Clerking 10+ years out

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pjg92346

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Clerking 10+ years out

Postby pjg92346 » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:18 pm

I have a potential COA clerkship opportunity for 2018-2019, that has arisen through a confluence of factors. Curious as to what my opportunities for post-clerkship employment may be, given my more experienced background: I've been practicing for almost 10 years with the government, all appellate litigation, have practiced in all courts of appeals, have argued 20+ cases in 5 different COAs, and have had two merits cases before the Supreme Court (along with 20+ cases handled at the cert. stage). Along with my practice, I've also published fairly extensively in both law journals and op-ed pages (Wall St. J., Wash. Post, L.A. Times, etc.). I'm fairly happy where I am, but looking for new challenges, and hoping to pivot from the clerkship into private practice. I guess I have a few questions / concerns:
1. How likely is it to move into private practice via a clerkship after 10+ years out of law school?
2. How is the clerkship viewed on the resume as a general matter at this stage? Some I've talked to have been supportive and thought the clerkship a good idea, others have thought it makes me look undecided about what I want to be doing / uncommitted to a particular career path / generally muddled in approach...
3. After a significant practice in appellate litigation, is there anything to be learned over the course of a COA clerkship? I have to think that there is--knowing how a judge approaches these cases is something that is still "behind the curtain," despite my experience, but what worth that may have is, I guess, a touch uncertain. Perhaps it tweaks my post-clerkship practice, but I'd be surprised if the clerkship resulted in any significant change to my work product.

FWIW, my profile would not have supported a clerkship right out of law school, but not looking for advice on whether I am a good candidate now. My questions solely relate to how a clerkship would be viewed on my resume at this stage and what opportunities (or lack of opportunities) might await the conclusion of my clerkship. Thanks for any quidance / thoughts.

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XxSpyKEx

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Re: Clerking 10+ years out

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sat Jul 30, 2016 6:46 pm

pjg92346 wrote:I have a potential COA clerkship opportunity for 2018-2019, that has arisen through a confluence of factors. Curious as to what my opportunities for post-clerkship employment may be, given my more experienced background: I've been practicing for almost 10 years with the government, all appellate litigation, have practiced in all courts of appeals, have argued 20+ cases in 5 different COAs, and have had two merits cases before the Supreme Court (along with 20+ cases handled at the cert. stage). Along with my practice, I've also published fairly extensively in both law journals and op-ed pages (Wall St. J., Wash. Post, L.A. Times, etc.). I'm fairly happy where I am, but looking for new challenges, and hoping to pivot from the clerkship into private practice. I guess I have a few questions / concerns:
1. How likely is it to move into private practice via a clerkship after 10+ years out of law school?
2. How is the clerkship viewed on the resume as a general matter at this stage? Some I've talked to have been supportive and thought the clerkship a good idea, others have thought it makes me look undecided about what I want to be doing / uncommitted to a particular career path / generally muddled in approach...
3. After a significant practice in appellate litigation, is there anything to be learned over the course of a COA clerkship? I have to think that there is--knowing how a judge approaches these cases is something that is still "behind the curtain," despite my experience, but what worth that may have is, I guess, a touch uncertain. Perhaps it tweaks my post-clerkship practice, but I'd be surprised if the clerkship resulted in any significant change to my work product.

FWIW, my profile would not have supported a clerkship right out of law school, but not looking for advice on whether I am a good candidate now. My questions solely relate to how a clerkship would be viewed on my resume at this stage and what opportunities (or lack of opportunities) might await the conclusion of my clerkship. Thanks for any quidance / thoughts.


You haven't said enough about your background for anyone to give you meaningful advice. What government entity have you been working for the past decade and what types of cases have you handled? (E.g. is it something that easily ties into an appellate practice at a major law firm?) What does your educational background look like (e.g. where did you go to law school, what were your grades like, were you on LR, etc.)? Federal appellate practices at big law firms are incredibly selective and difficult to break into (after all, there's so few of those positions and they tend to attract SCOTUS clerks), so there's a lot of factors in play there. If you've essentially been litigating appellate and Supreme Court cases on the other side of biglaw firms, I think you have a lot better of a shot at breaking into a biglaw appellate practice than you would if you've been working at a public defender's office or something like that where the work is pretty unrelated to the types of cases the firms handle (i.e. except pro bono cases).

With respect to question #3- honestly, I highly doubt a clerkship is even worthwhile with respect to what you'll get in terms of practical experience. Clerkships are really helpful when you're fresh out of law school. or within your couple few years of practicing, largely because the experience you get in that one to two years vastly exceeds the practical experience you get at most firms in that same time period. You're right that you'll see the inner working of the court, though (how the court goes about deciding cases, etc.).

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hdivschool

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Re: Clerking 10+ years out

Postby hdivschool » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:35 pm

I could imagine it helping you secure a job at an appellate boutique or at a regional firm. I doubt it would matter for generic biglaw, unless it burnishes a business-generating specialty of yours, e.g., CAFC and patents or CADC and admin law, or the judge gets you a job.

My sense is that big firms are not looking to hire general appellate specialists unless they've worked in the SG's office. Appeals don't bring in much business, don't make much money, and mainly complement other work done by the big firms. Your subject-matter experience will matter much more than doing the COA clerkship.



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