What are chances at federal w/ a 2017-18 State Clerkship

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What are chances at federal w/ a 2017-18 State Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2016 9:08 pm

I have a state appellate clerkship, but I want a federal clerkship. Does having a state clerkship make one more competitive? Can having a clerkship help overcome decent grades at a decent school with no LR? Any advice about strategies for the application process?

Important Stats:

*I go to a top 40 school.
*I am around the top 1/3 of the class.
*Not on LR, I am published.
*I am on moot court and other committees.
*Strong Public Interest resume.
*Minority candidate.

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Re: What are chances at federal w/ a 2017-18 State Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 14, 2016 10:20 pm

You should focus on federal judges your state judge knows. I got a federal COA clerkship partially because the circuit judge held my state judge in very high regard.

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Re: What are chances at federal w/ a 2017-18 State Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:02 pm

Thanks for the advice. Do federal judges value prior clerking experience at the state level? Should I focus just on my locale? Are out of state federal clerkships out of the question?

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Re: What are chances at federal w/ a 2017-18 State Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:43 pm

Only if it's a state supreme court will it give your application a bump. The truth of the matter is that with your stats you're going to be entirely dependent on an extremely strong recommendation from your judge to a federal judge he or she knows well. Otherwise I think you're pretty much shut out of federal clerkships.

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Re: What are chances at federal w/ a 2017-18 State Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Only if it's a state supreme court will it give your application a bump. The truth of the matter is that with your stats you're going to be entirely dependent on an extremely strong recommendation from your judge to a federal judge he or she knows well. Otherwise I think you're pretty much shut out of federal clerkships.

This isn't true, if you find the right judge(s). I and a few other people I know from a similarly-ranked school who clerked for a state COA were able to move up to federal D Ct (and a couple of them went on to federal COA after). In my own case it wasn't based on the judge's rec bc my first judge didn't know the second and bc I got the second clerkship before I even started the first.

Your class rank is a little low but having prior clerking experience, even in state courts, is appealing to many judges (probably more to D Ct judges than COA, admittedly). Some judges want to see LR but a publication will serve the same purpose for some judges. It probably goes without saying that judges with connections to your school/state are more likely to be receptive.

And I hope this doesn't come across badly, but re: being a minority, I do know judges who like to, when possible, hire students from their own racial/ethnic community.

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Re: What are chances at federal w/ a 2017-18 State Clerkship

Postby FascinatedWanderer » Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:46 pm

I have to confess I find it hard to believe that anyone who started at a state COA went on to a federal

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Re: What are chances at federal w/ a 2017-18 State Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:06 pm

FascinatedWanderer wrote:I have to confess I find it hard to believe that anyone who started at a state COA went on to a federal

Well, I did, and the clerk who preceded me did, and I can think of two others who clerked the same year as me who did, too. Sorry I can't out any of us to prove that to you, but I don't have any reason to lie to you about it.

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Re: What are chances at federal w/ a 2017-18 State Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:I have to confess I find it hard to believe that anyone who started at a state COA went on to a federal

Well, I did, and the clerk who preceded me did, and I can think of two others who clerked the same year as me who did, too. Sorry I can't out any of us to prove that to you, but I don't have any reason to lie to you about it.


I can second that. I know of a state trial court clerk who went on to an Art. III clerkship directly. It happens. OP, I'll go slightly further than others here and say that a state appellate clerkship (even if not SSC) will potentially have the most impact in the same district and immediate surrounding ones and might get your application a deeper read than someone without prior clerkship experience if you otherwise meet the judge's hiring criteria. The judges in the immediate and surrounding districts will be most familiar with the prestige and work of your court. Some of them may even be former state court judges whom I would target most closely. I'll say outside of those districts I don't think being a former state clerk is an up front game changer. It may compensate for unremarkable grades or a lack of LR if other parts of your application stand out and hiring is so idiosyncratic that it's difficult why some applicants do and don't. It might also be somewhat helpful if your court has a nationwide reputation of being a strong judiciary - not all state judiciaries carry the same reputation.

I'll also point out that clerk postings sometimes will indicate that judge's prefer prior clerkship experience. In most cases, that's likely referring to federal clerkship experience. Judges love to pick off former clerks from more prestigious districts or snag one to reverse clerk (COA->Dct. or Dct. ->Mag.). Some judges do, however, indicate that they value state court clerkships as well and if you see that indicated it's worth a shot esp. if it's in the same district as your state court clerkship.

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Re: What are chances at federal w/ a 2017-18 State Clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:19 pm

Thanks for the thorough advice and suggestions.



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