Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

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Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:06 am

I think a similar question has been asked below, but I wasn't sure same response would apply to me. I have a competitive district court clerkship out of law school (DDC/SDNY/EDNY). I kind of missed the boat with CoA for immediately after my district court clerkship, and more importantly, I want to make money asap. So I will be returning to my summer firm after my district court clerkship. The firm is great, and I don't mind trial work but I'd like to one day do some appellate work. I imagine COA would be almost necessary for that. Would it be weird for me to transition out of big law after 3-4 years, do COA, then try and get into appellate work? or do you think DDC/SDNY/EDNY district court + elite big law is enough to transition into appellate practice?

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby clerk1251 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:I think a similar question has been asked below, but I wasn't sure same response would apply to me. I have a competitive district court clerkship out of law school (DDC/SDNY/EDNY). I kind of missed the boat with CoA for immediately after my district court clerkship, and more importantly, I want to make money asap. So I will be returning to my summer firm after my district court clerkship. The firm is great, and I don't mind trial work but I'd like to one day do some appellate work. I imagine COA would be almost necessary for that. Would it be weird for me to transition out of big law after 3-4 years, do COA, then try and get into appellate work? or do you think DDC/SDNY/EDNY district court + elite big law is enough to transition into appellate practice?


After 3-4 years, yes. After 1 year, no. Go back to your firm for a year and then do another clerkship - that's not atypical. 3-4 years out is a bit more unusual. That being said, you don't need to have a COA clerkship to get appellate work at most firms.

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:45 pm

Hey, This is not OP, but I have a related question and would love some advice:

I snagged a district court for my home state (east coast, think NJ./Pa./De/My/VA) for 2018. I am not top 10% (probably more like 25%). I do have many of the common accolades of other federal clerks, not that it matters too much for my question (LR, Moot Court, Graduate Degree, etc.). So I am now considering COA applications and have some concerns. I recently spoke with a professor who advises for clerkships at my lower T-14 regarding possible COA applications for 2019. She recommended that I wait and try to improve my grades. She made a few points, and I'd like to know if it makes sense to you.

First, she suggested that I should wait until my district court clerkship to apply to COA's within my Circuit (3d/4th). She basically said that the only way I would get a COA clerkship would be through the judge (again, since I'm not top 10%).

Second, she suggested that I may only have one shot at the judges within my circuit, and if I apply now, I won't be as competitive and may blow the chance later.

So again, her advice was wait until I am clerking to apply for 2019, or even later like 2020/2021.

While the logic makes sense, that I "lose little in waiting," I am wondering if there is all that much to gain? Presumably, many of the clerkships will be closed by 2018 for 2019. Moreover, my GPA will only likely improve marginally, if at all. And, if I'm now a 3.65 (top 25%), I doubt it could move more than .1 to 3.75 (top 15%-- still not top 10%). And even that is no guarantee.

So does waiting until 2018 to apply for 2019 make sense for those few judges still open in my circuit? Does working two years at a firm like DPW after my district clerkship really make me more competitive for COA for like 2021? Sorry for all the details, I have always been the person forced to strategize more so than others (I was a splitter as a 0L, I was median 1L fall, and now I'm the gal lucky to have scored a d.ct. gig). I'm going to pursue the COA no matter what, I just wonder about the strategy my professor outlined.

Thanks.

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby mjb447 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey, This is not OP, but I have a related question and would love some advice:

I snagged a district court for my home state (east coast, think NJ./Pa./De/My/VA) for 2018. I am not top 10% (probably more like 25%). I do have many of the common accolades of other federal clerks, not that it matters too much for my question (LR, Moot Court, Graduate Degree, etc.). So I am now considering COA applications and have some concerns. I recently spoke with a professor who advises for clerkships at my lower T-14 regarding possible COA applications for 2019. She recommended that I wait and try to improve my grades. She made a few points, and I'd like to know if it makes sense to you.

First, she suggested that I should wait until my district court clerkship to apply to COA's within my Circuit (3d/4th). She basically said that the only way I would get a COA clerkship would be through the judge (again, since I'm not top 10%).

Second, she suggested that I may only have one shot at the judges within my circuit, and if I apply now, I won't be as competitive and may blow the chance later.

So again, her advice was wait until I am clerking to apply for 2019, or even later like 2020/2021.

While the logic makes sense, that I "lose little in waiting," I am wondering if there is all that much to gain? Presumably, many of the clerkships will be closed by 2018 for 2019. Moreover, my GPA will only likely improve marginally, if at all. And, if I'm now a 3.65 (top 25%), I doubt it could move more than .1 to 3.75 (top 15%-- still not top 10%). And even that is no guarantee.

So does waiting until 2018 to apply for 2019 make sense for those few judges still open in my circuit? Does working two years at a firm like DPW after my district clerkship really make me more competitive for COA for like 2021? Sorry for all the details, I have always been the person forced to strategize more so than others (I was a splitter as a 0L, I was median 1L fall, and now I'm the gal lucky to have scored a d.ct. gig). I'm going to pursue the COA no matter what, I just wonder about the strategy my professor outlined.

Thanks.

I don't agree with this advice. As you noted, if you want a COA in 2019, and you wait until you're partway through your 2018 dist. clerkship to apply (far enough in to get a stellar reference from your district judge), most COA judges will probably already have hired. Also, if you're willing to apply in multiple cycles and as an alum, it's false that you'll only get "one shot" to apply. (FWIW, I found applying as an alum much easier and more fruitful, although I'll note that I wasn't at a big firm.)

Sounds like your school and grades aren't stellar, so COA may be tough for you to begin with. That's probably why your adviser wants you to improve your grades - it's a significant factor that you still have some time to change in your favor. That said, you have a 0% chance at snagging a COA clerkship while you don't have applications out. I'm of the "apply early and often" philosophy (and, if you're COA or bust, you may want to look beyond the ~20 judges in your home circuit).

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:10 pm

Thanks for the advice. I think I was inclined to agree with you from the beginning, but just wanted to make sure. You're right to think that lower t14 and my grades may be an issue, but it won't stop me from trying :)

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby twocabins3112 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey, This is not OP, but I have a related question and would love some advice:

I snagged a district court for my home state (east coast, think NJ./Pa./De/My/VA) for 2018. I am not top 10% (probably more like 25%). I do have many of the common accolades of other federal clerks, not that it matters too much for my question (LR, Moot Court, Graduate Degree, etc.). So I am now considering COA applications and have some concerns. I recently spoke with a professor who advises for clerkships at my lower T-14 regarding possible COA applications for 2019. She recommended that I wait and try to improve my grades. She made a few points, and I'd like to know if it makes sense to you.

First, she suggested that I should wait until my district court clerkship to apply to COA's within my Circuit (3d/4th). She basically said that the only way I would get a COA clerkship would be through the judge (again, since I'm not top 10%).

Second, she suggested that I may only have one shot at the judges within my circuit, and if I apply now, I won't be as competitive and may blow the chance later.

So again, her advice was wait until I am clerking to apply for 2019, or even later like 2020/2021.

While the logic makes sense, that I "lose little in waiting," I am wondering if there is all that much to gain? Presumably, many of the clerkships will be closed by 2018 for 2019. Moreover, my GPA will only likely improve marginally, if at all. And, if I'm now a 3.65 (top 25%), I doubt it could move more than .1 to 3.75 (top 15%-- still not top 10%). And even that is no guarantee.

So does waiting until 2018 to apply for 2019 make sense for those few judges still open in my circuit? Does working two years at a firm like DPW after my district clerkship really make me more competitive for COA for like 2021? Sorry for all the details, I have always been the person forced to strategize more so than others (I was a splitter as a 0L, I was median 1L fall, and now I'm the gal lucky to have scored a d.ct. gig). I'm going to pursue the COA no matter what, I just wonder about the strategy my professor outlined.

Thanks.






Definitely apply.

Apply widely. Unless you have some geographic constraint, don't limit yourself to the 3rd/4th Circuits. If it's an experience you really want, you should give it your best shot, and apply to any COA judge you could stomach working for, regardless of where they sit.

Judges hire people for all sorts of reasons. For some, grades are paramount. For others, it's public interest experience, or membership in certain student orgs (ACS, FedSoc, etc.), and for others it's about shared "hobbies" or other similarly random and idiosyncratic things. There's nothing to lose, and a lot to gain, by applying widely.

Your career office doesn't have your best interests at heart. Especially if they publicize their clerkship applicant/hire numbers, they have an incentive to only encourage "sure bets" to apply so as to not dilute their success rate. (My clerkship office actively discourages people like you from applying to COA positions, but every year a handful of people with top 25% - 33% grades who ignore their advice are able to get COA clerkships). So, go for it!

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby clerk1251 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:24 am

mjb447 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hey, This is not OP, but I have a related question and would love some advice:

I snagged a district court for my home state (east coast, think NJ./Pa./De/My/VA) for 2018. I am not top 10% (probably more like 25%). I do have many of the common accolades of other federal clerks, not that it matters too much for my question (LR, Moot Court, Graduate Degree, etc.). So I am now considering COA applications and have some concerns. I recently spoke with a professor who advises for clerkships at my lower T-14 regarding possible COA applications for 2019. She recommended that I wait and try to improve my grades. She made a few points, and I'd like to know if it makes sense to you.

First, she suggested that I should wait until my district court clerkship to apply to COA's within my Circuit (3d/4th). She basically said that the only way I would get a COA clerkship would be through the judge (again, since I'm not top 10%).

Second, she suggested that I may only have one shot at the judges within my circuit, and if I apply now, I won't be as competitive and may blow the chance later.

So again, her advice was wait until I am clerking to apply for 2019, or even later like 2020/2021.

While the logic makes sense, that I "lose little in waiting," I am wondering if there is all that much to gain? Presumably, many of the clerkships will be closed by 2018 for 2019. Moreover, my GPA will only likely improve marginally, if at all. And, if I'm now a 3.65 (top 25%), I doubt it could move more than .1 to 3.75 (top 15%-- still not top 10%). And even that is no guarantee.

So does waiting until 2018 to apply for 2019 make sense for those few judges still open in my circuit? Does working two years at a firm like DPW after my district clerkship really make me more competitive for COA for like 2021? Sorry for all the details, I have always been the person forced to strategize more so than others (I was a splitter as a 0L, I was median 1L fall, and now I'm the gal lucky to have scored a d.ct. gig). I'm going to pursue the COA no matter what, I just wonder about the strategy my professor outlined.

Thanks.

I don't agree with this advice. As you noted, if you want a COA in 2019, and you wait until you're partway through your 2018 dist. clerkship to apply (far enough in to get a stellar reference from your district judge), most COA judges will probably already have hired. Also, if you're willing to apply in multiple cycles and as an alum, it's false that you'll only get "one shot" to apply. (FWIW, I found applying as an alum much easier and more fruitful, although I'll note that I wasn't at a big firm.)

Sounds like your school and grades aren't stellar, so COA may be tough for you to begin with. That's probably why your adviser wants you to improve your grades - it's a significant factor that you still have some time to change in your favor. That said, you have a 0% chance at snagging a COA clerkship while you don't have applications out. I'm of the "apply early and often" philosophy (and, if you're COA or bust, you may want to look beyond the ~20 judges in your home circuit).


I'd tend to agree with mjb. There's literally no reason you can't apply to the same judge, every time they have an opening. A 3.65 gpa from a T14 is pretty decent, especially if your materials are all on point. Make sure you have the future clerkship indicated properly on your resume. Make sure you have a good cover letter and make sure your writing sample is top notch. Also, make sure you get good recommendations and are having your recommendors call Judges on your behalf after you apply.

All that being said though, echoing mjb and your professor, you will have a much easier time applying once you start your clerkship. I say this to mean that you shouldn't get discouraged if you don't find anything. While a lot of circuit judges will have already hired, there will absolutely be openings throughout your clerkship. It's Feb 2017 right now, and there are still about a dozen COA judges throughout the country who still have at least one opening for 2017. After about three months of clerking, you should get a letter of recommendation from your judge and start applying. That letter will go a long way to helping you lock something down.

TL;DR wait or don't, I think you'll be fine. Don't stress.

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:05 pm

Thanks again. The one thing that I left out is this Professor really went to bat for me for the first clerkship, so I feel like if I keep applying to COAs, asking her to call, will now be slightly awkward. I guess that's life though.

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby clerk1251 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks again. The one thing that I left out is this Professor really went to bat for me for the first clerkship, so I feel like if I keep applying to COAs, asking her to call, will now be slightly awkward. I guess that's life though.


If the professor has advised you not to apply, and has helped you secure your current clerkship, you basically cannot ask her to make calls for you for COA clerkships at this point in time. You will need to just apply on your own merits. If you have other recommendors that will make calls for you, then ask them, otherwise just put in the apps and hope for the best. Again, if all else fails, you will be able to apply when you start clerking and have everyone go to bat for you again. DO NOT start applying and ask this professor to make calls for you as it will likely be more than just awkward, it will be insulting.

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby lolwat » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:38 pm

I'm sure this repeats some or all advice already given, but I would apply now -

1. Not sure why they think you only have one shot at the judges. If your app never gets pulled from the pile (or the giant list on OSCAR) the judges you applied to probably won't even know that you ever applied. If you get an interview and bomb it, that's a different story. So, definitely apply now even if you re-apply for 2020-2021 or later.

2. As for waiting until you're clerking to apply, clerkship slots fill up fast, and it's pretty unlikely that there will be 2019 slots open by the time you actually start your clerkship.

3. Your d.ct. judge might be able to help you get a COA clerkship indirectly since you can put the upcoming clerkship on your resume. To the extent the COA judges look at your resume they will see that a D.Ct. judge already hired you which is a strong signal. (I think the % of people that fail so hard at their clerkship that their d.ct. judge wouldn't give them a good ref/rec is pretty low.)

4. If your grades significantly improve and you have an outstanding app you can update that app. I think OSCAR actually allows updates now rather than "when it's finalized, IT'S FINAL" ...

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby mjb447 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:47 pm

clerk1251 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thanks again. The one thing that I left out is this Professor really went to bat for me for the first clerkship, so I feel like if I keep applying to COAs, asking her to call, will now be slightly awkward. I guess that's life though.


If the professor has advised you not to apply, and has helped you secure your current clerkship, you basically cannot ask her to make calls for you for COA clerkships at this point in time. You will need to just apply on your own merits. If you have other recommendors that will make calls for you, then ask them, otherwise just put in the apps and hope for the best. Again, if all else fails, you will be able to apply when you start clerking and have everyone go to bat for you again. DO NOT start applying and ask this professor to make calls for you as it will likely be more than just awkward, it will be insulting.

It's my turn to agree with clerk1251. I don't know what your relationship with this prof is like, but it sounds like she has pretty strong opinions about what you should be doing and has told you a specific way to go about applying. She may not be a strong recommender this time around given that you're doing the opposite of what she said, and it also sounds like she's not fully on board with your candidacy at this time. I hope you have some other good recommenders.

(And yeah, make sure your dist. clerkship is on your resume as an anticipated position. It will open doors with COA judges, many of whom require or prefer a dist. clerkship before you clerk for the COA judge.)

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:35 pm

OP here. Thanks so much for this.

Yes, I agree. This professor, like many, has strong credentials with respect to clerking. I think she perhaps is hoping I will improve and get the usual accolades that come with graduating at a top school and going onto a district court clerkship. I actually recall her suggesting I could target a "more prestigious" COA if I wait.

One thing I forgot to mention, I am externing for a COA judge who is adjunct in the fall. I intend to gauge the Judge's opinion after I extern and see what she thinks. Perhaps this is the best way to deal with a seemingly reluctant professor. Something like, "Hey x, I spoke with Judge Y, and she suggested I target the following courts/judges." Or alternatively, if the Professor remains reluctant, perhaps the Judge will make a call for me.

So much strategic nonsense... I almost feel bad bothering you all with it. But then again, I'm sure it resonates with some. Thanks everyone.

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby clerk1251 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks so much for this.

Yes, I agree. This professor, like many, has strong credentials with respect to clerking. I think she perhaps is hoping I will improve and get the usual accolades that come with graduating at a top school and going onto a district court clerkship. I actually recall her suggesting I could target a "more prestigious" COA if I wait.

One thing I forgot to mention, I am externing for a COA judge who is adjunct in the fall. I intend to gauge the Judge's opinion after I extern and see what she thinks. Perhaps this is the best way to deal with a seemingly reluctant professor. Something like, "Hey x, I spoke with Judge Y, and she suggested I target the following courts/judges." Or alternatively, if the Professor remains reluctant, perhaps the Judge will make a call for me.

So much strategic nonsense... I almost feel bad bothering you all with it. But then again, I'm sure it resonates with some. Thanks everyone.


No. You are being foolish. Move on from the professor, until 2018. You don't want to even run the risk of offending her, and you definitely don't want to burn a bridge. There is literally no reason why you need to press the issue. Perhaps the judge will make some calls for you which will be great - but some judges are reluctant in situations like that because its one of those things where other judges will think "if he's so great, why don't you just hire him yourself?" So don't be surprised if he won't go out of his way for you. Perhaps he will allow you to list him on a list of references though, if you make a good impression and do good work. If nothing else, you should spend your externship focusing on creating a good work product writing sample - that's probably the most valuable thing that you can get out of it that will help your applications.

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Re: Dist. Ct --> Big law --> COA okay?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:47 am

I agree clerk, thanks. I also definitely take your point on the writing sample and that's actually why I signed up for the gig with the Judge. The externship is geared toward my creating a bench memo or two during the four months. I think it'll be nice to have a cover-page on the assignment for COA Apps saying "This is for Judge X on the Fed. Circuit." Also, the judge has a clear policy not to hire externs and a reputation for wanting to help kids get clerkships, so I suspect some level of help even if it doesn't lead to a COA position. And in response to your one point about reluctance to believe a rec from a judge you extern for (which is an interesting point I never considered!), I think her policy never to hire externs may dispel that sense of "well he's so great why don't you hire him" in a possible recommendation call. But who knows, maybe I can't get over that?

So, I'll let it go for a while and try to bump my grades and impress this judge in the fall. Admittedly, there are two judges that I will go ahead and apply to IF the applications for 2019 come out in the next few months. As I think more about the Professor, I don't think she will be upset or feel like I was disrespectful with respect to these two judges. Given the proximity of my d.ct. clerkship to these two COA judges (same courthouse/same state), she should understand that, given the court that I will be on in 2018, these two judges probably make the most sense to pursue right away for 2019, again assuming I don't have time (b/c the application becomes available soon) to improve my grades.

If that's still a crazy idea, then perhaps I didn't provide enough information overall. Either way, I appreciate the feedback.



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