worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

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worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 18, 2013 10:19 am

Have a solid gig with a "bigger" firm in a northern new england firm. Really happy about the gig and seems like a place i will want to stick around.

just graduated, from GW/BU/BC - Top 25%, on 2ndary journal... etc. graduating cum laude...

Is it worth applying for district court clerkships in states I want to be in with my grades? Do I have a decent shot?
Im thinking few in boston, but mainly, Maine, nh, VT, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Florida, HAwaii, NM.

had 2 interviews first go around but were in places Id rathe not live. Grades improved a bit - but does competition get easier or harder?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat May 18, 2013 11:53 am

I think the competition tends to get a little bit easier. Applicants tend to have more success applying as alumni - there are judges who now prefer hiring clerks who have legal experience, and you can avoid some competition by applying outside of the plan deadlines. (The latter isn't as big a deal now that the plan seems to be completely collapsing, but it can still help a little, I think.) I'm not good at assessing chances, but if you had a couple of interviews before, it seems worthwhile to throw out a few applications, if you're still interested.

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Re: worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 18, 2013 6:07 pm

Maine, nh, VT, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Florida, HAwaii, NM


I will say that many of these -- Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii, at least -- are quite competitive. They are all nice places to live with relatively few clerkship openings. NM is also difficult, though this is driven exclusively by the paucity of AIII judges hiring clerks.

For example, I focused on one of these "destination" states with good ties and substantially better credentials than you (i.e., better grades from a top 5 school plus very interesting and substantive post-LS experience). I got a couple interviews, but just a couple. Talking to one of the clerks, s/he said that it wasn't surprising because there are just only a handful of judges in the district hiring term clerks. (I ended up accepting something else before any of the judges made decisions -- I think I was probably a strong candidate for one of them.)

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Re: worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 18, 2013 7:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Maine, nh, VT, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Florida, HAwaii, NM


I will say that many of these -- Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii, at least -- are quite competitive. They are all nice places to live with relatively few clerkship openings. NM is also difficult, though this is driven exclusively by the paucity of AIII judges hiring clerks.

For example, I focused on one of these "destination" states with good ties and substantially better credentials than you (i.e., better grades from a top 5 school plus very interesting and substantive post-LS experience). I got a couple interviews, but just a couple. Talking to one of the clerks, s/he said that it wasn't surprising because there are just only a handful of judges in the district hiring term clerks. (I ended up accepting something else before any of the judges made decisions -- I think I was probably a strong candidate for one of them.)


So umm is it worth it to apply? Like i get you got one - but would it be worth my time?

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Re: worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat May 18, 2013 7:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:So umm is it worth it to apply? Like i get you got one - but would it be worth my time?

Well, how much time does it take to put the application together? And do you want to clerk? I don't think based on your stats that you're a shoo-in, but based on my stats I probably shouldn't have a federal clerkship at all, so you don't know unless you try - I would say you're probably in that big gray area of might get something (after all, you got interviews last go round), and might not. Predicting chances isn't exactly a science.

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Re: worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat May 18, 2013 7:47 pm

Honestly if you're not sure you want to do it, don't bother. Relocating oneself is hardly an effortless task, you'd have to adjust to a new boss (who may or may not be pleasant to work for), and the career upside is not all that great (check out the clerk hiring thread to confirm this -- plenty of district court clerks looking for work who haven't really leveraged their clerkship into a better gig). And if you just want to go back to the firm you're already working at, is there a point?

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Re: worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Sat May 18, 2013 8:00 pm

You said you already applied before...so I would guess that it wouldn't take much time to update your application packet? If you already have a writing sample, recommenders, a cover letter, etc., I don't think it would take a ton of effort doing a second go-round. So yes, I think it would be worth your time.

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Re: worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 19, 2013 12:40 am

So umm is it worth it to apply? Like i get you got one - but would it be worth my time?


Is it worth it to apply? Sure. What does it hurt?

Do you have a decent shot in the "destination" states (e.g., Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii)? Probably not. Once you take into account the top 10 or so students from the local/regional schools who want to clerk, plus the natives from top schools with good grades who want to go back, you're probably looking at minimum 30 and maybe as many as 50 people. That's a LOT more than the number of AIII clerkship openings in those districts. (With the possible exception of Hawaii -- but the competition for that district is insane. The two people I knew who clerked there were top of the class [like top 5 students] from lower T14 schools.)

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Re: worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 20, 2013 10:26 am

I guess my big concern is I am not going to huge firm that has a policy of leaving open your position for a year - so its risky. I mean after going to a good firm - if my firm didn't leave my spot open would it be worth that risk? I am tremendously grateful to my firm, and feel really lucky to end up in a place where I think I'll be happy with good people. My main concern is that if I were to get the clerkship experience I always thought i wanted but at the same time lose a position at a firm where I know I'll be happy in long run, is it worth losing that. And I guess that is something only I can determine, just want to see if I'll be able get another job with my stats

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Re: worth it to apply for fed court clerkship?

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Mon May 20, 2013 10:41 am

I guess my big concern is I am not going to huge firm that has a policy of leaving open your position for a year - so its risky. I mean after going to a good firm - if my firm didn't leave my spot open would it be worth that risk? I am tremendously grateful to my firm, and feel really lucky to end up in a place where I think I'll be happy with good people. My main concern is that if I were to get the clerkship experience I always thought i wanted but at the same time lose a position at a firm where I know I'll be happy in long run, is it worth losing that. And I guess that is something only I can determine, just want to see if I'll be able get another job with my stats


This really is a personal question that will depend on your family circumstances and risk tolerance. For example, if you're single, or married with a working spouse, it's probably not a bad choice to do a clerkship and see what happens afterwards. (Though staying at your firm -- if you are happy with it, which you seem to be -- isn't a bad choice either.) If you are married with kids and you need the firm income, then it's probably irresponsible to do a clerkship without a post-clerkship job.

But I guess I have two suggestions. First, you're not currently in a position where your choices are clerkship vs. firm job. You're choices are applying for clerkships vs. not. You might not get an offer from a judge. You might get an offer but your firm is totally willing to let you clerk (keep in mind, clerking is normally a net positive for a firm, at least early in an associate's career, because it essentially gives you a year or two of very helpful "training" on someone else's dime, plus connections with a particular judge). If I were you, I'd probably apply and see what happens. For people outside of the top schools, a federal clerkship is a great equalizer, at least for the first several years of your career.




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