Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

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Orion311

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Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby Orion311 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:49 pm

Are there any Canadians out there who have gone through this process? I'm considering doing a federal clerkship, either immediately after graduation (which would definitely be unpaid, since I'm not a US citizen), or doing a clerkship one or two years out. I'll be doing BigLaw after/in-between. It seems like one advantage to waiting is that I might be able to have a green card, and I believe if you sign an affidavit stating that you intend to apply for citizenship as soon as you can and you have a green card you can get paid.

If you have gone through this process, I'm hoping to find out about the combination of visa statuses (F1/OPT, H1B, TN) that you used.

For a clerkship upon graduation, I'm guessing you use a little OPT to get to the clerkship and use a TN to do the clerkship itself, then after the clerkship you can get an H1B or TN for your firm job and apply for a green card whenever.

To have a green card for the clerkship (at least 1 year out), from what I've seen, I'm guessing you start the green card process as early as possible (with the offer you get right after 2L summer if that's possible), then use OPT to get through the first summer while studying for the bar, then use H1B/TN for that first year with the firm, and hopefully have the green card roughly a year after graduation such that you can get paid for the clerkship when you start.

I have not found many resources for navigating this area, so any input from Canadians who have done federal clerkships would be super helpful!

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Re: Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:55 pm

Not Canadian, but clerked in a federal court not requiring US citizenship. Non-citizens can clerk, for pay, outside the continental United States. So Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska are all fair game.

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Re: Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 01, 2016 6:21 pm

I'm not sure getting a green card is as streamlined as you say it is. Your firm needs to sponsor you for one, and I know that quite a number of firms won't sponsor it. It would of course depend on the firm.

gasja_tearo

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Re: Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby gasja_tearo » Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:38 am

It's definitely doable without a green card and on a TN visa or OPT. I know at least three people who have done it to clerk at the SDNY or Second Circuit. The most significant hurdle is getting a judge to hire you knowing that you don't have a green card and won't get paid. That depends on how strong your credentials and recommendations are. Once you get the offer, you can draft a letter stating your qualifications when you apply for the TN visa. The second most difficult part is being able to survive without salary while clerking for a year. That 50k bonus will help a little bit, but you have to save up some money before clerking.

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Re: Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:Not Canadian, but clerked in a federal court not requiring US citizenship. Non-citizens can clerk, for pay, outside the continental United States. So Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska are all fair game.


I heard the opposite. Would you mind sharing the source?

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Re: Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Not Canadian, but clerked in a federal court not requiring US citizenship. Non-citizens can clerk, for pay, outside the continental United States. So Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska are all fair game.


I heard the opposite. Would you mind sharing the source?

This is well-known amongst international students who want to clerk.
https://oscar.uscourts.gov/citizenship_requirements
All knowing OSCAR wrote:The appropriations law requirements apply to anyone appointed into a paid position within the judiciary in the continental U.S. The appropriations law requirements do not apply to employees with a duty station in Alaska, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands, nor do the requirements apply to unpaid volunteers.


gasja_tearo wrote:It's definitely doable without a green card and on a TN visa or OPT. I know at least three people who have done it to clerk at the SDNY or Second Circuit.


I know this is all anecdotal, but I personally also only know people who have managed to find a clerkship without pay at SDNY and 2d Cir. I don't know if it's because judges in New York are more open to the arrangement, but it does happen (relatively) regularly there for people with good credentials.

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Re: Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:16 pm

gasja_tearo wrote:It's definitely doable without a green card and on a TN visa or OPT. [b]I know at least three people who have done it to clerk at the SDNY or Second Circuit.

I know this is all anecdotal, but I personally also only know people who have managed to find a clerkship without pay at SDNY and 2d Cir. I don't know if it's because judges in New York are more open to the arrangement, but it does happen (relatively) regularly there for people with good credentials.


How did they fare after clerking for non-pay? Was is as significant career boost as normal clerking?

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Re: Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 21, 2017 10:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:
How did they fare after clerking for non-pay? Was is as significant career boost as normal clerking?


Honestly if you get a SDNY or 2d Cir clerkship it’s not like you really need a career boost anyway, because that means your credentials are already very good. So I don’t know that the clerkship in itself (outside of mentoring, networking, etc, which IMO are chambers and judge-dependent) is a huge career boost. Especially as an international student, where your biggest problem anyway is going to be getting a visa (thankfully for Canadians, not yet, but with the current admin’s stance on immigration and NAFTA you never know).


That being said the two people I know personally both ended back at the top litigation firms they had summered for.

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Re: Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:48 pm

For SDNY maybe, but not the case for Second Circuit. I have to say that the clerkship experience was very eye opening and my research and writing skills definitely improved significantly. I did it for the experience, which was to be the best litigator I can be, and it’s something I would not have had otherwise.

In terms of career boost, it depends on your goal. I felt that it actually set me back in biglaw because after a year, the partners who used to mentor me kind of forgot about me, and I became too expensive. But it gave me a boost in government and academia, which are the two long-term career paths I am most interested in. Although I still can’t work for the federal government, I am confident that it’s just a matter of time when I get US citizenship, and when that happens, I know my clerkship will give me an edge for any AUSA Jobs. I also got to see different type of law, which you don’t get to experience in biglaw. So I was able to publish a law review article at a top secondary journal based on my work while clerking (and I had the time to do so).

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Re: Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Not Canadian, but clerked in a federal court not requiring US citizenship. Non-citizens can clerk, for pay, outside the continental United States. So Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska are all fair game.


I heard the opposite. Would you mind sharing the source?

This is well-known amongst international students who want to clerk.
https://oscar.uscourts.gov/citizenship_requirements
All knowing OSCAR wrote:The appropriations law requirements apply to anyone appointed into a paid position within the judiciary in the continental U.S. The appropriations law requirements do not apply to employees with a duty station in Alaska, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands, nor do the requirements apply to unpaid volunteers.


gasja_tearo wrote:It's definitely doable without a green card and on a TN visa or OPT. I know at least three people who have done it to clerk at the SDNY or Second Circuit.


I know this is all anecdotal, but I personally also only know people who have managed to find a clerkship without pay at SDNY and 2d Cir. I don't know if it's because judges in New York are more open to the arrangement, but it does happen (relatively) regularly there for people with good credentials.


As someone who went through with this, there are two likely reasons for this: 1) I figured if I was going to clerk for free for a year and give up biglaw salary for a year, I’d only be willing to do a 2nd or 9th circuit clerkship as a long term investment in my career. 2) judges in New York are much more open minded to hiring non-Americans perhaps because it’s New York and a more cosmopolitan place. I had some really conservative but prestigious judges withdraw interviews with me after I disclosed the whole I can clerk for you but only without salary issue. The young ones who are hoping for a Supreme Court nomination are especially less likely to hire Canadians because they are concerned that this might come up in their nomination hearing (should they have the chance). So the judges you are most likely to get offers from will likely be located in more cosmopolitan cities and are more senior and therefore have no hope of a higher office.

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Re: Canadians seeking US Federal Clerkships

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:35 am

A number of SDNY judges hire volunteer clerks, often Canadians.

All of the volunteer clerks I know ended up at prestigious biglaw firms, and had very little trouble finding a job. That said, they also had the credentials for those kinds of jobs before clerking. It probably was helpful and may have opened some doors that might have otherwise been closed, but I wouldn't expect it to magically transform someone who didn't have those kind of credentials going in.



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