Advice pre-clerkship

Seek and share information about clerkship applications, clerkship hiring timelines, and post-clerkship employment opportunities.
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are sharing sensitive information about clerkship applications and clerkship hiring. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned."
Anonymous User
Posts: 325093
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Advice pre-clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 21, 2017 3:45 pm

Starting clerkship in August and wondering if former/current clerks have any advice before starting.

I'm sure judges differ (obviously), but wondering what to expect. I am clerking for a senior district judge in flyover country.

User avatar
intlsplitr

Bronze
Posts: 177
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:00 pm

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby intlsplitr » Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:46 pm

Current dist. ct. clerk here - it might be useful to re-read the rules of civil procedure, but otherwise you will figure out stuff on the fly.

mazatec

New
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon May 23, 2016 11:19 pm

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby mazatec » Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:54 pm

Looking for advice as well, however, for a state clerkship. My judge handles primarily criminal and family law. Starting in August.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325093
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:31 pm

Current clerk for a Senior Dist Judge in flyover country. Expect a very chill experience. In my courtroom, for example, civil trials are rare (6 months in and haven't had one yet), and criminal trials even rarer (USAO only takes open and shut cases which means that everything gets pled out).

I'm a little bummed that I haven't gotten to do a trial yet, but I think it'll happen soon based on how some cases are progressing.

Those are negatives, which are vastly outweighed by the positives. I've learned a lot. It's not a super fast docket, so I have the opportunity to really spend time with the judge to go over my memos and opinions. It's really improved my writing. You also will still get a wide variety of cases. Everyone gets a ton of employment discrimination cases, but even in flyover country, you get a nice variety of legal subject. It's a small courthouse in a somewhat rural community. Court staff are great people and very down-to-earth.

Hours are fantastic. I've only worked past 5pm a handful of times. Some days I get in at 10am and leave at 4pm with an hour lunch break. I know some judges are huge sticklers about vacation, but mine is not. In 6 months, I've already taken 2+ weeks. Almost all of it was around the holidays. As long as I get my work done, no one cares how much time I take off.

Unless you were someone looking to be busting your ass your clerkship year for one reason or another, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Fireworks2016

New
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 1:17 pm

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby Fireworks2016 » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Current clerk for a Senior Dist Judge in flyover country. Expect a very chill experience. In my courtroom, for example, civil trials are rare (6 months in and haven't had one yet), and criminal trials even rarer (USAO only takes open and shut cases which means that everything gets pled out).

I'm a little bummed that I haven't gotten to do a trial yet, but I think it'll happen soon based on how some cases are progressing.

Those are negatives, which are vastly outweighed by the positives. I've learned a lot. It's not a super fast docket, so I have the opportunity to really spend time with the judge to go over my memos and opinions. It's really improved my writing. You also will still get a wide variety of cases. Everyone gets a ton of employment discrimination cases, but even in flyover country, you get a nice variety of legal subject. It's a small courthouse in a somewhat rural community. Court staff are great people and very down-to-earth.

Hours are fantastic. I've only worked past 5pm a handful of times. Some days I get in at 10am and leave at 4pm with an hour lunch break. I know some judges are huge sticklers about vacation, but mine is not. In 6 months, I've already taken 2+ weeks. Almost all of it was around the holidays. As long as I get my work done, no one cares how much time I take off.

Unless you were someone looking to be busting your ass your clerkship year for one reason or another, I don't think you'll be disappointed.


I've been second-guessing my decision to clerk in flyover country but this makes me feel a lot better.

mazatec

New
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon May 23, 2016 11:19 pm

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby mazatec » Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:Current clerk for a Senior Dist Judge in flyover country. Expect a very chill experience. In my courtroom, for example, civil trials are rare (6 months in and haven't had one yet), and criminal trials even rarer (USAO only takes open and shut cases which means that everything gets pled out).

I'm a little bummed that I haven't gotten to do a trial yet, but I think it'll happen soon based on how some cases are progressing.

Those are negatives, which are vastly outweighed by the positives. I've learned a lot. It's not a super fast docket, so I have the opportunity to really spend time with the judge to go over my memos and opinions. It's really improved my writing. You also will still get a wide variety of cases. Everyone gets a ton of employment discrimination cases, but even in flyover country, you get a nice variety of legal subject. It's a small courthouse in a somewhat rural community. Court staff are great people and very down-to-earth.

Hours are fantastic. I've only worked past 5pm a handful of times. Some days I get in at 10am and leave at 4pm with an hour lunch break. I know some judges are huge sticklers about vacation, but mine is not. In 6 months, I've already taken 2+ weeks. Almost all of it was around the holidays. As long as I get my work done, no one cares how much time I take off.

Unless you were someone looking to be busting your ass your clerkship year for one reason or another, I don't think you'll be disappointed.


Cool, I'll be starting a clerkship this August in a very rural community, too.

Would you recommend reading up on the sorts of cases the judge presides over? I am in a public defender's clinic this year in the same state as my clerkship, so i have already developed a deeper knowledge of criminal law and procedure in the jurisdiction.

User avatar
grand inquisitor

Gold
Posts: 3768
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:21 am

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby grand inquisitor » Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:29 am

i think boning up a bit on the bluebook, federal rules of evidence, civil procedure and crim. procedure could be helpful. also, reading a broad overview of how the sentencing guidelines work would be helpful--that was a tough nut to crack sometimes.

User avatar
anon sequitur

Silver
Posts: 651
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:14 am

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby anon sequitur » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:13 pm

Fireworks2016 wrote:
I've been second-guessing my decision to clerk in flyover country but this makes me feel a lot better.


I think this is more indicative of working for a senior judge than a rural one.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325093
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:16 pm

I wouldn't base your hour/work expectations on what other judges do. Until you hear otherwise from your judge or former clerks of your judge, go in knowing it's possible you'll work firm hours. Really depends on the judge.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325093
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:17 pm

Other advice: read opinions by your judge to familiarize yourself with his/her writing style.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325093
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:21 pm

mazatec wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Current clerk for a Senior Dist Judge in flyover country. Expect a very chill experience. In my courtroom, for example, civil trials are rare (6 months in and haven't had one yet), and criminal trials even rarer (USAO only takes open and shut cases which means that everything gets pled out).

I'm a little bummed that I haven't gotten to do a trial yet, but I think it'll happen soon based on how some cases are progressing.

Those are negatives, which are vastly outweighed by the positives. I've learned a lot. It's not a super fast docket, so I have the opportunity to really spend time with the judge to go over my memos and opinions. It's really improved my writing. You also will still get a wide variety of cases. Everyone gets a ton of employment discrimination cases, but even in flyover country, you get a nice variety of legal subject. It's a small courthouse in a somewhat rural community. Court staff are great people and very down-to-earth.

Hours are fantastic. I've only worked past 5pm a handful of times. Some days I get in at 10am and leave at 4pm with an hour lunch break. I know some judges are huge sticklers about vacation, but mine is not. In 6 months, I've already taken 2+ weeks. Almost all of it was around the holidays. As long as I get my work done, no one cares how much time I take off.

Unless you were someone looking to be busting your ass your clerkship year for one reason or another, I don't think you'll be disappointed.


Cool, I'll be starting a clerkship this August in a very rural community, too.

Would you recommend reading up on the sorts of cases the judge presides over? I am in a public defender's clinic this year in the same state as my clerkship, so i have already developed a deeper knowledge of criminal law and procedure in the jurisdiction.


Quoted poster. I would recommend taking a look at opinions mostly to get a sense of the Judge's style. You're going to be a ghost-writer for your judge, so that will help. It's not necessary, but if you want to get a heads-up on substantive law, brush up on employment discrimination. You'll get a lot of those cases. I didn't have any experience with it though, and I learned it fairly easily. It's not a super complicated area of law.

In terms of being at a public defender, it will help if it's a federal PD, but state crim pro tends to differ quite a bit in substance and style (for example, state courts will take 30 secs for entering a plea while fed courts can take 30mins). Obviously your clinic experience isn't going to disadvantage you in anyway.

Anonymous User wrote:I wouldn't base your hour/work expectations on what other judges do. Until you hear otherwise from your judge or former clerks of your judge, go in knowing it's possible you'll work firm hours. Really depends on the judge.


anon sequitur wrote:
Fireworks2016 wrote:
I've been second-guessing my decision to clerk in flyover country but this makes me feel a lot better.


I think this is more indicative of working for a senior judge than a rural one.


My Judge is senior and maintains a full case load. In a flyover district, there are fewer cases, which means less work generally.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325093
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:47 pm

You'd be surprised by some judges' abilities to turn a small caseload into a lot of hours.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325093
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:33 pm

DJ clerk here. Every chambers is different--sometimes wildly so--but here is my advice that may or be useful or totally useless.

1. Talk to former or current clerks. They will be able to tell you what to expect. For instance, the judge I clerk for handles his criminal docket single-handedly. It would be a complete waste of time to do any crim research of any kind if you were clerking for him.

2. Look at the docket on WL and try to see what it's like. The overwhelming majority of courts don't have dockets saturated with any subject area, but some do (NDCA has lots of IP, DDC has lots of admin, etc.). I have worked on exactly one IP case in almost 2 years of clerking, but the amount of cases concerning obscure fed laws I've never heard of is staggering. We also have a lot of prisoner/habeas cases because there are some enormous prisons nearby.

3. Related to (2), every federal clerk will deal with jurisdictional issues. This is the one thing you're guaranteed to encounter no matter where you clerk. So, if you really feel the need to brush up on anything, go read a Gilbert's (or something) on fed court jurisdiction. I've learned more about the 11th Amendment than I would like.

4. Read Twombly and Iqbal, and the leading cases from your circuit interpreting/applying them. Also revisit MSJs and Rule 56. I would bet money that MSJs and 12(b)(6) motions are the only thing every fed clerk has worked on.

5. Most importantly, I would not worry about prepping too much. It's like 0L prep. Sure, maybe it will be slightly helpful, but it's most likely a waste of time. Most every case/motion is so different from the next that each requires a lot of research and learning. When I was in your shoes, I asked the career clerk if I should prep, and he laughed and said "No. Just go on a vacation beforehand."

Anonymous User
Posts: 325093
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Advice pre-clerkship

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:28 pm

Current DJ clerk.

If you are taking Fed Courts, take copious notes/listen and engage with the material as if your value as a law clerk depends on it (it largely does). If you arent in Fed Courts, get an E&E/Primer and get familiar with the subject. Be able to spot issues with preemption/subject matter jurisdiction/standing/mootness/ripeness.

But in the end, the whole point of clerking is for you to learn a lot of stuff on the fly, so don't try too hard to prep.



Return to “Judicial Clerkships�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.