Advice on whether to clerk

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Advice on whether to clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2017 9:07 pm

Hi everyone,

2L at YHS with ~50% Hs. Managing editor of a secondary journal, RA, Note (in progress), and V10 SA.

Spoke with the clerkship people, but they were not that helpful in advising me whether my odds of securing a AIII clerkship / CoA clerkship were plausible enough to justify the effort to secure them. I have letters (as of now) from two classes in which I got an H and two classes where I was the first one out (and the professors will say that I am H-worthy).

I'm flexible on the geography and not focusing on feeder judges. I'm more interested in judges who (1) take an active interest in helping their clerks become better writers / legal thinkers and (2) have a varied docket.

It would be helpful to hear the perspectives of those who have clerked / have experience with the hiring process to know if (1) my grades are competitive for AIII or CoA clerkships and (2) I should apply now vs. waiting to get more grades.

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rpupkin

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby rpupkin » Tue Feb 07, 2017 9:31 pm

First, let's get some terminology straight: both federal district court and COA clerkships are "AIII" clerkships. So I believe what you're really asking is whether you're competitive for district court and COA clerkships. The answer is that you're competitive for both, particularly if you're geographically flexible. I don't think there's any reason to wait for more grades. Cultivating a relationship with a professor would surely help you more than working on improving your grades.

Frankly, I'm surprised that you need to turn to TLS for help. You're surrounded by classmates--2Ls and 3Ls--who have secured district court and COA clerkships. Even if the YLS clerkship advisers won't help you (which I find odd), you should be able to get useful advice from friends.

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2017 9:38 pm

You're definitely competitive for both. What will help more than anything is a strategic call or two from a professor to some of the judges you're interested in clerking for.

I'm at HYS also and the clerkship process hinges on recommendations more than almost anything else (once you meet the qualifications threshold).

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2017 9:39 pm

OP Here

Appreciate the clarification - D. Ct vs. CoA was what I was asking!

I have spoken with some folks here, but all of the people I know with clerkships have much better grades than me (~75%+ Hs) and secured their clerkships last summer. So I figured I would start with TLS as I figured there would be more people in a similar boat.

I have good relationships with the professors who are writing the letters but I don't think I have a strong enough relationship (yet) for them pick up the phone on my behalf.

Any thoughts on which judges might fit the criteria I listed (e.g., good mentors / varied dockets) and are within my range of grades?

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby RaceJudicata » Tue Feb 07, 2017 9:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP Here

Appreciate the clarification - D. Ct vs. CoA was what I was asking!

I have spoken with some folks here, but all of the people I know with clerkships have much better grades than me (~75%+ Hs) and secured their clerkships last summer. So I figured I would start with TLS as I figured there would be more people in a similar boat.

I have good relationships with the professors who are writing the letters but I don't think I have a strong enough relationship (yet) for them pick up the phone on my behalf.

Any thoughts on which judges might fit the criteria I listed (e.g., good mentors / varied dockets) and are within my range of grades?


Dude there are literally hundreds of judges across the country. There is no way anyone can give you a list of specific judges.

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:03 pm

RaceJudicata wrote:
Dude there are literally hundreds of judges across the country. There is no way anyone can give you a list of specific judges.


OP again

I disagree respectfully. Considering that many people on TLS may have known at least one or two judges well (either from their own clerkships or from what they heard from friends / colleagues), I assume that some of these individuals might be willing to at least throw out a few names and give a few reasons why (totally anon of course). I'll admit - it has been overwhelming to go through the hundreds of judges on OSCAR and somehow ascertain which ones are good mentors and which ones aren't (though granted, it is easier to find information on the variety of the dockets).

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rpupkin

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby rpupkin » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
RaceJudicata wrote:
Dude there are literally hundreds of judges across the country. There is no way anyone can give you a list of specific judges.


OP again

I disagree respectfully. Considering that many people on TLS may have known at least one or two judges well (either from their own clerkships or from what they heard from friends / colleagues), I assume that some of these individuals might be willing to at least throw out a few names and give a few reasons why (totally anon of course). I'll admit - it has been overwhelming to go through the hundreds of judges on OSCAR and somehow ascertain which ones are good mentors and which ones aren't (though granted, it is easier to find information on the variety of the dockets).

OP, I have to agree with RaceJudicata: your request is rather strange. Look, I know you didn't have a good experience with your clerkship office, but I'd try again. They should have a list of YLS grads who have clerked for various judges. You can reach out to alumni. Also, you should reach out to professors who you think will serve as your recommenders--ask them for guidance.

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mjb447

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby mjb447 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:20 pm

You said you're "most interested" in judges who meet your criteria - are those criteria dealbreakers for you, or just nice to have? If you're interested in clerking generally, you should probably apply more broadly than any list that TLS will assemble for you. I also tend to agree with the previous posters - you're asking for judges who meet numerous criteria (good mentors, varied docket, will give your application serious consideration based on a particular range of grades from a narrow set of schools) that some people from your school (possibly ones that you don't know yet or who have graduated) are much more likely to have experience with than most TLSers.

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:29 pm

OP again

Thanks for all your feedback!

I appreciate that you engaged with my search criteria thoughtfully and pointed out why my inquiry may be flawed. To MJB, these are not dealbreakers and more 'nice-to-haves, but I am using them as part of my approach for identifying which judges to whom I will apply.

I think my next steps are:
1) Speak with the clerkship folks again and see if I can access the database of former clerks to get their thoughts on their respective judges.
2) Speak with my recommenders about their thoughts on judges.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:55 pm

OP, I get the concern about finding a judge with whom you can have a good experience. But you're probably better off applying widely, and then if/when you get interviews (I agree it will be "when"), find out as much as you can about the judge and what they're like. It's a lot easier to find people who've clerked for a given judge in the past and talk to them, than to create a list of judges in a vacuum. Even with good qualifications (which you have), applicants have to cast a wide net and then decide what to do. If you find out something that raises red flags for you, or go to the interview and can't see working with the person, it's actually okay to withdraw your application.

And because the relationship is very personal, what one person wants/needs out of a mentor can be very different from what another person wants/needs, and a given judge could be great for one person and not so great for another. I'm sure there are some people who are clearly awful that people should avoid, but it's not as clear cut as I think you suggest.

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OutCold

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby OutCold » Wed Feb 08, 2017 12:15 pm

The process is such a crapshoot that it's a wasted effort to determine which judges you would like to work for before you have applied. The people that can get away with that approach are those with stellar grades who are likely already working with the clerkship committee and certain professors who have relationships with various judges. If I were you, I would start with geographical parameters and toss out those circuits/districts you don't want to work in. Then it is easier and more productive to eliminate those judges within your target circuits/districts that you wouldn't want to work for, rather than the other way around. When you get an interview invitation, that's the time to talk to former clerks about what the experience would be like.

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Re: Advice on whether to clerk

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:46 pm

Can't speak to HLS/SLS, but if you're at YLS, your grades are more than good enough for a district clerkship and non-feeder COA clerkship. (Given that HLS/SLS have more difficult curves, I imagine you're in good shape there, too). The SA, secondary journal stuff doesn't matter; the Note may help, especially if it's being published in YLJ. How selective you can be re: location and "prestige" of judge will, as you know, turn on your recommenders.

If you're at YLS, stop futzing around with the clerkship office people (who won't be of much help), get an appointment with Chua (if she's still running the committee), and get apps in soon. It's not a big lift and there are still plenty of 18-19 spots open if you're not dead-set on getting a 2/9/DC spot.



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