Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:24 pm

Also adding my two cents: My judge is fine, but my co-clerk makes me wish I had gone elsewhere. She wasn't able to get a biglaw job out of law school and came in from a public interest job. (There's nothing wrong with public interest jobs, but she clearly wanted and still wants a biglaw job and doesn't want to admit it.) To make things worse, she found out week one during lunch when the Judge announced that I came from a firm and so has been making comments about it since. During my first month, she was supposed to train me, but instead kept going on about how chambers "was not a law firm, so your work experience won't really help..." without me saying a word. Then she would describe things like "just look at the A and B,k?" and "go find it in the Blah" without telling me what "A', "B", and "the Blah" are. (A and B turned out to be reports emailed to everyone, and Blah turned out to be a folder on a server I didn't have access to yet.)

The worst thing she did to me once was getting mad at me for losing a document I never had, and saying that I was supposed to send it in front of the Judge. The Judge got mad at me for not sending it, and I still had no idea what the document was. After looking around and calling a few people, I discovered that the document was something that was given to our chambers and supposed to have been sent 3 MONTHS BEFORE I started. I didn't rat her out, but I'm getting tired of being blamed for her mistakes. And to make things worse, a month ago she didn't get the job she wanted, so she's staying on for the rest of my term.

Just seven more months to go...

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Also adding my two cents: My judge is fine, but my co-clerk makes me wish I had gone elsewhere. She wasn't able to get a biglaw job out of law school and came in from a public interest job. (There's nothing wrong with public interest jobs, but she clearly wanted and still wants a biglaw job and doesn't want to admit it.) To make things worse, she found out week one during lunch when the Judge announced that I came from a firm and so has been making comments about it since. During my first month, she was supposed to train me, but instead kept going on about how chambers "was not a law firm, so your work experience won't really help..." without me saying a word. Then she would describe things like "just look at the A and B,k?" and "go find it in the Blah" without telling me what "A', "B", and "the Blah" are. (A and B turned out to be reports emailed to everyone, and Blah turned out to be a folder on a server I didn't have access to yet.)

The worst thing she did to me once was getting mad at me for losing a document I never had, and saying that I was supposed to send it in front of the Judge.

The irony of the bolded is that your co-clerk is acting exactly like a stressed-out senior associate at a law firm. The dynamics in your chambers seem like great training for big law.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:37 am

rpupkin wrote:The irony of the bolded is that your co-clerk is acting exactly like a stressed-out senior associate at a law firm. The dynamics in your chambers seem like great training for big law.


I came from a V20 firm, and am going back to the same firm. My senior associate was normal. Maybe your firm can hire my co-clerk :lol:

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Tonight I was reminiscing about the time I spent a full hour cussing about my judge in my co-clerk's office. I mean, I did that a lot in general, but only once for a full, uninterrupted hour of sailor talk.

So yes, a lot of people really hate clerking. I don't like to advertise it lest I scare people who already have a clerkship lined up, but really, of my many clerk friends, only a few genuinely liked their experience. Even people who don't work for awful judges often find the experience boring and lonesome. I need a lot more years of lawyering before I think I'll really be able to say whether the experience was worth it, but I know it was the worst year of my life and I would never, ever do it again.


I'm on my 2nd clerkship and have had two completely different experiences. The judge I currently work for is, without a doubt, the best boss I have had and probably will ever have. Every one of his clerks says the same thing. I love the job. It's never boring (okay some habeas/prisoner stuff is excruciating) or lonely, and everyone in the court is nice and pleasant to work with. The worst I've heard about any judge here is one is really strict about hours and time off (e.g., every clerk has to be in chambers for certain hours and he meticulously tracks your days off).

My prior clerkship, however, was awful. I worked for a psycho and I hated the work, which was partially due to the court's docket and partially due to how the judge assigned work. I can't count how many hours my co-clerk and I complained about our judge on sametime - because we were expected not to leave our desks and she'd eavesdrop on convos. This experience was very unusual though. Every other clerk I met at that court loved it there.


I have almost the exact same story. I'm on my second clerkship right now and my judge might just be the nicest person I've ever met in my life.

My last clerkship was the exact opposite. My last judge was relatively new to the bench and ran her chambers like a law firm, where she was the partner and everyone else was a junior associate. She delegated literally everything, and effectively did no work. She came in to chambers maybe once a month, but those were the scariest days ever. It was a very intense and unpleasant experience.

It was partly due to how terrible my experience was, that I went for a second clerkship - searching for that real romanticized experience that everyone in law school would talk about when referring to clerking as being the "best year of my life." Might seem silly that I went for a second year after a bad first one, but I did, and I couldn't be happier. This experience now, is honestly exactly what everyone was talking about.

To all that are having bad experiences, there isn't much advice that can be offered other than to just say hang in there and keep your head up. Remember that careers are LONG. A few more months means very little in the big picture, and this will be something that you can have on your resume for the rest of your life.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby looseheadhawk66 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:24 pm

Like many other people have touched upon, it really just depends on your particular judge and his/her personality. I graduated law school last year and am clerking for a federal district judge right now. I absolutely LOVE clerking for my judge. The amount that I have learned and the real world experience that I have gotten has literally been PRICELESS. The experience of writing full memos and orders is great of course, but I also sit in on phone conferences, trials, and personally go participate in settlement conferences when my judge decides not to send it over to the magistrate judge. More times than I can count, after the judge and I are finally able to get a case to settle at 10 PM after a settlement conference all day, I have had partners of major firms ask me what my plans are after the clerkship and ask me to contact them when it's over. The contacts you make are fantastic.

Also, usually once or twice a day the judge and I just sit and shoot the sh*t, or he personally counsels and mentors me about anything law related. It's truly been an HONOR to clerk for my judge, and I have never felt that way about working anywhere before in my life. I actually love waking up at 5:30 AM and getting home around 9 PM. My advice: find a judge that you get along with; talk with his/her past clerks about what it is like to work for that judge; and work your a$$ off. That way, you find a judge who will personally mentor you, and you will get everything possible out of the experience.
Last edited by looseheadhawk66 on Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby RaceJudicata » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:32 pm

looseheadhawk66 wrote:Like many other people have touched upon, it really just depends on your particular judge and his/her personality. I graduated law school last year and am clerking for a federal district judge right now. I absolutely LOVE clerking for my judge. The amount that I have learned and the real world experience that I have gotten has literally been PRICELESS. The experience of writing full memos and orders is great of course, but I also sit in on phone conferences, trials, and personally go participate in settlement conferences when my judge decides not to send it over to the magistrate judge. More times than I can count, after the judge and I are finally able to get a case to settle at 10 PM after a settlement conference all day, I have had partners of major firms ask me what my plans are after the clerkship and ask me to contact them when it's over. The contacts you make are fantastic.

Also, usually once or twice a day the judge and I just sit and shoot the sh*t, or he personally counsels and mentors me about anything law related. It's truly been an HONOR to clerk for my judge, and I have never felt that way about working anywhere before in my life. I actually love waking up at 5:30 AM and getting home around 9 PM. My advice: find a judge that you get along with; talk with his/her past clerks about what it is like to work for that judge; and work your a$$ off. That way, you find a judge who will personally mentor you, and you will get everything possible out of the experience.


Woah. Happy for you, but settle down buddy

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby looseheadhawk66 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:35 pm

RaceJudicata wrote:
looseheadhawk66 wrote:Like many other people have touched upon, it really just depends on your particular judge and his/her personality. I graduated law school last year and am clerking for a federal district judge right now. I absolutely LOVE clerking for my judge. The amount that I have learned and the real world experience that I have gotten has literally been PRICELESS. The experience of writing full memos and orders is great of course, but I also sit in on phone conferences, trials, and personally go participate in settlement conferences when my judge decides not to send it over to the magistrate judge. More times than I can count, after the judge and I are finally able to get a case to settle at 10 PM after a settlement conference all day, I have had partners of major firms ask me what my plans are after the clerkship and ask me to contact them when it's over. The contacts you make are fantastic.

Also, usually once or twice a day the judge and I just sit and shoot the sh*t, or he personally counsels and mentors me about anything law related. It's truly been an HONOR to clerk for my judge, and I have never felt that way about working anywhere before in my life. I actually love waking up at 5:30 AM and getting home around 9 PM. My advice: find a judge that you get along with; talk with his/her past clerks about what it is like to work for that judge; and work your a$$ off. That way, you find a judge who will personally mentor you, and you will get everything possible out of the experience.


Woah. Happy for you, but settle down buddy


^ hahaha you're right, just got excited ... after reading this over it sounds like boasting. Not my intention, just trying to show how beneficial and enjoyable a good clerkship can be.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby mjb447 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 6:39 pm

looseheadhawk66 wrote:
RaceJudicata wrote:
looseheadhawk66 wrote:Like many other people have touched upon, it really just depends on your particular judge and his/her personality. I graduated law school last year and am clerking for a federal district judge right now. I absolutely LOVE clerking for my judge. The amount that I have learned and the real world experience that I have gotten has literally been PRICELESS. The experience of writing full memos and orders is great of course, but I also sit in on phone conferences, trials, and personally go participate in settlement conferences when my judge decides not to send it over to the magistrate judge. More times than I can count, after the judge and I are finally able to get a case to settle at 10 PM after a settlement conference all day, I have had partners of major firms ask me what my plans are after the clerkship and ask me to contact them when it's over. The contacts you make are fantastic.

Also, usually once or twice a day the judge and I just sit and shoot the sh*t, or he personally counsels and mentors me about anything law related. It's truly been an HONOR to clerk for my judge, and I have never felt that way about working anywhere before in my life. I actually love waking up at 5:30 AM and getting home around 9 PM. My advice: find a judge that you get along with; talk with his/her past clerks about what it is like to work for that judge; and work your a$$ off. That way, you find a judge who will personally mentor you, and you will get everything possible out of the experience.


Woah. Happy for you, but settle down buddy


^ hahaha you're right, just got excited ... after reading this over it sounds like boasting. Not my intention, just trying to show how beneficial and enjoyable a good clerkship can be.

Boasting, fanboying, whatever.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby rpupkin » Sun Jan 29, 2017 6:51 pm

looseheadhawk66 wrote:^ hahaha you're right, just got excited ... after reading this over it sounds like boasting. Not my intention, just trying to show how beneficial and enjoyable a good clerkship can be.

Sorry to pile on, but everyone knows that many people have good clerkship experiences. The point is that a few don't, and they're turning to this thread for support.

Imagine a 1L posted the following: "I'm having a hard time in law school. I find I don't fit in with my fellow students, and, despite studying hard first semester, I got below-median grades." And then a poster responded: "I had a great time as a 1L. I made several close friends, and got all As (well, one A-) during my first year. I just want to let everyone know that law school can be a great experience." You'd think that poster was kind of a douche, right?

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby jd20132013 » Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:29 pm

You don't understand he just wanted to show folks how enjoyable a clerkship could be if they hadn't picked the wrong judge.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby RaceJudicata » Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:55 pm

jd20132013 wrote:You don't understand he just wanted to show folks how enjoyable a clerkship could be if they hadn't picked the wrong judge.



LOVE. PRICELESS. HONOR.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:14 pm

I'm so glad I found this thread. My judge and career clerk are driving me crazy; they hate my work, expect me to work 24/7, and question my intelligence on a daily basis. Everyone in chambers is also so, so, sooo passive aggressive. I've been afraid of getting fired since December, and I still have about 6 months of this to go. Since starting, I've developed severe anxiety and insomnia, and my work has declined in quality as a result. I worked before this and never seemed to have problems that I'm having here, so I at least know that I don't hate all legal work. But wow, this experience has really destroyed the idyllic conception of clerking for me.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm so glad I found this thread. My judge and career clerk are driving me crazy; they hate my work, expect me to work 24/7, and question my intelligence on a daily basis. Everyone in chambers is also so, so, sooo passive aggressive. I've been afraid of getting fired since December, and I still have about 6 months of this to go. Since starting, I've developed severe anxiety and insomnia, and my work has declined in quality as a result. I worked before this and never seemed to have problems that I'm having here, so I at least know that I don't hate all legal work. But wow, this experience has really destroyed the idyllic conception of clerking for me.


What did you do before this?

I had a similar experience years ago. The judge and I had to agree to disagree most of the time, and not about law. It prompted me to start my job search around the half year mark. Luckily, I found a good fit and left my clerkship a month early. The positive side is that I have a better understanding now of how different judges can be. Hang in there. You'll be fine in the long run.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:42 am

I was actually a clerk at the COA level before starting here, which is a district court clerkship. The last experience was vastly different; it was professional, pleasant, and I developed a great relationship with my judge. This clerkship has been a complete 180.

I already have a job lined up after, so I'm alright as far as that's concerned. I am, however, legitimately worried about listing this judge or managing clerk as references in the event I want to switch jobs in the future. But thanks so much for the reassurance, I really do appreciate it.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:21 am

I just had an interview with a judge in a district I would love to work in. The clerks all seemed like they would be great to work with, but I found the judge to be rude and aggressive during the interview (he's a former prosecutor and I pretty much felt like I was being interrogated). I left the interview with serious doubts that I would want to work for this judge if I were to get an offer because I'm not sure if my interview experience was just the judge's interview style, or if it's indicative of how he always acts in chambers. Anyone had any experiences like this?

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:46 pm

Talk to former clerks and you will be able to get a better idea of what the judge is actually like.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby lavarman84 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Talk to former clerks and you will be able to get a better idea of what the judge is actually like.


Is that really true, though? Aren't former clerks hesitant to speak ill of their former boss (especially to some random person)?

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby mjb447 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:58 pm

lawman84 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Talk to former clerks and you will be able to get a better idea of what the judge is actually like.


Is that really true, though? Aren't former clerks hesitant to speak ill of their former boss (especially to some random person)?

I think you can often read between the lines or infer a little from the former clerk's enthusiasm. Couldn't really hurt, in any event.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:44 pm

I originally recommended talking to former clerks. I did this with all of the judges I interviewed with. No one bad mouths their judge but I totally got a feel of what the judge was like by what was said and what wasn't said. If the judge is good, the clerks will take the opportunity to gush. If the judge wasn't so good, the clerks will focus more on the work than the judge and say things like it was hard etc.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I just had an interview with a judge in a district I would love to work in. The clerks all seemed like they would be great to work with, but I found the judge to be rude and aggressive during the interview (he's a former prosecutor and I pretty much felt like I was being interrogated). I left the interview with serious doubts that I would want to work for this judge if I were to get an offer because I'm not sure if my interview experience was just the judge's interview style, or if it's indicative of how he always acts in chambers. Anyone had any experiences like this?


Have not applied or interviewed for clerkships but have interviewed for many prosecution positions and they are almost always incredibly hostile despite the person being a completely pleasant person to work with/for so perhaps he just retained that style of interview.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby LurkerTurnedMember » Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:51 pm

Definitely talk to former clerks. They won't tell you the truth outright but as people said you can read between the lines. I once interviewed for a COA judge and asked the clerks why they wanted to work for that judge (i.e. why they applied there) and they said something like, "Well you know how clerking is like. You don't get to really pick who you want to work for." Ouch. That basically told me, "I don't like it here. I don't want to be here."

It's also important to read between the lines of the application process. I don't have any data backing this up, but I think the more uptight and unreasonable the demands during the application process, the more uptight and unreasonable the judge will be. So if you have a judge stuck on law school prestige and wanting just top 5 or top 10 or so law school, only top 5% or top 10%, has to be law review and on the editorial board, a resume with your LSAT score on it, you have to email the application and send via regular mail the rec letters, there needs to be 3 letters of rec, etc. then that judge I think is gonna be harder to work for than one who's more laid back in their app demands (i.e. go to a decent school, have good grades but not a cut off, have journal experience generally, few rec letters or none needed so long as references given, just show me you can do the job and you're someone I wanna work with and you're good type of requirements). Just ask yourself, what type of person would you have drinks with, the former or latter?

Try your law school career department, too. I've heard some law schools have the details on some judges from prior clerks. Clerks aren't going to say anything bad about the judge to applicants, friends, or anyone where it could come back to them. But they might say something to their school's career department because they know the career department won't disclose it because they don't want it being tied to the law school through the clerk who reported the stuff to them. So they might have a lot of the secrets, and might tell you behind closed doors to let you know where to apply and where to be careful.

I think the vast majority of judges are awesome and at least alright to work for, though. And sometimes the reason you're having a horrible time could just be you. The judge I worked for had the clerks help with the hiring process and there were definitely weird people applying. And some who misrepresent their abilities and personality and then the chambers is stuck with them for a year. I don't want to make anyone feel bad here but if you can't get a witness's name right, you make basic grammatical errors, or don't find good cases you should have or your writing is bad, then maybe it's you. A clerkship is a job. It's not there for you to just learn. I used to have a co clerk who would do a lot less work than me because he wasn't efficient, couldn't synthesize a lot of info that well, etc. So I ended up doing the heavy lifting and for him it was all a "romanticized clerkship learning experience."

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:21 am

I agree with talking to former clerks but I would just add a caveat: I love both of my judge's but I'm not a gusher by nature--so try to gauge what sort of person you're talking to. I totally get if you choose to err on the side of "no fish no go" though

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:34 am

One other thing to keep in mind is that some judges really do play favorites among their clerks (my judge certainly did, and I know others who have said the same about their judges). This can result in a situation where the clerk who was the favorite gushes about how awesome the experience is, but the clerk who was clearly not the favorite will give you a very different sense of what it's like to work for the judge - and you will not be able to know from the outside who is who.

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby proleteriate » Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:25 am

I have a hard time finding former clerks. Where do u go? Linked in?

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Re: Does anyone just *hate* their clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:33 am

proleteriate wrote:I have a hard time finding former clerks. Where do u go? Linked in?


type "site:linkedin.com" into google, then type the judge's last name, the word "district" or "circuit," and then maybe the circuit number (e.g., "Fourth") or state of the district (e.g., "Montana"). That search should produce a list of LinkedIn profiles of folks who have clerked for that judge.




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