Number of honors grades

Seek and share information about clerkship applications, clerkship hiring timelines, and post-clerkship employment opportunities.
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are sharing sensitive information about clerkship applications and clerkship hiring. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned."
Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:23 pm

Does anyone know, generally speaking, how many honors grades I should shoot for at HYS in order to get a clerkship in a competitive district court or COA?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:42 pm

My impression is you need around 2/3 Hs to Ps, if not more. Give or take depending on your recommenders' connections to the judge and how serious they are about going to bat for you.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:20 pm

From H, almost all CoA clerks are magna cum laude (3.9+) or cum laude (3.6+). So basically have obviously more Hs than Ps, but I don't think there's any set ratio that matters. Obviously the more selective the CoA judge, the higher your ratio has to be. But, generally speaking, once you're past this threshold I would imagine it becomes more about recommenders and other subjective materials.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:12 pm

Just graduated from H. You should crosslist the Latin Honors list against the list of clerks that's on the OCS website. My rough guess is that about 90% of the COA clerks graduated with Latin Honors and around 50% graduated magna. For district courts, I think around 75% graduated with Latin Honors and around 20% graduated magna. Good connections and/or experience always help, and are likely necessary if you want a feeder COA clerkship.

If you cast a wide-ish net, primarily target district courts, and have a reasonable number of H's (maybe 45-50%) then you have a very good chance of getting something. If you are dead-set on COA or an elite district court (S.D.N.Y./D.D.C./N.D. Cal.) then you are going to have some problems unless you are pretty high in the class (high cum laude or magna) or have something else going on.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:40 pm

.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:49 pm

If you're close with any professors at your school who are active in the clerkship games, honestly I think the best course of action is to share your transcript with them and ask what they think is reasonable targets. They'll know where their past students have been successful and have a better sense than abstract rumors and speculation.

Also, keep in mind Latin honors are reflective of gpa at graduation, not necessarily reflective of 2L spring grades. People can go up and down 3L year, so it's not a perfect measure. And based on my sense at my HYS school, GPA is very important but not as important as recommendations, so your overall application/profile might over- or under-perform as compared to what one would predict from your transcript alone.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:24 am

im a rising 3L at H with 5 Ps, 12 Hs and 2 DSs. I applied to all district (mostly competitive, some small new england cities) and didn't get an interview. so basically.. you can't plan for this shit.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:im a rising 3L at H with 5 Ps, 12 Hs and 2 DSs. I applied to all district (mostly competitive, some small new england cities) and didn't get an interview. so basically.. you can't plan for this shit.


you're right that you can't plan for this stuff, but these numbers seem to be within the range for competitive districts. a friend with all Hs at SLS applied exclusively to SDNY/EDNY/2d Cir and ended up with 5-7 interviews and only one offer. i had only half Hs and landed a competitive district with only one interview. it's all over the place.

i'll echo the previous commenter that 2/3rds Hs to Ps at SLS puts you in the game for competitive districts (i have no idea how book awards are weighed). half Hs or close to it is good enough for a district court somewhere provided you apply widely enough. SDNY/ND Cal/DDC and maybe even EDNY are every bit as competitive as many COA clerkships. professor recommendations are obviously important, but i'm not sure it's easy to isolate exactly how important considering many professors will go to bat hardest for those students who have the best credentials. in any event i know people who struck out with the most elite recommenders (like Karlan and Fisher) because they applied too narrowly or just didn't interview well, and i know people with far less known recommenders and 2/3rds Hs clerking on the 9th circuit.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:08 pm

Rising 3L, 3.8-3.9 GPA. Got interviews with a couple CoA and several selective District judges.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:35 pm

Any YLS people on this site? If so, and you clerked or are about to clerk, how many H's did you have by the time you graduated? Does 12 H's put one in the running for COA clerkships?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any YLS people on this site? If so, and you clerked or are about to clerk, how many H's did you have by the time you graduated? Does 12 H's put one in the running for COA clerkships?


Rising 3L at YLS here who didn't apply to many COA, so maybe this isn't totally helpful. But I have 7 H's and 2 P's so far. Applied to a small number of moderately competitive dist ct judges and got a dist ct clerkship without any trouble. Applied to only 3 COA judges (2d Cir.) and haven't gotten any calls.

How many P's do you have? If you have 12 H's, I'm guessing you don't have any more than about 5 P's, which seems pretty darn impressive to me. My sense is that if you're willing to try for any COA clerkship, you can probably get something with as little as 50% H's. If you want something like 2d Cir., it's a lot more of a crapshoot because of how many insanely qualified applicants they see. You probably have to apply to a lot of judges, time things perfectly, and get lucky. I doubt that there's any number of H's that really guarantees anything at that level, but you'd definitely be in the running.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any YLS people on this site? If so, and you clerked or are about to clerk, how many H's did you have by the time you graduated? Does 12 H's put one in the running for COA clerkships?


Rising 3L at YLS here who didn't apply to many COA, so maybe this isn't totally helpful. But I have 7 H's and 2 P's so far. Applied to a small number of moderately competitive dist ct judges and got a dist ct clerkship without any trouble. Applied to only 3 COA judges (2d Cir.) and haven't gotten any calls.

How many P's do you have? If you have 12 H's, I'm guessing you don't have any more than about 5 P's, which seems pretty darn impressive to me. My sense is that if you're willing to try for any COA clerkship, you can probably get something with as little as 50% H's. If you want something like 2d Cir., it's a lot more of a crapshoot because of how many insanely qualified applicants they see. You probably have to apply to a lot of judges, time things perfectly, and get lucky. I doubt that there's any number of H's that really guarantees anything at that level, but you'd definitely be in the running.


Another YLSer here; I generally agree with the above. I'd also note that this thread is full of healthy and useful skepticism about whether even solid grades, standing alone, can do the trick; especially when it comes to COA clerkships, obtaining many of the most competitive clerkships requires solid-to-excellent grades, some sort of connection to chambers, and luck, and obtaining the "less" competitive clerkships (ironically) can require most of those things plus a geographical connection.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any YLS people on this site? If so, and you clerked or are about to clerk, how many H's did you have by the time you graduated? Does 12 H's put one in the running for COA clerkships?


Rising 3L at YLS here who didn't apply to many COA, so maybe this isn't totally helpful. But I have 7 H's and 2 P's so far. Applied to a small number of moderately competitive dist ct judges and got a dist ct clerkship without any trouble. Applied to only 3 COA judges (2d Cir.) and haven't gotten any calls.

How many P's do you have? If you have 12 H's, I'm guessing you don't have any more than about 5 P's, which seems pretty darn impressive to me. My sense is that if you're willing to try for any COA clerkship, you can probably get something with as little as 50% H's. If you want something like 2d Cir., it's a lot more of a crapshoot because of how many insanely qualified applicants they see. You probably have to apply to a lot of judges, time things perfectly, and get lucky. I doubt that there's any number of H's that really guarantees anything at that level, but you'd definitely be in the running.


Another YLSer here; I generally agree with the above. I'd also note that this thread is full of healthy and useful skepticism about whether even solid grades, standing alone, can do the trick; especially when it comes to COA clerkships, obtaining many of the most competitive clerkships requires solid-to-excellent grades, some sort of connection to chambers, and luck, and obtaining the "less" competitive clerkships (ironically) can require most of those things plus a geographical connection.


Another former YLS'er here: This all seems right to me, but I would add a bit of nuance. Having good grades makes it much easier to convince a "connected" professor to go to bat for you, and that is the single most important "soft" in this process. So having good grades counts double in a sense.

Additionally, the classes you take matter as much if not more than the grades you get. The knock against YLS is that its non-stop fluff, so its vital for your transcript to have at least some big black letter classes.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:im a rising 3L at H with 5 Ps, 12 Hs and 2 DSs. I applied to all district (mostly competitive, some small new england cities) and didn't get an interview. so basically.. you can't plan for this shit.

Meanwhile, I know multiple rising 3Ls at H with equal or lower H/P ratios who secured CoA clerkships...

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:im a rising 3L at H with 5 Ps, 12 Hs and 2 DSs. I applied to all district (mostly competitive, some small new england cities) and didn't get an interview. so basically.. you can't plan for this shit.

Meanwhile, I know multiple rising 3Ls at H with equal or lower H/P ratios who secured CoA clerkships...


To what extent is HLR/YLJ/SLR a difference maker in situations like this?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:To what extent is HLR/YLJ/SLR a difference maker in situations like this?

It's a bit hard to tell at Yale, where YLJ membership tends to be correlated with other traditional signals of success, but my sense is that standing alone it's not worth a lot.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:im a rising 3L at H with 5 Ps, 12 Hs and 2 DSs. I applied to all district (mostly competitive, some small new england cities) and didn't get an interview. so basically.. you can't plan for this shit.

Meanwhile, I know multiple rising 3Ls at H with equal or lower H/P ratios who secured CoA clerkships...

To what extent is HLR/YLJ/SLR a difference maker in situations like this?

Original responder here: Only one of the three that I can think of off the top of my head is on HLR. The other two are on secondary journals.

There are certainly a bunch of people every year at H who graduate cum laude (3.6) and get CoA clerkships. Considering how that's only a bit more Hs than Ps (if you're not considering DSes), I think it goes to show that grades are only one component of the process when you're talking about HYS.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any YLS people on this site? If so, and you clerked or are about to clerk, how many H's did you have by the time you graduated? Does 12 H's put one in the running for COA clerkships?


Rising 3L at YLS here who didn't apply to many COA, so maybe this isn't totally helpful. But I have 7 H's and 2 P's so far. Applied to a small number of moderately competitive dist ct judges and got a dist ct clerkship without any trouble. Applied to only 3 COA judges (2d Cir.) and haven't gotten any calls.

How many P's do you have? If you have 12 H's, I'm guessing you don't have any more than about 5 P's, which seems pretty darn impressive to me. My sense is that if you're willing to try for any COA clerkship, you can probably get something with as little as 50% H's. If you want something like 2d Cir., it's a lot more of a crapshoot because of how many insanely qualified applicants they see. You probably have to apply to a lot of judges, time things perfectly, and get lucky. I doubt that there's any number of H's that really guarantees anything at that level, but you'd definitely be in the running.


Another YLSer here; I generally agree with the above. I'd also note that this thread is full of healthy and useful skepticism about whether even solid grades, standing alone, can do the trick; especially when it comes to COA clerkships, obtaining many of the most competitive clerkships requires solid-to-excellent grades, some sort of connection to chambers, and luck, and obtaining the "less" competitive clerkships (ironically) can require most of those things plus a geographical connection.


Another former YLS'er here: This all seems right to me, but I would add a bit of nuance. Having good grades makes it much easier to convince a "connected" professor to go to bat for you, and that is the single most important "soft" in this process. So having good grades counts double in a sense.

Additionally, the classes you take matter as much if not more than the grades you get. The knock against YLS is that its non-stop fluff, so its vital for your transcript to have at least some big black letter classes.


Another YLSer here. Anecdotally, if you've got 50% Hs, you'll be competitive for COAs. For feeders, it's more about the number of Ps you have than Hs, but you'll be competitive for them with 0-3ish Ps, depending on the judge and your recommenders (see below). I completely agree with the above that 2d Cir. is a crapshoot even with good grades given how many people want to be there and the limited number of slots. YLJ is a plus, particularly if your grades are mixed, but you can definitely get COA without it.

However, my impression is that, much like with law school admissions, the grades on your transcript are ultimately more important than the classes. All else being equal, Hs in black letter are definitely better than Hs in easier courses. But it is better to have mostly Hs in a mix of classes than mostly Ps in all black letter.

I also completely agree that having a professor go to bat for you is the most important "soft," and possibly just the most important factor in this process. I don't think most professors would decide not go to bat for you just because you had all Ps, but it is true that some professors will be stronger advocates for you if they think you'll be a strong applicant. You should ask knowledgeable 3Ls for more information. The people who you think would know this stuff usually do.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:54 am

Another YLSer here who went through the clerkship stuff last year. I think having your H's come from big black letters definitely matters for certain more competitive CoA judges. I know my judge cared about this. S/he also asked me in my interview which other black letters I planned to take 3L year. In addition, one of my recommenders told me several judges regularly contact them at the end of the school year to find out who the top students in their big black letter classes were. Doing well in these is definitely important, as ridiculous a metric as that is.

Also, all my recommenders asked about my transcript, and I think were more willing to push hard when they felt I had the credentials to have a legitimate chance with certain judges. That said, I think you're right, it's more about not having P's than having lots of H's. But if anything, that's because it's the quality of the H that really matters. If you know you've aced a class (like, one of the best exams) then you should definitely have you recommender discuss that. Given the inscrutable YLS transcript, having that kind of credential can be really helpful.

And at least for me, the entire process was professor-driven. I have no idea how I would have landed what I landed without them. Good luck everyone. Just remember this process is really noisy and not a reflection of anyone's worth, merit, capacity, etc. It's really damn arbitrary.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:it's more about not having P's than having lots of H's.


I'm at H/S rather than Y, so maybe there's something I'm missing, but how are these different?

Also, when you guys talk about "big black letter" courses, do you essentially mean Evidence, Admin, Tax, Corps, Fed Courts, etc?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:it's more about not having P's than having lots of H's.


I'm at H/S rather than Y, so maybe there's something I'm missing, but how are these different?

Also, when you guys talk about "big black letter" courses, do you essentially mean Evidence, Admin, Tax, Corps, Fed Courts, etc?


Sorry, yeah, that sounds kind of weird. What I mean is that 8 vs. 12 H's matters a lot less than 1 vs. 3 P's. The point being, it's when you hit a certain number of P's that you get disqualified from certain judges, rather than hitting a certain number of H's. (So, for example, a certain 9th Circuit feeder is said to want 0-1 P's. But he doesn't care how many H's you have.). This is totally silly, but that's the common parlance, and how my professors, at least, asked me about my transcript (i.e.: "Do you have any P's?).

And yes, big black letter would be anything that's a large lecture course with an exam. Also Legislation, Bankruptcy, IP, Antitrust, Crim Pro, Crim Law, Property, etc. (the latter two of which aren't required for YLS students as 1Ls).

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:it's more about not having P's than having lots of H's.


I'm at H/S rather than Y, so maybe there's something I'm missing, but how are these different?

Also, when you guys talk about "big black letter" courses, do you essentially mean Evidence, Admin, Tax, Corps, Fed Courts, etc?


Sorry, yeah, that sounds kind of weird. What I mean is that 8 vs. 12 H's matters a lot less than 1 vs. 3 P's. The point being, it's when you hit a certain number of P's that you get disqualified from certain judges, rather than hitting a certain number of H's. (So, for example, a certain 9th Circuit feeder is said to want 0-1 P's. But he doesn't care how many H's you have.). This is totally silly, but that's the common parlance, and how my professors, at least, asked me about my transcript (i.e.: "Do you have any P's?).

And the distinction matters because Yale students chose their own courses after the first (ungraded) semester. So this spring, when the clerkship feeding frenzy began, some students had as few as 6-7 grades on their transcript (after two graded semesters) while others had as many as 8-10. All else equal, a transcript with 9 Hs might look better than a transcript with 7, but arguably a transcript with 7H would look better than a transcript with 8H/1P, particularly if several of the Hs are in clinics or supervised research.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:All else equal, a transcript with 9 Hs might look better than a transcript with 7, but arguably a transcript with 7H would look better than a transcript with 8H/1P, particularly if several of the Hs are in clinics or supervised research.


A previous poster here. The former transcript definitely looks better for clerkship apps. I know people who, for different reasons, only had a few grades (4-7) by the time they applied to clerkships, but they had all Hs in some tougher black letters and no Ps. With strong recs from those black letter professors, they got feeders.

For non-feeder/2d/DC COAs, a mix of grades is fine, and you're in good shape if you're at 2/3 Hs. But for feeders, the question is almost always "how many Ps?"

Anonymous User
Posts: 273519
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Number of honors grades

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:56 pm

A previous poster here. The former transcript definitely looks better for clerkship apps. I know people who, for different reasons, only had a few grades (4-7) by the time they applied to clerkships, but they had all Hs in some tougher black letters and no Ps. With strong recs from those black letter professors, they got feeders.


+1. Previous poster, and also know of people in that camp. The value of strong recs from profs on the basis of acing black letter classes (and also having some sort of relationship with them, be it through class, office hours, etc.) should not be underestimated. Judges don't like how opaque YLS transcripts are, and this gives them the feeling (however problematic it is to base this on law school exams alone) that they know who they think are the strongest candidates are.




Return to “Judicial Clerkships”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.