Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:Here's why:
If you have the grades and other credentials/connections to clerk, you don't need a clerkship to get you these connections/credentials. If you somehow get lucky and get a clerkship without top grades or connections, you're still going to be looked down upon for not having the grades/LR that other clerks have. I know this from firsthand experience. There's an associate at my firm who clerked on the 9th Circuit. He/she didn't have the credentials one would normally expect from a 9th Circuit clerk. So far, I have seen ZERO positive impact on this person's career from his/her clerkship. He/she doesn't get better work or anything else. I suppose he/she might get hooked up with another biglaw associate job via one of his/her fellow clerks, but that still won't help him/her make partner in the long run or help him/her develop business.
You say “If you just want biglaw, it's not worth it to clerk.” But there is tons of value in clerking, even if you just want biglaw. Clerks are able to trade up in firm prestige after their clerkship. I know from experience. An AIII clerkship on your resume is also a benefit if/when you look to lateral to another biglaw firm. Clerking is also a good way to protect against the consequences of a potential no-offer. Therefore, even if you only want biglaw and have no interest in clerking, it can absolutely be worth it to clerk.
You point to a former 9th Circuit clerk at your firm that “didn't have the credentials one would normally expect from a 9th Circuit clerk.” You say there has been “ZERO positive impact on this person's career from his/her clerkship” and “doesn't get better work or anything else.” You use this example to show “If you somehow get lucky and get a clerkship without top grades or connections, you're still going to be looked down upon for not having the grades/LR that other clerks have.” Putting aside that I think this former clerk might be me, this example also misses the point. The question isn’t whether the former clerk now gets better work or if people look down on them for not having law review or grades, the question is whether there is worth in clerking. As a person in the same shoes as your coworker, I can say my clerkship was of great benefit (even if, unbeknownst to me, my coworkers look down on me behind my back). First, I had numerous interviews with, and job offers from, law firms that would never have called me if I hadn’t clerked. Even though I ended up staying at the same place I summered, I keep in touch with many of these firms and several have reached out in the past few months about openings. I also get many unsolicited calls from other firms and headhunters that tell me they are looking for former clerks. Therefore, I think my clerkship will absolutely prolong my biglaw career in case my current job fizzles. Additionally, while many people at my firm are not at all impressed by my clerkship, some are. And I do get getter work from those people. Further, based solely on my federal clerkship, I have been put on several very interesting federal cases (e.g., patent litigation, antitrust litigation, federal civil rights litigation). Therefore, at least in my case, there has been benefit to me even at the firm I am currently with.
In other words, putting aside that clerking is an awesome experience that taught me a lot and opened up opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had (like DOJ and professor interviews), it still has worth to my career in biglaw.