Choosing 2L Summer Firm With Clerkships In Mind

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Should we be strategic when we choose our 2L firm?

Choose DC no matter what.
0
No votes
Choose DC, but only if you have an offer from WilmerHale.
2
33%
Choose the secondary market if that's where you want to be.
4
67%
 
Total votes: 6

Anonymous User
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Choosing 2L Summer Firm With Clerkships In Mind

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:22 am

If you have a shot at a circuit clerkship (T14 Top 10% Law Review) then how much does it matter where you work 2L summer? Should clerkship aps be a consideration if you are choosing between - say - a fancy DC firm and a secondary market? Would a good but not overly impressive DC firm (Skadden, Cleary, Latham?) be comparable to, or better than, a firm in the secondary market?

ClerkAdvisor
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Re: Choosing 2L Summer Firm With Clerkships In Mind

Postby ClerkAdvisor » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:If you have a shot at a circuit clerkship (T14 Top 10% Law Review) then how much does it matter where you work 2L summer? Should clerkship aps be a consideration if you are choosing between - say - a fancy DC firm and a secondary market? Would a good but not overly impressive DC firm (Skadden, Cleary, Latham?) be comparable to, or better than, a firm in the secondary market?


(1) A clerkship is a stepping stone and is not a long term goal. You should pick the firm / market where you want to practice for the foreseeable future.

(2) Top 10% + LR at a T14 makes you competitive for most district courts, not circuit courts. Most non-T6 schools are placing about 10 people or so into COA clerkships. So, while it could certainly happen at top 10%, you're not super competitive for COA until top 5%. And at top 10%, you would have a better shot at a judge who sat in whatever secondary market that you are looking at if you have ties there or an SA there.

(3) I don't know what world you live in, but in the DC world, Skadden, Latham, and Cleary are all top notch, very impressive firms. Skadden has a great litigation department in DC and probably the best tax practice in DC, Latham has a top notch environmental practice and one of the absolute best appellate practices in DC, and Cleary has an amazing antitrust practice. I know people who have turned down Covington, W&C, and other firms to go to these firms instead.

Anonymous User
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Re: Choosing 2L Summer Firm With Clerkships In Mind

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:14 pm

ClerkAdvisor wrote:in the DC world, Skadden, Latham, and Cleary are all top notch, very impressive firms.


OP here: Not knocking Skadden, just trying to get a sense of how summering in a secondary market will limit clerkship options geographically and which (if any) firms in large markets broaden those options by signaling ambition and whatnot. My sense is this can be important to judges.

I take the point that it could be a trade-off: E.g., an increased chance of obtaining COA in Iowa but limited options outside the 8th circuit.

badaboom61
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Re: Choosing 2L Summer Firm With Clerkships In Mind

Postby badaboom61 » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:25 pm

Being at a DC firm vs your choice secondary market probably wouldn't on the whole net you enough additional clerkship opportunities that it would worth structuring around that. Assume you won't even get a clerkship (most people, even with your credentials, don't), and go with the firm you would want to work for. If you do end up getting it, icing on the cake.

Anonymous User
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Re: Choosing 2L Summer Firm With Clerkships In Mind

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:31 pm

+1 to everything clerkadvisor said.

What firm you pick is unlikely to have an effect on your clerkship hunt. There are some exceptions in that you may make connections at your firm to a former clerk and that might help you get a clerkship with that person's judge, There is also the case of judges who want someone who intends to work in the local legal market or have ties to the area so going to a secondary market might help you with some local judges there, but it's not going to hurt you with judges elsewhere except for those who care about local ties and it's not like going to DC would be any better for those judges. Ignoring those scenarios, I don't think most judges really care about what firm you work at for the summer. The most important thing from the above post is that you should choose a firm based on where you want to work long term and not in regards to your future clerkship hunt.

As someone with similar stats to you who applied for clerkships previously, the second biggest thing you should takeaway from clerkadvisor's post is that you aren't really competitive for CoA. It could happen but don't get your hopes up for that.

lolwat
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Re: Choosing 2L Summer Firm With Clerkships In Mind

Postby lolwat » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:01 pm

Any difference is probably very marginal. I clerked for a district judge in a flyover district, so we did pause for a second or two whenever we got an application from someone that summered or is currently at S&C or Gibson Dunn or something. Once we narrowed applications down to the grade and other objective (and arbitrary) cut-offs, to me, what they did during law school and during their summers could be an additional indication that the particular applicant was highly successful up to this point and is likely to continue being successful. However, I suspect that COA would be different because the credentials of people applying to those (even flyover ones) are generally going to be much better...

Anyway, one other thing that I haven't seen mentioned that you might want to consider is whether the secondary market firm is likely to hold a post-SA offer open during your clerkship. I think it's almost a given that a fancy DC firm will do so but a secondary market firm may or may not.

Anonymous User
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Re: Choosing 2L Summer Firm With Clerkships In Mind

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:54 am

Current district court clerk in a secondary market here. A few points:

(1) Your grades will probably not disqualify you from COA judges (although you don't have much of a shot with feeders, semi-feeders, or judges in major markets), but they won't get you picked out of the pile, either. I agree with ClerkAdvisor that you have a better shot at district courts than COA.

(2) Clerkship hiring is idiosyncratic and random. There is very little you can do to influence whether you get hired, and the firm you pick is way, way down on the list of what judges will look at. Whatever influence the firm you pick will have on clerkship applications is vastly outweighed by the influence that it will have on the trajectory of your career and the first few years of your professional life.

(3) Whether you should pick DC or a secondary market is too complex a question to answer given the information you have given us. If you are sure that you want to end up in the secondary market, I think you cannot go wrong by spending your summer there (assuming that you don't get no-offered, which is an important consideration). If you aren't, then I think that working at a top-notch DC firm and figuring out what you want to do after that when the time comes is a fine decision too.

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Re: Choosing 2L Summer Firm With Clerkships In Mind

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:46 pm

OP here: Just stopping in to thank the people who responded; this all seems credited.

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Re: Choosing 2L Summer Firm With Clerkships In Mind

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:48 pm

There are a few COA judges who like clerks from a specific firm such that having an offer from that firm on your resume will give you a "boost" (e.g. having an offer from Munger or Altshuler Berzon will help you with specific 9th Circuit judges that have longstanding relationships with those firms). It's only a good idea to factor this into your decision if you have other strong indications that one of those judges is likely to hire you (e.g. a professor or somebody at that firm has already spoken with that judge).

My (COA) judge didn't care at all about the "prestige" of my 2L firm. Hell, I don't think he could tell you the difference between Cravath and Bob Loblaw LLP even if a SCOTUS appointment were on the line. I get the sense from my discussions with other clerks and judges that the vast majority of judges fall into this category.




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