Too much clerking; what would you do

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Too much clerking; what would you do

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 04, 2017 4:48 pm

I come here seeking they usual sage advice this forum supplies. I completed a district clerkship. I loved it. Started in non big law private practice a few months back. Some days I like it; other days/weeks, I genuinely fear waking up in the morning to go to work. I did well in law school, but I'm being thrown into things I don't think I'm ready to tackle. That kind of experience can be a double edged sword: the experience is awesome, but the constant fear of malpractice or being fired weighs on the soul.

After a bad couple weeks, at my wits end and having wrestled with the idea for sometime, I called my law schools clerkship department to express interest in clerking again. They answered some general questions I had, then asked whether I'd be interested in a particular three year district clerkship. I said yes, just to keep the door open. Truth be told, I'm not totally sure I want to leave my firm. But there are days, perhaps more days than not, when that's the case.

Unbeknownst to me, my school contacted the judge and said a student with prior clerkship experience was interested. The judge wants to see my resume. I haven't sent it to the school yet because I'm not totally sure I want to clerk again. I loved clerking; that type of work is exactly what I like to do. But it seems to be a career killer at a certain point.

Now, there's no guarantee this judge would even want to interview me. My stats are competitive for district positions, especially with a prior clerkship, but they're not rock star stats. Still, I would hate to send the resume and then receive an interview when I'm not totally committed. I've been around the block. I know this is frowned upon.

So, as best I can synthesis this rant into questions: (1) how much clerking is a career killer? (2) if I did this clerkship (again, making assumptions I would even get an interview, let alone the spot), it would be four years.

I miss clerking. But I'm also not getting any younger (28), and know at some point I have to start the real world. I've just taken in a heavy dose of that world in the last six months, and I'm not sure I like it.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Too much clerking; what would you do

Postby splitsohard » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:37 pm

First off, I am not coming at this as an expert in any way, but I have worked at law school career services and helped mentor law students/alumni into picking new careers or finding jobs in their fields. I have also worked for years and years and years with attorneys at different firms.

The first thing you need to know is that many attorneys feel the same way you do about going into their law firm work in the morning, and many of them are experiencing the same anxieties. While it helps to know you're not alone, the comfort doesn't solve your actual problem.

I think you should try different firms. I've worked in small, mid-sized, and big law and can tell you that the stress levels in small and big sized firms are real. And the pressure to perform is intense. I find mid-sized firms are always much more relaxed than both, and the attorneys tend to be kinder towards each other. It may be a good option to think about it not necessarily in the sense that you dislike working at a firm, but rather that you dislike working at that particular firm you're at. A change of scenery might do you some good.

In terms of clerkships, I'm not sure how to address the issue. But if you're having doubts, then it might not be a good place to transition into. You can always use the time factor to your advantage -- send your resume in a few days, then try to push your interview back (if you get one -- and it sounds like you probably will). Take your time to look at other job markets, and mull your decision over.

I don't know how much of a career killer the clerkship might be, but do you think a 4 year clerkship period is necessary? Are there shorter periods available?

Hope this helps.

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Re: Too much clerking; what would you do

Postby mjb447 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:50 pm

I tend to agree that you might want to look into other firms (or PI, or gov, or whatever other law jobs could lead you to the career you want) rather than clerk more. I think I'm one of the more pro-clerking people here, in the sense that I'd understand wanting to ultimately use the full four years of term clerking if it makes you happy, but (1) three years with one judge is a big risk (what if he's a psychopath and your days become worse than they are at the firm?), (2) you're already not totally sold on it, (3) you'll use up all of your term clerking time, so you won't have any left to use if a better opportunity comes up later or you want to use it to transition, and (4) you've already done a district clerkship, so you're REALLY not improving your resume at all by taking the three-year position.

Also, just an aside: I'm sure you know that there are people who make a career out of clerking. If that kind of work is "exactly what [you] like to do," and you're not totally sold on the "real world," maybe you should eventually consider looking into career clerk/staff attorney positions. A three-year position followed by a job search sounds like it might be the worst of both worlds, though.

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