Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

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Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:32 pm

I'm a first year corporate associate at a V10. My long term interest is in litigation, and I'm hoping to switch before I get too far down the corporate law path. I do not have the option to switch to litigation within my office. Leaving the city is not an option at this point.

If I don't manage to land a DC clerkship this time around, does it make sense to apply for magistrates with the hope of pursuing a district court clerkship after? Or am I better off holding out for a DC clerkship/pursuing lateral move to a litigation practice at another firm?

My concern is that the longer I stay at my firm, the less attractive I'll be as an entry/junior litigation lateral. My other concern is that clerking for a magistrate doesn't guarantee me a DC clerkship, and (not to be a prestige whore), but it may look a bit weird if I jump from a V10 to a magistrate, and then strike out with DC clerkships and am stuck applying to firms straight from the magistrate position. Of course, let me know if either of these concerns are overblown.

Appreciate any advice, anecdotes, suggestions, etc.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:29 pm

I'm a d.ct. clerk.

I think it's pretty much a consensus that a fed clerkship, MJ or DJ, is a net positive. I don't see how a MJ clerkship could hinder you aside from it potentially only being a marginal benefit and perhaps better for you to stick with a firm. I have no firm experience, so I can't speak to it.

But I will say that it is fairly common for MJ clerks to go to DJs. My co-clerk did so, for instance. I would strongly prefer a MJ clerk over just about anyone without any clerking experience, and I think a lot of people would agree with that.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:34 pm

OP Here. Thanks for the reply. It's comforting to know that the MJ to DJ path is viable. The big concern is that it may be hard to get back to biglaw if the DJ plan doesn't work out. I guess that may be a risk that I have to take if I want to clerk/switch to lit.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a first year corporate associate at a V10. My long term interest is in litigation, and I'm hoping to switch before I get too far down the corporate law path. I do not have the option to switch to litigation within my office. Leaving the city is not an option at this point.

If I don't manage to land a DC clerkship this time around, does it make sense to apply for magistrates with the hope of pursuing a district court clerkship after? Or am I better off holding out for a DC clerkship/pursuing lateral move to a litigation practice at another firm?

My concern is that the longer I stay at my firm, the less attractive I'll be as an entry/junior litigation lateral. My other concern is that clerking for a magistrate doesn't guarantee me a DC clerkship, and (not to be a prestige whore), but it may look a bit weird if I jump from a V10 to a magistrate, and then strike out with DC clerkships and am stuck applying to firms straight from the magistrate position. Of course, let me know if either of these concerns are overblown.

Appreciate any advice, anecdotes, suggestions, etc.


You're at a V10. You can get a clerkship, even if it's flyover district court, from a V10. A magistrate judge isn't going to do anything for you. The only real value is that it'll lead to district court? That seems like a waste of a year. Going from Cleary to a magistrate judge is an enormous downgrade that will look very unusual, in a bad way, on a resume.

Just make your pitch to your recommenders--and to judges--that you want to be a litigator. That is a totally legitimate reason for clerking. Judges will understand that.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:You're at a V10. You can get a clerkship, even if it's flyover district court, from a V10. A magistrate judge isn't going to do anything for you. The only real value is that it'll lead to district court? That seems like a waste of a year. Going from Cleary to a magistrate judge is an enormous downgrade that will look very unusual, in a bad way, on a resume.

Just make your pitch to your recommenders--and to judges--that you want to be a litigator. That is a totally legitimate reason for clerking. Judges will understand that.


OP here. Thanks. You may be over-estimating my chances to secure a clerkship (it's also possible that I'm underestimating), but I appreciate your opinion re: MJs. That impression is what concerns me.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:You're at a V10. You can get a clerkship, even if it's flyover district court, from a V10.

Huh?

Just in case anyone took this suggestion seriously, being at a "V10" is not some magic clerkship ticket. In general, landing a clerkship requires strong grades, good recs, and, if the judge hires alumni, solid litigation experience. Some V10 associates will have those things; many won't.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:40 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You're at a V10. You can get a clerkship, even if it's flyover district court, from a V10.

Huh?

Just in case anyone took this suggestion seriously, being at a "V10" is not some magic clerkship ticket. In general, landing a clerkship requires strong grades, good recs, and, if the judge hires alumni, solid litigation experience. Some V10 associates will have those things; many won't.



I don't know what V10 associates you've met, but I would say the majority of them have minimally qualifying credentials that align with the requirements to obtain a mag/dist clerkship. Of course it's not a "magic ticket," but acquiring a V10 gig usually means that you are pretty damn qualified.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:You're at a V10. You can get a clerkship, even if it's flyover district court, from a V10.

Huh?

Just in case anyone took this suggestion seriously, being at a "V10" is not some magic clerkship ticket. In general, landing a clerkship requires strong grades, good recs, and, if the judge hires alumni, solid litigation experience. Some V10 associates will have those things; many won't.



I don't know what V10 associates you've met, but I would say the majority of them have minimally qualifying credentials that align with the requirements to obtain a mag/dist clerkship. Of course it's not a "magic ticket," but acquiring a V10 gig usually means that you are pretty damn qualified.

Two things. First, you (assuming it is you--why are you anon when you're just offering general opinions?) initially wrote: "You're at a V10. You can get a clerkship." That's a lot different than writing that "the majority of [V10 associates] have minimally qualifying credentials." Many with minimally qualifying credentials won't, of course, get clerkships if they apply. And your new "majority" qualification acknowledges that there are some V10 associates who don't even possess the minimal credentials.

Second, I know/have known dozens of V10 associates from law school and practice. There's a range. Frankly, many V10 offices don't have particularly steep grade cut-offs. There are plenty of median-types at V10s whose grades won't make the cut for the vast majority of judges. And what is this Vault obsession anyway? Just glancing at Vault, I think I see more of a litigation focus, and probably more overall grade selectivity, in the V11 - V18 group than I do in the V10. It's pretty silly to use "V10" as a proxy for clerkship viability.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:45 am

OP here. Thanks, rpupkin. Believe me, I know that V10 doesn't equal clerkship (If it did, I would already have a clerkship lined-up and wouldn't be asking about MJs :)). Do you have any opinion on the MJ question from my initial post? Too risky?

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:49 pm

I'm the person who wrote that categorical comment about being at a V10. I didn't write that comment earlier above.

But I think it's fairly easy to generalize about V10s. First, I was assuming that OP was at a V10 in New York, not a satellite office. The NY office of, say, STB or Cleary, is probably more selective than their satellite offices (DC excepted). Second, the V10s are chock-full of T14 (and especially T6) types that are probably competent, have professors that like them, and went to schools with clerkship offices that will steer candidates to the right judges.

Look, I went to a lower T14, am clerking now, and know a lot of people who clerked. I haven't even heard of anyone doing a magistrate judge because the assumption is that if your grades are good and you're not horribly awkward, you can at least get flyover district court. Maybe it's a thing! But I've never heard of it.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby los blancos » Wed Apr 01, 2015 4:42 pm

^I think you're underestimating how tough it is, especially depending on what "good" grades are. And the whole process can be super random and idiosyncratic. Folks at V10s might also have had much higher grades entering OCI than at graduation.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Apr 01, 2015 4:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks, rpupkin. Believe me, I know that V10 doesn't equal clerkship (If it did, I would already have a clerkship lined-up and wouldn't be asking about MJs :)). Do you have any opinion on the MJ question from my initial post? Too risky?

Unfortunately, I feel like I can't offer you an informed opinion. I only clerked for a COA judge. My instinct is that, yes, it would be a little risky for you to clerk for a magistrate judge without having a district court clerkship lined up first. But I'm honestly not sure.

I will say that certain MJs are very well-respected, and clerking for one of those MJs could be as valuable as clerking for a district court judge--at least in the limited context of the magistrate's district. But identifying those special MJs isn't like identifying feeder COA judges. There isn't a national list. It's really a local thing that requires you to ask lawyers in the city or area in which the magistrate judge works.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby los blancos » Wed Apr 01, 2015 5:34 pm

Rpupkin knows more than I do, I think, but IIRC the general consensus on here seems to be that even D Ct clerkships don't necessarily make you more competitive for jobs. From that perspective it may not be "risky" because you still had V10 credentials to begin with.

It also kind of depends on what your ultimate goal is. Why do you want to clerk? It seems the lateral market for lit isn't what it is for corp, but I wonder if you really need to clerk to be competitive and you have little to lose testing the market now. If it's because you want the experience, then that's obviously a different story and whether or not an MJ is worth it kind of depends on the District. In some you'll probably be doing a lot of habeas petitions or SSA appeals and not much else, but in others you can arguably get a better "litigation school" experience where you may get the chance to deal with both discovery and dispositive issues per consent. It all just really depends on the district and who we're talking about.

With what your resume likely looks like tho, I probably would be applying mostly to DJs at least at the outset, though.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby sundance95 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:10 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks, rpupkin. Believe me, I know that V10 doesn't equal clerkship (If it did, I would already have a clerkship lined-up and wouldn't be asking about MJs :)). Do you have any opinion on the MJ question from my initial post? Too risky?

Unfortunately, I feel like I can't offer you an informed opinion. I only clerked for a COA judge. My instinct is that, yes, it would be a little risky for you to clerk for a magistrate judge without having a district court clerkship lined up first. But I'm honestly not sure.

I will say that certain MJs are very well-respected, and clerking for one of those MJs could be as valuable as clerking for a district court judge--at least in the limited context of the magistrate's district. But identifying those special MJs isn't like identifying feeder COA judges. There isn't a national list. It's really a local thing that requires you to ask lawyers in the city or area in which the magistrate judge works.

Bolded is totally spot on. One decent proxy is to search for MJs who have handled many dispositive motions (MTDs/MSJs) in cases involving high level firms. This can be an indication that DJs and the local bar think highly of them. MJ bench trials have to be consented to--(I think rules re MTD/MSJ varies by district/judge?), so if you are seeing high level counsel consenting to bench trials before an MJ that's a good sign.

But all that's a District by District search, which can be painful. That said, if you know you are interested in certain states/locales, it's not an impossibly difficult task.

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Re: Corp to Lit Switch: Magistrate or Wait?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:30 pm

It's difficult for me to understand why you would sacrifice your current position for a Federal MJ clerkship. In my opinion, a lateral move to litigation or a District Court clerkship are the wiser choices.




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