Questions about Court of Federal Claims

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Duquesne Whistle
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Questions about Court of Federal Claims

Postby Duquesne Whistle » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:25 am

I have some interest in the types of cases that COFC hears. How prestigious is a clerkship here, as compared to District, State Supreme, etc.? Relatedly, how difficult is it to get a clerkship here? And finally, would clerking on COFC help your chances at all of getting a Fed. Cir. clerkship?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Questions about Court of Federal Claims

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:39 am

Well, I have seen people say that it's not as prestigious/difficult to get because it's not AIII, so more like clerking for a magistrate judge than for federal district. (How it compares to state stuff would probably depend on the state and what you want to do, ultimately.) I think I also saw someone somewhere say that the clerks there do work more like what interns do. But these are hazy memories - not sure whether I got that info here (try searching old posts for federal claims?) or some other source that I'm forgetting, so take it with a huge grain of salt. (I had looked into it at one point because I was interested in the Indian law side of things, but heard those semi-negative things and also decided I didn't want to move to DC anyway.)

I don't know enough about the Federal Cir. to comment on that.

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Re: Questions about Court of Federal Claims

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:02 pm

I clerked at the COFC and also did an ArtIII district clerkship. The COFC is looked upon far more favorably than a magistrate clerkship by those that know what the court does or practice before the court. The COFC is also generally harder to get than a magistrate clerkship (if for no other reason there are far fewer slots and lots of DC area law students apply). It is an excelent clerkship if you are interested in DC firms and/or a government contracts practice. Outside of DC, you will not encounter nearly as many practitioners that are familiar with the COFC.

The clerks do not do the same thing as an intern. In my chambers, the clerks oversaw the work of interns. I had the same research/writing responsibilities at the COFC as at the district court.

It was my experience (I have heard this from others also) that the cases at the COFC were generally far more complicated and the lawyers on both sides were very good. At the COFC, one side is always represented by DOJ (generally an experienced attorney) and the other side is almost always represented by big law or a boutique. The pace at the district court is faster, however, the issues are generally not complicated and the level of the bar varies widely.

I enjoyed my time at the COFC more because of the type of work and I never saw anything at the COFC as mundane as a SSI appeal.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Questions about Court of Federal Claims

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I clerked at the COFC and also did an ArtIII district clerkship. The COFC is looked upon far more favorably than a magistrate clerkship by those that know what the court does or practice before the court. The COFC is also generally harder to get than a magistrate clerkship (if for no other reason there are far fewer slots and lots of DC area law students apply). It is an excelent clerkship if you are interested in DC firms and/or a government contracts practice. Outside of DC, you will not encounter nearly as many practitioners that are familiar with the COFC.

The clerks do not do the same thing as an intern. In my chambers, the clerks oversaw the work of interns. I had the same research/writing responsibilities at the COFC as at the district court.

It was my experience (I have heard this from others also) that the cases at the COFC were generally far more complicated and the lawyers on both sides were very good. At the COFC, one side is always represented by DOJ (generally an experienced attorney) and the other side is almost always represented by big law or a boutique. The pace at the district court is faster, however, the issues are generally not complicated and the level of the bar varies widely.

I enjoyed my time at the COFC more because of the type of work and I never saw anything at the COFC as mundane as a SSI appeal.

Thanks for posting this - I didn't mean to knock your clerkship in anyway in my previous post, just reporting some things I'd heard - glad to know they're not correct.

Duquesne Whistle
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Re: Questions about Court of Federal Claims

Postby Duquesne Whistle » Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I clerked at the COFC and also did an ArtIII district clerkship. The COFC is looked upon far more favorably than a magistrate clerkship by those that know what the court does or practice before the court. The COFC is also generally harder to get than a magistrate clerkship (if for no other reason there are far fewer slots and lots of DC area law students apply). It is an excelent clerkship if you are interested in DC firms and/or a government contracts practice. Outside of DC, you will not encounter nearly as many practitioners that are familiar with the COFC.

The clerks do not do the same thing as an intern. In my chambers, the clerks oversaw the work of interns. I had the same research/writing responsibilities at the COFC as at the district court.

It was my experience (I have heard this from others also) that the cases at the COFC were generally far more complicated and the lawyers on both sides were very good. At the COFC, one side is always represented by DOJ (generally an experienced attorney) and the other side is almost always represented by big law or a boutique. The pace at the district court is faster, however, the issues are generally not complicated and the level of the bar varies widely.

I enjoyed my time at the COFC more because of the type of work and I never saw anything at the COFC as mundane as a SSI appeal.


This is good to know. I'm not especially interested in government contracts, but I am very interested in Takings, tribal, and patent law. How many of those sorts of cases did you handle? And do you know whether a COFC clerkship can lead to a Fed Circuit clerkship? That would be my ideal clerkship, but it seems to be very hard to get one straight out of law school...

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Re: Questions about Court of Federal Claims

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 30, 2013 11:28 am

Current COFC clerk.

In terms of difficulty of landing one, I've noticed the judges vary pretty significantly in their hiring patterns. Some hire exclusively HYS w/ LR types; some exclusively hire top students at TTTTs.

I don't know where the poster above heard COFC clerks do what interns do, whatever that may be. We do what all other clerks do--write opinions, maintain the chambers, etc. I guess interns do help with all of that to varying degrees though...

Hiring options: it's a court of limited jurisdiction so it's not as diverse as AIII and you're not as marketable in that sense, but there are tons of firms with huge/exclusive COFC practices that want COFC clerks.

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Re: Questions about Court of Federal Claims

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:42 pm

Duquesne Whistle wrote:This is good to know. I'm not especially interested in government contracts, but I am very interested in Takings, tribal, and patent law. How many of those sorts of cases did you handle? And do you know whether a COFC clerkship can lead to a Fed Circuit clerkship? That would be my ideal clerkship, but it seems to be very hard to get one straight out of law school...


This is the first anonymous poster from above. I worked on several takings and tribal cases. There was one patent case that came through my chambers and I didn't work on it. Bid Protests and tax cases are probably the most common. Tribal claims might tie tax.

There was one clerk who went to the Fed Cir after the COFC during my year.




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