Two District Court Clerkships

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nevdash
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Two District Court Clerkships

Postby nevdash » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:50 pm

I asked this question in the 2014-15 app thread, but I received two replies and they were directly contradictory. I'd really appreciate any input the rest of you guys might have; my situation feels unique (though it might just be a special snowflake thing), so I don't really have any idea what I should do.

I'll be clerking for a district judge in Texas from 2013-2015, and I went to law school on the east coast. However, I'm from California, and I would love to go back after my clerkship. I certainly wouldn't mind working either in Texas or the city where I went to law school, but I've spent way too much time away from my family and close friends. Given that CA is a tough market to crack, would it be a good idea to try to clerk for a CA district judge after my first clerkship? I'd rather go straight to a firm if I have a good chance of getting a job in CA without a second clerkship, but I'm afraid that either my credentials aren't strong enough or spending 5 years away from CA makes me look flighty. My stats are top 10%/LR at BU, no prior firm experience.

TYIA.

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Re: Two District Court Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:08 am

As a practical matter, can't you apply for clerkships in CA while also applying for firm jobs in CA, and then hope that one of the firms bites first?

Doing a clerkship, especially in CDCA will really boost your CA credentials. The Central District is one of the most competitive and on par with a lot of circuit clerkships in terms of selectivity. So there's no question doing that would help you get back to CA.

FWIW, I have a friend who did go to a CA law school, but they didn't work in SA. After their CDCA clerkship, they got a big law associateship.

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nevdash
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Re: Two District Court Clerkships

Postby nevdash » Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:27 am

Yeah, I figured that was a possibility. But the clerkship timeline would be a lot earlier than the firm timeline, right? It seems like post-clerkship firm hiring doesn't really happen until the spring of the year your clerkship ends while hiring in competitive districts like C.D. Cal. would be about a year earlier than that. And I'd rather not do a second clerkship if I have a decent shot at a firm without it (even though I think I'm going to love clerking, two years will probably be enough) or if two district court clerkships would hurt me in the eyes of firms.

lolwat
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Re: Two District Court Clerkships

Postby lolwat » Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:27 am

I had a similar problem and there's no easy way to answer it because no one really knows unless they do/know people that do hiring at firms and can get you solid info. I do think having two district court clerkships looks weird, but I was told by a pretty credited source that a second clerkship in CDCA will help get into the CA market. But I don't know how good/bad your chances are of getting a CA firm without the second clerkship; I didn't have tons of luck but I still had a few interviews there. I think the fact that you're from CA and have ties there is an advantage over my situation, which was that I only spent a summer there + passed the bar there.

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Re: Two District Court Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:25 pm

lolwat wrote:I had a similar problem and there's no easy way to answer it because no one really knows unless they do/know people that do hiring at firms and can get you solid info. I do think having two district court clerkships looks weird, but I was told by a pretty credited source that a second clerkship in CDCA will help get into the CA market. But I don't know how good/bad your chances are of getting a CA firm without the second clerkship; I didn't have tons of luck but I still had a few interviews there. I think the fact that you're from CA and have ties there is an advantage over my situation, which was that I only spent a summer there + passed the bar there.


I think a CDCA clerkship is unique, though. It's not like you're going from Brownsville Texas judge to clerk in Missouri. CDCA is especially more difficult and (in my opinion) on par with the selectivity of SDNY judges. My CA law school posts the average GPAs of students who go to non-CDCA judges, and every year, the CDCA students are at least .3 higher in GPA.

lolwat
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Re: Two District Court Clerkships

Postby lolwat » Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think a CDCA clerkship is unique, though. It's not like you're going from Brownsville Texas judge to clerk in Missouri. CDCA is especially more difficult and (in my opinion) on par with the selectivity of SDNY judges. My CA law school posts the average GPAs of students who go to non-CDCA judges, and every year, the CDCA students are at least .3 higher in GPA.


Yes and no. Is it more competitive? Yep, no question. But that's a different question from whether a second district court clerkship -- no matter where it is -- helps the OP or looks odd on a resume. Especially here, he'll already have 2 years of district court clerkship experience before the CDCA clerkship. As far as practical experience goes, he gains (and law firms will likely recognize this) nearly nothing from clerking for a CDCA judge after that--with very few exceptions. For example, maybe the CDCA judge has just such a much heavier caseload that OP is working biglaw hours instead of a 9-5 clerkship at a flyover. Maybe the CDCA judge is on the patent pilot program and OP is trying to break into patent lit (he did not specify if he was in EDTX and would be working on patent cases).

The point I'm making is that practically speaking a second district court clerkship teaches you nothing you didn't already know. A lot of firms will give credit for a DCT+COA, some will still only give one year credit but likely looks favorably upon DCT+COA, but I haven't heard of any firms that give credit or look favorably upon DCT+DCT. Especially not 3 years of it. That's not to say they might not just because this is such a unique situation, but that's what makes it risky.

I think the only real question is going to be whether the CDCA clerkship helps him break into the CA market in a way that his first clerkship and his connections to CA don't already do.

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nevdash
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Re: Two District Court Clerkships

Postby nevdash » Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:09 pm

lolwat wrote:As far as practical experience goes, he gains (and law firms will likely recognize this) nearly nothing from clerking for a CDCA judge after that--with very few exceptions. For example, maybe the CDCA judge has just such a much heavier caseload that OP is working biglaw hours instead of a 9-5 clerkship at a flyover. Maybe the CDCA judge is on the patent pilot program and OP is trying to break into patent lit (he did not specify if he was in EDTX and would be working on patent cases).

I actually think that I would practically gain something from a second clerkship in a district like C.D. Cal. I'm in S.D. Tex. (I've already given a ton of info that would out me, so why not go all the way?) which is heavily criminal. This is awesome for me because criminal law is my true passion and my long-term plan is to try eventually for a USAO crim position, and it's why I decided that clerking in an area where I have no ties would be worth it. But obviously my plan usually requires experience in firms that do work completely unrelated to criminal law.

So it sounds like C.D. Cal. would be a long shot anyway (as an aside, are all of the divisions equally as competitive? I'm from the Riverside area, so would that give me a boost with the couple of judges in the Riverside division since it's kind of a small area?)? Would I be in the running for flyover COA positions? I kind of assumed that a district court clerkship in California would be less competitive than any COA position, but apparently not. And obviously a COA clerkship wouldn't have the "weirdness" of two district court clerkships. So maybe I should just try for COA and if that doesn't work out, roll the dice and apply to firms without a second clerkship?

lolwat
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Re: Two District Court Clerkships

Postby lolwat » Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:22 pm

I actually think that I would practically gain something from a second clerkship in a district like C.D. Cal. I'm in S.D. Tex. (I've already given a ton of info that would out me, so why not go all the way?) which is heavily criminal.


I suppose this is true depending on the docket; it's one of the things I was trying to get at when discussing EDTX/CDCA patent. I have no criminal cases so I might gain something from another district court clerkship if I wanted to go to a USAO criminal side eventually. Even so, I think that is fairly minimal for the most part.

Personally, my advice is to try for COA and apply to firms if you don't get a COA. I believe you have the credentials & ties to get a serious look from firms in CA. Just keep in mind that 2x district court clerkships is really uncommon. I ultimately chose not to pursue a second district court clerkship.

No idea if the divisions are equally competitive, but I thought there was literally only one judge in Riverside anyway.

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nevdash
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Re: Two District Court Clerkships

Postby nevdash » Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:29 pm

Alright, thanks man. I really appreciate your advice.




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