How much do Judicial Externships help?

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How much do Judicial Externships help?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:39 am

I'm about to begin applying to Clerkships, but I don't have a fantastic gpa. I have, however, externed for 3 bankruptcy judges and have solid references/ recommendation letters from all 3. I'll primarily be applying to bankruptcy judges…. will my prior externships be enough to overcome a crap GPA? Any thoughts would be great.

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Re: How much do Judicial Externships help?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:49 am

Recommendations can go a long, long way, in my opinion. A run of the mill letter of rec won't do much, but an outstanding reference can pull a lot of water.

I had a middling GPA and resume, but a LOR from a judge I interned for got me a clerkship. The judge's LOR said I was the smartest intern he had had in over 30 years, my work was better than most attorneys who appeared before him, blah blah. I don't say this to brag but to emphasize that I had a truly strong recommendation. The judge who hired me to clerk said it was the best LOR she had ever seen.

Similarly, I recently helped hire my judge's new clerk. The hired applicant had a 5-page, unbelievably laudatory LOR from a very successful attorney. It's what got her hired.

lolwat
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Re: How much do Judicial Externships help?

Postby lolwat » Wed Dec 18, 2013 2:18 am

subject is misleading to the extent that judicial externships in themselves generally don't help terribly much, but it's true that the connections and recommendations you might get from such an externship can help quite a bit. this appears especially true in your case.

although, i also think bankruptcy might be just specialized enough that something like 3x externships with bankr. judges (i.e., demonstrated interest in this area) might be able to overcome a crap GPA.

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Re: How much do Judicial Externships help?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:32 am

I can't speak for the state level, but for the federal level (from what I hear) it goes a long way. Personally, it has helped me land my current clerkship. If you have stellar resume, I suppose it won’t matter much because it will stand out on its own. But if you have a very good resume, most likely, 95% of the people you will be competing in the clerkship applicant pool will have very similar credentials and having an externship will give you a leg up at the very least. If the judge you are externing for is well known or very involved with his interns, that can go a long way because of the recommendation letter from him or his willingness to tap his network for you. So if you can swing it, an externship during the school year might be a great idea if your goal is to clerk.

Although, you might want to research first and see if your judge writes recommendation letters for his interns or how involved he is with his interns. I interned with a judge who had a policy of not considering his interns for post grad clerkships, but he was willing to write recommendation letter for his interns (i still keep in touch with him) Another judge had a policy of not writing recommendation lettters for his interns. There was a judge who had FOURTEEEN interns during the same term. I can't imagine you can build any kind of meaningful relationship with that judge. So research first and see what the circumstances are and what your judge is willing to do on your behalf. But I will say that my externship experience has turned out to be a gift that keeps on giving, even to this day.

p.s. as an extern you most likely will be dealing with just the clerks most of the time, but you still want SOME face time with the judge!

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Re: How much do Judicial Externships help?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Although, you might want to research first and see if your judge writes recommendation letters for his interns or how involved he is with his interns. I interned with a judge who had a policy of not considering his interns for post grad clerkships, but he was willing to write recommendation letter for his interns (i still keep in touch with him) Another judge had a policy of not writing recommendation lettters for his interns. There was a judge who had FOURTEEEN interns during the same term. I can't imagine you can build any kind of meaningful relationship with that judge. So research first and see what the circumstances are and what your judge is willing to do on your behalf. But I will say that my externship experience has turned out to be a gift that keeps on giving, even to this day.


This is credited. I posted above about a judge's LOR getting me a clerkship.

The judge is the nicest guy I've ever worked for and really loves the mentoring aspect of having interns. Some judges just use interns to get easy, uninteresting work done. The different in the value between these types of externships is night and day. While I had an amazing externship, my co-extern hated his experience. He saw his judge twice and worked on one draft the entire summer. That judge also refused to write LORs but gave a lukewarm offer to be a reference.

In my current clerkship, the judge you work for can dramatically affect your clerkship. I come into work every morning excited and stress-free because my judge is wonderful. My friend/another clerk hates his life right now because the judge he clerks for is an awful human being (and, coincidentally, is not respected by the court or the reviewing court).

In my experience, the only way to find out in advance what your experience will be like is to talk to former clerks/interns. You'll know off the bat what to expect. When someone asks me what my job is like right now, I can't say enough good things about it.




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