Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

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Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:26 pm

T30s, top 15%

Seems like everyone who lands a clerkship from my school is on law rev, even at the magistrate level. Is an applicant without law review doomed for rejection?

My note was published and I got a position on the Eboard. Had a couple interviews with judges who are alums but no luck yet.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:T30s, top 15%

Seems like everyone who lands a clerkship from my school is on law rev, even at the magistrate level. Is an applicant without law review doomed for rejection?

My note was published and I got a position on the Eboard. Had a couple interviews with judges who are alums but no luck yet.

As the bolded shows, belonging to a secondary journal is not an "app killer."

It's tough to land a federal clerkship with your credentials, law review or no law review. Would law review help a bit with certain judges? Sure. But there are plenty of judges who don't care.

In any event, there's nothing you can do about about your lack of law review now. You just have to apply broadly, ask any connected recommenders to make phone calls on your behalf, and hope for the best. Good luck!

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby mjb447 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:06 pm

Nah. I think the importance of law review is a little overstated for the broad universe of clerkships - like pupkin said, some judges care, but I don't think it's as many as people think (particularly as compared to a secondary journal rather than no journal at all). Of course, law review types often also have good grades, seek out good recommenders, etc. so they often do well.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby AFS » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:21 pm

I was on a secondary journal at UT and I, along with around 15-20 others on secondary journals in my graduating class, got an Article 3 clerkship. Ranking of school is probably a bigger barrier, but not much you can do about that. Like others have said, apply broadly. Use your clerkship office staff to give you leads on openings. Alumni judges tend to want to hire out of their former school.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:25 pm

It definitely hurts not to be on Law Review, but I managed to get interviews on each of 2/9/DC while on a secondary.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:T30s, top 15%

Seems like everyone who lands a clerkship from my school is on law rev, even at the magistrate level. Is an applicant without law review doomed for rejection?

My note was published and I got a position on the Eboard. Had a couple interviews with judges who are alums but no luck yet.


I attended a T30ish school. My observation has been that the LR / secondary journal distinction matters more the further down the rankings you go. At my T30, it mattered in terms of outcomes, especially for clerkships. Not that no one on a secondary journal never got an AIII clerkship, it happened, just not frequently. For a magistrate clerkship, on the other hand, I'd be surprised if you wanted it, tried hard, and couldn't land something, assuming your grades aren't dire.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:13 pm

at my school it made very little difference whether you were on law review or another journal except maybe for a handful of feeders, but that's more correlation than causation. however, at a T30, it might be different since the applicant pool has to be more competitive and there are fewer judges taking resumes. that being said, as others have noted, if there's anything holding you up at this point it's not which journal you are on but your grades--top 15% seems like d.ct. clerkships would be plausible, but hardly a slam dunk. the fact that you've gotten interviews already speaks to the strength of your application and recommenders given your school and grades, not its weaknesses.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:34 am

I'm top 5% at a T6 on a secondary journal and have only gotten one bite on dozens of apps sent out (luckily it turned into a D. Ct. offer that I accepted). But it's a little disheartening not to have gotten any interest from COA judges. I have to think that if I had law review I would have by now.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm top 5% at a T6 on a secondary journal and have only gotten one bite on dozens of apps sent out (luckily it turned into a D. Ct. offer that I accepted). But it's a little disheartening not to have gotten any interest from COA judges. I have to think that if I had law review I would have by now.

There's something wrong with your application—like mediocre LORs. Lack of LR doesn't explain your poor hit rate.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby mjb447 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm top 5% at a T6 on a secondary journal and have only gotten one bite on dozens of apps sent out (luckily it turned into a D. Ct. offer that I accepted). But it's a little disheartening not to have gotten any interest from COA judges. I have to think that if I had law review I would have by now.

How long have you been applying?

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:53 pm

mjb447 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm top 5% at a T6 on a secondary journal and have only gotten one bite on dozens of apps sent out (luckily it turned into a D. Ct. offer that I accepted). But it's a little disheartening not to have gotten any interest from COA judges. I have to think that if I had law review I would have by now.

How long have you been applying?


Sent out some apps in the 1L summer and 2L fall, got nothing, just sent a batch out in January after getting fall grades.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby mjb447 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:01 am

Anonymous User wrote:
mjb447 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm top 5% at a T6 on a secondary journal and have only gotten one bite on dozens of apps sent out (luckily it turned into a D. Ct. offer that I accepted). But it's a little disheartening not to have gotten any interest from COA judges. I have to think that if I had law review I would have by now.

How long have you been applying?


Sent out some apps in the 1L summer and 2L fall, got nothing, just sent a batch out in January after getting fall grades.


Yeah, I think I'd review the application and re-examine recommenders just to ensure there's not anything that you've overlooked that might be tripping you up. I assume you're targeting judges who hire people with 2 or 3 semesters worth of grades but, if not, you might also be a little on the early side for some judges. (Also, "dozens" could be anything between 24 or 96; I would be a little surprised but not necessarily shocked if 24ish applications over 6 or 7 months didn't get you much, especially if you're targeting really competitive judges.)

Anyway, whatever it is, it's not solely lack of LR that's doing this.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby AT9 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:56 pm

More anecdotal evidence: I know at least 3 people from my relatively small T50 school that doesn't send a particularly large number of people to clerkships who received offers without law review or top 10% grades, so it's not impossible from your situation.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby clerkshipbro1231 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 11:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm top 5% at a T6 on a secondary journal and have only gotten one bite on dozens of apps sent out (luckily it turned into a D. Ct. offer that I accepted). But it's a little disheartening not to have gotten any interest from COA judges. I have to think that if I had law review I would have by now.


Being on a secondary journal won't kill your chances for most COA judges, especially since you're applying with a (future) district court clerkship on your resume. Yes, it's a lot harder without law review, and some (many?) judges simply won't review your application unless you're on your schools main journal. But you can get a COA position. You just need to be persistent.

If it's any solace, it took me somewhere around 70 COA apps to get my first interview (like you, I was on a secondary journal at CCN and, like you, I had a district court position already lined up). Just keep at it, and try not to get discouraged. If you're not on LR and don't have your school's clerkship gatekeepers backing you (which I'm assuming you don't based on your lack of COA interviews so far), it is of course harder, but it's not impossible. Call judges not on OSCAR. Send off paper applications. Apply to judges in parts of the country where people from your school don't often end up--this will make your application stick out more.

What I learned from my 18-month clerkship application saga is that landing clerkships is not about talent. It's about persistence.

How badly do you want it?

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby timmyd » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:43 pm

I'm looking at trying to get COA after district clerkship, but with a year or two of private practice as well (non big law). How do you find judges not on Oscar? Do you just find judges on the court and call chambers to ask if they're taking applications?

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby clerkshipbro1231 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:54 pm

timmyd wrote:I'm looking at trying to get COA after district clerkship, but with a year or two of private practice as well (non big law). How do you find judges not on Oscar? Do you just find judges on the court and call chambers to ask if they're taking applications?


Yes, you can find judges not on OSCAR by looking at Wikipedia and comparing it to who has a profile on OSCAR. And yes, calling is the best thing to do if you have the time. Chambers staff will often be helpful and give you precise instructions about what to include in your app (number of recommendations, number of writing samples, etc.). And, who knows, maybe the clerk will remember you called and fast-track your app once it arrives.

You can also just send off applications. Yes, as in even if you have no idea if the judge is hiring. I actually got my COA clerkship this way. I looked up all COA judges appointed by WJC or BHO, and then checked which ones weren't hiring on OSCAR. I called a few chambers, but that took a long time. At a certain point, I started sending off paper apps to any judge not on OSCAR, and indicated I'd like to be considered for a clerkship "during the 2018-19 or any future term." I actually got 2 interviews this way, one of which turned into a COA job.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby mjb447 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:10 pm

clerkshipbro1231 wrote:
timmyd wrote:I'm looking at trying to get COA after district clerkship, but with a year or two of private practice as well (non big law). How do you find judges not on Oscar? Do you just find judges on the court and call chambers to ask if they're taking applications?


Yes, you can find judges not on OSCAR by looking at Wikipedia and comparing it to who has a profile on OSCAR. And yes, calling is the best thing to do if you have the time. Chambers staff will often be helpful and give you precise instructions about what to include in your app (number of recommendations, number of writing samples, etc.). And, who knows, maybe the clerk will remember you called and fast-track your app once it arrives.

You can also just send off applications. Yes, as in even if you have no idea if the judge is hiring. I actually got my COA clerkship this way. I looked up all COA judges appointed by WJC or BHO, and then checked which ones weren't hiring on OSCAR. I called a few chambers, but that took a long time. At a certain point, I started sending off paper apps to any judge not on OSCAR, and indicated I'd like to be considered for a clerkship "during the 2018-19 or any future term." I actually got 2 interviews this way, one of which turned into a COA job.

I made an excel spreadsheet with all the judges listed as either active or senior (i.e. not inactive) on every circuit's wikipedia page and then marked them as apply on OSCAR, apply via paper or email but application instructions available on OSCAR, and not active on OSCAR. I mailed unsolicited apps to some judges who weren't active on OSCAR; didn't meet with much success but mileage definitely varies for applying that way.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby timmyd » Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:23 am

clerkshipbro1231 wrote:
timmyd wrote:I'm looking at trying to get COA after district clerkship, but with a year or two of private practice as well (non big law). How do you find judges not on Oscar? Do you just find judges on the court and call chambers to ask if they're taking applications?


Yes, you can find judges not on OSCAR by looking at Wikipedia and comparing it to who has a profile on OSCAR. And yes, calling is the best thing to do if you have the time. Chambers staff will often be helpful and give you precise instructions about what to include in your app (number of recommendations, number of writing samples, etc.). And, who knows, maybe the clerk will remember you called and fast-track your app once it arrives.

You can also just send off applications. Yes, as in even if you have no idea if the judge is hiring. I actually got my COA clerkship this way. I looked up all COA judges appointed by WJC or BHO, and then checked which ones weren't hiring on OSCAR. I called a few chambers, but that took a long time. At a certain point, I started sending off paper apps to any judge not on OSCAR, and indicated I'd like to be considered for a clerkship "during the 2018-19 or any future term." I actually got 2 interviews this way, one of which turned into a COA job.


Any reason you limited to democratic appointments? I figure ideological leanings matter more at the COA level than district, but I still believe I could do a good job no matter what the leanings of the judge. I assume, however, that judges might only seek ideologically-like candidates. That kind of sucks bc I was on a somewhat well-known conservative law journal and lean pretty far right on con law matters. I'll still apply to dems though, if I apply. Thanks for advice.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby jrf12886 » Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:05 pm

timmyd wrote:
clerkshipbro1231 wrote:
timmyd wrote:I'm looking at trying to get COA after district clerkship, but with a year or two of private practice as well (non big law). How do you find judges not on Oscar? Do you just find judges on the court and call chambers to ask if they're taking applications?


Yes, you can find judges not on OSCAR by looking at Wikipedia and comparing it to who has a profile on OSCAR. And yes, calling is the best thing to do if you have the time. Chambers staff will often be helpful and give you precise instructions about what to include in your app (number of recommendations, number of writing samples, etc.). And, who knows, maybe the clerk will remember you called and fast-track your app once it arrives.

You can also just send off applications. Yes, as in even if you have no idea if the judge is hiring. I actually got my COA clerkship this way. I looked up all COA judges appointed by WJC or BHO, and then checked which ones weren't hiring on OSCAR. I called a few chambers, but that took a long time. At a certain point, I started sending off paper apps to any judge not on OSCAR, and indicated I'd like to be considered for a clerkship "during the 2018-19 or any future term." I actually got 2 interviews this way, one of which turned into a COA job.


Any reason you limited to democratic appointments? I figure ideological leanings matter more at the COA level than district, but I still believe I could do a good job no matter what the leanings of the judge. I assume, however, that judges might only seek ideologically-like candidates. That kind of sucks bc I was on a somewhat well-known conservative law journal and lean pretty far right on con law matters. I'll still apply to dems though, if I apply. Thanks for advice.


COA clerkships are hard enough to get that limiting yourself to judges from a particulaly party seems unwise to me, unless you really could not do a good job writing an opinion you disagree with. I applied to almost every COA in the area(s) I wanted to work, and a few in random other areas. My experience thus far is that both the District Court and COA are almost apolitical. Of course, there will sometimes be major exceptions (i.e., the 9th Cir's recent decision on Trump's travel ban) but that's such a rare thing that it shouldn't affect who you apply to.

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Re: Is a Secondary Journal an App Killer?

Postby mjb447 » Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:21 pm

jrf12886 wrote:
timmyd wrote:
clerkshipbro1231 wrote:
timmyd wrote:I'm looking at trying to get COA after district clerkship, but with a year or two of private practice as well (non big law). How do you find judges not on Oscar? Do you just find judges on the court and call chambers to ask if they're taking applications?


Yes, you can find judges not on OSCAR by looking at Wikipedia and comparing it to who has a profile on OSCAR. And yes, calling is the best thing to do if you have the time. Chambers staff will often be helpful and give you precise instructions about what to include in your app (number of recommendations, number of writing samples, etc.). And, who knows, maybe the clerk will remember you called and fast-track your app once it arrives.

You can also just send off applications. Yes, as in even if you have no idea if the judge is hiring. I actually got my COA clerkship this way. I looked up all COA judges appointed by WJC or BHO, and then checked which ones weren't hiring on OSCAR. I called a few chambers, but that took a long time. At a certain point, I started sending off paper apps to any judge not on OSCAR, and indicated I'd like to be considered for a clerkship "during the 2018-19 or any future term." I actually got 2 interviews this way, one of which turned into a COA job.


Any reason you limited to democratic appointments? I figure ideological leanings matter more at the COA level than district, but I still believe I could do a good job no matter what the leanings of the judge. I assume, however, that judges might only seek ideologically-like candidates. That kind of sucks bc I was on a somewhat well-known conservative law journal and lean pretty far right on con law matters. I'll still apply to dems though, if I apply. Thanks for advice.


COA clerkships are hard enough to get that limiting yourself to judges from a particulaly party seems unwise to me, unless you really could not do a good job writing an opinion you disagree with. I applied to almost every COA in the area(s) I wanted to work, and a few in random other areas. My experience thus far is that both the District Court and COA are almost apolitical. Of course, there will sometimes be major exceptions (i.e., the 9th Cir's recent decision on Trump's travel ban) but that's such a rare thing that it shouldn't affect who you apply to.

Agreed. Unless you're an applicant who will likely get to choose among several COA judges (and there are only a few of those people out there), this is a situation where you should let the judge decide if (e.g.) your FedSoc membership will be a dealbreaker. Even if you were in the position to be choosy, I still think you could have an excellent experience with a judge who has different politics, and lots of COA judges wouldn't take you out of the running automatically for this.



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