How does your judge select clerks?

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Citizen Genet
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How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Citizen Genet » Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:43 pm

Alright, I wanted to start this thread so that applicants could get an idea of the diverse ways that judges end up selecting people to interview for clerkship spots. And to be truthful, I'm interested to hear what's happening in other chambers. So I'm hoping that current and former clerks will participate

Here's what I'm hoping current and former clerks will post.

-Type of Court: Federal/State, District/Appellate
-Particular Preferences: Does the judge like or dislike applicants with a specific profile? Former interns? Specific schools? From a specific area? Certain type of work experience? Alums? Are any of these preferences hard cuts?
-Review Process: How does the judge review applications? Does the judge read every application? Ask clerks to sort through and select a range of applicants?

Obviously clerks don't want to divulge anything that would tie a specific judge to what they're posting. So please do not post something asking for someone to PM you if you think you're a good fit. This won't work if people start trying to use it to leverage themselves into a clerkship. And, because this is sensitive information, please keep posts anon.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:15 pm

I will be clerking for a district judge in a relatively competitive district (not SDNY or DDC, but perhaps just below these in competitiveness: think D. Del., EDVA, EDNY) starting in 2015. I went to a T10 and was top 1/3 (although I did particularly well during my first year and did well in Fed Courts, Civ Pro, and Evidence; ironically most of my bad grades were in Law and Basket-weaving type classes). I was a managing board member of a secondary journal and am currently working at a V15 firm. I'm speculating, but I would guess, based on what I heard from my recommenders and my judge's current clerks, that my hiring was based on the following weighted criteria:

40% - work experience. This was the most pivotal factor. I have unique work experience that my judge specifically mentioned in his OSCAR posting.

30% - grades/school. This was still a factor, and my judge specifically asked me about some of my grades.

30% - recommendations. My judge called all of my recommenders and spent a significant amount of time probing them about my writing ability, work ethic, and overall personality.

I have no idea about the specific review process, but I know that about 70 applicants made the initial work experience cut (i.e., only 70 applicants had the requisite work experience the judge was asking for on OSCAR).

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:42 pm

I'm a current clerk.

Court: Federal district.

Selection Process: Judge typically looks at regional schools or people with regional ties. Also looks at the school where Judge attended. Sometimes will pick from a random school if Judge finds the applicant interesting. Looks for top legal writing grades and law review/moot court. Also looks for interesting things on the resume like different life experiences or interesting careers pre-law school. Grades are probably around top 25% of the class. Judge is very interested in having someone who is a good "fit" for chambers, someone who is personable and is easy to talk to. That is as important, if not more, than the stuff we see on the resumes. It is also the most common reason why a lot of applicants do not get offers. That's the biggest piece of advice I can give; you can be H/Y/S, but if you come in and are a stick in the mud, you won't likely get anywhere.

Review Process: All applications are given to our courtroom deputy, who then hands them to Judge for review. Judge selects the applicants to interview and they interview with all the clerks when they come in. Judge asks for our input but ultimately has final selection (obviously).

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I will be clerking for a district judge in a relatively competitive district (not SDNY or DDC, but perhaps just below these in competitiveness: think D. Del., EDVA, EDNY) starting in 2015. I went to a T10 and was top 1/3 (although I did particularly well during my first year and did well in Fed Courts, Civ Pro, and Evidence; ironically most of my bad grades were in Law and Basket-weaving type classes). I was a managing board member of a secondary journal and am currently working at a V15 firm. I'm speculating, but I would guess, based on what I heard from my recommenders and my judge's current clerks, that my hiring was based on the following weighted criteria:

40% - work experience. This was the most pivotal factor. I have unique work experience that my judge specifically mentioned in his OSCAR posting.

30% - grades/school. This was still a factor, and my judge specifically asked me about some of my grades.

30% - recommendations. My judge called all of my recommenders and spent a significant amount of time probing them about my writing ability, work ethic, and overall personality.

I have no idea about the specific review process, but I know that about 70 applicants made the initial work experience cut (i.e., only 70 applicants had the requisite work experience the judge was asking for on OSCAR).


I originally posted this.

I wanted to add that "fit" is also important to my judge, but I got the impression he didn't give very much weight to our in-person interview. For one thing, it only lasted about 10-15 minutes. I think he just wanted to see if I was somewhat interesting/approachable. In fact, I think he may have put more weight on what his current clerks thought about how I would fit in his chambers than his own impressions (from what I heard from talking to one of his past clerks and his current clerks).
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:06 pm

Court: Federal district court.
Selection Profile: My judge heavily prefers people based on recommendations from previous clerks and colleagues. He also frequently hires former interns who perform well in chambers. Either one of those things will compensate for lower grades. Without a connection, it takes great grades and great recommendations from absolutely any school. (He has hired from Harvard down to unranked schools even without a previous connection.) Does not care about law review or moot court at all. Writing sample is a secondary consideration. Once an applicant has an interview, it is almost entirely about personality and fit.
Review Process: Divides up applications based on schools and has all of chambers staff review the best candidates. They are asked to flag at least two to three applications for him to review, but can bring more if they think it is warranted.

kykiske
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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby kykiske » Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:39 pm

Question:

Does your judge set hard GPA cut-offs?

Or, more generally, do federal district court judges set hard cutoffs?

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:09 pm

Type of Court: SDNY/DDC/CDCA

Particular Preferences: No real preferences for "profile" as far as I can tell. For getting an interview, the more overall impressive you are on paper, the better (more on getting an interview below). Any school will do, but people from better schools tend to have more impressive resumes. I think the actual hiring has to do more with how you get along at the interview.

Review Process: Frankly, there's no way a judge is going to read every application. We get 2,000+ apps, so the only way to make it past the first cull is to have something special pop out or someone call on your behalf. For instance, if you spent your 1L summer interning for a judge in the same district, and that judge was willing to be a reference/call on your behalf, that would be a good thing.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:26 pm

I'm #1 in my class at a mid tier 2. What are my chances at district courts outside the state my school is in and do I have any shot at a circuit court clerkship outside the circuit my school is in?

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:25 pm

How does your judge view publications? What is the most you have ever seen on a résumé?

ZyzzBrah
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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby ZyzzBrah » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:46 pm

For current d.ct. clerks:

Would you say a prior clerkship (at SSC) is sufficient to boost an ok GPA (top 20% at 30-40 school)?

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:48 pm

ZyzzBrah wrote:For current d.ct. clerks:

Would you say a prior clerkship (at SSC) is sufficient to boost an ok GPA (top 20% at 30-40 school)?

With the right judge, sure.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:How does your judge view publications? What is the most you have ever seen on a résumé?


I don't think mine (D. Ct.) cares at all. Most people don't have more than one thing. Two max. Beyond that, unless you have prior academic experience like a Ph.D., I'd think it's a bit odd.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:26 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How does your judge view publications? What is the most you have ever seen on a résumé?


I don't think mine (D. Ct.) cares at all. Most people don't have more than one thing. Two max. Beyond that, unless you have prior academic experience like a Ph.D., I'd think it's a bit odd.


I don't think mine (CA9) cares either. A long list of publications would be weird and offputting, I think.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:45 am

.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:28 pm

Any BK clerks can tell us how their judge does their selection?

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:27 pm

I'm a clerk at a "specialty court."

Above and beyond anything else, the judge wants to work with someone she likes. So she relies very, very heavily on recommendations from someone who knows what the applicant is like in a work environment.

The judge also wants recs that speak to an applicant's writing and research ability. In the judge's opinion, demonstrated writing ability (especially with other judges) is crucial because grades are a poor reflection of one's ability to write. And because writing is probably 75% of the job, the judge really, really cares about your writing ability. I had mediocre grades but all 3 recs of mine were people who knew my writing very well (a COA judge, an advocacy class prof, and 2 seminar prof). Their recs are what got me the job.

Judge obviously wants to see decent grades but isn't too picky about them. She's also not particularly picky about school ranking, although she said to me recently it's hard to consider an applicant from a school she's never heard of (someone from Thomas Jefferson applied...)

She recently hired my co-clerk's replacement and asked for our input. 3 of us looked at the pile of apps independently and all picked the same top guy. He absolutely blew the interview though. Although the judge doesn't expect everyone to have a genuine, demonstrable interest in clerking at a specialty clerk, this guy couldn't articulate why he even applied. That was the first question and within 30 seconds we had all made up our minds that he wasn't the right guy.

Judge ended up hiring a clerk based on another judge's recommendation. This girl had worked with the other judge at a different court a while ago and sang her praises. She also had the most impressive 5-page LOR I've ever seen from a practicing attorney she worked with for 2 years. Those two things and her obviously easygoing personality in the interview were what got her hired.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby ndirish2010 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:32 pm

We're not going to start looking at applications until July, so I won't know until then probably. I don't know if other district courts have generally started to speed up their process, but my judge doesn't seem likely to do that.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:34 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How does your judge view publications? What is the most you have ever seen on a résumé?


I don't think mine (D. Ct.) cares at all. Most people don't have more than one thing. Two max. Beyond that, unless you have prior academic experience like a Ph.D., I'd think it's a bit odd.


I don't think mine (CA9) cares either. A long list of publications would be weird and offputting, I think.


I am a DDC/SDNY clerk and I think it mattered for me. I had high grades from a low T14 w/o law review, but published my Note in the law review. I think this mostly compensated for the lack of law review, insofar as law review is basically a proxy for writing ability.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:49 pm

A heads-up: I heard some judges get their clerks to call classmates of applicants to make sure the applicant isn't overbearing/abrasive/gunnerish/whatever. A(nother) good reason to be good to your classmates.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:A heads-up: I heard some judges get their clerks to call classmates of applicants to make sure the applicant isn't overbearing/abrasive/gunnerish/whatever. A(nother) good reason to be good to your classmates.


Can verify. Got such a call this week.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:A heads-up: I heard some judges get their clerks to call classmates of applicants to make sure the applicant isn't overbearing/abrasive/gunnerish/whatever. A(nother) good reason to be good to your classmates.


Weird flame.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:52 am

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:A heads-up: I heard some judges get their clerks to call classmates of applicants to make sure the applicant isn't overbearing/abrasive/gunnerish/whatever. A(nother) good reason to be good to your classmates.


Weird flame.

I got a question like this too, though over email. I don't think it's common but I can promise it certainly does happen.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:12 am

Type of Court: Federal district court

Particular Preferences: We're in a kind of middle-of-nowhere sort of area, and the judge is from here, so one of the things he looks for is people that are from here and want to come here and practice. That said, none of his clerks has ever actually been from here, at the end of the day. Still, it's something that gets us to pull people out of the stack for the judge's personal review.

Otherwise, the judge doesn't have much of a "profile." His clerks have come from a handful of schools (all in the T20, though where they fell within there varies a bit), and he has repeated somewhat. He seems to like people from his undergrad or law school, though he doesn't limit himself to them.

One thing that is particular to my judge is that he doesn't take on alums. He prefers to take people directly from law school. That doesn't mean he's anti-work experience; he's had a number of clerks who worked between UG and LS. But alums are a no-no.

Review Process: We (the clerks) review applications as they come in. We aren't actively soliciting apps right now, but even now we read the odd few that come in hardcopy. Once we get our OSCAR up and rolling, I'm sure we'll have more of this stuff to do.

Anyway, we review them. Our review looks at everything EXCEPT transcripts. We are actually instructed NOT to look at transcripts. That said, we look at your resume and your recs, so we can generally tell how well you did academically. We just won't know you got a B in CivPro once. We put applications into loose categories of 'no,' 'maybe,' and 'yes.' Once that's done, we take the 'yes' pile to the judge. He'll go through, and he'll pick which ones he wants to interview.

We call those folks up, and ask how soon they can get to the middle of nowhere. It's a fairly pricy interview, since no one actually lives here that's interviewing here (there's no ABA law school nearby). Then there's the interview. It starts with the judge, and then they come over to us. The judge usually seems them for a few more minutes at the end. Sometimes he offers on the spot (that's what happened to me), and sometimes he thinks it over for a couple days (my co-clerk).

And that's our chambers in a nutshell.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby Tangerine Gleam » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:08 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:A heads-up: I heard some judges get their clerks to call classmates of applicants to make sure the applicant isn't overbearing/abrasive/gunnerish/whatever. A(nother) good reason to be good to your classmates.


Weird flame.


Not a flame. This happened to me.

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Re: How does your judge select clerks?

Postby station4 » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Type of Court: Federal district court

Particular Preferences: We're in a kind of middle-of-nowhere sort of area, and the judge is from here, so one of the things he looks for is people that are from here and want to come here and practice. That said, none of his clerks has ever actually been from here, at the end of the day. Still, it's something that gets us to pull people out of the stack for the judge's personal review.

Otherwise, the judge doesn't have much of a "profile." His clerks have come from a handful of schools (all in the T20, though where they fell within there varies a bit), and he has repeated somewhat. He seems to like people from his undergrad or law school, though he doesn't limit himself to them.

One thing that is particular to my judge is that he doesn't take on alums. He prefers to take people directly from law school. That doesn't mean he's anti-work experience; he's had a number of clerks who worked between UG and LS. But alums are a no-no.

Review Process: We (the clerks) review applications as they come in. We aren't actively soliciting apps right now, but even now we read the odd few that come in hardcopy. Once we get our OSCAR up and rolling, I'm sure we'll have more of this stuff to do.

Anyway, we review them. Our review looks at everything EXCEPT transcripts. We are actually instructed NOT to look at transcripts. That said, we look at your resume and your recs, so we can generally tell how well you did academically. We just won't know you got a B in CivPro once. We put applications into loose categories of 'no,' 'maybe,' and 'yes.' Once that's done, we take the 'yes' pile to the judge. He'll go through, and he'll pick which ones he wants to interview.

We call those folks up, and ask how soon they can get to the middle of nowhere. It's a fairly pricy interview, since no one actually lives here that's interviewing here (there's no ABA law school nearby). Then there's the interview. It starts with the judge, and then they come over to us. The judge usually seems them for a few more minutes at the end. Sometimes he offers on the spot (that's what happened to me), and sometimes he thinks it over for a couple days (my co-clerk).

And that's our chambers in a nutshell.


I know it's just one data point, but for your middle of nowhere location/pricey interview, how many people does your judge interview for each slot?




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