Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

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Specialhawk
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Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby Specialhawk » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:08 pm

So I'm ranked in the top 10% percent of a law school roughly in the low 20s. Never done law review but have done interschool moot court competition, finished in the quarter finals out of about 20+ teams. I've been to China to work for a law firm my first year, and I'm currently a research assistant for a professor and externing for a superior court judge. I've also been a professional poker player prior to coming to law school.

Most of my applications do not contain my full 2L grades. I need to update them on my ranking as well. I was in the top 5% and I dropped into the top 10% (I've posted about it in a previous post regarding my grade in public benefits). I did about 200 applications, and have been rejected for 20 spots roughly. I do have the 9th circuit asking me for more information, but I can't see the 9th circuit accepting my application, just based on what everyone has done me about how competitive it is.

Well here is the thing. My career dream as of now, although a highly far fetched dream (what good is a dream if it isn't far fetched!), would be to be able to clerk for the Supreme Court of the United States. Of course I'd be extremely happy if I could do COA. I'm willing to make this into a long term goal (10 years later or even 20 years later). Right now I've received an interview with a federal magistrate judge in the Northern California. I'm also thinking about doing some State Supreme Court applications.

If the federal magistrate judge should accept me, should I instantly accept his offer?
I'm willing to work my way up slowly from being a magistrate clerk to a district clerk, and a COA clerk, and even doing practice for a while if I can't do such a path so directly. I have also thought about getting a LLM from a more pretigious school if it will help with getting a Supreme Court clerkship someday.

Anyone have any ideas roughly how competitive is it for federal magistrates? And am I pretty lucky to be getting a interview just based on my grades?

Thank you so much for any advice

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MarkRenton
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby MarkRenton » Sat Jul 20, 2013 8:36 pm

What are your other options? What're you doing this summer? I mean if you're summer at Cravath, don't go to a Magistrate Judge. The point is, the logic of following a certain path is only as strong as your other options.

Another
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Postby Another » Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:23 am

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Last edited by Another on Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

GertrudePerkins
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby GertrudePerkins » Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:01 am

Specialhawk wrote:Well here is the thing. My career dream as of now, although a highly far fetched dream (what good is a dream if it isn't far fetched!), would be to be able to clerk for the Supreme Court of the United States. Of course I'd be extremely happy if I could do COA. I'm willing to make this into a long term goal (10 years later or even 20 years later). . . . I'm willing to work my way up slowly from being a magistrate clerk to a district clerk, and a COA clerk, and even doing practice for a while if I can't do such a path so directly. I have also thought about getting a LLM from a more pretigious school if it will help with getting a Supreme Court clerkship someday.
I promise I'm not saying this just to be a downer: I don't think this notion of an extremely long-term career path to COA or SCOTUS clerking is at all realistic. I just don't think it works that way. Obviously not everyone clerks directly out of LS; some people clerk 3, 4, 5 years down the road. But I think clerking 10 years out is extraordinarily rare, and 20 years out unheard of, unless it's some kind of specialized court or career clerk position. (I'm open to hearing contrary evidence, but I think it must be pretty hard to come by.) I imagine part of it is that judges want people who are in the relatively early stages of their careers because (1) it's easier to work with a clerk who isn't set so set in his/her ways of thinking about legal issues, and (2) the mentoring aspect of the relationship is more satisfying with a young lawyer. I'll grant you that SCOTUS justices do sometimes hire clerks who have been out of LS for 5, 6, 7 years (I even know of at least one SCOTUS clerk who was hired 10 years out). But these are people who went to HYS, were on LR, and did things like the Bristow or work for OLC (example 1 (LinkRemoved), example 2, example 3) (!) in the interim between graduating and SCOTUS clerking. While clerking for a federal magistrate and getting an LLM may, depending on one's particular circumstances and professional goals, be smart things to do, I don't think either is realistically a stepping stone toward a SCOTUS clerkship.

Let me now return to my opening promise, lest you think I'm just saying all this because I enjoy dumping on people's hopes. That's not my aim. I just think there can be serious opportunity costs to making your current professional decisions in the hopes of heading down a career path that is very likely to be a dead end. It seems like a good way to miss other valuable opportunities, simply because they don't seem consistent with your dream.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:38 am

I completely agree with both GertrudePerkins and hopkins23. As for your general question, I think it's possible with either a fed mag clerkship or a SSC clerkship to parlay it into a subsequent "better" clerkship, but there will probably have to be some luck involved. In any case, if the fed mag judge makes you an offer, and gives you time to consider, then you can feel free to take the time to consider (and look for other stuff if you like). If they expect an answer on the spot, that's up to you, but if you don't have any other options lined up I would accept it. I don't think your grades/school are bad but the competition for any clerkship cheese days is so tough that it's extremely hard to predict out outcomes.

Green Crayons
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby Green Crayons » Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:22 pm

In addition to the above:
Specialhawk wrote:So I'm ranked in the top 10% percent of a law school roughly in the low 20s. Never done law review
Specialhawk wrote:My career dream as of now, although a highly far fetched dream (what good is a dream if it isn't far fetched!), would be to be able to clerk for the Supreme Court of the United States.
These two things are incompatible.

Sorry, bud. If your rank is in stone (because you have graduated), I wouldn't have high hopes for a COA clerkship either, unless if you have a personal connection with a COA judge or some other extraordinary situation. Federal District Courts shouldn't be out of the running depending on when and where you are applying, as well as the typical considerations (luck, recommendation strengths, etc.).

Anonymous User
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:25 pm

The idea that you're going to clerk for SCOTUS or even the federal COA really misapprehends how the process works. Those judges want people who have literally jumped through every single hoop their entire life, or all but one (maybe they can go to a T20 and graduate #1, instead of top 10 people at HYS). You don't get promoted to it by starting out at the bottom of the chain.

That being said, there are a lot of great options to career clerk if that is what you want to do. On my SSC, several of the judges have career clerks, and some of the judges who were promoted directly from the intermediate appellate court brought their clerks with them (I know one clerk who is the same age as the judge!). Some courts have panels of clerks who do not work for one particular judge, but are essentially lawyers for the court. Focus on getting the clerkships first.

Specialhawk wrote:I have also thought about getting a LLM from a more prestigious school if it will help with getting a Supreme Court clerkship someday.


This would be an extraordinary waste of money.

ClerkAdvisor
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby ClerkAdvisor » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:53 pm

OP - I think your problem is that you're treating clerking as an end. Clerking, by the nature of the work (exempting career clerks), is a temporary job. You clerk to put yourself in a better position, develop better skills, whatever. It shouldn't be treated as an end in itself. Thus, if a clerkship works out for you, that's great, if it doesn't, its not a huge loss. The only thing that would be a big loss is if you waste your time trying to chase down a 'better' clerkship. And, as others have said, a SCOTUS clerkship is simply not in the cards (if you're not top 5% at HYS with strong faculty support or ranked #1-5 with strong faculty support at a T10, a SCOTUS clerkship is not going to happen); likewise, a Federal COA clerkship is unlikely as well. But, a district court clerkship is possible and, for a future litigator, probably the most valuable of clerkships.

ZyzzBrah
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby ZyzzBrah » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:22 am

Unfortunately, the lack of law review will keep you from getting a lot of clerkships.

Anonymous User
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:58 pm

ZyzzBrah wrote:Unfortunately, the lack of law review will keep you from getting a lot of clerkships.


Eh, I think the law review requirement is a little overstated. I know several clerks that didn't have law review (including myself). They had other things to make up for it of course, but it wasn't a deal breaker automatically. If you go to a really good school like HYS or you have tippy top grades or you were a moot court star, those kinds of things can make up for no LR imo.

Anyone else have input?

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nevdash
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby nevdash » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
ZyzzBrah wrote:Unfortunately, the lack of law review will keep you from getting a lot of clerkships.


Eh, I think the law review requirement is a little overstated. I know several clerks that didn't have law review (including myself). They had other things to make up for it of course, but it wasn't a deal breaker automatically. If you go to a really good school like HYS or you have tippy top grades or you were a moot court star, those kinds of things can make up for no LR imo.

Anyone else have input?

ZyzzBrah wrote:Unfortunately, the lack of law review will keep you from getting a lot of clerkships.

ZyzzBrah wrote:keep you from getting a lot of clerkships.


OP doesn't go to a really good school, doesn't have tippy top grades, and you're just flat wrong if you think moot court by itself can make up for lack of LR.

Anonymous User
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:53 pm

I think the point here is that getting a decent clerkship is not out of the question, but that the idea that you can work your way up to the SCOTUS is fairly far-fetched.

Kind of like the idea that you can start in the mail room of one of the top companies in the US and hope to be CEO, except possibly less likely than that.

I don't think people want to rain on parades, but I think most would agree this is objectively very unlikely, if not impossible.

Anonymous User
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:57 pm

nevdash wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
ZyzzBrah wrote:Unfortunately, the lack of law review will keep you from getting a lot of clerkships.


Eh, I think the law review requirement is a little overstated. I know several clerks that didn't have law review (including myself). They had other things to make up for it of course, but it wasn't a deal breaker automatically. If you go to a really good school like HYS or you have tippy top grades or you were a moot court star, those kinds of things can make up for no LR imo.

Anyone else have input?

ZyzzBrah wrote:Unfortunately, the lack of law review will keep you from getting a lot of clerkships.

ZyzzBrah wrote:keep you from getting a lot of clerkships.


OP doesn't go to a really good school, doesn't have tippy top grades, and you're just flat wrong if you think moot court by itself can make up for lack of LR.


Thanks, I got it, buddy-boy. Unfortunately, many people on the Internet often use "you" as they use the pronoun "one"-- referring to any person indefinitely. So when people give general advice and say, "You need to get at least X number of recommendations," they're talking about people generally. That's how I read ZyzzBrah's comment. Maybe he meant it as a reference just to OP, but I read it (perhaps accidentally) as an indefinite pronoun. It's not totally unreasonable because people spout out all sorts of advice like that in the general forum (e.g., "You needa be on LR to get a good job, dude.").

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nevdash
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Re: Federal Magistrate Judge vs State Supreme Court Clerkship

Postby nevdash » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks, I got it, buddy-boy. Unfortunately, many people on the Internet often use "you" as they use the pronoun "one"-- referring to any person indefinitely. So when people give general advice and say, "You need to get at least X number of recommendations," they're talking about people generally. That's how I read ZyzzBrah's comment. Maybe he meant it as a reference just to OP, but I read it (perhaps accidentally) as an indefinite pronoun. It's not totally unreasonable because people spout out all sorts of advice like that in the general forum (e.g., "You needa be on LR to get a good job, dude.").

I understand, but either way, it just seemed strange to bring up the exceptions to the general "you need LR to get a federal clerkship" rule in an advice thread for a person to whom the exceptions don't apply. But I was kind of a jerk. Sorry.




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