Appeal of fed. clerkship

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Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:05 pm

From what I've read lately, clerkship has lost its appeal. Lots of clerks are still looking for jobs and have saturated the market by taking another year of clerking while looking. Judges are moving toward hiring alumni with 1-2 years of experience, or hiring a 2-year clerk rather than a 1-year clerk (2-year clerk often loses 1 year of class credit). These days, CoA clerks are still getting solicitation letters, but fed. district clerks hear crickets. (Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong)

Is clerkship still "worth" it if your goal is not academia nor USAO? Should one just go straight to firms if s/he prospects do not look as good after clerking (lower grades from 3L year)? Would love to hear more from current/recent clerks.

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:45 pm

D. ct. clerk here.

Without any exaggeration, the only better job I can think of would be being a judge. To me, the amount I enjoy clerking is reason enough to do it.

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:02 pm

To be honest, I think the clerks that struggle to find work post-clerkship are often people who struck out at OCI or for whatever reason weren't really competitive for biglaw but nonetheless got a clerkship. So in that respect, I don't think clerking compensates for other problems in a resume. But I don't think this means the appeal of clerking has declined; I think it's that legal hiring is so tight these days, and clerkship hiring is idiosyncratic enough, that people who are very very good and smart but maybe don't check quite the right biglaw boxes can get a clerkship but struggle somewhat to find something out of it. Part of the problem, I think, is that it's always easier to move from a position of strength, so changing firms post-clerkship is, probably unfairly, pretty different from getting into one in the first place.

(I should also emphasize that I don't at all mean this to criticize/denigrate anyone struggling post-clerkship or suggest that they have "problems" that are their own fault. I think this is all about the focus in biglaw hiring on certain prestige factors, and the difficulty - especially in certain markets - of getting decent firm jobs. It's not that the appeal of clerks has declined; it's just that in a lot of cases clerking correlates with other things valued by biglaw, and where it doesn't, clerking may not make up for that. I totally wasn't competitive for biglaw and if I'd tried to parlay my flyover clerkship into NYC biglaw, for instance, I'd be struggling too.

There is a shift toward hiring alums (not sure how much the 2-year term has increased, though), but I think that's a very different development.

Anyway, I also completely agree that clerking is worth it purely for the experience, and that if you go into it purely for the instrumental purpose of improving your job prospects you may not enjoy it as much. (Obviously improving job prospects is probably at least part of everyone's goal in clerking, but it probably shouldn't be the only goal. /sermon)

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:29 pm

These days, CoA clerks are still getting solicitation letters, but fed. district clerks hear crickets. (Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong)


Current DNJ clerk here. I have received numerous solicitation letters/emails/cocktail party invites from many of the top NYC firms. I am returning to my SA firm, but I have not heard of clerks having difficulty finding jobs. I know of a couple from my courthouse who have found jobs during their clerkship. I also agree with the previous posters who said that it's absolutely worth it just for the experience.

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:46 pm

How do E.D.N.Y. Dist. Judge clerks do generally? Is it possible to switch firms assuming pretty standard creds (top 20% at HYSCCNMVP)? Or are folks there having trouble with firms just not wanting anyone?

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby bradley » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
These days, CoA clerks are still getting solicitation letters, but fed. district clerks hear crickets. (Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong)


Current DNJ clerk here. I have received numerous solicitation letters/emails/cocktail party invites from many of the top NYC firms. I am returning to my SA firm, but I have not heard of clerks having difficulty finding jobs. I know of a couple from my courthouse who have found jobs during their clerkship. I also agree with the previous posters who said that it's absolutely worth it just for the experience.


But were the people that found jobs during their clerkships people that did big law their 2L summer? I wonder if it's possible to get big law without having done it previously.

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby JusticeJackson » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:59 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby legalese_retard » Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:49 am

I am a current dist. ct. law clerk still struggling to find a job when my clerkship ends. That being said, I don't regret the clerkship and really think the experience is worth it. Irrespective of where I find a job, I know that the experience will help me in the litigation practice. I am constantly surprised at how many senior attorneys are completely clueless when it comes to federal practice.

My clerkship is in flyover land, but I have no desire to move to a city like NYC/DC/Philly, etc. I still think biglaw firms value clerkships, but I think their "favorable" impression depends on their litigation needs.

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:53 am

I'm currently in my first year of a 2-year D.Ct. clerkship in flyover/South. I was originally planning on returning to the biglaw firm in the Northeast that I summered at (NYC/Philly/Boston) but now I'm thinking of going to Texas. I'm taking the Texas bar in July so I'll be admitted for the hiring season. I'm very much hoping that the fact that I didn't summer at a Texas firm or go to a Texas school won't be an impediment. I have good stats (top 7%, EIC of law review, moot court semifinalist, awards etc. plus this clerkship) at a Tier 2 Northeast school (think between 90-60). Does anyone have any insight on that? Is the Texas biglaw market that insular that I won't even get an interview?

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:03 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm currently in my first year of a 2-year D.Ct. clerkship in flyover/South. I was originally planning on returning to the biglaw firm in the Northeast that I summered at (NYC/Philly/Boston) but now I'm thinking of going to Texas. I'm taking the Texas bar in July so I'll be admitted for the hiring season. I'm very much hoping that the fact that I didn't summer at a Texas firm or go to a Texas school won't be an impediment. I have good stats (top 7%, EIC of law review, moot court semifinalist, awards etc. plus this clerkship) at a Tier 2 Northeast school (think between 90-60). Does anyone have any insight on that? Is the Texas biglaw market that insular that I won't even get an interview?


If you're not from Texas, didn't go to school in Texas, didn't clerk in Texas, and don't have family in Texas, you're probably not going to have a lot of luck in Texas... Do you have any connection to Texas?

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:15 am

Just a family connection and a few professional connections.

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby legalese_retard » Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm currently in my first year of a 2-year D.Ct. clerkship in flyover/South. I was originally planning on returning to the biglaw firm in the Northeast that I summered at (NYC/Philly/Boston) but now I'm thinking of going to Texas. I'm taking the Texas bar in July so I'll be admitted for the hiring season. I'm very much hoping that the fact that I didn't summer at a Texas firm or go to a Texas school won't be an impediment. I have good stats (top 7%, EIC of law review, moot court semifinalist, awards etc. plus this clerkship) at a Tier 2 Northeast school (think between 90-60). Does anyone have any insight on that? Is the Texas biglaw market that insular that I won't even get an interview?


Is the D.Ct. in the 5th Circuit?

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:56 pm

legalese_retard wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm currently in my first year of a 2-year D.Ct. clerkship in flyover/South. I was originally planning on returning to the biglaw firm in the Northeast that I summered at (NYC/Philly/Boston) but now I'm thinking of going to Texas. I'm taking the Texas bar in July so I'll be admitted for the hiring season. I'm very much hoping that the fact that I didn't summer at a Texas firm or go to a Texas school won't be an impediment. I have good stats (top 7%, EIC of law review, moot court semifinalist, awards etc. plus this clerkship) at a Tier 2 Northeast school (think between 90-60). Does anyone have any insight on that? Is the Texas biglaw market that insular that I won't even get an interview?


Is the D.Ct. in the 5th Circuit?


Nope, one state over. But I have a few connections at a few firms and I'm probably going to use a couple headhunters so hopefully I'll cast a wide enough net to get an interview. Interviewing isn't my problem, it's just getting in the door.

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
legalese_retard wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm currently in my first year of a 2-year D.Ct. clerkship in flyover/South. I was originally planning on returning to the biglaw firm in the Northeast that I summered at (NYC/Philly/Boston) but now I'm thinking of going to Texas. I'm taking the Texas bar in July so I'll be admitted for the hiring season. I'm very much hoping that the fact that I didn't summer at a Texas firm or go to a Texas school won't be an impediment. I have good stats (top 7%, EIC of law review, moot court semifinalist, awards etc. plus this clerkship) at a Tier 2 Northeast school (think between 90-60). Does anyone have any insight on that? Is the Texas biglaw market that insular that I won't even get an interview?


Is the D.Ct. in the 5th Circuit?


Nope, one state over. But I have a few connections at a few firms and I'm probably going to use a couple headhunters so hopefully I'll cast a wide enough net to get an interview. Interviewing isn't my problem, it's just getting in the door.


I don't think a headhunter will be advantageous... They will just make you a more expensive hire.

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm currently in my first year of a 2-year D.Ct. clerkship in flyover/South. I was originally planning on returning to the biglaw firm in the Northeast that I summered at (NYC/Philly/Boston) but now I'm thinking of going to Texas. I'm taking the Texas bar in July so I'll be admitted for the hiring season. I'm very much hoping that the fact that I didn't summer at a Texas firm or go to a Texas school won't be an impediment. I have good stats (top 7%, EIC of law review, moot court semifinalist, awards etc. plus this clerkship) at a Tier 2 Northeast school (think between 90-60). Does anyone have any insight on that? Is the Texas biglaw market that insular that I won't even get an interview?


Texan here. First of all, Texas BigLaw firms aren't really "insular"; nearly all of them recruit at T14 schools at the very least, in addition to having offices in most major U.S. cities (and many foreign ones). Your only major "minus" is the caliber of your school; Texas BigLaw firms rarely hire even from *in-state* schools that aren't T1 and in a major city (UT, UH and SMU, pretty much). Still, your credentials are solid, particularly being law review EIC and having a two-year clerkship under your belt, so I definitely wouldn't say your odds are hopeless or anything.

Alternately: does the firm you summered at have any satellite offices in Texas? If so, I'd almost certainly start there. Btw I'm curious why you're interested in Texas - did you grow up here? (You'll undoubtedly be asked this question in interviews too, incidentally.) Also, I don't suppose you have any background in specialty areas within the state? Every BigLaw firm in Houston has a sizable energy practice, for instance, and many of them also have health-law specialists, given that the Texas Med Center is the largest medical campus in the world.

One suggestion: are you familiar with Bickel & Brewer? If not, check them out: they're one of the top boutique firms in the state, and one of the highest-paying firms in the country ($185K to start). They actually recruit at way more Northeast schools than Texas ones, even some rather crappy ones (e.g. Albany Law School). You need to be a pitbull litigator to make it there, however, and be prepared for an exceptional level of partner abuse. (One of my friends is a former associate there. He quit shortly after a senior partner literally swept the entire contents of his desk onto his office floor during a hissy fit over a relatively minor error on my friend's part. Still, they're one of a tiny handful of firms in the Southwest that take on -- and succeed at -- bet-the-company litigation.)

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Texan here. First of all, Texas BigLaw firms aren't really "insular"; nearly all of them recruit at T14 schools at the very least, in addition to having offices in most major U.S. cities (and many foreign ones). Your only major "minus" is the caliber of your school; Texas BigLaw firms rarely hire even from *in-state* schools that aren't T1 and in a major city (UT, UH and SMU, pretty much). Still, your credentials are solid, particularly being law review EIC and having a two-year clerkship under your belt, so I definitely wouldn't say your odds are hopeless or anything.

Alternately: does the firm you summered at have any satellite offices in Texas? If so, I'd almost certainly start there. Btw I'm curious why you're interested in Texas - did you grow up here? (You'll undoubtedly be asked this question in interviews too, incidentally.) Also, I don't suppose you have any background in specialty areas within the state? Every BigLaw firm in Houston has a sizable energy practice, for instance, and many of them also have health-law specialists, given that the Texas Med Center is the largest medical campus in the world.

One suggestion: are you familiar with Bickel & Brewer? If not, check them out: they're one of the top boutique firms in the state, and one of the highest-paying firms in the country ($185K to start). They actually recruit at way more Northeast schools than Texas ones, even some rather crappy ones (e.g. Albany Law School). You need to be a pitbull litigator to make it there, however, and be prepared for an exceptional level of partner abuse. (One of my friends is a former associate there. He quit shortly after a senior partner literally swept the entire contents of his desk onto his office floor during a hissy fit over a relatively minor error on my friend's part. Still, they're one of a tiny handful of firms in the Southwest that take on -- and succeed at -- bet-the-company litigation.)


This is all amazingly helpful; thank you. More background: I'm in a committed, long-term relationship and she has family in Austin, and they just had a new baby. I realize that Austin is an impossible market to break into, but I'd be happy in Dallas, Houston or San Antonio since they're all within driving distance. We just want to get into the state, settle, marry, start a family etc. and be close to her family.

My firm is all East Coast/Midwest/LA unfortunately, otherwise I'd try and see if they'd move me as I love them, they just don't have an office there. We do a lot of health care/pharmaceutical stuff so that may come in handy.

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Re: Appeal of fed. clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:One suggestion: are you familiar with Bickel & Brewer? If not, check them out: they're one of the top boutique firms in the state, and one of the highest-paying firms in the country ($185K to start). They actually recruit at way more Northeast schools than Texas ones, even some rather crappy ones (e.g. Albany Law School). You need to be a pitbull litigator to make it there, however, and be prepared for an exceptional level of partner abuse. (One of my friends is a former associate there. He quit shortly after a senior partner literally swept the entire contents of his desk onto his office floor during a hissy fit over a relatively minor error on my friend's part. Still, they're one of a tiny handful of firms in the Southwest that take on -- and succeed at -- bet-the-company litigation.)


I'm curious as to which partner this was, and whether he still works there.




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