Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:56 pm

I experienced both - my first judge was all about mentorship wrt the writing and analysis and would spend as long as I needed talking over issues in a case, every draft went through like 5 versions, s/he was happy to explain exactly why s/he'd changed everything he'd changed, and s/he'd talk about oral argument and what was effective and wasn't. S/he didn't usually tell me how a case *should* come out, but s/he did tell me what s/he thought was the likely outcome. My second judge relied on the clerks to do the research and writing so s/he could do all the rest of the stuff. If s/he had questions about your analysis s/he'd discuss it with you and of course s/he read everything and wouldn't send it out if s/he didn't agree, but the expectation was that you were there to take care of the bulk of the analysis/writing without needing a lot of guidance.

Maybe pertinent that the first judge was an appeals judge and the second was a district court judge - I think that the different courts lend themselves to different approaches. (That said, I know of a judge on the appeals court whose clerks would get given a case, research and draft the opinion, turn it in to the judge, and then never see it or hear about it again until the opinion came out, sometimes pretty much as they'd given it to the judge, sometimes completely transformed. So it's certainly not just about level of court.)

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ggocat

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby ggocat » Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:11 pm

Yeah Nony, I think that has less to do with the court and more with the person wearing the robe. I've worked for, and heard many stories about, both types of people in appellate.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Quichelorraine » Mon Dec 18, 2017 12:20 pm

ggocat wrote:Yeah Nony, I think that has less to do with the court and more with the person wearing the robe. I've worked for, and heard many stories about, both types of people in appellate.


Precisely. And I think both approaches are completely valid. As long as there isn't a complete dereliction of duty--clerks write the opinion, judges issue it without even so much as taking a glance--all is fine. Nobody expects partners to have written the briefs their names adorn; nobody thinks that United States Senators actually draft every Eagle Scout letter or ceremonial address. (Posner's criticism here is unrealistic.)

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:57 pm

I'm someone hating clerkship. I'm just bored at work all the time and as a result of my boredom I really don't want to focus on work and hence productivity sucks. Kill me. Can't wait for a year to be over. My judge notices my slowness and he is aware of it. It's toxic, not from the people, just from the work.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm someone hating clerkship. I'm just bored at work all the time and as a result of my boredom I really don't want to focus on work and hence productivity sucks. Kill me. Can't wait for a year to be over. My judge notices my slowness and he is aware of it. It's toxic, not from the people, just from the work.


I am very bored as well despite being on an allegedly busy court. I keep up with the workload but my quality is definitely suffering. I'm almost done so yay but I'm worried that this type of disengagement will continue back at my firm (I am straight through from law school to clerkship). Is this melancholy limited to my clerkship? Does anyone have experience with this?

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:34 am

Hay Im the anon above, I'm confident about joining my firm but still got almost half a year to go at clerkship. I think I just cannot keep going to this old place without being depressed. There is something about working for one person and that person has all the say about your work. And in the meantime that person is only in for a limited time and does not matter at all for the future. Chambers is not for every soul, clerkship is a good gig to certain extent. I'm sure the admin of this board is gonna argue against whatever I said. But I'm pulling my heart out here- people who tell you clerkships are interesting are defending their experience/ credentials to a certain extent. We are all marketers for ourselves.

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bruinfan10

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby bruinfan10 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hay Im the anon above, I'm confident about joining my firm but still got almost half a year to go at clerkship. I think I just cannot keep going to this old place without being depressed. There is something about working for one person and that person has all the say about your work. And in the meantime that person is only in for a limited time and does not matter at all for the future. Chambers is not for every soul, clerkship is a good gig to certain extent. I'm sure the admin of this board is gonna argue against whatever I said. But I'm pulling my heart out here- people who tell you clerkships are interesting are defending their experience/ credentials to a certain extent. We are all marketers for ourselves.

so sorry to hear this. valuable cautionary tale. research your judge prior to interviewing. i went with an appellate and a d.ct judge who were both known for being both great judges and great bosses. i declined interviews with several other judges who were known to be terrible. not everyone has the luxury of choosing between multiple clerkship offers, but know that if you go in blind and accept that exploding offer sight-unseen, you could land with a bad boss for a year. still better than biglaw though, where you can land with a terrible partner who can literally destroy your career.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:05 pm

Edit: though better of this, I actually really like my judge. Just having a stressful moment.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Quichelorraine

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Quichelorraine » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Me, I hate mine. I don't mind the actual work-- it's pretty easy and the hours are manageable. I am 99% certain my judge does not read any of the bench memos I write (which comprise 80% of my work). I think s/he maybe reads the first 3 pages. If s/he disagrees with my conclusion (without reading my reasoning) s/he will lecture me for hours on end. These lectures are mostly the judge repeating the same thing over and over. It makes me want to ram my head into a wall. When I first started I just put up with it. But I am nearing the end of my term now and I can't take it any more. I don't even care if the judge wants to rule in a way that blatantly violates the statute. It's not my name on the opinion. I just want the lectures to stop. My bladder cannot take it.


To put it mildly, this relationship with a boss or supervisor is hardly unique to the judiciary. Get ready for more of this if you're headed to a law firm...

jd20132013

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:49 pm

Yeah they read less of your work at the law firm bro. Lol

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:16 pm

And actually this is one of
The ways in which every clerkship prepares you well to practice. You have to figure out ways to write things that don’t allow the reader to go off half cocked on something stupid

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 17, 2018 10:24 am

My co-clerk and I both quit. Neither of us currently work in law which is a pretty common fate for this judge's clerks. Clerking for an abusive judge, especially as your first job out of law school, can be extremely damaging. I will probably return to law but my co-clerk will not.

To non-employees the judge is perfectly charming, making the profane outbursts, impossible deadlines, gas-lighting, and mind-warping insanity all the more surprising once you've entered chambers.

The percentage of nightmare judges is low but you do not want to gamble with your future. Talk to former clerks if you are seriously considering a particular clerkship. Former clerks are loathe to denigrate their former bosses so pose your questions diplomatically, like asking how many of the judge's clerks have left the position early.

Don't rely on your school to warn you of a toxic judge. I later learned that nearly a dozen of my judge's former clerks had either quit or been fired. When asked, the school's administration admitted to knowing the position's extreme turnover rate--only one grad had ever completed their clerkship's full term--but refuse to warn students, reasoning that the position is so prestigious that no student would heed their warnings.


Be safe.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby JakeTappers » Thu May 17, 2018 11:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:My co-clerk and I both quit. Neither of us currently work in law which is a pretty common fate for this judge's clerks. Clerking for an abusive judge, especially as your first job out of law school, can be extremely damaging. I will probably return to law but my co-clerk will not.

To non-employees the judge is perfectly charming, making the profane outbursts, impossible deadlines, gas-lighting, and mind-warping insanity all the more surprising once you've entered chambers.

The percentage of nightmare judges is low but you do not want to gamble with your future. Talk to former clerks if you are seriously considering a particular clerkship. Former clerks are loathe to denigrate their former bosses so pose your questions diplomatically, like asking how many of the judge's clerks have left the position early.

Don't rely on your school to warn you of a toxic judge. I later learned that nearly a dozen of my judge's former clerks had either quit or been fired. When asked, the school's administration admitted to knowing the position's extreme turnover rate--only one grad had ever completed their clerkship's full term--but refuse to warn students, reasoning that the position is so prestigious that no student would heed their warnings.


Be safe.


This is terrible. But I'm glad you had someone who would quit with you...it seems like that may soften the blow on your end and sharpen on the other (though, it appears this is common and of no consequence to the judge).

At least tell us what court or type of court?

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 24, 2018 1:37 am

I hate my (D. Ct.) clerkship. I hate the career clerk, who I'm pretty sure hates me. I hardly interact with my judge. Sorry about y'all's problems, but thanks for sharing. I at least now feel like I can stop hating myself for being an odd duck, like a kid who manages to be unhappy at Disney, or for being an ingrate because everyone is supposed to be thrilled about clerking.

This is my first job out of law school. I understand feeling like crying at your desk / feeling like you're wasting your life / feeling like you're incompetent / resenting being treated like an incompetent are normal for new biglaw lawyers. I've certainly learned a lot and improved as a writer. But I was a lot happier as a law student.

I've been here for 8-9 months. I have 15-16 months remaining. I'm up for review soon as to whether this will be a one-year clerkship. I.e., like I might get fired, but in a way that won't be noticeable on my resume. Part of my problem is that my work is inefficient. I draft orders and revise and revise them as instructed by the career clerk. Then when I hand them to the judge, I get asked why there's this irrelevant crap here, here, and there. I then just sheepishly revise again because I don't dare say "because the career clerk told me to put this shit there. I don't know why it's there." That seems poor form in any case, but certainly for someone on thin ice. Of course, almost all the redlines either identify improvements or errors. I used to feel panicked when the other clerk would point out some substantial error I made. But by now, I've become used to it that in everything I turn in, and in every interaction, I just expect to hear about how unacceptable it is. Apparently, the expectation is that I should be turning in drafts of orders that need no substantive revisions, and the other clerk should only be catching a rare, stray typo I haven't caught myself. Well, I'm not there yet. My productivity has improved a lot recently after I developed a level of acceptance that being regularly treated as a failure is inevitable here. That lessens the effect of the fear and anxiety a lot.

I've been working myself to the bone lately trying to get caught up with ripe orders. A few days ago I got a recruiting letter from some plaintiffs' firm. It got me on this daydream where I was somewhere besides here and not fucking miserable, and wondering if I should want to suggest / am allowed to suggest that we cut my term to one year. I think I can solve the judge's concerns about my writing and productivity. I can accept that my co-clerk does not like me. I've given up on trying to have friendly small-talk. I haven't taken the bar yet, so even though leaving early means in only 3-4 months, to the extent there's a gap in time, I will actually need it. In other words, for my own sake, I'm doing everything I can so that they want me to stay, but I still think I will hate it here. I hope I can find a law job I actually like, but even if I am miserable, I'd rather be miserable back in the big city where I came from, making money, and where I at least have some friends.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby nixy » Thu May 24, 2018 7:50 am

I realize this may not be very helpful at this point, but why *don't* you say the career clerk told you to put x, y, z in? Or at least ask the judge about the situation generally? It seems weird and inefficient to have the career clerk review everything you write, and it sounds like it's part of what's creating the inefficiency, if the problem is that the clerk and the judge are on a different page. If things are going badly anyway and you think you might be let go after a year, why *not* ask the judge about how to do better? It doesn't sound like it can hurt matters at this point - the clerk hating you is much less significant for your future career than what the judge thinks about you.

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anon sequitur

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby anon sequitur » Thu May 24, 2018 9:33 am

Yeah, it's not like there is one platonic ideal on how orders should be written, the career clerk might be suggesting you put in things that she thinks are necessary but that the judge doesn't (the other possibility, that she's sabotaging your work is too depressing to consider). I"d generally defer to the career clerk's experience on such things, but if you really don't think it makes sense, you should let the judge know that career clerk suggested it when you turn in a draft. I would occasionally put brackets with handwritten notes around material in a draft that I was unsure about or wanted more input on, but that might not be okay with your judge.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 25, 2018 10:18 am

dude above, I cut my clerkship to one year and eventually left early. honey this is completely acceptable and just get the hell out if you hate it. The worst thing is hating in a small chamber environment, drives you nuts.



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