Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

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."
Nebby

Diamond
Posts: 31199
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:23 pm

Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby Nebby » Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:19 am

Did you like it? What didn't you like? Was it worth it?

User avatar
mjb447

Silver
Posts: 1276
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:36 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby mjb447 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:31 am

I didn't, but I know several people who did. General consensus was that they enjoyed it, and they thought they were more helpful in chambers and a little less at sea than they would otherwise have been. (Career paths varied, but unsurprisingly I think there were a few biglaw refugees trying to go midlaw or gov.)

User avatar
anon sequitur

Silver
Posts: 636
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:14 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby anon sequitur » Thu Mar 09, 2017 1:44 am

my co-clerk did. She seems to have a lot more well-rounded understanding of litigation than me. Could just be because she's been at it longer. She likes clerking a lot more than working at a firm. She started out doing a 1-year clerkship and then became a career clerk, citing the general horribleness of firm life.

Nebby

Diamond
Posts: 31199
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:23 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby Nebby » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:03 am

I currently do impact litigation at a nonprofit so I've been handed a lot of responsibility early. I'm worried that clerking would drive me crazy because I'd lose the ability feel like I have an impact.

What is the interaction between you and your judge? Does your judge value your opinion? Do they say "what's your opinion--what do you think the decision should be?"

User avatar
mjb447

Silver
Posts: 1276
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:36 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby mjb447 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:56 am

I think judges generally value your opinion. At the district level, my experience (and, from talking to some of my friends, this is fairly common) is that the right answer is often clear enough to permit you to draft an order dealing with a motion or issue as appropriate without too much input from the judge. If it's not clear, you bring the motion or issue to the judge's attention, often with a suggestion as to how you're leaning, and you kind of figure it out together.

ETA Varies a lot, obviously, and if that's particularly important to you you'll want to check out reviews of any judges that you're invited to interview with.

Nebby

Diamond
Posts: 31199
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:23 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby Nebby » Thu Mar 09, 2017 10:18 am

mjb447 wrote:I think judges generally value your opinion. At the district level, my experience (and, from talking to some of my friends, this is fairly common) is that the right answer is often clear enough to permit you to draft an order dealing with a motion or issue as appropriate without too much input from the judge. If it's not clear, you bring the motion or issue to the judge's attention, often with a suggestion as to how you're leaning, and you kind of figure it out together.

ETA Varies a lot, obviously, and if that's particularly important to you you'll want to check out reviews of any judges that you're invited to interview with.

Where are reviews?

User avatar
mjb447

Silver
Posts: 1276
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:36 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby mjb447 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:56 am

Nebby wrote:
mjb447 wrote:I think judges generally value your opinion. At the district level, my experience (and, from talking to some of my friends, this is fairly common) is that the right answer is often clear enough to permit you to draft an order dealing with a motion or issue as appropriate without too much input from the judge. If it's not clear, you bring the motion or issue to the judge's attention, often with a suggestion as to how you're leaning, and you kind of figure it out together.

ETA Varies a lot, obviously, and if that's particularly important to you you'll want to check out reviews of any judges that you're invited to interview with.

Where are reviews?

I know that many of the schools that feed regularly to clerkships have a database of prior students' reports on interviews and/or the clerking experience with a particular judge. If a particular judge doesn't have many reviews in your database, you might ask a friend to check their school's database. (I had someone at NYU give me a few additional reviews for a judge who only had one or two in my database.) Participation is optional, and there are good reasons to be less than forthcoming, so coverage can be spotty and you often have to read between the lines. Of course, you can also call alums who have clerked for that judge to see what they say - I'm sure Columbia has a pretty robust network.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse

Diamond
Posts: 29317
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:05 pm

Nebby wrote:I currently do impact litigation at a nonprofit so I've been handed a lot of responsibility early. I'm worried that clerking would drive me crazy because I'd lose the ability feel like I have an impact.

What is the interaction between you and your judge? Does your judge value your opinion? Do they say "what's your opinion--what do you think the decision should be?"

Both judges I clerked for took my opinion very seriously (I can think of one case especially where I changed the judge's mind - though really because I was able to show him through research/caselaw that the plaintiff's argument which looked great on the surface really didn't hold water). Frankly I felt like I had a huge impact on the outcome of cases, since I was literally writing the orders, even though with approval and LOTS of guidance sometimes. (To the extent I had to bow to the judge's opinion - it is their name on the stuff after all.)

It can be frustrating to watch people in court from the sidelines if you'd like to be in court arguing yourself, but it's also really informative and it's just a year.

User avatar
los blancos

Platinum
Posts: 8395
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:18 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby los blancos » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:06 pm

Think hard about this and make sure it squares with your goals because it can be tough for alumni clerks to get jobs.


Clerking is a great job with a sometimes frankly unbelievable level of responsibility (if you're in a busy district your Judge really doesn't have the time to understand the record as well as you do or dive into the caselaw -- there can be an enormous amount of trust and responsibility on your shoulders) but it is also a lonely one at times and I don't think it's the golden ticket it's made out to be.

timmyd

Bronze
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:50 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby timmyd » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:33 am

I wonder if it's correct that alumni clerks have trouble finding employment. I clerked out of law school, but I'm thinking about applying for a more extended (multiple year) clerkship. I havnt really thought about potential exit opps; I just like to clerk. But I find it hard to believe alumni clerks can't find gainful legal employment upon completing their clerkships.

Anonymous User
Posts: 310248
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:20 pm

timmyd wrote:I wonder if it's correct that alumni clerks have trouble finding employment. I clerked out of law school, but I'm thinking about applying for a more extended (multiple year) clerkship. I havnt really thought about potential exit opps; I just like to clerk. But I find it hard to believe alumni clerks can't find gainful legal employment upon completing their clerkships.


2012 grad, current clerk here. It's an absolute bloodbath for folks like myself applying to big law / boutiques following the clerkship, especially if you're trying to do pure litigation. I'm viewed as a lateral candidate and compete with 2012 grads with 3-5 years of DOJ experience. I've heard from no less than five firms that "while we're hiring post-clerkship candidates, we're unfortunately not hiring any at your level." Offering to take a class year cut is no solution.

timmyd

Bronze
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:50 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby timmyd » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:00 pm

Guess I was wrong. So what will you do? What are the exit opps for somoene with extensive clerking experience (four years or so) and little or no real litigation experience? And assuming were talking like four years at the district court level.

User avatar
ggocat

Gold
Posts: 1824
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:51 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby ggocat » Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:40 pm

In state appellate, I've known a few people take the route of (1) term clerk, (2) firm, (3) career clerk, (4) firm. One of those was from small firm to mid/large insurance defense. Another was biglaw associate to biglaw of counsel. Another person clerked for 4-5 years and then moved across the country "back home" for a mid-size firm. We hardly have any term clerks with litigation experience. People with experience tend to go after career clerk positions and then never leave. Of the last six people we hired, four were from biglaw, one was a career fed clerk, and one came from state government.

ETA: forgot about the guy who went fed government --> biglaw --> career clerk (for like a year) --> fed government.
Last edited by ggocat on Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
rpupkin

Platinum
Posts: 5658
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:48 pm

timmyd wrote:Guess I was wrong. So what will you do? What are the exit opps for somoene with extensive clerking experience (four years or so) and little or no real litigation experience?

Limited options. Consider using your judge's connections to get a job in government.

Don't clerk for more than two years at the same level if you want to work at a law firm.

Anonymous User
Posts: 310248
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
timmyd wrote:I wonder if it's correct that alumni clerks have trouble finding employment. I clerked out of law school, but I'm thinking about applying for a more extended (multiple year) clerkship. I havnt really thought about potential exit opps; I just like to clerk. But I find it hard to believe alumni clerks can't find gainful legal employment upon completing their clerkships.


2012 grad, current clerk here. It's an absolute bloodbath for folks like myself applying to big law / boutiques following the clerkship, especially if you're trying to do pure litigation. I'm viewed as a lateral candidate and compete with 2012 grads with 3-5 years of DOJ experience. I've heard from no less than five firms that "while we're hiring post-clerkship candidates, we're unfortunately not hiring any at your level." Offering to take a class year cut is no solution.

Why did you decide to clerk after practicing, and what kind of field/firm were you at? Any sense of how that affects your opportunities going forward? I've been thinking about this route as someone currently doing enforcement work for a government agency that might see cuts soon, but am worried about post-clerkship employment.

User avatar
Lincoln

Silver
Posts: 1208
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:27 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby Lincoln » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:08 pm

I clerked for three years at a big firm in NYC before clerking in the SDNY, which I'm doing now. I have not regretted either clerking or doing it a few years out. I'm so much more familiar and comfortable with the life of a case and what matters than even my co-clerk who is one year out. I also run my cases a lot including in the courtroom (judge doesn't have a deputy) and my experience having been on the other side of that has been invaluable. Separately, having a year of normal-ish hours is something I am enjoying a lot more after three years of insane billables than I would have right after graduation.

I haven't experienced much trouble with the job market, as others are reporting above, but then I'm also intending to return to my firm (which made it clear when I left they wanted me back) so I haven't been actively looking. Lots of firms are hosting recruiting events, etc. I know several fellow clerks in the SDNY who have received offers at other firms, including big law and boutiques. I have no idea what the landscape looks like for career clerks.

User avatar
rpupkin

Platinum
Posts: 5658
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:24 pm

Lincoln wrote:I haven't experienced much trouble with the job market, as others are reporting above, but then I'm also intending to return to my firm (which made it clear when I left they wanted me back) so I haven't been actively looking.

My take is that clerking generally increases your options if you're a grad or a junior associate. But if you're a few years out of school, I think it's risky to do it if you want to return to big law, unless (like Lincoln) you know that your current firm wants you back.

Anonymous User
Posts: 310248
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:38 am

Due to my unique employment history, please don't quote.

I spent 3 years as a state prosecutor before a Federal COA clerkship. I had 25+ Jury trials, tons of motions and a few appeals.

It helped in the sense that nothing I saw frustrated me. I'd had my back against the wall prepping rapes, murders, etc, so some random civil issue I didn't know didn't seem as daunting. I was also my chambers go to criminal procedure person.

The interactions with my judge were fine. We traded war stories all the time. My chambers also skewed older. I was the 2nd youngest person and 3rd most experienced. So that probably played into it.

Job hunting was more difficult than it needed to be. But that was probably more of my own doing. I wanted a very specific USAO (which I got) that slowed down my applying anywhere else. I encountered the same issue everyone else talked about w/ the being treated as a lateral instead of post clerkship hiring. But when you've tried 25+ cases and are COA people tend to make exceptions. I was also up front with being willing to take the hit on class year. The two firms that gave me offers offered me a salary 1 class year below my actual year and 2 years below for partnership purposes. Clerkship bonuses were also offered. The class year hit wasn't a big deal because it was still more than 5x what I made as state prosecutor (not an exaggeration).

GreenEggs

Gold
Posts: 3593
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:55 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby GreenEggs » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:09 am

Nebby why do you want to clerk
Last edited by GreenEggs on Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Nebby

Diamond
Posts: 31199
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:23 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby Nebby » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:43 am

DCfilterDC wrote:Nebby why do you want to clerk

Solely for what it opens up to me in the future, but as I learn more, I don't think it will substantively push me towards my goal. And thanks to the anecdotes by everyone ITT, it sounds like I'd be bored

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse

Diamond
Posts: 29317
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:00 am

What about these anecdotes makes it sound boring? (Which isn't to say you need to do it if it's not going to get you where you want to go.)

User avatar
TLSModBot

Diamond
Posts: 14842
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:54 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby TLSModBot » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:25 am

The last thing I hear from current and former clerks is that it's boring

There are a couple people from my firm who have left for a clerkship around years 2-3. One just left for district court in Hawaii, and will probably come back to our firm afterwards. Kinda jealous.

Nebby

Diamond
Posts: 31199
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:23 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby Nebby » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:34 am

Boring in that I like suing and arguing against people and can't get that thrill as a clerk

Anonymous User
Posts: 310248
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 15, 2017 3:23 am

rpupkin wrote:
Lincoln wrote:I haven't experienced much trouble with the job market, as others are reporting above, but then I'm also intending to return to my firm (which made it clear when I left they wanted me back) so I haven't been actively looking.

My take is that clerking generally increases your options if you're a grad or a junior associate. But if you're a few years out of school, I think it's risky to do it if you want to return to big law, unless (like Lincoln) you know that your current firm wants you back.


At what point does it become a problem? I'm clerking starting this summer after one year of litigating, so I would be entering a firm two full years out of law school. I've been told I'll be treated like someone who clerked for two years and is relatively fresh from law school, and not as a true "alumni" clerk who practiced for 3+ years before leaving to clerk. Would you say that's fair, or should I expect that my current firm will remain my best option?

User avatar
rpupkin

Platinum
Posts: 5658
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Anyone here litigate for a couple years before clerking?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Lincoln wrote:I haven't experienced much trouble with the job market, as others are reporting above, but then I'm also intending to return to my firm (which made it clear when I left they wanted me back) so I haven't been actively looking.

My take is that clerking generally increases your options if you're a grad or a junior associate. But if you're a few years out of school, I think it's risky to do it if you want to return to big law, unless (like Lincoln) you know that your current firm wants you back.


At what point does it become a problem? I'm clerking starting this summer after one year of litigating, so I would be entering a firm two full years out of law school. I've been told I'll be treated like someone who clerked for two years and is relatively fresh from law school, and not as a true "alumni" clerk who practiced for 3+ years before leaving to clerk. Would you say that's fair, or should I expect that my current firm will remain my best option?

I think the bolded is correct.



Return to “Judicial Clerkships�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.