Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

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Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:58 am

Thoughts on a two-year clerkship with judge in a non-prestigious district (in a non-prestigious state) who also does not publish basically ever?

Me:
Median student, Columbia/Chicago/NYU
Extensive PI credentials, in a two-year PI fellowship currently that has some lit exposure
No journal, no moot, extensive clinical experience
Looking to get into lit either at a prestigious pub/priv civil rights firm or SPLC/ACLU/NAACP-type institution in a secondary market

Would like to get legitimate exposure to litigation, and have a D. Ct. on my resume for hiring purposes.
This judge doesn't see a ton of litigation, and doesn't have any name cache outside of the state. Also, I would have to live in random place for two years, and this district might stand out as lesser-than?

It may sound like I'm leaning towards no, but I am actually dead center on this and having trouble deciding whether it would be better to just go for a magistrate in a "better" district instead. Any thoughts appreciated, thanks.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby clerk1251 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:09 pm

Seems pretty ridiculous to say a federal judge doesn't see much litigation. By that statement alone, it's clear you don't understand what litigation is. Perhaps you mean he doesn't see many trials, to which you likely don't know that for sure - but most judges don't see many trials, anywhere.

What is it you aspire to do? Where do you want to work after the clerkship? Also, seeing as you are speaking anonymously, state are we talking about here?

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby timmyd » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:16 pm

Why do you seem to think your better than a district court judge in a non-heavily populated area? You're grades arn't very good; you should feel lucky you have the interview. I also echo the above poster with respect to the "judge doesn't see alot of litigation" sentiment. Unless hes senior status and only takes a very limited number of cases, you'll see plenty of litigation.

Also, I believe district judge anywhere is equal to or better than magistrate judge even in the most "prestigious" districts. This, however, may come down to the specific hiring tastes of various firms.
Last edited by timmyd on Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:17 pm

clerk1251 wrote:Seems pretty ridiculous to say a federal judge doesn't see much litigation. By that statement alone, it's clear you don't understand what litigation is. Perhaps you mean he doesn't see many trials, to which you likely don't know that for sure - but most judges don't see many trials, anywhere.

What is it you aspire to do? Where do you want to work after the clerkship? Also, seeing as you are speaking anonymously, state are we talking about here?


My info comes from former clerks of this judge who said that there is a lot of "admin stuff" (not sure what this means), and preparation of continuing legal education materials. Of course the judge sees some motions practice, but it is a slow district, and one clerk told me they never actually had a trial occur during their clerkship. State is West Virginia, but court is closer to Maryland/DC border. I am unfamiliar with the area generally, but am told it's sleepy/retirement aged for the most part.

Would ideally work in Pacific Northwest, secondarily in the Southwest/Mountain West.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:19 pm

timmyd wrote:Why do you seem to think your better than a district court judge in a non-heavily populated area? You're grades arn't vry good; you should feel lucky you have the interview. I also echo the above poster with respect to the "judge doesn't see alot of litigation" sentiment. Unless hes senior status and only takes a very limited number of cases, you'll see plenty of litigation.



I definitely don't think that I am "better" than this position. I'm sorry if that is how my post came across. My question is whether this type of clerkship would be helpful to my next step goals, not whether it would be worth doing at all. I see most posters on TLS saying that basically any D.Ct. clerkship is better, but this one seemed a bit outside of the norm, even for tertiary markets.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:26 pm

Turn down the offer

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby clerk1251 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Turn down the offer


From the sound of it, he doesn't have an interview yet, let alone an offer.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby mjb447 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:14 pm

clerk1251 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Turn down the offer


From the sound of it, he doesn't have an interview yet, let alone an offer.

For some reason, I also initially read OP as suggesting that he had an offer, but it's not clear that that's the case. Seems to me that if you're considering applying to markets like W.Va., i.e. tertiary markets where you don't have an interest in practicing, the additional wrinkles for this judge (doesn't publish much or hold lots of trials) don't really change that calculus much for me.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:40 pm

mjb447 wrote:
clerk1251 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Turn down the offer


From the sound of it, he doesn't have an interview yet, let alone an offer.

For some reason, I also initially read OP as suggesting that he had an offer, but it's not clear that that's the case. Seems to me that if you're considering applying to markets like W.Va., i.e. tertiary markets where you don't have an interest in practicing, the additional wrinkles for this judge (doesn't publish much or hold lots of trials) don't really change that calculus much for me.


OP here. No offer yet, but I think if one comes I am inclined to accept. Thanks all for the input

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby rpupkin » Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:26 pm

It seems like a shame to waste a prestigious CCN law degree on a non-prestigious state.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby jd20132013 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:54 pm

Agreed ^^^

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:40 pm

I don't think that the clerkship will add to your goals. Your demonstrated public interest work will. I am currently clerking on the district court though and damn is it fun. Two years is rough though.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Npret » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:32 pm

rpupkin wrote:It seems like a shame to waste a prestigious CCN law degree on a non-prestigious state.

Thank you for pointing that out. I missed it in the OP.

Chances OP doesn't get an offer because the judge picks up on this attitude? I would go as high as 75-80% no offer.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby wwwcol » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
clerk1251 wrote:Seems pretty ridiculous to say a federal judge doesn't see much litigation. By that statement alone, it's clear you don't understand what litigation is. Perhaps you mean he doesn't see many trials, to which you likely don't know that for sure - but most judges don't see many trials, anywhere.

What is it you aspire to do? Where do you want to work after the clerkship? Also, seeing as you are speaking anonymously, state are we talking about here?


My info comes from former clerks of this judge who said that there is a lot of "admin stuff" (not sure what this means), and preparation of continuing legal education materials. Of course the judge sees some motions practice, but it is a slow district, and one clerk told me they never actually had a trial occur during their clerkship. State is West Virginia, but court is closer to Maryland/DC border. I am unfamiliar with the area generally, but am told it's sleepy/retirement aged for the most part.

Would ideally work in Pacific Northwest, secondarily in the Southwest/Mountain West.


It's common not to see a trial (99% of cases filed are either settled or decided under Rules 12 or 56) - motions practice is what D. Ct. clerks do. When you say the district is slow, how slow do you mean?

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:21 pm

If it's NDWV, it does do some slight feeding into D.C. if it's any consolation, but it's pretty difficult to trace the impact because the court is so small. One court location is literally the last stop on a VA rapid transit line that goes into D.C. - just a substantial commute. That district does have one of the smallest caseloads in the country so there could be some substance to the argument that the chances of seeing an actual trial let alone substantial motion practice is small. On the flip side, contrary to what others have said, given the competitiveness and idiosyncratic nature of the clerkship hiring process - an offer to clerk shouldn't just be tossed away if it comes along and aligns with career objectives or your law school pedigree exceeds the "prestige" of the state and judge. The vast majority of district court judges are not known outside of their district or circuit.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby los blancos » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:59 pm

Honestly I think the only real questions here are (a) do you want to clerk for 2 years; (b) does A3 clerkship prestige help with your goals/getting the kinds of jobs you want to get; and (c) what's the alternative.

(a) is totally personal and only a call you can make. (b) is a question few on here can answer but I'm sure someone will chime in. On (c), I could be very wrong, but my impression is that median from CCN isn't terribly competitive for any A3 judge anywhere without work experience, so it's not like you can be terribly selective (I'm not looking down on your creds here, they're better than mine)

It's possible that a magistrate judge elsewhere would give you a better experience, but with very very few exceptions my impression is magistrate clerkships are a significant step down from any A3 judge in prestige, to the extent that matters to the employers you're looking at targeting.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:26 am

Giving you the benefit of the doubt, assuming everything you said is true, turn down the offer. Clerkships are a good learning experience, but not always helpful in your career. Also, if (big if) what you say is true about his docket, this judge may not care much about your career.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:42 pm

OP here.

Again, thanks to all for the input, I appreciate it. I didn't realize that it was somewhat common for no trial to occur.

I think that my quandary was around these two issues:
(1) Will I get a substantive, varied experience that improves my skills and makes me better at the type of work to which I hope to dedicate my life? Discovery is of course a huge part of lit, so getting experience with a Mag. instead of a D.Ct. wouldn't be wasted time, in any case.

(2) Most of the orgs in my field of interest require fairly strong credentials just to get in the door, including clerkship. BUT, is it going to be better to take a clerkship like this one over a Magistrate in a busier place/locale where I want to stay? My school's career services maintains that any D.Ct. is better than any Mag. on a resume, because no one knows the majority of the judges anyway, and it all comes down to prestige (one might expect this worldview from CCN career services though...they would rather report D.Ct. positions than Mag). To be clear, I don't have an offer from a mag, but if I want to go this route I need to start going for it, like, yesterday.



Lastly, to defend myself if necessary: I know that I am not the greatest clerkship candidate. I'm not the worstone, either. It will really come down to finding a judge who likes my experience. I had a career prior to law school (social work), and I don't really want to spend another two years doing something that moderately improves my resume when I also could have just worked for two years and built my reputation that way. So in the end, while I would be honored to accept any AIII clerkship, I also need to make the decision that is best for my specific career path.

Anyway, thanks again. As mentioned before, I am leaning towards accepting an offer if it comes.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:36 pm

BUT, is it going to be better to take a clerkship like this one over a Magistrate in a busier place/locale where I want to stay? My school's career services maintains that any D.Ct. is better than any Mag. on a resume, because no one knows the majority of the judges anyway, and it all comes down to prestige (one might expect this worldview from CCN career services though...they would rather report D.Ct. positions than Mag).


Mag clerk here, it's true. They are much, much easier to get. It's good experience, arguably even better experience (I'm not making that argument), but it's much less prestigious and ultimately what you want from a clerkship is a signaling mechanism that says "I am elite". Nobody fucking knows who any of these judges are, except people in this forum.

All that said, taking an mj clerkship in a place where you want to work might be a better choice.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:40 pm

Yeah, I agree generally with the above ^ - my understanding is that one of the benefits of a mag clerkship is that you can have a lot more interaction with the parties, which is a way to get to know lawyers where you want to practice. I have also seen people really get a ton out of their clerkship year by taking advantage of the opportunity to network and get to know people and line up future employment, and it's going to be a lot easier to do that in the community where you want to work, rather than somewhere nowhere near. That said, D.Ct. clerkships are seen as more elite/prestigious - the fact that I clerked somewhere completely different from anywhere I've practiced hasn't mattered at all.

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Re: Two year, non-publishing d. ct. judge, <tertiary market

Postby mjb447 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:It's good experience, arguably even better experience (I'm not making that argument), but it's much less prestigious and ultimately what you want from a clerkship is a signaling mechanism that says "I am elite". Nobody fucking knows who any of these judges are, except people in this forum.

This right here. There are a number of things that would be more beneficial for your career in terms of building practical skills, particularly for two years (MJ clerkship in busy district sounds like it would be among them), but, for prestige, virtually any DJ is going to give you a bigger bump than most other things that you could do. (That's why I said supra that the additional weird characteristics of this judge don't matter too much for me.) Your two considerations are pulling in opposite directions; you just have to figure out what makes more sense for your goals.



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