Worth it to try for COA?

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Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 25, 2016 1:16 pm

I have D Ct. in a major area (NDCA/CDCA/SDNY/EDNY/NDIL) for right after I graduate, and an SSC for the year after. I'm roughly top 3-4% at a mid to upper T14, no LR, but very strong recs and a couple of RA/TA gigs for very well known profs.

1) Is it worth it to apply to COAs and do a third clerkship? Career goals are DOJ long term, maybe try for one of the fancy gigs, i.e. crim appellate.

2) What type/level of COA gig can I expect to land? At this point I'm basically only willing to do 2/9/DC (maybe I would be willing to travel for feeders in random places), and CA9 only in SF, LA, or Seattle.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:08 pm

You have a legitimate shot at non-feeders on the 9th. It would help if you are willing to broaden geographically a bit. The Ninth Circuit judges in SF are extraordinarily competitive, but you would have a better shot with judges in LA (you have a shot at everyone but Reinhardt, Kozinski, probably Watford and Ikuta too) and Seattle. I think DC Circuit is a stretch. Don't know much about the 2nd.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby rpupkin » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:15 pm

You have a good shot at a COA clerkship. But if your short-term goal is to work at a law firm, you might be better off without three different clerkships under your belt.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:27 pm

OP here. Thanks for the responses.

Anonymous User wrote:You have a legitimate shot at non-feeders on the 9th. It would help if you are willing to broaden geographically a bit. The Ninth Circuit judges in SF are extraordinarily competitive, but you would have a better shot with judges in LA (you have a shot at everyone but Reinhardt, Kozinski, probably Watford and Ikuta too) and Seattle. I think DC Circuit is a stretch. Don't know much about the 2nd.


Would this assessment change if, for instance, I knew for a fact my 1L grades were good enough for Kozinski? Not saying anything about the rest of my qualifications, and don't want to be more specific, for obvious reasons.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:58 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks for the responses.

Anonymous User wrote:You have a legitimate shot at non-feeders on the 9th. It would help if you are willing to broaden geographically a bit. The Ninth Circuit judges in SF are extraordinarily competitive, but you would have a better shot with judges in LA (you have a shot at everyone but Reinhardt, Kozinski, probably Watford and Ikuta too) and Seattle. I think DC Circuit is a stretch. Don't know much about the 2nd.


Would this assessment change if, for instance, I knew for a fact my 1L grades were good enough for Kozinski? Not saying anything about the rest of my qualifications, and don't want to be more specific, for obvious reasons.


Even if your grades are good enough for Kozinski, you probably wouldn't enjoy clerking for him. Also I think he really likes LR, especially if you're not at HYS.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:13 am

That's definitely true. 0 interest in clerking for Koz specifically. All I was saying is that I know my grades were at his level. Obviously the rest of my application didn't stack up bc I'm asking this question.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:21 pm

OP, what are your short-medium term goals? SCOTUS at all costs? Law firm in a particular location?

you have a decent shot at 2/9/DC but it's not a sure thing by any means.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby runinthefront » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have D Ct. in a major area (NDCA/CDCA/SDNY/EDNY/NDIL) for right after I graduate, and an SSC for the year after. I'm roughly top 3-4% at a mid to upper T14, no LR, but very strong recs and a couple of RA/TA gigs for very well known profs.

1) Is it worth it to apply to COAs and do a third clerkship? Career goals are DOJ long term, maybe try for one of the fancy gigs, i.e. crim appellate.

2) What type/level of COA gig can I expect to land? At this point I'm basically only willing to do 2/9/DC (maybe I would be willing to travel for feeders in random places), and CA9 only in SF, LA, or Seattle.

I wouldn't do a third clerkship unless it was for a strong feeder and you were prestige-whoring. You would be competitive in every circuit, though--including the DC Circuit.

If you just want to work at a firm, don't waste your time.
Last edited by runinthefront on Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2016 12:53 am

Short term goal is to be at a firm where I'll get real experience. Kellogg, W&C, Robbins Russell, Keker, Susman etc.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby lolwat » Thu Aug 04, 2016 12:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Short term goal is to be at a firm where I'll get real experience. Kellogg, W&C, Robbins Russell, Keker, Susman etc.


Maybe try talking to people at those firms or people who know people at those firms. To my VERY limited knowledge, KVN, Susman and W&C have less... "requirements" as far as clerkships go, at least in terms of the fact that you've already got district court and SSC lined up (I had an interview with the LA office of Susman and all I had was a D.Ct. clerkship in a non-major location). I'm sure the state/judge for your SSC matters, by the way, and we don't have that information. I mean, if you're clerking for Liu or Cuellar in CA, I'm pretty sure KVN will be well within reach regardless of whether you do another 2/9/DC. DC might help a lot for Kellogg/W&C/Robbins just because of the location, but I wouldn't know. Just a gut feeling.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2016 1:33 pm

Thanks, that makes sense. The SSC justice is not one of the ones you mentioned, but he/she is very well known and very well connected in certain circles in DC.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2016 3:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks, that makes sense. The SSC justice is not one of the ones you mentioned, but he/she is very well known and very well connected in certain circles in DC.


I suspect the previous comments probably apply equally well to J. Kruger, fwiw. Don't know about other states.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2016 3:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Short term goal is to be at a firm where I'll get real experience. Kellogg, W&C, Robbins Russell, Keker, Susman etc.

Kellogg and W&C don't care where you clerk, so long as one of the clerkships is for an Art. 3 judge. Obviously, if it were a SCOTUS clerkship, yeah. But they don't gaf whether you clerked SDNY or SDFL. I wouldn't do COA only because you think that it'll give you a boost at these firms. It won't. I can't speak on the other ones tho

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Short term goal is to be at a firm where I'll get real experience. Kellogg, W&C, Robbins Russell, Keker, Susman etc.

Kellogg and W&C don't care where you clerk, so long as one of the clerkships is for an Art. 3 judge. Obviously, if it were a SCOTUS clerkship, yeah. But they don't gaf whether you clerked SDNY or SDFL. I wouldn't do COA only because you think that it'll give you a boost at these firms. It won't. I can't speak on the other ones tho

The bolded is not true.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:48 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Short term goal is to be at a firm where I'll get real experience. Kellogg, W&C, Robbins Russell, Keker, Susman etc.

Kellogg and W&C don't care where you clerk, so long as one of the clerkships is for an Art. 3 judge. Obviously, if it were a SCOTUS clerkship, yeah. But they don't gaf whether you clerked SDNY or SDFL. I wouldn't do COA only because you think that it'll give you a boost at these firms. It won't. I can't speak on the other ones tho

The bolded is not true.


As someone who has summered/is summering with one of those firms, and has had extensive contact with the other, I assure you, it is.

You generally give good advice rpupkin but unless you have worked at any of these firms/were offered at any of these firms and spoke to them (i.e. Recruiting, hiring partners, and associates generally )about clerkships, I wouldn't be quick to dismiss someone else's statements

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:51 pm

OP here. I believe this of W&C but everyone at Kellogg who works there full time seems to have a COA clerkship. Mostly very good ones too.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. I believe this of W&C but everyone at Kellogg who works there full time seems to have a COA clerkship. Mostly very good ones too.

atleast two people at KH were just hired less than a year ago w/o a CoA. Atleast one without magna/summa honors and with a clerkship that isn't considered especially prestigious by any means. I don't want to derail this thread, but I stand by my original statement.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Short term goal is to be at a firm where I'll get real experience. Kellogg, W&C, Robbins Russell, Keker, Susman etc.

Kellogg and W&C don't care where you clerk, so long as one of the clerkships is for an Art. 3 judge. Obviously, if it were a SCOTUS clerkship, yeah. But they don't gaf whether you clerked SDNY or SDFL. I wouldn't do COA only because you think that it'll give you a boost at these firms. It won't. I can't speak on the other ones tho

The bolded is not true.


As someone who has summered/is summering with one of those firms, and has had extensive contact with the other, I assure you, it is.

You generally give good advice rpupkin but unless you have worked at any of these firms/were offered at any of these firms and spoke to them (i.e. Recruiting, hiring partners, and associates generally )about clerkships, I wouldn't be quick to dismiss someone else's statements

I summered at one of those two firms, and I know several attorneys at both. Thanks for the lecture, but I stand by my statement.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here. I believe this of W&C but everyone at Kellogg who works there full time seems to have a COA clerkship. Mostly very good ones too.

atleast two people at KH were just hired less than a year ago w/o a CoA. Atleast one without magna/summa honors and with a clerkship that isn't considered especially prestigious by any means. I don't want to derail this thread, but I stand by my original statement.

Is a "prestigious" clerkship a necessary condition for being hired at W&C or Kellogg? No. But that's not what you said. You said the firms "don't care" where you clerk. I think that's wrong. At W&C, for example, an applicant who clerked in SDNY or DDC is in a stronger position than an applicant who clerked in the middle of the country. Can the latter still get hired? Sure. But those in the former category will have a better shot.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:03 pm

rpupkin is right --- Having watched post-clerk hiring at W&C and Kellogg, having a "prestigious" Art. III clerkship makes it far easier to get an interview and an offer. Doesn't mean that you can't get both without one. But it's overstatement at the least to say the reputation of the Art. III court / judge are irrelevant.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:05 pm

OP here. In terms of the "prestigious" AIII clerkships, would the D. Ct. one I have lined up qualify? I don't think it would be very hard to line up a CoA as both judges I'm clerking for have sent on to circuit judges they know well, but 3 years of clerking is quite a commitment.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:21 pm

OP, there are three elements relevant to determining whether a particular Art. III clerkship is "prestigious": (1) Level of court; (2) the location / district / circuit of the court; (3) judge. (Recognizing that the first and second considerations could reasonably be collapsed into one.) Obviously a Supreme Court clerkship is more prestigious than a circuit or district court clerkship. Generally speaking, a circuit clerkship will be more prestigious than a district court clerkship. Though of course, the latter rule is only a general one and so perhaps has its exceptions: a very well-known and respected district judge may give you a greater boost (regionally, certainly, and maybe even nationally) than a less well-regarded or well-known circuit judge who is, say, stationed in a less well-regarded circuit in a flyover city.

All this is to say that in your case we know only two of the three considerations relevant to determining whether your district court clerkship is "prestigious": the level of the court (district) and the location (NDCA/CDCA/SDNY/EDNY/NDIL). I can say with a bit of confidence that those districts are generally more prestigious than most. That said, not all clerkships or judges within those districts are created equal, and so I can't say your judge will be the best of the best within them. Certainly those districts will contain some duds and so your mileage may vary depending on your individual judge. And remember that the prestige of the individual clerkship is a function of both the court and the judge. So it is that some very prestigious district judges exist on less popular district courts (e.g., Thapar in the E.D. Ky.) while many less prestigious judges exist in more popular districts (e.g., the ones in which you'll be clerking).

Since you're unlikely to divulge the specific district judge for whom you'll be clerking, the best I can say is:

1. Your district court clerkship is less prestigious than many (if not most) circuit clerkships.

2. Your district court clerkship is, based on the category of court you've identified, likely to be be more prestigious than most district court clerkships. Of course, whether it will actually be well-regarded will depend to some degree on the particular judge for whom you'll be clerking. The better his or her connections and reputation, the more prestigious the clerkship.

3. Whether you should do a third clerkship is an extraordinarily difficult question. In all honesty, you'll probably find that by the end of your first clerkship (and certainly your second), you'll be ready to move to a firm and get on with your professional life. So taking on a third clerkship is generally not recommended, unless of course it is with the Supreme Court. In an ideal world, if you're competitive for a federal COA without it, you'd go back in time and drop the SSC clerkship. But since you already have a D. Ct. and SSC lined up, you should think very hard about whether a third one is worth it. If your D. Ct. and SSC judges are well regarded, I'd strongly consider skipping the COA. You're likely a long shot at places at W&C and Kellogg without a COA; unless your two judges are well-connected. But you're not laughably out of the running and so it wouldn't be a complete waste to throw them an app. More importantly, though, there are plenty of trial-focused litigation boutiques with whom you'd likely be competitive based on your existing clerkships. And that would, it seems to me, be a reason to forego the third clerkship. (Not the mention some of the additional reasons: you're losing a lot of time and money while clerking, and by the third clerkship, you really need to question whether it's adding much marginal benefit to your professional development or prospects. As a general matter, I doubt it will.)

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2016 4:09 pm

Thanks for the detailed response, I appreciate it. It's helpful, as I'm struggling quite a bit with the decision of whether to start applying for a CoA.

As far as my judges I will say this- one was a longtime former AUSA in one of the districts mentioned, and the other clerked for a sitting SCOTUS justice and was very senior in the DOJ prior to being appointed to the bench.

What I'm hearing from you is that those connections might be enough to take me where I want even without a CoA clerkship?

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2016 4:24 pm

Same anon --- Yes, with those credentials, you're probably in a good enough position that the marginal costs of the COA outweigh the marginal benefits That would be especially true if you have any interest in working within the district / state in which you will be clerking.

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Re: Worth it to try for COA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:25 pm

Thanks for your thoughts. Between that and the fact that a partner on the hiring committee of one of W&C or Kellogg also clerked for one of my judges I feel like I have a good shot even without a CoA. I'll probably just get started with my career.



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