Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

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Anonymous User
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Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:33 pm

This came up in another thread and I'd like it to get separate attention. For now, it's more of an academic exercise than a real problem for me.

Looking for some feedback/thoughts on how to manage some confidentiality concerns in the clerkship interview process as an alum. I don't want my firm to know that I am looking to do a clerkship. Would it look bad not to have a letter of rec. from my firm? If the judge wants to contact the firm, can I say no? If I get a clerkship (which is always unlikely), when do I need to disclose that fact to the firm that I will be leaving for a clerkship?

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:20 pm

When I interviewed as an alum, multiple judges said that they would need to talk to my firm before making a hiring decision. Tread carefully. What year are you? Can you sell the clerkship to your firm as a value-add?

You don't want to be in a position where you feel you have to say, during the interview, that you'd prefer the judge not to contact your firm.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:When I interviewed as an alum, multiple judges said that they would need to talk to my firm before making a hiring decision. Tread carefully. What year are you? Can you sell the clerkship to your firm as a value-add?

You don't want to be in a position where you feel you have to say, during the interview, that you'd prefer the judge not to contact your firm.


Firm won't support it--that's all I can say. Unfortunately, if a judge asks, I think I'll have to state my preference for no contact with the firm. I think the best response is: "I want to do a clerkship; the firm doesn't; and I'd prefer you not contact them--if I am not able to clerk I would prefer not jeopardizing my current position." Or something like that.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:24 pm

Sounds like you have no other option than to follow your described approach.

I understand an institutional anti-clerkship culture, but there's no individual partner who might be able to help you and to whom you could funnel judge inquiries?

elipad
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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby elipad » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:31 pm

A buddy was in a similar situation. He privately told one friend/quasi-supervisor (was two years his senior) and he used him as a firm reference. Do you have anyone at the firm that could privately help you out?

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:47 pm

elipad wrote:A buddy was in a similar situation. He privately told one friend/quasi-supervisor (was two years his senior) and he used him as a firm reference. Do you have anyone at the firm that could privately help you out?


op here. Thanks for the comments. I will consider, very carefully, trying to open up to someone who would be willing to go to bat for me... My problem is there is no obvious choice. I have people at a different firm I worked at that would be willing to answer questions. So it's not as if I'm without practitioners for references... Still, not ideal.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:36 pm

I didn't tell my firm before the fact, told judges they could contact the firm, and gave a roll of the dice. It was a stressful process and I'm not sure I'd advise following it, but it ultimately worked out.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:43 pm

I had the same issue. I just found a few people within the firm that I trusted and provided them as contacts. Landed an SDNY clerkship without anyone at the firm, that I didn't trust, knowing.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:21 am

op. thanks for all of the feedback, folks.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby hiima3L » Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:47 am

Almost every employer understands that people need to leave their current jobs without their employers knowing for one reason or another. It's perfectly acceptable to state in your CL that you would like your application to remain confidential, and I doubt any judge would try to divine much from that. You can always put the ever ambiguous but reasonable explanaton "for personal reasons."

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby JusticeJackson » Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:08 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:05 pm

This thread is very relevant to my situation. Anyone know of judges that have contacted an applicant's firm without the applicant's consent? If I list only law school profs, no judge is going to google my firm's number and call, right?

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:41 am

Anonymous User wrote:This thread is very relevant to my situation. Anyone know of judges that have contacted an applicant's firm without the applicant's consent? If I list only law school profs, no judge is going to google my firm's number and call, right?


COA clerk here. In the words of a venerable Internet meme, "Ain't nobody got time for that."*

* This, obviously, varies from chambers to chambers.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby heartbreaker » Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:28 pm

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Last edited by heartbreaker on Fri Feb 07, 2014 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:26 pm

heartbreaker wrote:I worked at a boutique firm whose practice is concentrated in the federal court in my district. The judges knew most of the partners at my firm very well, both professionally and socially. Every judge I interviewed with called my firm either before or after the interview, even when I did not list a partner as a reference. I only found out when people at the firm told me. This was not a problem for me, but it really should be expected that the judge will call your current employer, especially if your firm is located in the district where you are applying and the judges know partners well.


Thanks for this observation. In the event I interview with a judge in the district where my firm is (a definite possibility), do you think it is appropriate to proactively request the judge maintain some confidentiality. I think the dilemma is that the judge has an ongoing relationship with these lawyers, and would not want to "poach" an associate; but at the same time, I find it hard for a judge to be sympathetic with a firm that would be unsupportive of an associate seeking a clerkship.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby heartbreaker » Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:37 pm

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Last edited by heartbreaker on Fri Feb 07, 2014 6:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:47 pm

heartbreaker wrote: I think this is a problem for people working at smaller, specialized firms.


Yep.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Opinions_R_Us » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:55 pm

Speaking from the perspective of the hiring judge, I would expect you to explain the situation honestly much as you describe. I normally contact any legal employer or place where a candidate interned before making a hiring decision but I am not going to knowingly ruin a candidate's current employment situation. The bottom line is that if I can't get a good enough feel for the kind of law clerk the candidate is going to be from other references, I will pass and hire someone else. It is a buyers market after all.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:17 pm

Opinions_R_Us wrote:Speaking from the perspective of the hiring judge, I would expect you to explain the situation honestly much as you describe. I normally contact any legal employer or place where a candidate interned before making a hiring decision but I am not going to knowingly ruin a candidate's current employment situation. The bottom line is that if I can't get a good enough feel for the kind of law clerk the candidate is going to be from other references, I will pass and hire someone else. It is a buyers market after all.


Thank you, very much. Would you recommend indicating the confidentiality concern in a cover letter? Or wait until the interview?

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby legalese_retard » Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Opinions_R_Us wrote:Speaking from the perspective of the hiring judge, I would expect you to explain the situation honestly much as you describe. I normally contact any legal employer or place where a candidate interned before making a hiring decision but I am not going to knowingly ruin a candidate's current employment situation. The bottom line is that if I can't get a good enough feel for the kind of law clerk the candidate is going to be from other references, I will pass and hire someone else. It is a buyers market after all.


Thank you, very much. Would you recommend indicating the confidentiality concern in a cover letter? Or wait until the interview?


To be safe, I would put this in the cover letter. The judge may want to call one of their contacts at your firm before setting up the interview. If the job posting doesn't expressly prohibit it, you might also try calling chambers and speak with the judge's legal assistant or current law clerks and ask them what you should do. The clerks should be receptive to that kind of a question, so it shouldn't be a problem.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:51 pm

Opinions_R_Us wrote:Speaking from the perspective of the hiring judge, I would expect you to explain the situation honestly much as you describe. I normally contact any legal employer or place where a candidate interned before making a hiring decision but I am not going to knowingly ruin a candidate's current employment situation. The bottom line is that if I can't get a good enough feel for the kind of law clerk the candidate is going to be from other references, I will pass and hire someone else. It is a buyers market after all.


This question is for the judge and anyone else who may be knowledgable. Will judges call one's firm BEFORE offering an interview? My firm does NOT want me to clerk and thus I am NOT listing anyone as a reference. My worst nightmare is a judge calling my firm to ask about me ex ante to offering me an interview. I'm not even sure how one would even know who to ask about me. I'm thinking about putting in my cover letter to please be discrete but I'm scared that'll come off as really shady.

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Re: Applying for clerkships "confidentially"

Postby Opinions_R_Us » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Opinions_R_Us wrote:Speaking from the perspective of the hiring judge, I would expect you to explain the situation honestly much as you describe. I normally contact any legal employer or place where a candidate interned before making a hiring decision but I am not going to knowingly ruin a candidate's current employment situation. The bottom line is that if I can't get a good enough feel for the kind of law clerk the candidate is going to be from other references, I will pass and hire someone else. It is a buyers market after all.


This question is for the judge and anyone else who may be knowledgable. Will judges call one's firm BEFORE offering an interview? My firm does NOT want me to clerk and thus I am NOT listing anyone as a reference. My worst nightmare is a judge calling my firm to ask about me ex ante to offering me an interview. I'm not even sure how one would even know who to ask about me. I'm thinking about putting in my cover letter to please be discrete but I'm scared that'll come off as really shady.



I agree with an earlier poster about putting it in the cover letter since some judges may contact employers as part of determining who gets an interview. In my own case, I do not call employers unless the applicant makes the "cut" for an interview and then only if he/she were still in contention after the interviews. After all the interviews, I would normally call the current employer and other references of the "finalists." If an applicant was already working for a firm, I would ask them about that and the nature of the work, who their supervising attorney was, etc. during the interview and that would be a good time for an applicant to remind me and explain why he/she doesn't want me to contact the employer.

I want to emphasize that every judge does things differently so make sure you and the judge are on the same page before, or at the latest, during the interview. The trade off is possibly scaring off the judge from hiring you versus poisoning the well at your current employer so my advice is to be up front about the situation and let the chips fall where they may.




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