Value of district court clerkship on top of circuit?

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Value of district court clerkship on top of circuit?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:32 pm

I've been fortunate enough to secure a circuit court clerkship immediately following graduation. Purely out of curiosity, what do folks here think the value of trying to get a district court clerkship for the year after be? (i.e., graduate--> cir. --> dist.)

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Re: Value of district court clerkship on top of circuit?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 1:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:I've been fortunate enough to secure a circuit court clerkship immediately following graduation. Purely out of curiosity, what do folks here think the value of trying to get a district court clerkship for the year after be? (i.e., graduate--> cir. --> dist.)


I did this. The two are so so different. Very little overlap between them, and the d.ct offers much more practical experience if you are going to be a litigator.

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Re: Value of district court clerkship on top of circuit?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:28 pm

I've heard USAOs like district court clerkships. One consideration might be that if you do a two-year USDC clerkship, it's possible (and perhaps even likely) that your firm will only give you two years class credit. This has positives (an extra year before you're pushed out) and negatives (money and an extra year before you're considered for partner).

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Re: Value of district court clerkship on top of circuit?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:51 pm

I did this as well (in this order). I agree -- the two are fairly different experiences. From a personal development standpoint, I think you're going to gain a lot more from a district court clerkship than you would from one additional year of biglaw (or whatever else you're doing) experience. And I think that easily makes it worthwhile.

That said, from my experience, the value of the clerkship to actual hiring outcomes is smaller. If you're doing it to advance your career, it's probably worth considering skipping. I went on the job market after my district court clerkship and although I did very well, it's hard to say if I did any better than I would have with just my circuit court clerkship. (I suspect I did not.) On the other hand, my sense is that the marginal value of an extra year of experience as a litigator early in your career is pretty substantial just when it comes to competing for jobs. For example, if you wanted to become a AUSA as soon as possible, you'd probably best served doing something like circuit clerkship -> biglaw for ~2 years -> AUSA. Doing a district court clerkship makes you a marginally more desirable candidate for those positions, but it doesn't really cut down on the amount of time in biglaw you'd have to put in (e.g., you'd still have to do biglaw for ~2 years). Now, if you're willing to delay your career by a year, the district court clerkship is going to give you an advantage. But if you're comparing two people three years post graduation, I think the one with 1.5 years of litigation experience and a circuit clerkship gets the position four times out of five over the one with 0.5 years of litigation experience and a circuit and district clerkship. (Having now worked as a litigator for a bit, this is not how I'd do my hiring, but this is my sense of the market.)

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Re: Value of district court clerkship on top of circuit?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:43 pm

Depends on what you want to do, blah blah etc., but I did both and had a wonderful time. I started with D.Ct. and then went to COA. Very different experiences, both of them fantastic. I want to be a litigator and I think the D.Ct. gig will help me more in the long run there. But the COA year was much better for my writing.




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