"Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

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"Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:52 pm

I'm starting a two-year US D.Ct. clerkship in the fall after graduation. I've friendly with a particular public interest org. I'm wondering if it's possible to set up an arrangement where I am volunteering there after graduation, of some help, enjoying their company again, but spending most of my time doing bar exam study. I am hoping these extra months of post-grad legal experience means faster promotion from JS 11 to 12, and then closing out with a few months at JS 13.

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Re: "Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby clerk1251 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm starting a two-year US D.Ct. clerkship in the fall after graduation. I've friendly with a particular public interest org. I'm wondering if it's possible to set up an arrangement where I am volunteering there after graduation, of some help, enjoying their company again, but spending most of my time doing bar exam study. I am hoping these extra months of post-grad legal experience means faster promotion from JS 11 to 12, and then closing out with a few months at JS 13.


It's based on full time continuous practical legal employment post graduation. Volunteering somewhere, as you've suggested, likely wouldn't count. Therefore, 52 weeks from your first full time gig, assuming you've passed a bar, you can move up to JSP 12. 52 weeks later, JSP 13.

Also, it's worth mentioning that it is not automatic. Your Judge will need to sign off on it, and it is more or less discretionary. While most judges will gladly sign off, I've heard of a few instances where Judge's refused to sign off for various reasons.

Also, is it really worth trying to game the system rather than focusing on studying for and passing the bar? If you fail, you'll have a lot bigger problems than waiting a few extra weeks to hopefully move up a grade.

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mjb447

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Re: "Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby mjb447 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:32 pm

Yeah, I can't point you to any specific statement saying that you can't do this, but I don't think it will fly.

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Re: "Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 28, 2017 6:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm starting a two-year US D.Ct. clerkship in the fall after graduation. I've friendly with a particular public interest org. I'm wondering if it's possible to set up an arrangement where I am volunteering there after graduation, of some help, enjoying their company again, but spending most of my time doing bar exam study. I am hoping these extra months of post-grad legal experience means faster promotion from JS 11 to 12, and then closing out with a few months at JS 13.



I've done exactly what you're describing. It worked. Just explained to your the HR staffer that your work for the org required a JD. If that staffer signs off on it, those weeks should count.

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Re: "Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm starting a two-year US D.Ct. clerkship in the fall after graduation. I've friendly with a particular public interest org. I'm wondering if it's possible to set up an arrangement where I am volunteering there after graduation, of some help, enjoying their company again, but spending most of my time doing bar exam study. I am hoping these extra months of post-grad legal experience means faster promotion from JS 11 to 12, and then closing out with a few months at JS 13.



I've done exactly what you're describing. It worked. Just explained to your the HR staffer that your work for the org required a JD. If that staffer signs off on it, those weeks should count.


Can you provide any more detail about your experience? For example, was your time at that organization volunteer, without pay? What detail did you provide the court HR person? Did you provide any documentation from the organization that you volunteered for? Did this come up in any way with your judge when you sought promotion to JS 12, with less than 12 months time in clerking for the judge?

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Re: "Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm starting a two-year US D.Ct. clerkship in the fall after graduation. I've friendly with a particular public interest org. I'm wondering if it's possible to set up an arrangement where I am volunteering there after graduation, of some help, enjoying their company again, but spending most of my time doing bar exam study. I am hoping these extra months of post-grad legal experience means faster promotion from JS 11 to 12, and then closing out with a few months at JS 13.



I've done exactly what you're describing. It worked. Just explained to your the HR staffer that your work for the org required a JD. If that staffer signs off on it, those weeks should count.


Can you provide any more detail about your experience? For example, was your time at that organization volunteer, without pay? What detail did you provide the court HR person? Did you provide any documentation from the organization that you volunteered for? Did this come up in any way with your judge when you sought promotion to JS 12, with less than 12 months time in clerking for the judge?


Sure:

1. I volunteered without pay, but worked about 40 hours per week. I made sure to say this to the HR person.

2. I gave the HR person a quick overview (ten seconds on the phone) of what I did at the organization. I also gave her a phone number and email address of one of the people I worked with at the organization, in case she wanted to follow up with them. (No idea if she actually followed up or not.)

3. I didn't give any other documentation aside from what's listed above in #2.

4. It didn't come up with my judge directly. Most of the time--in our district/circuit, at least--the promotions went through the HR dep't first, and the judges would just sign off on them without really digging into the timelines at all. So once the HR reps approved, you pretty much had the promotion. (Also, this only really was an issue at the very outset of the clerkship. Once the paperwork reflects your work-start date, it's not really common for HR people to double-check or investigate that again in later terms/years.)

This really isn't a sketchy thing to do at all. Many people come into federal clerkships with work experience, and quite a few come in after having done some kind of unpaid legal fellowship. Full-time, unpaid, JD-required volunteer work is effectively the same thing. Hope this works out for you.

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Re: "Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby mjb447 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:46 pm

From OP's description, I didn't think s/he was going to be volunteering full time. I agree that full-time work that requires a JD (even if it's volunteering) is significantly more likely to be eligible, though I think a lot of it is going to depend on the policies of your district's HR department and how exacting they are. (I'll also co-sign that, in the jurisdictions that I'm familiar with, HR manages most of this stuff and your judge doesn't care very much. As always, though, YMMV.)

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Re: "Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby clerk1251 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 1:37 pm

mjb447 wrote:From OP's description, I didn't think s/he was going to be volunteering full time. I agree that full-time work that requires a JD (even if it's volunteering) is significantly more likely to be eligible, though I think a lot of it is going to depend on the policies of your district's HR department and how exacting they are. (I'll also co-sign that, in the jurisdictions that I'm familiar with, HR manages most of this stuff and your judge doesn't care very much. As always, though, YMMV.)


I agree. The way I read OP's post was that he was more or less trying to game the system by volunteering in somewhat of a half-hearted way while mainly studying for the bar. To what extent OP is planning on working full time, I don't think he'd have a problem. But, that being said, I'd highly recommend you focus on passing the bar and not deal with working anywhere. You have the rest of your life to work. Enjoy this little bit of freedom when you aren't buried in bar prep books.

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Re: "Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:13 pm

clerk1251 wrote:
mjb447 wrote:From OP's description, I didn't think s/he was going to be volunteering full time. I agree that full-time work that requires a JD (even if it's volunteering) is significantly more likely to be eligible, though I think a lot of it is going to depend on the policies of your district's HR department and how exacting they are. (I'll also co-sign that, in the jurisdictions that I'm familiar with, HR manages most of this stuff and your judge doesn't care very much. As always, though, YMMV.)


I agree. The way I read OP's post was that he was more or less trying to game the system by volunteering in somewhat of a half-hearted way while mainly studying for the bar. To what extent OP is planning on working full time, I don't think he'd have a problem. But, that being said, I'd highly recommend you focus on passing the bar and not deal with working anywhere. You have the rest of your life to work. Enjoy this little bit of freedom when you aren't buried in bar prep books.


Just re-read OP's post, and I think you're both right. My situation (described above) started the day after the bar exam. So OP, if you want to work during the gap between bar exam and the start of your clerkship, you can count volunteer time. But if you're hoping to get work credit for studying during the bar, I can pretty much guarantee that won't fly.

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Re: "Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:13 pm

clerk1251 wrote:
mjb447 wrote:From OP's description, I didn't think s/he was going to be volunteering full time. I agree that full-time work that requires a JD (even if it's volunteering) is significantly more likely to be eligible, though I think a lot of it is going to depend on the policies of your district's HR department and how exacting they are. (I'll also co-sign that, in the jurisdictions that I'm familiar with, HR manages most of this stuff and your judge doesn't care very much. As always, though, YMMV.)


I agree. The way I read OP's post was that he was more or less trying to game the system by volunteering in somewhat of a half-hearted way while mainly studying for the bar. To what extent OP is planning on working full time, I don't think he'd have a problem. But, that being said, I'd highly recommend you focus on passing the bar and not deal with working anywhere. You have the rest of your life to work. Enjoy this little bit of freedom when you aren't buried in bar prep books.


Just re-read OP's post, and I think you're both right. My situation (described above) started the day after the bar exam. So OP, if you want to work during the gap between bar exam and the start of your clerkship, you can count volunteer time. But if you're hoping to get work credit for studying during the bar, I can pretty much guarantee that won't fly.

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Re: "Volunteer" experience during bar study to get quicker salary boost?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 02, 2017 5:13 pm

I would also second those encouraging you to focus on your bar prep. I made the mistake of waiting too long to start studying hard for the bar, and ended up getting really slammed toward the end. Most people, especially those with the credentials necessary to clerk, pass the bar exam, but a lot of people don't realize how hard it's going to be until they actually start studying. I made that mistake and spent the first month of my clerkship living in fear that I'd have to tell my judge I had failed. I passed, thankfully, but if I ever have to take another bar exam, I definitely will not be volunteering to take on extra work while I study.



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