Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:08 pm

Yeah, a lot of people who are in the top of a school's class aren't necessarily going to want to clerk, especially since they're the people who can usually get biglaw or similar jobs straight out, so it makes sense that just because (say) 10% end up with clerkships, it's not going to be limited to the top 10% of the class.

I'm afraid I don't know anything about the Pacific/island clerkships. I know someone who clerked for one of the Spanish-speaking courts (not sure which), but he then did another AIII clerkship stateside. I think he works for a federal agency now. But I don't know what role the Spanish-speaking clerkship played in his trajectory (I think he's working somewhere Spanish is highly desirable, but of course, he spoke Spanish before the clerkship).

One of the benefits of clerking, if you want to go fedgov, is that if you do it directly out of school, it preserves your eligibility for federal honors programs, if you don't get into one of those 3L year.

You can use letters from legal employers - if an employer can write a strong, specific letter explaining really clearly and specifically what's awesome about you and a prof can't, go with the employer. I think COA judges would be more likely to want only prof letters. You should have at least one prof letter or it will look odd (two is probably better). It is possible to get decent letters even without a really strong relationship, if you've done well in a class and are willing to give a prof the info they need to write a good letter.

Also, profs frequently like to talk and give advice. UT has got to have a clerkship committee that profs sit on. Ask your CDO which profs give helpful advice about clerking, then go to that prof and say something like, "I'm interested in clerking, and was told you could help me out. What are the most important things I need to know in applying for clerkships?" Chances are good you won't have to say much, except to answer questions about yourself and what you want to do. You don't even have to have had that prof yourself; they'll still help you out. They will probably be able to advise you how best to approach other profs for letters (knowing your school and which profs you've had).

Anonymous User
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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:10 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.



At this point in the cycle, we have 9 current students that have accepted COA clerkships for 2014. As of right now, that figure includes people going to the 4th, 5th, and 10th circuits. And self selection, plays a big role in that (many of us only applied to the 5th). There are still plenty of COA Judges hiring (including some that are on plan and haven't even started looking at apps), so I fully expect that number to increase. And once district hiring picks up, I imagine we'll do as well as we did last year. So overall, the vast majority of that 8% figure are AIII clerks.

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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:12 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Yeah, a lot of people who are in the top of a school's class aren't necessarily going to want to clerk, especially since they're the people who can usually get biglaw or similar jobs straight out, so it makes sense that just because (say) 10% end up with clerkships, it's not going to be limited to the top 10% of the class.

I'm afraid I don't know anything about the Pacific/island clerkships. I know someone who clerked for one of the Spanish-speaking courts (not sure which), but he then did another AIII clerkship stateside. I think he works for a federal agency now. But I don't know what role the Spanish-speaking clerkship played in his trajectory (I think he's working somewhere Spanish is highly desirable, but of course, he spoke Spanish before the clerkship).

One of the benefits of clerking, if you want to go fedgov, is that if you do it directly out of school, it preserves your eligibility for federal honors programs, if you don't get into one of those 3L year.

You can use letters from legal employers - if an employer can write a strong, specific letter explaining really clearly and specifically what's awesome about you and a prof can't, go with the employer. I think COA judges would be more likely to want only prof letters. You should have at least one prof letter or it will look odd (two is probably better). It is possible to get decent letters even without a really strong relationship, if you've done well in a class and are willing to give a prof the info they need to write a good letter.

Also, profs frequently like to talk and give advice. UT has got to have a clerkship committee that profs sit on. Ask your CDO which profs give helpful advice about clerking, then go to that prof and say something like, "I'm interested in clerking, and was told you could help me out. What are the most important things I need to know in applying for clerkships?" Chances are good you won't have to say much, except to answer questions about yourself and what you want to do. You don't even have to have had that prof yourself; they'll still help you out. They will probably be able to advise you how best to approach other profs for letters (knowing your school and which profs you've had).


I actually have had some good and interesting chats with the professor who supervises my government internship class. It's a pass/fail class, and she offered unsolicited to write me a clerkship letter of recommendation but said the pass/fail nature of the class would alone make it weak.

Basically, I think I have much less control over with whom I connect than most people do. Either the chemistry is there, or it absolutely isn't (the majority of circumstances). I can't predict or control this factor at all. It just so happened that the only professor with whom I could actually have a conversation during 2L was the supervisor of my pass/fail government internship course.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I actually have had some good and interesting chats with the professor who supervises my government internship class. It's a pass/fail class, and she offered unsolicited to write me a clerkship letter of recommendation but said the pass/fail nature of the class would alone make it weak.

yeah, it's kind of tough not to be able to have the prof talk about your grades. But it's certainly not a bad letter to have, if she can otherwise be enthusiastic and specific about why. One of my letter writers is a notoriously tough grader and my grades in her classes weren't especially great. However, I RAed for her and for some reason (apart from grades) she thinks I'm wonderful, so it was a strong letter regardless. So it might not be a bad letter to have (I guess it depends on the alternatives).

ETA: Also, my suggestions above about talking to clerkship committee profs wasn't meant to try to "fix" your social issues or anything - just to say that profs are used to these kinds of conversations and so you don't have to come up with things to talk to them about, if that makes sense.

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:24 pm

Yeah, a lot of people who are in the top of a school's class aren't necessarily going to want to clerk, especially since they're the people who can usually get biglaw or similar jobs straight out, so it makes sense that just because (say) 10% end up with clerkships, it's not going to be limited to the top 10% of the class.


I've said this before, but my general rule of thumb is that you are a "shoe-in" to get a clerkship if you're ranked better than the percentage of the class that gets an AIII clerkship; you are a real long shot if you're outside 2x that percentage; and it's probably about 1.5x that where your chances are 50-50.

I'm afraid I don't know anything about the Pacific/island clerkships.


I know two people who did these. Both had several years of experience, including one who had clerked for a USDC judge in a major market. Because these courts often are combo trial and appellate courts, my guess is that they're looking for people with more litigation/clerking experience. But I don't know for sure.

hiima3L
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Re: Clerkships -- very inflexible about geography

Postby hiima3L » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:39 am

Anonymous User wrote: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.


I've heard it's not very competitive at all.




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