Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

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Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:51 am

I have an offer for a D. Ct. clerkship in a competitive district (SDNY/EDNY/NDCal/DDC) for a year out from graduation. Is it worth it to try for another D. Ct. clerkship in the year between? I think most CoAs are filled for the 2018 term, so it would most likely be another D. Ct. or state court. Career goals are litigation in gov't/public interest/plaintiff side firms.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby lolwat » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have an offer for a D. Ct. clerkship in a competitive district (SDNY/EDNY/NDCal/DDC) for a year out from graduation. Is it worth it to try for another D. Ct. clerkship in the year between? I think most CoAs are filled for the 2018 term, so it would most likely be another D. Ct. or state court. Career goals are litigation in gov't/public interest/plaintiff side firms.


You'd be better served doing something else, but understanding that there really aren't that many good places looking to hire someone they know is leaving a year later to clerk, two district court clerkships wouldn't be the worst thing ever.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:55 pm

lolwat wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have an offer for a D. Ct. clerkship in a competitive district (SDNY/EDNY/NDCal/DDC) for a year out from graduation. Is it worth it to try for another D. Ct. clerkship in the year between? I think most CoAs are filled for the 2018 term, so it would most likely be another D. Ct. or state court. Career goals are litigation in gov't/public interest/plaintiff side firms.


You'd be better served doing something else, but understanding that there really aren't that many good places looking to hire someone they know is leaving a year later to clerk, two district court clerkships wouldn't be the worst thing ever.

Agreed. Working in govt/PI/firm would be a much better use of your year. But if you can't make that work for some reason, then another trial-level clerkship is certainly better than doing nothing.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 11, 2017 4:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have an offer for a D. Ct. clerkship in a competitive district (SDNY/EDNY/NDCal/DDC) for a year out from graduation. Is it worth it to try for another D. Ct. clerkship in the year between? I think most CoAs are filled for the 2018 term, so it would most likely be another D. Ct. or state court. Career goals are litigation in gov't/public interest/plaintiff side firms.


As a d ct clerk halfway into a two year term, I can say the work becomes monotonous. Working for another judge will briefly break up the monotony but you'll still be doing the same work (mostly dispositive motions) for two years

If I were you, I'd clerk for a magistrate somewhere interesting (either geographically interesting or interesting work). Learning discovery will help your career a lot

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby FascinatedWanderer » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:28 pm

Wouldn't there be some concern of a prestige hit if you decide to clerk for a mag first? I have no basis for this, but my gut check impression would be that it makes the resume less impressive.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:44 pm

FascinatedWanderer wrote:Wouldn't there be some concern of a prestige hit if you decide to clerk for a mag first?

No.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby lolwat » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:06 pm

rpupkin wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:Wouldn't there be some concern of a prestige hit if you decide to clerk for a mag first?

No.


This (but only if you already have a district court/COA clerkship locked). But, I think the only reason I'd ever choose a magistrate clerkship over a second district court clerkship is if the magistrate clerkship is (a) in the same district as the district court clerkship I already had or (b) in the district where I'd want to end up working after the clerkships are over.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:24 pm

rpupkin wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:Wouldn't there be some concern of a prestige hit if you decide to clerk for a mag first?

No.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby wwwcol » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:47 pm

lolwat wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:Wouldn't there be some concern of a prestige hit if you decide to clerk for a mag first?

No.


This (but only if you already have a district court/COA clerkship locked). But, I think the only reason I'd ever choose a magistrate clerkship over a second district court clerkship is if the magistrate clerkship is (a) in the same district as the district court clerkship I already had or (b) in the district where I'd want to end up working after the clerkships are over.


What reason is there to clerk for a second d ct? If anything clerking twice at the same level raises the question whether you want to practice law or to work as a career clerk

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby o0o0o0o » Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have an offer for a D. Ct. clerkship in a competitive district (SDNY/EDNY/NDCal/DDC) for a year out from graduation. Is it worth it to try for another D. Ct. clerkship in the year between? I think most CoAs are filled for the 2018 term, so it would most likely be another D. Ct. or state court. Career goals are litigation in gov't/public interest/plaintiff side firms.


My public interest/plaintiff-side firm, which has offices in several major cities, semi-routinely hires folks for the gap year between graduation and a clerkship. Feel free to PM if you'd like to discuss--I accepted clerkship with one year gap and had to deal with this situation as a 3L.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby Barrred » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:55 am

FascinatedWanderer wrote:Wouldn't there be some concern of a prestige hit if you decide to clerk for a mag first? I have no basis for this, but my gut check impression would be that it makes the resume less impressive.


Not a prestige hit, but there is likely a monetary hit to going this route. I know a lot of biglaw firms wont give class-credit for a magistrate clerkship, and it likely wouldn't bump your ultimate clerkship bonus from $50K to $70K (for firms that typically offer a bump for a second clerkship).

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby lolwat » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:52 pm

wwwcol wrote:What reason is there to clerk for a second d ct? If anything clerking twice at the same level raises the question whether you want to practice law or to work as a career clerk


In the context of choosing between a second district court clerkship and a magistrate clerkship, I disagree. Getting more of the "same" experience at the district court level: analyzing dispositive motions, drafting opinions, helping your judge at trial, etc.... all of the more "substantive" lawyer work -- is more valuable than clerking for a year at the magistrate level where, depending on the district, you'd likely be either working on subjects which you'd likely never work on as a lawyer, or handling discovery disputes. You can spin a double district court clerkship in several ways (more experience, geographical location, whatever)... but it's harder to justify doing a magistrate clerkship. Just IMO.

Not a prestige hit, but there is likely a monetary hit to going this route. I know a lot of biglaw firms wont give class-credit for a magistrate clerkship, and it likely wouldn't bump your ultimate clerkship bonus from $50K to $70K (for firms that typically offer a bump for a second clerkship).


Query whether that additional $20k is routinely applied to a double district court clerkship. I thought the bump is typical for someone who does a district court and a court of appeal. But I don't know.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:34 pm

Barrred wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:Wouldn't there be some concern of a prestige hit if you decide to clerk for a mag first? I have no basis for this, but my gut check impression would be that it makes the resume less impressive.


Not a prestige hit, but there is likely a monetary hit to going this route. I know a lot of biglaw firms wont give class-credit for a magistrate clerkship, and it likely wouldn't bump your ultimate clerkship bonus from $50K to $70K (for firms that typically offer a bump for a second clerkship).

The problem is that most firms that offer a bump for a second clerkship also won't give you extra for a second district-court clerkship. You gotta do district court/COA.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby rpupkin » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:36 pm

lolwat wrote:
wwwcol wrote:What reason is there to clerk for a second d ct? If anything clerking twice at the same level raises the question whether you want to practice law or to work as a career clerk


In the context of choosing between a second district court clerkship and a magistrate clerkship, I disagree. Getting more of the "same" experience at the district court level: analyzing dispositive motions, drafting opinions, helping your judge at trial, etc.... all of the more "substantive" lawyer work -- is more valuable than clerking for a year at the magistrate level where, depending on the district, you'd likely be either working on subjects which you'd likely never work on as a lawyer, or handling discovery disputes.

I hear you. On the other hand, the typical associate spends way more time dealing with "discovery disputes" than doing what you call "substantive" lawyer work. In terms of practical skills/knowledge, a magistrate clerkship strikes me as quite useful for anyone thinking of going into litigation.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby wwwcol » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:48 pm

lolwat wrote:
wwwcol wrote:What reason is there to clerk for a second d ct? If anything clerking twice at the same level raises the question whether you want to practice law or to work as a career clerk


In the context of choosing between a second district court clerkship and a magistrate clerkship, I disagree. Getting more of the "same" experience at the district court level: analyzing dispositive motions, drafting opinions, helping your judge at trial, etc.... all of the more "substantive" lawyer work -- is more valuable than clerking for a year at the magistrate level where, depending on the district, you'd likely be either working on subjects which you'd likely never work on as a lawyer, or handling discovery disputes. You can spin a double district court clerkship in several ways (more experience, geographical location, whatever)... but it's harder to justify doing a magistrate clerkship. Just IMO.

Not a prestige hit, but there is likely a monetary hit to going this route. I know a lot of biglaw firms wont give class-credit for a magistrate clerkship, and it likely wouldn't bump your ultimate clerkship bonus from $50K to $70K (for firms that typically offer a bump for a second clerkship).


Query whether that additional $20k is routinely applied to a double district court clerkship. I thought the bump is typical for someone who does a district court and a court of appeal. But I don't know.


After you do 20 or 30 12b or rule 56 motions, they all start to look the same. And discovery takes up far more of a trial lawyer's time than drafting motions

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby lolwat » Wed Apr 12, 2017 3:27 pm

I don't really disagree with anything said in either of the above posts. I don't even disagree that a magistrate clerkship is useful to a litigator. I just disagree that a magistrate clerkship will help more than a district court clerkship, even a second one.

I might have had way more ex parte applications (in state court), motions, and appellate briefs to write than most litigation associates, so that's probably affecting my perspective. But from my view, I think more general experience issue spotting, analyzing cases and writing opinions on more complex legal issues will get you farther. From my experience, the part of discovery that associates get bogged down in is document review and the more everyday drafting and responding to discovery requests. That kind of stuff I don't think you learn from resolving discovery disputes as a clerk, where you're trying to determine whether someone's discovery requests are reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence, vague, overbroad, or whatever other objections might be raised in the relevant jurisdiction. And, I mean, once you get to a dispute you can't resolve by a meet and confer, you're drafting a motion (either to compel or for a protective order) where we go right back to using the skillsets of issue spotting, analysis, and writing anyway.

I'm also not saying that it's that clear of a choice, by the way. OP might want to do some more research into magistrate clerkships. Discovery disputes are relatively useful, but other aspects of a magistrate clerkship -- social security, 1983, etc. cases -- might really not be.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby Barrred » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:28 pm

lolwat wrote:OP might want to do some more research into magistrate clerkships. Discovery disputes are relatively useful, but other aspects of a magistrate clerkship -- social security, 1983, etc. cases -- might really not be.


This is important. Further, while the mag. judges where I clerked were given broad duties, I believe that what they are allowed to work on is technically at the discretion of the chief judge of that judicial district, such that magistrate judges in some districts may not even work on discovery matters at all.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 15, 2017 6:19 pm

rpupkin wrote:
lolwat wrote:
wwwcol wrote:What reason is there to clerk for a second d ct? If anything clerking twice at the same level raises the question whether you want to practice law or to work as a career clerk


In the context of choosing between a second district court clerkship and a magistrate clerkship, I disagree. Getting more of the "same" experience at the district court level: analyzing dispositive motions, drafting opinions, helping your judge at trial, etc.... all of the more "substantive" lawyer work -- is more valuable than clerking for a year at the magistrate level where, depending on the district, you'd likely be either working on subjects which you'd likely never work on as a lawyer, or handling discovery disputes.

I hear you. On the other hand, the typical associate spends way more time dealing with "discovery disputes" than doing what you call "substantive" lawyer work. In terms of practical skills/knowledge, a magistrate clerkship strikes me as quite useful for anyone thinking of going into litigation.


I'm a DJ clerk and completely agree. I've been here almost two years and don't know the first thing about discovery (well, I did work on an appeal from a MJ discovery order). Not to mention, depending on the district, you might do plenty of stuff DJ clerks do, but on F&R/R&R or consent. But it's critical to find out how the court functions because the way MJs are used varies tremendously. Even more specifically, MJs (like all judges) have widely ranging reputations and expertise, so some get more consent cases than others. For instance, there is one MJ in my court I'd never consent to, and another who I'd probably want over most of the DJs here.

Also, even as a DJ clerk, it's very possible (if not certain) you'll work on plenty of stuff you're never going to see in practice. I can't count how many civil rights cases I've worked on, and I'm never going to practice that. Same goes for prisoner litigation, anything criminal, habeas, etc.

TL;DR don't rule out an MJ clerkship for preftige reasons.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 29, 2017 7:39 am

I'm in the same position (DC clerkship for 2019, graduate 2018), and have the opportunity to do SSC in 2018. Is that worth it? It's in the same geographical area as my DC clerkship and that's where I want to practice (at least right now). Also not Big Law focused but wouldn't rule out smaller lit shops.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the same position (DC clerkship for 2019, graduate 2018), and have the opportunity to do SSC in 2018. Is that worth it? It's in the same geographical area as my DC clerkship and that's where I want to practice (at least right now). Also not Big Law focused but wouldn't rule out smaller lit shops.

Of course it's worth it. Also, what is your alternative? It's a lot easier to fill in a year with a clerkship than to find a job for a year.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:28 am

Alternative would be some kind of fellowship.

Thanks, I think you're right, but looking at threads on here makes it seem like SSC clerkships are not that valuable/good experiences. Or is that mainly preftige-whoring? SSC judge seems well-regarded (career govt litigator, SCOTUS clerk) but haven't really been able to find out what his former clerks have gone on to do.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby CurvedSurface » Sat Apr 29, 2017 12:52 pm

Like almost all judges, SSC judges are typically pretty well connected, so a SSC clerkship can be valuable for that reason alone. But also, doing a SSC clerkship could be fun because it's going to be fairly different from a district court clerkship. In the district court, the court is generally applying the law. At the SSC, the court gets to think a lot about what the law should be.

I don't know that SSC clerkship is necessarily better or worse than a PI fellowship. But I wouldn't rule it out.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Alternative would be some kind of fellowship.

Thanks, I think you're right, but looking at threads on here makes it seem like SSC clerkships are not that valuable/good experiences. Or is that mainly preftige-whoring? SSC judge seems well-regarded (career govt litigator, SCOTUS clerk) but haven't really been able to find out what his former clerks have gone on to do.

It's absolutely prestige-whoring. SSC on its own isn't guaranteed to get you biglaw in NYC/DC, but then, neither is DCt, if you don't independently have the stats for it. All the SSC clerks I know have had good outcomes, and to the extent state v. federal prestige matters, you're going to have a federal clerkship on your resume as well. It's not like having a tiny-bit-less-prestigious state clerkship will sully/tarnish/diminish the value of your federal clerkship.

(on a less annoyed note, it will give you extremely valuable experience writing/thinking in a way that you won't get at the DCt level - it's a lot more deep thinking about whether cert should be granted and how the court should come out if it is, as well as a lot of attention to writing; DCt is much more down-and-dirty, and a lot of what you'll handle will be fairly easily resolved by existing law. So they're just two very different experiences that I think complement each other well.)

Re: the fellowship - depends whether that's more connected to what you ultimately want to do. If it's part of a long-term plan to get to a particular job, it's probably better. If it's just something else to fill the year, do the SSC.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby rpupkin » Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the same position (DC clerkship for 2019, graduate 2018), and have the opportunity to do SSC in 2018. Is that worth it? It's in the same geographical area as my DC clerkship and that's where I want to practice (at least right now). Also not Big Law focused but wouldn't rule out smaller lit shops.

If you planned leave the state for NYC big law or something, then the SSC clerkship wouldn't be a particularly valuable credential (though, for the reasons mentioned by others, it might still be worth doing). But you're considering smaller lit shops in the state—which probably do a lot of litigating in state court. A SSC clerkship will be particularly helpful in your case: you'll do an appellate-level clerkship (to compliment your trial-level clerkship), and you'll get exposure to your state's laws (to compliment your exposure to federal laws).

This is a great opportunity for you. It's a perfect way to fill the year between law school and your district-court clerkship.

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Re: Two D. Ct. Clerkships worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:12 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the same position (DC clerkship for 2019, graduate 2018), and have the opportunity to do SSC in 2018. Is that worth it? It's in the same geographical area as my DC clerkship and that's where I want to practice (at least right now). Also not Big Law focused but wouldn't rule out smaller lit shops.

If you planned leave the state for NYC big law or something, then the SSC clerkship wouldn't be a particularly valuable credential (though, for the reasons mentioned by others, it might still be worth doing). But you're considering smaller lit shops in the state—which probably do a lot of litigating in state court. A SSC clerkship will be particularly helpful in your case: you'll do an appellate-level clerkship (to compliment your trial-level clerkship), and you'll get exposure to your state's laws (to compliment your exposure to federal laws).

This is a great opportunity for you. It's a perfect way to fill the year between law school and your district-court clerkship.


Thanks, this is all helpful advice. I'm leaning towards doing SSC, but if I do that, would it then make little sense to try for fed COA after the Dist. Ct.? That seems like a whole lot of clerking. I would also be trying to stay in same general area because of family/kids (so D.C./2/3/4). Grades are competitive for 3/4; 2/DC are a little more of a stretch (though Dist. Ct./SSC clerkship is in D.C./2).



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