How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

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How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:09 pm

Hello all. I was wondering how you all got along with your co-clerks during your clerkship? Do interactions differ in COA vs. D. Ct.? I am wondering because I usually get along well with others, but I've never worked so closely (physically) everyday. Do you guys have any tips? How did you play nice? Was there anything you did at the beginning to show you weren't a douche and were likeable?

Did any of you guys have bad experiences with your co-clerks? Tell us how you would have changed the situation!

I'm personally doing a district court clerkship and would appreciate any tips.

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Re: How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:44 pm

Some of it may depend on how your judge runs chambers. I am in a chambers where the judge (district) likes everyone to collaborate, so my co-clerk (who is permanent) and I talk through cases quite a lot. We also work together to figure out who will do what cases. However, there are judges in my district who don't want their clerks discussing cases with each other, and divvy up cases by case number (evens/odds). So the actual work dynamics can vary depending to what extent you're actually working on the same stuff as opposed to just in the same chambers.

It might also vary depending on whether your co-clerk is term or career. I have only worked with career clerks, who have been extremely understanding and generous about letting me get a crack at cases that interest me, and spend time in the courtroom observing proceedings (often you're in the courtroom to assist the judge, but being in the courtroom does take away from time spent writing). That might be different if you're both term clerks. Working with a career clerk is great because you have someone who knows exactly how everything works who can really help you. However, as the only term clerk you're lower on the food chain than everyone else in chambers, too (everyone else knows what they're doing and has proven their worth).

Finally, chambers are really small, and some of how well you get along with your co-workers will just be luck of the draw. If you have an annoying co-clerk, there's not much you can do but try to avoid conflict. I don't think you have to do anything specific when you start, just be reasonable and pleasant and professional.

lolwat
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Re: How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

Postby lolwat » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:30 am

Anon above is pretty much spot on that it depends in part on how your judge runs chambers. Mine (district) also wanted everyone to collaborate. I got along fine with my co-clerks this year, but we also are in a chambers that has separate offices for each clerk so I'm not sure if it's the same, as I know some chambers have one big office for clerks that would put everyone in much closer physicial proximity. We do often just drop by each others' offices though, often to talk about cases, but often to also just be like "god damn I hate this case, how's your day going."

In general, I think judges are probably pretty good at weeding out people that are going to be insufferable. If you were hired by the judge, s/he probably thought you were likable enough for him/her to work with you for a year--that same thought would have gone into selecting your co-clerks.

Career clerks are pretty different because they're on a higher level than you are. But again, they've already been vetted by the judge, and they wouldn't be a career clerk if the judge didn't genuinely enjoy working with them. The only ones I've ever known have been the absolute nicest people ever. Like, EVER.

This is also a gut feeling, but I think it might also depend on how competitive your judge is.

But I don't know. Maybe on the first or second day just see if your co-clerks want to grab a beer or something to all get to know each other outside of the office.

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Re: How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:47 am

The career clerk in my chambers is horrible. She's two-faced and vindicate. She will tell me things that she says the judge doesn't like about my work. But after asking the judge, it's not true. She did not show her true colors for a while into my term. But once she got comfortable me, she went full on batshit crazy. I have a few weeks left and I'm counting down the time to never talk to her again.

For the record, my judge was extremely helpful and supportive throughout the entire term. I never entered a pissing match with the career clerk and just let stuff ride. So my clerkship was still a great experience. But it easily could have been a nightmare had I entered her realm of insanity.

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Re: How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

Postby lolwat » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:56 am

The career clerk in my chambers is horrible. She's two-faced and vindicate. She will tell me things that she says the judge doesn't like about my work. But after asking the judge, it's not true. She did not show her true colors for a while into my term. But once she got comfortable me, she went full on batshit crazy. I have a few weeks left and I'm counting down the time to never talk to her again.

For the record, my judge was extremely helpful and supportive throughout the entire term. I never entered a pissing match with the career clerk and just let stuff ride. So my clerkship was still a great experience. But it easily could have been a nightmare had I entered her realm of insanity.


That sucks, I'm sorry to hear that. :( I've met four different career clerks (a few in this district and one in another district) and they've all been very pleasant, especially the ones here throughout my term. I just hope that your experience was an exception.

nonprofit-prophet
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Re: How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:04 am

I got hired back in April and haven't heard anything from the judge about co-clerks (or anything else for that matter). when do judges usually send out info about your co-clerks?

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Bildungsroman
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Re: How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

Postby Bildungsroman » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:34 am

nonprofit-prophet wrote:I got hired back in April and haven't heard anything from the judge about co-clerks (or anything else for that matter). when do judges usually send out info about your co-clerks?

Depends 100% on the judge.

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Re: How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:52 am

I have had two co-clerks.

The first was hands down the worst person I've ever worked with. He was faux nice, but I am fairly certain he has some kind of social disorder that makes him the way he is. He acted like he was the judge and it was his chambers to the point that it was a running joke among me, the JA, and even the judge from time to time that he was the judge. Because he had been there for about 2 years, he would talk down to me for minor things and was completely tactless in everything he did. Fortunately, he got a new job and left.

My advice is just to do whatever you can to get along with everyone in your chambers. I fucking hated (and continue to hate) that first clerk so much but I never let it show. I told him a few times to just worry about his cases, but he continued to be Judge Co-Clerk, so I learned to just deal with it. Chambers are very intimate places to work and it sucks to have a problem with 1/3 of your co-workers, so IMO it's best to just suck it up.

My current co-clerk, on the other hand, is one of the best people I've ever worked with. She has my back and is just a generally great person all around. I have no complaints about her and I believe the feeling is mutual.

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Re: How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:37 am

Bildungsroman wrote:
nonprofit-prophet wrote:I got hired back in April and haven't heard anything from the judge about co-clerks (or anything else for that matter). when do judges usually send out info about your co-clerks?

Depends 100% on the judge.

It's not unusual not to hear anything more from chambers until about a month before you start work. (Though obviously contact them before then if there's something you need to know.)

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Re: How did you get along with your co-clerk? Any advice?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:39 am

nonprofit-prophet wrote:I got hired back in April and haven't heard anything from the judge about co-clerks (or anything else for that matter). when do judges usually send out info about your co-clerks?


I got a letter about six months before starting with that info. If the judge has a JA, I think it would be fine to call or email and ask who your co-clerk(s) will be.




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