Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

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Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:37 pm

I am at a T15 and have top 15% grades and law review but no other extracurricular activities except Autism Speaks at my main university campus (nothing to do with law).

I was told to apply to mid-sized cities for federal clerkships. The problem is, I don't really want to live in those places, even for a year. I would much rather state court clerkships in place where I want to live (build connections, etc). I was told I do not have the GPA for federal clerkships the cities I'm interested in for federal clerkships (basically, D.C/NYC/SF/Boston/Seattle/Portland). I supposedly have a mild Autism Spectrum Disorder, which causes a host of invisible difficulties, so I can't imagine myself spending even a small amount of time living in a place that is not (1) a very liberal state and (2) a big city with public transportation and lots of diversity (accepting of differences, and accounting for the fact that I can't really drive safely). Spending law school in the south has made me want to shoot myself about 15 times since I started. I had a horrible time during OCI at Texas firms; all that personalization, aggressiveness, sports talk, and stuff caused me to shut down and go to flat affect, but I have worked at some paid part-time government jobs during the semester, and I've gotten along well there. I would say I'm a decent interviewer when the interview is about the job, with things like personal presentation factored in, rather than primarily about personality since I come across as not having one when people look too closely. Government interviews, such as the agency I'm working for this summer, seem to go much better.

Should I even be looking at clerkships at all with these ridiculous constraints? If so, how should I target my search to state appellate court clerkships in the cities I mentioned? Also, I don't have law school debt, so there's really nothing I have to do. I could completely dump law if I didn't get what I wanted, and I'd have nothing lost but time.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby ATR » Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:38 pm

This forum's probably a better place for your question.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:10 pm

I hate to break it to you, but clerkship interviews are, by and large, much more about personality and fit than OCI.

Chambers are small places, and the work is challenging, but being a superstar doesn't mean as much because (1) there are equally if not more qualified candidates, (2) it's still your judges work product, and you won't be able to substantially improve it (it's still their call and their style), and most importantly (3) because chambers are so small, there is no place to hide. On days where your judge interacts with 3-4 people if they don't like you a lot and can't relate to you personally you're not really a good clerk.

Your shared interests with the judge and affable personality are usually more important than whether you're top 15% at a T15 as opposed to top 15% at a top 30 or top 5% at a local school.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:47 pm

Vermont Law School maintains a guide to state clerkships - your CDO will be able to give you the password for it. It outlines the hiring processes for every state (not all state courts hire term clerks). Some SSCs have started hiring already, though I'm not sure if the states you mention have. The SSCs for the cities you ID are pretty darn competitive, though of course you can't get anything if you don't apply.

I agree that clerkship interviews are quite a bit about fit and personality, but there are also a huge range of judge personalities out there, so you're not having to match with only one kind of person. The problem is it's not always easy to find out what a particular judge is like before you interview with them.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:00 pm

PM'd

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby bk1 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:02 pm

nonprofit-prophet wrote:PM'd

You can't PM anons.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:02 pm

bk1 wrote:
nonprofit-prophet wrote:PM'd

You can't PM anons.


You can if you figure out who the anon is.

Edit: oops accidentally hit anonymous reply

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby bk1 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:03 pm

Moved to appropriate forum.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:54 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Vermont Law School maintains a guide to state clerkships - your CDO will be able to give you the password for it. It outlines the hiring processes for every state (not all state courts hire term clerks). Some SSCs have started hiring already, though I'm not sure if the states you mention have. The SSCs for the cities you ID are pretty darn competitive, though of course you can't get anything if you don't apply.

I agree that clerkship interviews are quite a bit about fit and personality, but there are also a huge range of judge personalities out there, so you're not having to match with only one kind of person. The problem is it's not always easy to find out what a particular judge is like before you interview with them.


I have heard of people who could not get big law getting clerkships. My personality is not really off-putting, from the reviews I've gotten at jobs. I'm just pretty introverted and not very chatty; since I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (technically "not otherwise specified" but traits of Newson Syndrome, so not as obviously "odd" as Asperger's Syndrome), I have to be very careful about talking in order to avoid making social mistakes since I process social situations very slowly. I know a clerk who was hired at the District Court in Arkansas of all places who had just this type of personality, or more so, though she was fully neurotypical. She and I got along very well when I interned there, but the judge himself was actually a very extroverted/social person.

Is it worth it if I'm already in the area or can just take amtrak to interviews when I'm on the east coast for the summer anyway? I have a federal job that may turn into full-time employment anyway (historically, it typically has) and was planning to use clerkships as a fall-back option, so I don't get stuck in Texas if sequester affects hiring at this agency.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby bruinfan10 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:41 am

I would imagine a big city AIII clerkship is pretty tough to get for top-15% outside of the T14, right? Maybe a state clerkship is a better option - but either way it can't hurt to send out some applications!

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:57 am

bruinfan10 wrote:I would imagine a big city AIII clerkship is pretty tough to get for top-15% outside of the T14, right? Maybe a state clerkship is a better option - but either way it can't hurt to send out some applications!


Yeah, of course, AIII is probably only available to me in places like Alabama or San Antonio. So I am looking into state appellate court clerkships, ideally around the D.C. area since, ideally, I would like to work for the federal government or in public policy (I already have an "in" at one agency, which I got even without Schedule A, but we'll see if it plays out in spite of sequester). I am thinking the D.C. circuit court, the Maryland courts of appeals, or the Virginia court(s) of appeals that covers the Alexandria/Arlington area. NYC would be fine, too, and San Francisco is where I'm from originally. If I do a good job this summer at my agency, maybe my supervisor could hook me up with one of these courts, if it's not against ethics rules.

I don't now. There are also other options like the Supreme Court in the Mariana Islands; due to the East Asian population, my past experiences say this would be a good fit culturally, as Chinese and Japanese culture is far more introvert friendly than Western culture (yes, I've lived in one of those two for nearly two years; I know first-hand). Are state-level appellate courts worth doing at all?

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:22 am

Well, I think state appellate clerkships are worth doing, but I did one. I suppose the question is, why do you want to do a clerkship? and what do you want to get out of it? You said to get out of Texas, which makes sense, but why else?

A couple responses to other things you've said: the DC court of appeals is different from the DC Circuit. Also, your government supervisor is highly unlikely to be able to hook you up with a state court of appeals clerkship, unless it's because as an individual they happen to have some kind of personal in or connection with those judges - the state system is completely distinct from the federal government and there isn't any reason why a government employee would have anything to do with state clerkship hiring.

Also, I recognize that you process things differently, in a way that makes certain social situations difficult, so these comments may not be helpful. But it also seems to me that the more you approach the hiring process with the mindset that US society is anti-introverts and that therefore it is hostile to you and you face a disadvantage, the more you come across as embattled and perhaps help create the very situation you want to avoid.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Citizen Genet » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:09 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Also, I recognize that you process things differently, in a way that makes certain social situations difficult, so these comments may not be helpful. But it also seems to me that the more you approach the hiring process with the mindset that US society is anti-introverts and that therefore it is hostile to you and you face a disadvantage, the more you come across as embattled and perhaps help create the very situation you want to avoid.


+1. There are plenty of judges who ideal clerk is a kid who sits in the corner and just keeps his mouth shut. I have interviewed with at least two judges who prefer reserved and measured clerks rather than outgoing social ones. There out there.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby bruinfan10 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:36 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Also, I recognize that you process things differently, in a way that makes certain social situations difficult, so these comments may not be helpful. But it also seems to me that the more you approach the hiring process with the mindset that US society is anti-introverts and that therefore it is hostile to you and you face a disadvantage, the more you come across as embattled and perhaps help create the very situation you want to avoid.

Oof. Giving the autism advocate "mindset advice." That's the most aspie thing I've ever read. I do agree though that a couple of the multiple AIII judges I interviewed with did seem to prefer introverts.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:44 am

bruinfan10 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Also, I recognize that you process things differently, in a way that makes certain social situations difficult, so these comments may not be helpful. But it also seems to me that the more you approach the hiring process with the mindset that US society is anti-introverts and that therefore it is hostile to you and you face a disadvantage, the more you come across as embattled and perhaps help create the very situation you want to avoid.

Oof. Giving the autism advocate "mindset advice." That's the most aspie thing I've ever read. I do agree though that a couple of the multiple AIII judges I interviewed with did seem to prefer introverts.

I realize the OP has lots more experience with this than I do and I'm sure has consulted professionals, I just wanted to point out something that came across in the post (and in the OP's other posts elsewhere here). Maybe mindset isn't the best term, I'm just thinking about the narrative they use to frame their situation when they talk about it here.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:36 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Also, I recognize that you process things differently, in a way that makes certain social situations difficult, so these comments may not be helpful. But it also seems to me that the more you approach the hiring process with the mindset that US society is anti-introverts and that therefore it is hostile to you and you face a disadvantage, the more you come across as embattled and perhaps help create the very situation you want to avoid.

Oof. Giving the autism advocate "mindset advice." That's the most aspie thing I've ever read. I do agree though that a couple of the multiple AIII judges I interviewed with did seem to prefer introverts.

I realize the OP has lots more experience with this than I do and I'm sure has consulted professionals, I just wanted to point out something that came across in the post (and in the OP's other posts elsewhere here). Maybe mindset isn't the best term, I'm just thinking about the narrative they use to frame their situation when they talk about it here.


I don't really frame it in this way most places. In fact, I really don't mention disability/disadvantage except on anonymous message boards. I actually only realized I had it Fall of 2L year when I consulted with a professional and underwent extensive testing and review of childhood videos. So it's not like something that defines me or an attitude easily corrected. But the issues are, nevertheless, real.

What do you think about the high courts in places like Guam, Micronesia, and the Northern Marianas given the high East Asian population? I spent time living in an East Asian country highly represented there in a very foreigner-unfriendly place. It's tough to say because many "white" people get treated well there, but there was a palpable difference that even set me apart from other foreigners. I think my quiet energy, respectfulness and reservedness are a good fit for one or more of those cultures. Also, island people tend to be more introverted generally, according to anthropological studies.

Would clerking in one of the Pacific territories at the high court or federal court be a death knell to working anywhere else afterwards? I will likely be able to get a letter of recommendation from the head of a bureau at one of the well-known federal agencies.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby bruinfan10 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What do you think about the high courts in places like Guam, Micronesia, and the Northern Marianas given the high East Asian population? I spent time living in an East Asian country highly represented there in a very foreigner-unfriendly place. It's tough to say because many "white" people get treated well there, but there was a palpable difference that even set me apart from other foreigners. I think my quiet energy, respectfulness and reservedness are a good fit for one or more of those cultures. Also, island people tend to be more introverted generally, according to anthropological studies.

Would clerking in one of the Pacific territories at the high court or federal court be a death knell to working anywhere else afterwards? I will likely be able to get a letter of recommendation from the head of a bureau at one of the well-known federal agencies.

Unless it's AIII I think general advice is to state-clerk where you want to work (although I know A. Nony Mouse was able to swing an AIII coming off his local level clerkship, so maybe that's a route you could explore? He could speak more to that than I can). Would you consider living in one of these places if you like the culture so much? Otherwise, what are your other options I guess? If you like your federal job and think you can stay there, I'd personally take that option rather than doing a local clerkship in a place where I'm not interested in putting down roots.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:03 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What do you think about the high courts in places like Guam, Micronesia, and the Northern Marianas given the high East Asian population? I spent time living in an East Asian country highly represented there in a very foreigner-unfriendly place. It's tough to say because many "white" people get treated well there, but there was a palpable difference that even set me apart from other foreigners. I think my quiet energy, respectfulness and reservedness are a good fit for one or more of those cultures. Also, island people tend to be more introverted generally, according to anthropological studies.

Would clerking in one of the Pacific territories at the high court or federal court be a death knell to working anywhere else afterwards? I will likely be able to get a letter of recommendation from the head of a bureau at one of the well-known federal agencies.

Unless it's AIII I think general advice is to state-clerk where you want to work (although I know A. Nony Mouse was able to swing an AIII coming off his local level clerkship, so maybe that's a route you could explore? He could speak more to that than I can). Would you consider living in one of these places if you like the culture so much? Otherwise, what are your other options I guess? If you like your federal job and think you can stay there, I'd personally take that option rather than doing a local clerkship in a place where I'm not interested in putting down roots.


Having not been to any of these places, I don't know for sure. However, the Northern Marianas is 40% filipino and 30% Chinese, and I have successfully lived in proximity to both cultures. I have no idea how they manifest in the island context. I definitely think living there long-term is something I would consider. Aside from the D.C. area, most of my ties are to rural areas in the South where I would not consider living. Guam, Micronesia, and USVI -- I have even less of an idea.

I can do AIII clerkships in these places too, but it would be a long-shot given my school and grades and limited spots/openings (many of the fed judges in these places prefer to hire long-term clerks); I will definitely apply though. For AIII, district and appellate, mid-sized to small cities in the South are where I'm most competitive.

Clerkships are mostly a fall-back option for me.

At my fed job, in past years, they have hired most of their summer interns full-time; it's one of the few fed agencies who do this (did I just out myself?), and I would love to work there or at another fed agency. Despite my usual issues with extroversion and Type A, I love D.C. for some reason; I worked there for nearly a year previously. There's a public service, rather than family and business, orientation in D.C. culture that makes it easier for me to relate to. It's easier for me to make small talk to people in D.C., as well, since the typical local "goings on" are things in which I have an obsessive autistic interest anyway. Stuff in Houston or Texas sports teams? Not so much. But there's the whole sequester thing to worry about, so I have no idea. I will also be applying through Schedule A (disability preference hiring) for other honors programs during 3L. Honestly, though, sequester is going to make it difficult regardless, and I'm not sure if Schedule A even applies to attorney positions.
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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby bruinfan10 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I can do AIII clerkships in these places too, but it would be a long-shot given my school and grades and limited spots/openings (many of the fed judges in these places prefer to hire long-term clerks); I will definitely apply though. For AIII, district and appellate, mid-sized to small cities in the South are where I'm most competitive.

At my fed job, in past years, they have hired most of their summer interns full-time; it's one of the few fed agencies who do this (did I just out myself?), and I would love to work there or at another fed agency. Despite my usual issues with extroversion and Type A, I love D.C. for some reason; I worked there for nearly a year previously. But there's the whole sequester thing to worry about, so I have no idea. I will also be applying through Schedule A (disability preference hiring) for other honors programs during 3L. Honestly, though, sequester is going to make it difficult regardless, and I'm not sure if Schedule A even applies to attorney positions.

I don't mean to be discouraging, but do Texas or Vandy seriously place top-15% kids into an appreciable number of district or appellate clerkships? Maybe I thought these positions were harder to get than they are. But yeah, it never hurts to apply, and like I said, I think consensus is that state (or I guess island??/territory) level clerkships can be a good thing if you want to live in the area where you clerk. Otherwise I'm really jealous you're working at an agency that hires out of law school; I'd kill for the opportunity to go right into federal government work.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:17 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I can do AIII clerkships in these places too, but it would be a long-shot given my school and grades and limited spots/openings (many of the fed judges in these places prefer to hire long-term clerks); I will definitely apply though. For AIII, district and appellate, mid-sized to small cities in the South are where I'm most competitive.

At my fed job, in past years, they have hired most of their summer interns full-time; it's one of the few fed agencies who do this (did I just out myself?), and I would love to work there or at another fed agency. Despite my usual issues with extroversion and Type A, I love D.C. for some reason; I worked there for nearly a year previously. But there's the whole sequester thing to worry about, so I have no idea. I will also be applying through Schedule A (disability preference hiring) for other honors programs during 3L. Honestly, though, sequester is going to make it difficult regardless, and I'm not sure if Schedule A even applies to attorney positions.

I don't mean to be discouraging, but does Texas seriously place top-15% kids into an appreciable number of district or appellate clerkships? Maybe I thought these positions were harder to get than they are. But yeah, it never hurts to apply, and like I said, I think consensus is that state (or I guess island??/territory) level clerkships can be a good thing if you want to live in the area where you clerk. Otherwise I'm really jealous you're working at an agency that hires out of law school; I'd kill for the opportunity to go right into federal government work.


Well, given that UC Davis places 30% of their students into federal clerkships, it shouldn't be that surprising.

AIII appellate is rare but not unheard-of at that range or even top 25% (though even appellate locations can be in shit holes like San Antonio), but I'm definitely extremely competitive for district courts in small cities in the South; in fact, I'm above the range that has placed at the Court of International Trade as well. They told me that San Antonio, Little Rock, and Galveston were strong possibilities but said that SDNY, D.C., and CA were likely out for AIII. Definitely know people in top third or top quarter (lower than me) who got AIII, though in shitty locations.

It's also possible I have a higher class ranking than I think because they recently changed the curve at my school last semester due to concerns with "grade inflation."

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:02 pm

Well, given that UC Davis places 30% of their students into federal clerkships, it shouldn't be that surprising.


You are off by a factor of 20. According to LST, 1.5% of UC Davis grads secured a federal clerkship in 2012.

http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school= ... =employers

You might be confusing Davis for Irvine, which did place 28.6% of the 2012 class. That was probably a one-time deal though -- it was Irvine's first class, and they all received full scholarships. So the quality of law students was waaaaay higher than you'd expect for a school ranked where it is.

As for Texas, LST says that 8.3% of 2012 did a federal clerkship, which implies that someone in the top 15% (but not top 10%) would have a chance, but not a great one -- my guess is that if s/he applied broadly to district courts in Texas and the surrounding states, s/he'd get an interview or two (but not more). Whether that translates into a clerkship or not will depend on whether it's one or two and on the specific judges.

As for Vandy, it's 10.2%, which is a similar story but substitute "Tennessee" for "Texas."

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby bruinfan10 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:11 pm

Yeah, when I read that 30% post I started to think I was being trolled. 1.5% in federal clerkships sounds a little more accurate. As to Irvine, I'm pretty sure Erwin made personal calls to judges to place his kids from that first class; also pretty sure that doesn't happen anymore. And UT clocking in at 8% isn't bad, although I imagine those are heavily clustered in Texas, and who knows how many are magistrate positions.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:31 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:Yeah, when I read that 30% post I started to think I was being trolled. 1.5% in federal clerkships sounds a little more accurate. As to Irvine, I'm pretty sure Erwin made personal calls to judges to place his kids from that first class; also pretty sure that doesn't happen anymore. And UT clocking in at 8% isn't bad, although I imagine those are heavily clustered in Texas, and who knows how many are magistrate positions.



Not heavily clustered in Texas, and few magistrates. I know of people from UT working for the 5th, someone clerking for Judge Wood on the 7th, people going to both coasts, and damn near everywhere else in between.

I'd say top 25% has a shot at a clerkship if they don't have a geographic preference. A lot of people aren't interested in clerking.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:44 pm

Well, I guess forget federal clerkships then. Applying widely is not something I'm willing to do. I still think working at the Supreme Court in the Northern Marianas would be awesome. I wonder what the cut-off is there.

Ok, also, I was dealing with a lot of depression and stuff during 2L and never got around to cultivating real relationships with professors - also partly because I don't know exactly what I want to do and also lack of faculty in the areas in which I am interested. I seriously considered dropping out 3 times, but my depression is under control now. I don't even know what you talk to faculty about. In retrospect, I should have hit my school over the head with the ADA to require them to appoint me a "social mentor" 1L year to help me with stuff like building relationships with professors. But a bit late now.

Do recommendations HAVE to come from professors, or can I use letters from legal employers instead and maybe just have one from a professor?

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby lolwat » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:03 pm

Look, if you have the time, just apply. Top 15% at UT isn't bad. Sure, it probably won't get you the markets that you're looking at, but then that's still a very limited number of judges for OSCAR applications, which are easy to build. And "probably" isn't "impossible." I had an interview on the 9th Circuit in Pasadena--and my school is on the low end of the T20 and places relatively terribly in clerkships. (I was top 5%, which does make a difference, but even so.) Having gone through applications, I can tell you that while grades were pretty important here, you basically never know what might make a law clerk or judge take a second look at your application and maybe give you a shot.

You don't need a "real relationship" with professors. I basically had about 8-9 faculty members that would have happily written letters, and only about 4-5 of them did I have a "real relationship" with outside of just taking their class. Find out which professors have clerked, and go ask them for advice about clerking. If you've even as much as taken a class with them, ask them at some point whether they'd be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Or talk to someone that you took a small class (or seminar) - either you had to write a paper or you had to contribute enough to the class that they probably recognize you.

Yeah, you can get by with letters from legal employers - but from what I know, you probably want to have one at the most, and the other two from professors.




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