Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Nebby » Mon Dec 25, 2017 11:46 pm

Sorry your school did that. Fuck 'em

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby wwwcol » Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:The process puts students in a really tough spot. It's impossible to talk to someone who knows/worked for every judge you apply to, so you're stuck with relying on Google/other online info, which is often pretty sparse.

It’s neither “impossible” nor impractical to talk to a former clerk of every judge to which you apply, and investing that time at the front end of the process (ie before you apply) often pays off (for example, you realize you would not fit in a particular chamber or you discover a line worth including in your cover letter). It’s one thing to say maybe the conversation won’t reveal the cons of clerking for a particular judge, but that ain’t what you’ve said.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby lolwat » Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:25 pm

wwwcol wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:The process puts students in a really tough spot. It's impossible to talk to someone who knows/worked for every judge you apply to, so you're stuck with relying on Google/other online info, which is often pretty sparse.

It’s neither “impossible” nor impractical to talk to a former clerk of every judge to which you apply, and investing that time at the front end of the process (ie before you apply) often pays off (for example, you realize you would not fit in a particular chamber or you discover a line worth including in your cover letter). It’s one thing to say maybe the conversation won’t reveal the cons of clerking for a particular judge, but that ain’t what you’ve said.


Not impossible, but perhaps getting to impractical. The reality for many people outside of T6 schools or those targeting a very specific geographical region is that to maximize their low chances at a clerkship, they have to blanket apply to every judge in every district where they're willing to work for a year. (Even doing that, as a 5% from a T20, I got fewer than 10 interviews over 3-4 application cycles, many of which were spots that opened up during an off-cycle time, and only one from a COA judge.) The hiring plan no longer exists, so people have a little more time if they plan ahead, but still, looking up and cold-calling hundreds of people BEFORE applying gets pretty difficult.

In general, I think schools care a little too much about canceling accepted interviews or declining offers. But I think there are enough judges who care about those kinds of things, and that's why the schools care. You have to recognize that your school's career services/clerkship office is more interested watching out for what they perceive is best for the school, rather than for any individual student, and then make the best decision for yourself.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Dec 26, 2017 2:06 pm

Yeah, talking to a former clerk for every judge to whom you *apply* would be impractical. I also blanketed every hiring judge in my circuit, as well as in other locations I had connections to or who seemed worth applying to for some other reason. Every judge you *interview with* wouldn't be impractical, numbers-wise, it's just that you don't always have the time to track one down - the scheduling for those interviews isn't always in your favor.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 26, 2017 7:05 pm

Current clerk here. Id find it hella weird if someone reached out to me to talk about my judges before they even applied. And I agree: obtaining clerkships, especially on the most competitive circuits/districts, can be a straight-up numbers game.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Nebby » Tue Dec 26, 2017 7:30 pm

You all just don't have the same bubbly personality as wwwcol

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:25 am

wwwcol wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:The process puts students in a really tough spot. It's impossible to talk to someone who knows/worked for every judge you apply to, so you're stuck with relying on Google/other online info, which is often pretty sparse.

It’s neither “impossible” nor impractical to talk to a former clerk of every judge to which you apply, and investing that time at the front end of the process (ie before you apply) often pays off (for example, you realize you would not fit in a particular chamber or you discover a line worth including in your cover letter). It’s one thing to say maybe the conversation won’t reveal the cons of clerking for a particular judge, but that ain’t what you’ve said.


Original anon that you criticized here.

I had great grades at a T6 school and got three interviews out of the ~75 judges that I applied to. Unless you are at Yale and applying to like three judges because one of your recommenders has an in with them, it's not realistic pre-application to be able to talk to someone who worked for every single judge you're interested in applying to. Nor would it be a good use of time. Should I really have tracked down 75 people just so that I wouldn't have to cancel one interview? Especially when canceling the interview mostly likely hurts only my school, if anyone?

And separately, I think it would be pretty weird to cold email/call a former clerk you don't know and say "Hey, I'm thinking about applying to XXX Random District Judge, what can you tell me?" when neither you nor they know whether you have an actual chance at the job. It's different after you get an interview because at least then the person you cold call knows that the judge is interested in you.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
And separately, I think it would be pretty weird to cold email/call a former clerk you don't know and say "Hey, I'm thinking about applying to XXX Random District Judge, what can you tell me?" when neither you nor they know whether you have an actual chance at the job. It's different after you get an interview because at least then the person you cold call knows that the judge is interested in you.


To this point specifically, that hasn't been my experience. Your school should have a list of alumni who clerked. I didn't do this for all my apps, but for the 10 or so I wanted most and thought I was best qualified for, I reached out to the aforementioned alumni. Some conversations were awkward but I found that most people were happy to help and to talk about their experiences. A few told me they'd be happy to talk more if I got an interview (and they did, since perhaps not coincidentally I ended up getting interviews w/ some of these alumni's judges).

Clerkship apps aren't just a number's game. I am thankful to this forum - and past threads where the OP was similarly assailed by the holier-than-thou yHs types - for warning me about doing the research before applying, but it's not like you're entirely resourceless as an applicant. You just need to milk your network as much as possible: school resources (and I know those suck past the T10), journal resources, alumni, friends, friends of friends, etc. Maybe I got lucky, but at least in my home market I got a pretty good idea of who the good judges were well before applying. I think the issue is more the lack of a centralized resource for every applicant, b/c info is definitely out here.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:02 pm

My career office hooked me up with people when we had alumni who had clerked with them - I had something like 8 phone calls before interviewing with the clerkship I got - but I think the broader point is that even at a top law school you're not necessarily going to have an alumni who clerked for every judge. Calling up a non-alumni former clerk would be bizarre excluding a different connection, so the point that it's "impossible" is literally true, let alone the idea of reaching out prior to even applying.

Thus, I think, the original point about the importance and usefulness of forums and threads like this. I'd personally like to see a more systematic database with anonymous reviews of federal judges. Anything to reduce information asymmetry between the applicant and the judge is exceptionally important in a system where students are told they can't say no (which is absurd, and fuck the schools/judges for doing this).

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
And separately, I think it would be pretty weird to cold email/call a former clerk you don't know and say "Hey, I'm thinking about applying to XXX Random District Judge, what can you tell me?" when neither you nor they know whether you have an actual chance at the job. It's different after you get an interview because at least then the person you cold call knows that the judge is interested in you.


To this point specifically, that hasn't been my experience. Your school should have a list of alumni who clerked. I didn't do this for all my apps, but for the 10 or so I wanted most and thought I was best qualified for, I reached out to the aforementioned alumni. Some conversations were awkward but I found that most people were happy to help and to talk about their experiences. A few told me they'd be happy to talk more if I got an interview (and they did, since perhaps not coincidentally I ended up getting interviews w/ some of these alumni's judges).

Clerkship apps aren't just a number's game. I am thankful to this forum - and past threads where the OP was similarly assailed by the holier-than-thou yHs types - for warning me about doing the research before applying, but it's not like you're entirely resourceless as an applicant. You just need to milk your network as much as possible: school resources (and I know those suck past the T10), journal resources, alumni, friends, friends of friends, etc. Maybe I got lucky, but at least in my home market I got a pretty good idea of who the good judges were well before applying. I think the issue is more the lack of a centralized resource for every applicant, b/c info is definitely out here.


I agree with this in part. I had a really good idea of the judges on the court where I interned my 1L summer from talking to people there, and also had a good idea of some of the judges in the market where my school was.

But for courts where I had no connections and where few people from my school have clerked, I was pretty much flying blind. For the judge who I canceled the interview with, only two alums of my school had ever clerked for him/her, and the most recent was 15 years ago. And I didn't personally know anyone who had clerked on the same court (it would seem weird to cold call a random person who had clerked for a different judge on that court and ask if they'd heard any rumors).

The information gap is big, and it's a serious problem--it's also one of the reasons why people might end up in a situation where they get harassed. There needs to be a better way of getting this info out there.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:40 pm

Once again, I think the majority of former clerks would find it weird if someone asked them to talk about their experience with a judge before that someone even applied. I know I would

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
And separately, I think it would be pretty weird to cold email/call a former clerk you don't know and say "Hey, I'm thinking about applying to XXX Random District Judge, what can you tell me?" when neither you nor they know whether you have an actual chance at the job. It's different after you get an interview because at least then the person you cold call knows that the judge is interested in you.


To this point specifically, that hasn't been my experience. Your school should have a list of alumni who clerked. I didn't do this for all my apps, but for the 10 or so I wanted most and thought I was best qualified for, I reached out to the aforementioned alumni. Some conversations were awkward but I found that most people were happy to help and to talk about their experiences. A few told me they'd be happy to talk more if I got an interview (and they did, since perhaps not coincidentally I ended up getting interviews w/ some of these alumni's judges).

Clerkship apps aren't just a number's game. I am thankful to this forum - and past threads where the OP was similarly assailed by the holier-than-thou yHs types - for warning me about doing the research before applying, but it's not like you're entirely resourceless as an applicant. You just need to milk your network as much as possible: school resources (and I know those suck past the T10), journal resources, alumni, friends, friends of friends, etc. Maybe I got lucky, but at least in my home market I got a pretty good idea of who the good judges were well before applying. I think the issue is more the lack of a centralized resource for every applicant, b/c info is definitely out here.

I think it’s possible to get this info about some judges, sure, but not all of them, not when a candidate applies widely. And there is a huge gulf between top schools sending out lots of clerks and other schools - I had a list of alumni clerks but it included like maybe 6-10 district court clerks and a few COAs.

I’ve happily spoken to alumni from my school about my experiences and would probably happily talk to someone who cold approached me. And I probably would talk to someone who was just considering applying (though I think generally people have had interviews). But for me the issue is more one of logistics - for someone coming out of my school you have to apply WIDELY, and you’re just not going to have the resources you talk about here for all those judges.

Personally I think it makes sense to undertake that kind of research for judges with whom you get interviews, and then withdraw if necessary. But I also think a candidate should feel free to reject an offer at any time and screw any consequences.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby mcmand » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:15 pm

Maybe we need a ratemyjudge website, similar to ratemyprofessor. Poorly reviewed judges will find themselves struggling to get clerks.
Last edited by mcmand on Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby rpupkin » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:19 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Personally I think it makes sense to undertake that kind of research for judges with whom you get interviews, and then withdraw if necessary. But I also think a candidate should feel free to reject an offer at any time and screw any consequences.

Agree with this. When I was in law school, I withdrew from an interview after talking to a couple of former clerks who shared that the judge had Kozinksi-like tendencies when it came to clerk workload. I didn't want to spend a year sleeping four hours a night so I respectfully withdrew from the interview. My school's clerkship adviser was disappointed but got over it soon enough.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 28, 2017 9:55 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I think it’s possible to get this info about some judges, sure, but not all of them, not when a candidate applies widely. And there is a huge gulf between top schools sending out lots of clerks and other schools - I had a list of alumni clerks but it included like maybe 6-10 district court clerks and a few COAs.

I’ve happily spoken to alumni from my school about my experiences and would probably happily talk to someone who cold approached me. And I probably would talk to someone who was just considering applying (though I think generally people have had interviews). But for me the issue is more one of logistics - for someone coming out of my school you have to apply WIDELY, and you’re just not going to have the resources you talk about here for all those judges.

Personally I think it makes sense to undertake that kind of research for judges with whom you get interviews, and then withdraw if necessary. But I also think a candidate should feel free to reject an offer at any time and screw any consequences.


That's fair. Which is why I had much better luck figuring out the caliber of judges in my school's market than in other markets. To an extent it also goes to people's obsession with clerkships - I applied roughly where I wanted to work, and I didn't blanket the country just to get a clerkship, any clerkship. I got lucky that it worked out, but I wouldn't have applied in North Dakota or Idaho if it hadn't (no offense meant to either).

mcmand wrote:Maybe we need a ratemyjudge website, similar to ratemyprofessor. Poorly reviewed judges will find themselves struggling to get clerks.


I'd be down for that. The issue is that when things leave the confines of this forum and you open up comments to the entire internet, the trustworthiness of the reviews goes down by a lot. That website technically sort of exists, it's Robing Room. And everyone who loses a motion before a judge puts down a negative review, which skews all the ratings downward.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby mcmand » Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote: I'd be down for that. The issue is that when things leave the confines of this forum and you open up comments to the entire internet, the trustworthiness of the reviews goes down by a lot. That website technically sort of exists, it's Robing Room. And everyone who lose a motion before a judge puts down a negative review, which skews all the ratings downward.


It saddens me sometimes how fucking petty lawyers are.

I think if we were doing a rating system it would just be internal to law students and clerks and used for exactly the purposes we discuss here. Quality of mentorship, safety of work environment, etc. Probably could do a verified school email thing, or maybe a verified court email address. The latter might be harder to pull off and risk confidentiality though. On the other hand, the greater number of people participate, the less likely judges can retaliate for negative reviews without compounding the problem for themselves.
Last edited by mcmand on Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Dec 28, 2017 10:59 pm

mcmand wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: I'd be down for that. The issue is that when things leave the confines of this forum and you open up comments to the entire internet, the trustworthiness of the reviews goes down by a lot. That website technically sort of exists, it's Robing Room. And everyone who lose a motion before a judge puts down a negative review, which skews all the ratings downward.


It saddens me sometimes how fucking petty lawyers are.

I think if we were doing a rating system it would just be internal to law students and clerks and used for exactly the purposes we discuss here. Quality of mentorship, safety of work environment, etc. Probably could do a verified school email thing, or maybe a verified court email address. The latter might be harder to pull off and risk confidentiality though. On the other hand, the greater number of people participate, the less likely judges can retaliate for negative reviews without compounding the problem for themselves.


I assume a lot of the really bad reviews come from the pissed off clients themselves rather than from their lawyers.

Re: reviewing website, what saddens me is how paranoid most law students and clerks (myself included) are. I bet you if you had a website that required verification to post reviews no one would ever post anything.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby rpupkin » Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:Re: reviewing website, what saddens me is how paranoid most law students and clerks (myself included) are. I bet you if you had a website that required verification to post reviews no one would ever post anything.

Although I understand the theoretical appeal of a ratemyprofessor-type site for judges, I think you're right that clerks would be reluctant to contribute.

Consumer ratings work well in the context of mass consumption—like when folks are buying watches from a vendor on Amazon, getting scones from a coffee shop, or sitting through Econ 101 lectures. But whereas a professor will teach dozens (and often hundreds) of students in a year, a judge has only two to four clerks during that time. And the judge-clerk relationship is usually more intimate than the professor-student relationship. Clerking is not the sort of experience that's easily reducible to a one-to-five-star rating and a pithy sentence or two. Even if clerks weren't "paranoid," I'm not sure that a ratemyjudge site would be terribly useful.

As others keep pointing out, applicants should reach out to former clerks after scheduling an interview with a judge. Chatting with two or three former clerks should give you a decent idea of what the clerkship will be like. Although most clerks are biased in favor of their judges, I found—when I was a student doing clerkship interviews—that ex-clerks were pretty honest about the "challenging aspects" of working for the judge, so long as I asked. (I loved my judge and enjoyed clerking for him, but he has a couple of irksome quirks that I share with applicants if they call to chat.)

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby lavarman84 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:49 am

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Re: reviewing website, what saddens me is how paranoid most law students and clerks (myself included) are. I bet you if you had a website that required verification to post reviews no one would ever post anything.

Although I understand the theoretical appeal of a ratemyprofessor-type site for judges, I think you're right that clerks would be reluctant to contribute.

Consumer ratings work well in the context of mass consumption—like when folks are buying watches from a vendor on Amazon, getting scones from a coffee shop, or sitting through Econ 101 lectures. But whereas a professor will teach dozens (and often hundreds) of students in a year, a judge has only two to four clerks during that time. And the judge-clerk relationship is usually more intimate than the professor-student relationship. Clerking is not the sort of experience that's easily reducible to a one-to-five-star rating and a pithy sentence or two. Even if clerks weren't "paranoid," I'm not sure that a ratemyjudge site would be terribly useful.

As others keep pointing out, applicants should reach out to former clerks after scheduling an interview with a judge. Chatting with two or three former clerks should give you a decent idea of what the clerkship will be like. Although most clerks are biased in favor of their judges, I found—when I was a student doing clerkship interviews—that ex-clerks were pretty honest about the "challenging aspects" of working for the judge, so long as I asked. (I loved my judge and enjoyed clerking for him, but he has a couple of irksome quirks that I share with applicants if they call to chat.)


How do you recommend trying to get to that information?(beyond calling former clerks) I feel like that's a subject you have to kind of tiptoe around when talking to former clerks. Was it something you tended to volunteer in these conversations? Was there a really tactful way to kind of get at that point without the applicant painting himself or herself in a bad light? For example, if I asked, "What was your experience like working for Judge X," would that be enough to get the entire story, or would I need to probe a bit deeper?(and I get that it depends on the clerk; I'm just asking you for how you handled it)

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby rpupkin » Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:57 am

lavarman84 wrote:How do you recommend trying to get to that information?(beyond calling former clerks) I feel like that's a subject you have to kind of tiptoe around when talking to former clerks. Was it something you tended to volunteer in these conversations? Was there a really tactful way to kind of get at that point without the applicant painting himself or herself in a bad light? For example, if I asked, "What was your experience like working for Judge X," would that be enough to get the entire story, or would I need to probe a bit deeper?(and I get that it depends on the clerk; I'm just asking you for how you handled it)

In my experience, applicants are pretty good about asking meaningful questions, like "how does the judge decide cases?", "how is work assigned?", "what does the judge like to see in a bench memo?," "what is the process like after you submit a first draft of an opinion?", and "what are the hours like during a typical week?" (As you can probably tell from the questions, I clerked for a COA judge. A prospective district-court clerk would probably ask different questions.)

Applicants shouldn't hesitate to ask real questions of ex-clerks. I think some students are afraid that substantive questions might put them in a bad light, as you put it. This is probably a side effect of the "clerkships are amazing and will be the best experience of your life!" mantra that too many CDOs repeat. But it's normal and acceptable to ask questions about the nature and quantity of work when talking to former clerks.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Atmosphere » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:45 am

lmao pupkin you nebbish dork

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby mjb447 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:02 am

lavarman84 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Re: reviewing website, what saddens me is how paranoid most law students and clerks (myself included) are. I bet you if you had a website that required verification to post reviews no one would ever post anything.

Although I understand the theoretical appeal of a ratemyprofessor-type site for judges, I think you're right that clerks would be reluctant to contribute.

Consumer ratings work well in the context of mass consumption—like when folks are buying watches from a vendor on Amazon, getting scones from a coffee shop, or sitting through Econ 101 lectures. But whereas a professor will teach dozens (and often hundreds) of students in a year, a judge has only two to four clerks during that time. And the judge-clerk relationship is usually more intimate than the professor-student relationship. Clerking is not the sort of experience that's easily reducible to a one-to-five-star rating and a pithy sentence or two. Even if clerks weren't "paranoid," I'm not sure that a ratemyjudge site would be terribly useful.

As others keep pointing out, applicants should reach out to former clerks after scheduling an interview with a judge. Chatting with two or three former clerks should give you a decent idea of what the clerkship will be like. Although most clerks are biased in favor of their judges, I found—when I was a student doing clerkship interviews—that ex-clerks were pretty honest about the "challenging aspects" of working for the judge, so long as I asked. (I loved my judge and enjoyed clerking for him, but he has a couple of irksome quirks that I share with applicants if they call to chat.)


How do you recommend trying to get to that information?(beyond calling former clerks) I feel like that's a subject you have to kind of tiptoe around when talking to former clerks. Was it something you tended to volunteer in these conversations? Was there a really tactful way to kind of get at that point without the applicant painting himself or herself in a bad light? For example, if I asked, "What was your experience like working for Judge X," would that be enough to get the entire story, or would I need to probe a bit deeper?(and I get that it depends on the clerk; I'm just asking you for how you handled it)

I’m kind of a rambler, so that question probably would’ve gotten the full story or most of it from me, at least re: anything that could make a normal person pretty miserable for a year (rather than anything I deemed minor). A more specific question might let me know if there was something that was particularly important to you though.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:27 am

I know that when I talked to former clerks, they all warned me about their judge's particular quirks, and I think I was pretty forthcoming about those quirks myself when talking to applicants down the line. That said, the judges I clerked for were good people, so there wasn't too much to warn about. While I like to think I'd warn people about something like sexual harassment, I can imagine it would be a little harder to flat out say something like "my judge harassed me" (especially presuming I suffered through the year in silence/was afraid to tell people) than to describe things like difficult aspects of a judge's personality ("gives little feedback" or "gets snappy under pressure" kind of stuff). Maybe that's where applicants need to be particularly attentive to coded language (or maybe it will be easier to talk about this stuff under the current climate?).

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby flashdril » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:07 pm

I guess I'm just confused where applicants are going to find this untapped pool of ex-clerks outside of for a subset of judges and a subset of schools.

Not really an adequate solution, IMO.

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Re: Judges who female or LGBT law clerks should avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:17 pm

flashdril wrote:I guess I'm just confused where applicants are going to find this untapped pool of ex-clerks outside of for a subset of judges and a subset of schools.

Not really an adequate solution, IMO.


LinkedIn makes it very easy to find ex-clerks.

Type this into Google: "site:linkedin.com [judge last name] AND [name of court] AND [state where the court is, if applicable]". That should yield several results. Then you can contact them either there or using the info on their firm website bios, if they work in private practice.



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