Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

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Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:28 pm

For those who will be starting a clerkship soon, what are you doing to prepare? I was thinking about reading up on local rules, reading some of my judge's recent opinions, etc.

Also, is anyone else pretty nervous (if also excited)?

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Also, is anyone else pretty nervous (if also excited)?


Yes.

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:34 pm

I would figure out who your recommenders are and start the ball rolling on getting letters written. That was the hardest part for me.

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I would figure out who your recommenders are and start the ball rolling on getting letters written. That was the hardest part for me.

The question is prepping for the clerkship, not prepping clerkship applications.

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 27, 2013 10:01 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I would figure out who your recommenders are and start the ball rolling on getting letters written. That was the hardest part for me.

The question is prepping for the clerkship, not prepping clerkship applications.


Ah, my bad. Read this thread far too quickly, despite its shortness.

In that case, I would also like to participate in this thread because I also will be starting a clerkship and want to know what others are doing to prepare.

I'm thinking of polishing up my legal writing skills by reading some books on good writing. What are you guys doing? What would you past clerks suggest?

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:10 am

Anyone know the best way to look through a judge's opinions? I found all of my judge's cases on Westlaw, but I don't see an option for organizing by "most cited" (which I swear I've seen elsewhere). I thought reading some of his/her most well-known cases would be a good way to get a handle on writing style, organization, etc.

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:Anyone know the best way to look through a judge's opinions? I found all of my judge's cases on Westlaw, but I don't see an option for organizing by "most cited" (which I swear I've seen elsewhere). I thought reading some of his/her most well-known cases would be a good way to get a handle on writing style, organization, etc.

The only thing I can think of is going through the cases and seeing which ones have the most citing references. It's not as quick as if there's a way to organize by most cited, but it would give you some idea. I'm not sure that the cases need to be well-known to help you figure out the writing style, organization, etc., though - the mundane, ordinary cases will do just as well (and also make up the majority of what you'll be handling). Also, looking at more recent ones rather than older ones will give a sense of current practice.

I'm trying to think what I wish I'd done... I do think reading through a bunch of opinions/orders can be helpful, not for the content, just for the overall structure/tone. At least at the district court level, the structure of orders is pretty formulaic (we have a template) so becoming familiar with it can be helpful. And there is a kind of tone for writing for the court - more objective, less advocacy/persuasion (I mean, I know that's obvious, but you might look for how that's expressed). I think reading through the local rules could be helpful, and honestly, I wish I'd read through the FRCP (I was really rusty).

But mostly you'll learn it as you go along, and there isn't anything you *have* to do to prepare. I think the initial learning curve is going to be steep no matter what prep you do, but it's not going to be insurmountable - you can all totally do this brilliantly.

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby lolwat » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:24 am

I didn't really do anything other than drop by chambers about a week or two before the clerkship and talk to the clerk I would be replacing to get a feel for the cases that I'll be taking over. I think that's the best way to prepare: you're probably inheriting cases, which will very possibly include motions you need to rule on and/or hearings/conferences that you need to prepare for soon after you start. Everything else... well, a LOT is stuff you'll have to find out yourself anyway--your hours of preparing now might save you about 10 minutes of time when you actually start working.

Part of this might be that my judge is really lenient about writing style. He obviously has certain preferences so we get those edited and adapt to them, and the structure of the opinions should be pretty consistent (to a degree--typically facts->legal standards->analysis->conclusion), but he seems to be OK with whatever "style" any given law clerk adopts for general legal writing.

Anyone know the best way to look through a judge's opinions? I found all of my judge's cases on Westlaw, but I don't see an option for organizing by "most cited" (which I swear I've seen elsewhere). I thought reading some of his/her most well-known cases would be a good way to get a handle on writing style, organization, etc.


I messed with this just now. Are you using Westlaw Next? I just did a WL search for "advanced: JU("JUDGE")" and got 904 cases, and then there's the "Sort By" drop-down list, where you can select "Most Cited."

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 03, 2013 6:34 pm

I'm a federal COA clerk, just a little short of the year mark. A couple of suggestions, though with the caveat that it might not be as relevant for district court or state court clerks.

Opinion Writing by Judge Aldisert provides a pretty good overview. Several of the Garner books, e.g., The Redbook, Elements of Legal Style, etc. are solid resources that provide recommendations on how to improve your writing.

Obviously, your judge's preferences will trump anything that Aldisert/Garner, etc. recommend.

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby legalese_retard » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:08 am

This may be late for some, but the FJC Online website provides really good resources (--LinkRemoved--). There is a link specifically for law clerks. It is an intranet site, so it may not be accessible outside the government network.

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby Omerta » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:11 pm

I met with the outgoing clerk twice and read a few articles on the habeas process (seriously).

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:25 pm

One week in to my district court gig. It's overwhelming but exciting. I can tell it will be months before I feel comfortable doing this stuff.

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Re: Clerkship preparation thread ('13 term)

Postby nevdash » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:One week in to my district court gig. It's overwhelming but exciting. I can tell it will be months before I feel comfortable doing this stuff.

I still have a panic attack every time I have to show my judge something as simple as an order setting a hearing.




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