Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

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Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:58 am

I was devastated to learn I got a C+ in my Evidence class today.

Rest of my 2L grades were all As/A-s in my four other classes.... not fluffer classes, but pretty decent classes (I think?) such as Fed Income Tax.

Luckily, my ranking is still about top 25% or so. I was planning on applying to federal magistrate/bankruptcy judges nationwide, thinking that maybe I would be able to score one of those (I wasn't even dreaming of fed district court, I know I'm not competitive for those). I was also thinking state SC, though that's a reach.

Seeing my C+, should I even bother applying at this point? Am I completely screwed?

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rpupkin
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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby rpupkin » Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:19 am

No one around here can provide you with useful advice unless you're willing to share information about what tier of law school you attend (e.g., "CCN") and what region you're in.

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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:50 am

The fact that you're 25% probably means you're facing a huge uphill battle unless you're in a top 5 or so school.

But, no, there is no magical formula for determining if you will or will not get a clerkship. I think Evidence is actually a class that most judges will care about because, well, it's hugely important. Screw ups on rules of evidence often provide a strong ground for reversal. So, I'm sure some judges will care. (I know of a judge who looks almost exclusively at applicants' grades in civ pro- and evidence-related classes. That's it.)

I'm clerking at a court where it's very standard practice to make the parties agreed to evidence prior to trial. In the event they can't come to agreements, the judge will resolve it pre-trial, i.e., through an order. (It happens frequently but, in the relative scheme of things, not too frequently.) That means the judge will ultimately make the decision and my understanding of evidence probably doesn't matter because a lot of evidentiary rulings require a judgment call.

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bruinfan10
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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby bruinfan10 » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:07 pm

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Last edited by bruinfan10 on Thu May 08, 2014 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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legalese_retard
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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby legalese_retard » Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:14 pm

Yes a C+ in Evidence is not good, but not all judges are as strict with grades as others. The judge I clerked for didn't even review my transcript and only considered my final grade and rank.

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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:35 pm

Yes, evidence is one of those classes judges actually care about. It is also true that a good number of judges don't look at your transcript and only look at your resume for GPA and Rank. So you have no way of knowing until you apply, so apply as if it does not matter. Also, I would rather get a clerkship at the highest court in a state I want to work than get a fed magistrate judge clerkship anywhere in the country (unless that fed magistrate clerkship is in the state I want to practice). You will have better post-clerkship job options that way. Of course, if fed magistrate clerkships are valuable as well, but you have to be more careful wit those--region wise. I would also apply to federal district court in fly-over states. Less competition there and you never know, you might land one. They are on OSCAR so it does not take much to apply, don't close your chances out before you even try. Just like law school, its best to apply to some reaches, to some safety, and some guaranteed!

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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:00 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Screw ups on rules of evidence often provide a strong ground for reversal.

I agree with 99.9% of what you said (OPs grades/class rank will hurt him/her worse than getting the C in Evidence in particular, but unfortunately the top three classes judges look at are civil procedure, evidence, and federal courts, so falling down in that class is unfortunate). But I just have to say, as someone who's researched/published on evidence related topics quite a bit, D.Cts rarely get reversed on evidentiary rulings thanks to the abuse of discretion standard. For all intents and purposes, D.Cts have the final word on motions in limine and objections.


Really? That's interesting. It was my understanding that, even with an abuse of discretion standard, evidentiary rulings can often provide grounds for reversal. I thought this was particularly common in criminal cases. I'd be interested in seeing comparisons on this, i.e., of the times d.cts get rev'd, how often it is for evidence rulings. (Not trying to challenge you. I like civ pro/evidence and it can't hurt to learn more about this, especially while clerking.)

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Screw ups on rules of evidence often provide a strong ground for reversal.

I agree with 99.9% of what you said (OPs grades/class rank will hurt him/her worse than getting the C in Evidence in particular, but unfortunately the top three classes judges look at are civil procedure, evidence, and federal courts, so falling down in that class is unfortunate). But I just have to say, as someone who's researched/published on evidence related topics quite a bit, D.Cts rarely get reversed on evidentiary rulings thanks to the abuse of discretion standard. For all intents and purposes, D.Cts have the final word on motions in limine and objections.


Really? That's interesting. It was my understanding that, even with an abuse of discretion standard, evidentiary rulings can often provide grounds for reversal. I thought this was particularly common in criminal cases. I'd be interested in seeing comparisons on this, i.e., of the times d.cts get rev'd, how often it is for evidence rulings. (Not trying to challenge you. I like civ pro/evidence and it can't hurt to learn more about this, especially while clerking.)


My impression is that judges use grades as a proxy for how smart/hardworking an applicant is, not as an indication of substantive knowledge or expertise in a given subject. I know there are exceptions, but I can't imagine most judges dinging an applicant with an otherwise stellar transcript because of a single grade in Evidence (assuming the applicant's overall GPA is competitive). There are a lot of things that go into how one performs on individual exams: stress, whether someone is sick on the day of the test, whether they have a professor who barely reads exam answers, etc. For that reason alone, I think most judges (and most lawyers in positions to hire people) look at an overall GPA as much more important than any single grade, even if it's a grade in a relatively important class like Evidence.

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Tanicius
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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby Tanicius » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:42 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Screw ups on rules of evidence often provide a strong ground for reversal.

I agree with 99.9% of what you said (OPs grades/class rank will hurt him/her worse than getting the C in Evidence in particular, but unfortunately the top three classes judges look at are civil procedure, evidence, and federal courts, so falling down in that class is unfortunate). But I just have to say, as someone who's researched/published on evidence related topics quite a bit, D.Cts rarely get reversed on evidentiary rulings thanks to the abuse of discretion standard. For all intents and purposes, D.Cts have the final word on motions in limine and objections.


It's silly in the first place to care about individual grades because someone who gets a C+ at a T-10 law school probably knows their evidence pretty well anyway, and just for whatever reason didn't ace the exam style the professor wanted.

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bruinfan10
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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby bruinfan10 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:32 pm

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Last edited by bruinfan10 on Thu May 08, 2014 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:35 pm

I think one of the issues in criminal cases is that often, even if there was evidentiary error, courts will find the error to be harmless, usually because there's overwhelming evidence of guilt either with/without the evidence at issue.

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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Screw ups on rules of evidence often provide a strong ground for reversal.

I agree with 99.9% of what you said (OPs grades/class rank will hurt him/her worse than getting the C in Evidence in particular, but unfortunately the top three classes judges look at are civil procedure, evidence, and federal courts, so falling down in that class is unfortunate). But I just have to say, as someone who's researched/published on evidence related topics quite a bit, D.Cts rarely get reversed on evidentiary rulings thanks to the abuse of discretion standard. For all intents and purposes, D.Cts have the final word on motions in limine and objections.


Really? That's interesting. It was my understanding that, even with an abuse of discretion standard, evidentiary rulings can often provide grounds for reversal. I thought this was particularly common in criminal cases. I'd be interested in seeing comparisons on this, i.e., of the times d.cts get rev'd, how often it is for evidence rulings. (Not trying to challenge you. I like civ pro/evidence and it can't hurt to learn more about this, especially while clerking.)


Its not just the abuse of discretion standard, the appeals often fail to establish prejudice (i.e., appellate courts find that even if the judge abused discretion, the jury would have convicted anyway)

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emciosn
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Re: Clerkship Chances...decent ranking, but a C+

Postby emciosn » Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:26 am

To the OP:

BK clerk here--one thing I will say about BK judges in particular is that the poor evidence will not hurt you as much with them. The classes bankruptcy judges look for more are bankruptcy (duh), secured transactions, and maybe classes like tax or sec. reg. depending on the district. Bankrupty judges really value a demonstrated interest in bankruptcy (all judges seem to use that phrase). Do you have some stuff on your resume that would indicate that you are actually interest in BK? Also, depending on the range of your school it will probably still be an uphill battle for you with only top 25% grades. BK clerkships have gotten much more competitive in the past five or so years as we have settled in to the "new normal" (i.e. no jobs). I would say that the BK clerkships in the more competitive districts (like SDNY, DE, NDIL, NDTX, SDTX, CDCA) are as competitive as some D.Ct. clerkships.




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