SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:53 pm

Another thanks to OP for doing this.

Setting aside other considerations, do you think DOJ Honors would be more helpful with SCOTUS than would be going to a firm for a realistic candidate coming off of a COA clerkship?

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Another thanks to OP for doing this.

Setting aside other considerations, do you think DOJ Honors would be more helpful with SCOTUS than would be going to a firm for a realistic candidate coming off of a COA clerkship?


This is OP. You're welcome.

Hmm. Marginally yes. Though my instinct is that it depends on the firm. A very, very elite lit boutique, or perhaps V5 firm, would probably be better.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:57 pm

If someone were competitive or strongly competitive, but wanted to wait a couple years to publish a better writing sample, develop recommendations, etc., what do you think would be the best way or ways to spend a gap year or a few gap years in terms of employment? I assume that Bristow would be the best, but please correct me if i'm wrong. What would be the next few jobs behind the Bristow?

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Another thanks to OP for doing this.

Setting aside other considerations, do you think DOJ Honors would be more helpful with SCOTUS than would be going to a firm for a realistic candidate coming off of a COA clerkship?


This is OP. You're welcome.

Hmm. Marginally yes. Though my instinct is that it depends on the firm. A very, very elite lit boutique, or perhaps V5 firm, would probably be better.


Thanks for the prompt reply. Would you be willing to be specific about the firms that come to mind if I limited the question to the DC market?

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If someone were competitive or strongly competitive, but wanted to wait a couple years to publish a better writing sample, develop recommendations, etc., what do you think would be the best way or ways to spend a gap year or a few gap years?


This is OP.

Publishing (hate to be difficult here), working at a very top firm, remaining active in ACS or Federalist Society, as applicable, and remaining well-connected to your school. If you could get a Bristow, a Climenko, a Bigelow, an Olin-Searle, or a similar fellowship (for academic-minded SCOTUS clerks) that would help. If you aren't, practice at the best firm at you can, ideally in an appellate-style section.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If someone were competitive or strongly competitive, but wanted to wait a couple years to publish a better writing sample, develop recommendations, etc., what do you think would be the best way or ways to spend a gap year or a few gap years?


This is OP.

Publishing (hate to be difficult here), working at a very top firm, remaining active in ACS or Federalist Society, as applicable, and remaining well-connected to your school. If you could get a Bristow, a Climenko, a Bigelow, an Olin-Searle, or a similar fellowship (for academic-minded SCOTUS clerks) that would help. If you aren't, practice at the best firm at you can, ideally in an appellate-style section.


Thank you. I actually updated the question to be a little bit more precise but you answered it nicely anyways. Thanks a lot.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Another thanks to OP for doing this.

Setting aside other considerations, do you think DOJ Honors would be more helpful with SCOTUS than would be going to a firm for a realistic candidate coming off of a COA clerkship?


This is OP. You're welcome.

Hmm. Marginally yes. Though my instinct is that it depends on the firm. A very, very elite lit boutique, or perhaps V5 firm, would probably be better.


Thanks for the prompt reply. Would you be willing to be specific about the firms that come to mind if I limited the question to the DC market?


This is OP. Sure. But it won't surprise you. Williams & Connolly, Kellogg Huber, Bancroft all come to mind as the best. Of the big firms, Sidley, Covington, Jones Day if you're in the I&A group, Kirkland are all good too.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:15 pm

When a professor calls to recommend someone, does the Justice actually speak with the professor him or herself?

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:When a professor calls to recommend someone, does the Justice actually speak with the professor him or herself?


This is OP. In many cases yes. I wouldn't say all or even most though. Sometimes if a Justice is out it will just get written up in the file. The chances go up with how well the Justice knows (or knows of) the professor and scales a little with the prestige of the school.

The first four or five calls always count, though you have to stagger them to not annoy the Justice. This is something of an art and something of luck.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:When a professor calls to recommend someone, does the Justice actually speak with the professor him or herself?


This is OP. In many cases yes. I wouldn't say all or even most though. Sometimes if a Justice is out it will just get written up in the file. The chances go up with how well the Justice knows (or knows of) the professor and scales a little with the prestige of the school.

The first four or five calls always count, though you have to stagger them to not annoy the Justice. This is something of an art and something of luck.


Can I take from this response that most successful applicants have four or five phone calls made on their behalf?

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:25 pm

This is OP. I should flag that Justice Alito very, very rarely speaks to people he does not know. But those calls get noted on an applicant's file.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:When a professor calls to recommend someone, does the Justice actually speak with the professor him or herself?


This is OP. In many cases yes. I wouldn't say all or even most though. Sometimes if a Justice is out it will just get written up in the file. The chances go up with how well the Justice knows (or knows of) the professor and scales a little with the prestige of the school.

The first four or five calls always count, though you have to stagger them to not annoy the Justice. This is something of an art and something of luck.


Can I take from this response that most successful applicants have four or five phone calls made on their behalf?


This is OP. No. Many successful applicants have far fewer than this. And a phone call to a Justice is a BIG ask for a professor. This is not trivial. But most successful applicants have at least 1-2 calls. I'd guess the median is 2, mean is 2.5?

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:50 pm

How much of a difference does moot court make?

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby 09042014 » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How much of a difference does moot court make?


You'll get in everywhere you apply!!!!!1

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How much of a difference does moot court make?


This is OP. Marginal to none. If you won your school's competition or something similar a little bit of one. But it's just one more feather in a cap in competition with tons of feathers in tons of caps.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby canoe » Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
canoe wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thoughts on the best recommenders from HLS (defined however you want)? Aside from the super obvious like Prof. Tribe. Are there any professors who might be more under the radar so to speak with respect to SCOTUS recommending/connections.


This is OP. The previous SCOTUS clerks. Which is many of them! There are many fantastic choices for recommenders at HLS. Manning, Glendon, Liz Warren's husband (whose name escapes me right now), Stephenson, Gersen, Fallon, Bebchuk, Kaplow, Kennedy... it's really hard to go wrong.

Sorry to give you an obvious answer, if that was obvious. If you asked me to pick the best recommender among the more junior people it would probably be Jacob Gersen, who I think was poached from Chicago fairly recently. Year or two ago?


Hey OP, do you mind answering the same question with regard to NYU and/or UVA professors? I'd much appreciate it.


This is OP. Is there a chance you could narrow this down to some selections for me to compare and contrast, just for (a) ease and (b) so I don't reveal my comparative knowledge of the two faculties too much? Happy to answer. Just trying to finesse this a little.


Sure. So just fyi, I simply asked this question b/c I have little idea who are the professors with decent to good supreme court influence at each school. My question was just to get a feel for the general ballpark of big-name profs at each school.

For UVA, some of the popular profs are Abraham, Collins, Coughlin, Jeffries, Mahoney, Nelson. Thing is, they're popular for their teaching so I have no idea how they do when it comes to SC recommendations.

For NYU, I know Friedman, Levinson, Mckenzie, and Murphy are some popular professors. Likewise, I have no idea how these do regarding SC influence.

If there are other big-name UVA/NYU profs who you know have some clout in the SC hiring game then I'd appreciate some guidance. Thanks.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 10:27 pm

OP, you mentioned that some justices can be partial to candidates with an interest in academia (I think you mentioned Scalia, Kagan, Breyer). What if an applicant is 0% interested in academia in 100% set on law practice? I anticipate spending some time in private practice to get my chops and pay down some debt, but my ultimate goal is to be a lawyer for the federal government, a state government, or a municipality.

Are there any justices who, in your estimation, would be more receptive to someone who just wants to be a plain ole' lawyer? Sotomayor, Alito, and Roberts have the most (I think) experience practicing law, but I don't know if that translates at all into their hiring practices.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 10:55 pm

Earlier you mentioned the importance of a transcript showing serious courses, not fluff. Do competitive candidates tend to have 100% serious, black-letter courses, or can you get away with 2-3 "Law and..." seminars? (When I say 2-3 I mean over three years, not in a single semester, of course). Also, how do clinics factor in to this? Is it always better to have taken more academic courses, or is a semester or two of clinic work ok? Might it even be a plus for some Justices?

Thanks so much for this thread, OP; it has been incredibly enlightening.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP, you mentioned that some justices can be partial to candidates with an interest in academia (I think you mentioned Scalia, Kagan, Breyer). What if an applicant is 0% interested in academia in 100% set on law practice? I anticipate spending some time in private practice to get my chops and pay down some debt, but my ultimate goal is to be a lawyer for the federal government, a state government, or a municipality.


^Second this question, only is it any different if you just want to go work in a firm as opposed to a more do-good practice? I feel weird telling lifelong public servants that ultimately I just want to practice law and make tons of money.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:33 pm

canoe wrote:
Sure. So just fyi, I simply asked this question b/c I have little idea who are the professors with decent to good supreme court influence at each school. My question was just to get a feel for the general ballpark of big-name profs at each school.

For UVA, some of the popular profs are Abraham, Collins, Coughlin, Jeffries, Mahoney, Nelson. Thing is, they're popular for their teaching so I have no idea how they do when it comes to SC recommendations.

For NYU, I know Friedman, Levinson, Mckenzie, and Murphy are some popular professors. Likewise, I have no idea how these do regarding SC influence.

If there are other big-name UVA/NYU profs who you know have some clout in the SC hiring game then I'd appreciate some guidance. Thanks.


just to add some names to the NYU list (I tried to include several because they have high Leiter citation scores, fwiw, in their respective fields, and several because they co-author important treatises or casebooks):

former dean Revesz (definitely, right?), current dean Trevor Morrison, Sujit Choudry (new dean at Boalt), Richard Epstein, Arthur Miller, Helen Hershkoff, Richard Stewart, Michael Herz, Gregory Miller, Eleanor Fox, Adam Samaha, Rochelle Dreyfuss, Samuel Estreicher, Jeremy Waldron, Richard Pildes, Kenji Yoshino, Stephen Gillers, Daniel Capra, Sally Katzen, Burt Neuborne, and some judges teaching there (e.g. Ginsburg, Edwards, Katzmann, Lohier, Raggi, Koeltl, Castel)....

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:39 pm

How much does ideology matter in terms of professors making calls? In other words, would someone like Tribe calling have as much sway on Justices like Scalia, Thomas, Alito or Roberts?

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
canoe wrote:
Sure. So just fyi, I simply asked this question b/c I have little idea who are the professors with decent to good supreme court influence at each school. My question was just to get a feel for the general ballpark of big-name profs at each school.

For UVA, some of the popular profs are Abraham, Collins, Coughlin, Jeffries, Mahoney, Nelson. Thing is, they're popular for their teaching so I have no idea how they do when it comes to SC recommendations.

For NYU, I know Friedman, Levinson, Mckenzie, and Murphy are some popular professors. Likewise, I have no idea how these do regarding SC influence.

If there are other big-name UVA/NYU profs who you know have some clout in the SC hiring game then I'd appreciate some guidance. Thanks.


just to add some names to the NYU list (I tried to include several because they have high Leiter citation scores, fwiw, in their respective fields, and several because they co-author important treatises or casebooks):

former dean Revesz (definitely, right?), current dean Trevor Morrison, Sujit Choudry (new dean at Boalt), Richard Epstein, Arthur Miller, Helen Hershkoff, Richard Stewart, Michael Herz, Gregory Miller, Eleanor Fox, Adam Samaha, Rochelle Dreyfuss, Samuel Estreicher, Jeremy Waldron, Richard Pildes, Kenji Yoshino, Stephen Gillers, Daniel Capra, Sally Katzen, Burt Neuborne, and some judges teaching there (e.g. Ginsburg, Edwards, Katzmann, Lohier, Raggi, Koeltl, Castel)....


Not to beat a dying/dead horse, but could you also comment on professors at CLS? Just randomly throwing some names out there: Metzger, Merrill, Monaghan, Greene, Ginsburg, Huang, Raz, Richman, Schizer (outgoing dean), Shaw, Strauss, Wu.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 16, 2014 2:01 am

Anonymous User wrote:This is OP again. To soften the blow on "obviously mediocre credentials" just a little, please remember that someone with "mediocre credentials" for SCOTUS, e.g. top 10% at HYS, someone that has a shot but quite a remote one... has glittering credentials for any other purpose.

If you are close but no cigar, you will still have your pick of wonderful law jobs. You have the capacity to have a great life. Or at least as great a life as you can with a successful career.

Here's the honestly terrifying thing about getting a SCOTUS clerkship, and this is the most personal thing I'll share in this thread. Getting it creates a terrible realization. People who work for things like SCOTUS clerkships almost exclusively identify by their professional accomplishments. Getting this means you've made it. You have the job you've always wanted. You've "succeeded." To answer a question asked above, the work is as cool as you could dream. It's a fantastic job, though a very hard one. You even get enough money, if you go private practice, to pay off the heavy debt law school is now.

But it means if you aren't happy with your career, or yourself, that's on you. That's your fault. It means you have everything you dreamed of and more. If you can't make a good life with that, that's not because you weren't given a fair shot. It's a lot to internalize. It makes you confront that your happiness is your responsibility, and makes you unable to deflect onto: "well, if only I had..." anymore.

That's the hardest part of the job.


awesome, awesome post. thanks for this.

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:40 am

Does OP (or anyone else) know if the Bristow, like DOJ honors generally, is unavailable to those who spent a year at a firm following their COA clerkship?

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Re: SCOTUS clerk taking questions about federal clerkships

Postby Doorkeeper » Mon Jun 16, 2014 9:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:Does OP (or anyone else) know if the Bristow, like DOJ honors generally, is unavailable to those who spent a year at a firm following their COA clerkship?

Yes. DOJ Honors is unavailable to you if you work at a firm for any length of time. You must apply to it the year that you do your clerkship (assuming you go straight from the JD into the clerkship).




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