where one might like to relocate? What about doing a second clerkship in a district court? I'm wondering if these are moves that would help or hinder one in looking for firm employment down the road.


I'm not the OP, but I'm currently a BK clerk and will be working next year as a BK clerk in DE/SDNY. Having my current clerkship definitely helped, but what pushed me over the top was having a very good rec letter from a pretty prominent bankruptcy professor that I did not have when I originally applied for bankruptcy clerkships. I think if the only thing that has changed from when you applied for clerkships the first time is that you now have a clerkship, then I do not think that would be enough to get a DE/SDNY bankruptcy clerkship. I would try to improve my resume in some other way (possibly write a law review article on a bankruptcy topic) that might give you a better chance.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:22 am

Two questions --

Any advice for somebody who will be clerking in a bankruptcy court next year? Anything that I can do/read to prepare for the job to help with the learning curve?

How are your hours?

Thanks!

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:15 pm

Not op, but another clerk here(not SDNY or DE). Hours are usually 9 to 5 (or 830 to 430). That is pretty standard amongst the clerks I know, but I know in some districts the hours are more like 830 to 7. Sometimes the hours are longer if we have several time consuming cases going on. If the hours were above average you probably would have picked that up in the interview. Read the local rules. Secured transactions and bankruptcy courses are helpful.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby SemperLegal » Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:25 pm

Tell the truth, is it horse shampoo that you use?

Tag

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:T-14 Student here working a BK externship this summer.

Advice for getting the most out of my experience?

I would just listen and learn as much as possible. Ask if you can help out on research projects. Most importantly, get the details right. You're probably going to be spending a lot of your time on pretty mundane tasks, such as making sure that motions to value were served upon FDIC-insured entities via certified - not regular - mail. The temptation to just put it in cruise control and check "service OK" on everything will be overwhelming. If you can spend the first few weeks showing you aren't cutting corners and you're willing to do the drudge work, then I bet they'll trust you with some more interesting stuff by midsummer.

Definitely make it a concrete goal to come out of the experience with a minimum of 1 or 2 good memos that you can use as a writing sample during OCI. This will set your package apart from the hordes of other "rising 2Ls" who just use their shit from LRW. An obvious point though: Check with the judge before you use anything written in chambers as a writing sample. 99 times out of 100, they'll be cool with it, but you absolutely must ask first.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:58 am

Anonymous User wrote:Two questions --

Any advice for somebody who will be clerking in a bankruptcy court next year? Anything that I can do/read to prepare for the job to help with the learning curve?

How are your hours?

Thanks!

I am assuming you've already taken a bankruptcy course? In addition to that, I would buzz through the bankruptcy E&E. Others might disagree, but I found it to be a pretty good overview of the genre. If you're really feeling saucy, once you've read the E&E, dive into the actual Code and Rules. As a clerk, you'll discover that 99% of your problems can be solved just by finding the portion of the Code or the Rule that's on point. You'll also discover that the Code reads as though it was written by dyslexic chimps. Going into your clerkship having gone through the code at least one time front-to-back will put you not only head and shoulders above most entering clerks, but also above 99% of bankruptcy practitioners.

Of course, you'll also - I'm guessing - be studying for the bar exam this summer, so time will be at a premium. I would at the very least spend 5-10 hours with the E&E, but beyond that, probably nothing is required.

As for my hours, the best answer I can give you is that it varies. We have 2-3 really big cases right now, so when those are in full swing, sometimes I'm here pretty late. Most days, though, I show up around 9 and leave around 6, but I'm usually done at about 5 and just spend that last hour browsing the internet and waiting for traffic to die down. The hours in clerking are... I don't want to say "cushy," but "humane" is a good word choice. One cautionary note though: When you first arrive, it's kind of trial-by-fire, and you're likely going to put in a lot of late nights while you're learning the ropes. During my first month, I was here until 8:00 almost nightly, and often past midnight. Just remember that, if you find yourself putting in similar hours at first, it won't be that way forever. You'll improve drastically. (A friend of mine once joked that we should make an "It Gets Better" video for law clerks.)

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:59 am

Anonymous User wrote:Not op, but another clerk here(not SDNY or DE). Hours are usually 9 to 5 (or 830 to 430). That is pretty standard amongst the clerks I know, but I know in some districts the hours are more like 830 to 7. Sometimes the hours are longer if we have several time consuming cases going on. If the hours were above average you probably would have picked that up in the interview. Read the local rules. Secured transactions and bankruptcy courses are helpful.

This is the OP. I just want to quote this because the advice about reading the local rules is SPOT ON and I left it out of my previous post. Local rule issues come up all the time, and you'll be shocked by how many practitioners wing it without reading these.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby peter2009 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Two questions --

Any advice for somebody who will be clerking in a bankruptcy court next year? Anything that I can do/read to prepare for the job to help with the learning curve?

How are your hours?

Thanks!

During my first month, I was here until 8:00 almost nightly, and often past midnight. Just remember that, if you find yourself putting in similar hours at first, it won't be that way forever. You'll improve drastically. (A friend of mine once joked that we should make an "It Gets Better" video for law clerks.)


Wow, past midnight? I clerk at a bankruptcy court and have never been at the office past 8:00 pm, and am at the office past 6:30 pm maybe once a month. My normal hours are 8:00-8:30 - 5:00-5:30 and I know the other bankruptcy clerk(s) in my district has/have similar hours.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby fish tacos » Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:20 pm

I really want to just tag, but since that is frowned upon, I'll ask a question.

As far as post-clerkship employment, do you feel pigeonholed into bankruptcy practice only? Obviously it wouldn't be advisable to apply for a bankruptcy clerkship if you absolutely hate bankruptcy, but do you think employers would find it useful for other transactional or financial regulatory work? Not necessarily the V100, since they can have their pick, but would midlevel or boutique firms value this experience?

How about government? If you think you might be interested in something like Fed/OCC/FDIC/SEC/CFTC etc, would a bankruptcy clerkship be at all helpful?

Thanks for your help.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:49 pm

fish tacos wrote:I really want to just tag, but since that is frowned upon, I'll ask a question.

As far as post-clerkship employment, do you feel pigeonholed into bankruptcy practice only? Obviously it wouldn't be advisable to apply for a bankruptcy clerkship if you absolutely hate bankruptcy, but do you think employers would find it useful for other transactional or financial regulatory work? Not necessarily the V100, since they can have their pick, but would midlevel or boutique firms value this experience?

How about government? If you think you might be interested in something like Fed/OCC/FDIC/SEC/CFTC etc, would a bankruptcy clerkship be at all helpful?

Thanks for your help.

I think that this really depends on how you can sell yourself. One thing you'll learn quickly clerking in bankruptcy court is how much bankruptcy law bleeds into other areas. We see labor and employment, probate, family law, and all sorts of other issues. So if you can make a nice sales pitch as to how the experience benefitted you, I think that you should be able to make the clerkship a plus in whatever direction you want to take it. I'll be doing (largely) bankruptcy work at my firm next year, but my two predecessors are doing labor and employment and general litigataion work, both at V100 firms.

I don't think that a bankruptcy court clerkship pigeonholes you into bk work by any means, but I also think you'll get the most out of your year if doing bk work is your goal.

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Re: I clerk in bankruptcy court. AMA.

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:07 pm

As far as qualifications go for BK clerkships (outside of SDNY and Del), is BK experience/interest paramount?

I have some BK experience at a firm I work at, and have taken a couple BK courses in LS. GPA not set in stone but will hopefully/likely be somewhere around top 25/33% when I apply from a school similar to yours. Also on a secondary journal.

Anything else I can do in order to be competitive?




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