Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

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."
lolwat

Silver
Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:30 pm

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby lolwat » Sat May 20, 2017 4:16 pm

This entire process is discouraging to all but a select few. Advice given above is all solid. Apply everywhere and use the calls to the chambers you are competitive with, not the ones that are longshots. I would say the only thing keeping you down is your geographical limitations but there is only so much you can do about it. (I have the same issue with my apps now that I've been living & practicing in my market and don't want to move again.) Keep at it & good luck.

clerkshipbro1231

New
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:16 pm

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby clerkshipbro1231 » Sat May 20, 2017 6:05 pm

Like others have said, the fact that you've received 4 interview invites is a testament to your competitiveness as an applicant. And it is something to be proud of. Many people don't get any interviews. So, even though it's frustrating not having a clerkship yet, try to remember that the hardest part is making it "out of the pile," which you've done on 4 different occasions. You are definitely a strong candidate, and you have a high likelihood of getting a position if you keep applying.

Professors calling is much less effective than having the school's clerkship committee members call on your behalf or write what some schools call "institutional letters of recommendation," letters penned by the committee of clerkship gatekeepers who send students to clerk for the same judges every year. Obviously, you don't need to have these gatekeepers calling for you to get a position. I certainly didn't. But you should know that you're a different type of applicant than your classmates on LR who got clerkships early on--they had this institutional backing, and likely are clerking for judges with whom your school has an ongoing relationship. Your process will take longer and will be more frustrating. And having a professor call who has no relationship with the judges to whom your applying cannot hurt, but it many not really help, either.

Definitely apply to district and COA judges, and apply to any judge you'd want to clerk for. Don't listen to the "it's a waste of your time to apply to competitive D Cts and COAs" crap. People told me the same thing. I ended up with a D. Ct and a COA clerkship.

Send in paper apps whenever possible. I got a much higher interview rate from paper applications, probably because I was outside the top 10% cut off that many judges use to filter out applicants in OSCAR. Also, you should send paper apps to judges you'd want to work for, even if you don't know if they're currently hiring. If this gives you any inspiration, I got 2 COA interviews by sending out paper applications to "OSCAR unknown" judges (I stated in the cover letter that I wanted to apply to clerk for them "during 2018-19 term or any term thereafter.").

You should tailor your cover letter to emphasize your writing and research experience. Don't waste space by saying you "want to be mentored by an eminent legal mind" or learn "how judges think so I can be a better advocate." Judges are ex-litigators, and their entire job consists of evaluating the strength of arguments made by the parties before them. Make your best argument for why YOU are the best candidate for the position based on your research and writing experience.

Most of all, keep applying! And keep your head up. This process sucks. I almost gave up on numerous occasions. But after 20 months of applying to nearly 200 judges, I got my COA position. What I learned through this process is that for us mere mortals (i.e. those of us not on LR and not lucky enough to be one of the select few that our schools really help out during this process) it's all about perseverance. Keep applying. You can do it!

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse

Diamond
Posts: 29306
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat May 20, 2017 6:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I had worse stats than you with no recommender calling on my behalf and I had 1 interview with a district judge in an uncompetitive district toward the middle of the country that lead to an interview and eventually a clerkship. Either you're applying to just competitive places and that's knockin you out or you have a glaring typo in your cover letter or somewhere in the app. Judges are notorious for dinging anyone, no matter how qualified, if they find a single typo in their application. And it can be discovered after you've already been granted an interview so that the interview ends up being a waste. Thoroughly go through your whole app and make sure it's perfect.

I really think if the OP had errors in his/her app s/he wouldn't have got 4 interview invites, though.

User avatar
mjb447

Silver
Posts: 1280
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:36 am

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby mjb447 » Sat May 20, 2017 7:19 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I had worse stats than you with no recommender calling on my behalf and I had 1 interview with a district judge in an uncompetitive district toward the middle of the country that lead to an interview and eventually a clerkship. Either you're applying to just competitive places and that's knockin you out or you have a glaring typo in your cover letter or somewhere in the app. Judges are notorious for dinging anyone, no matter how qualified, if they find a single typo in their application. And it can be discovered after you've already been granted an interview so that the interview ends up being a waste. Thoroughly go through your whole app and make sure it's perfect.

I really think if the OP had errors in his/her app s/he wouldn't have got 4 interview invites, though.

And three of those judges overlooked this typo initially, got all the way through the interview process before they noticed, and then decided to ding OP because of it.

Anonymous User
Posts: 326666
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 21, 2017 3:21 am

mjb447 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I had worse stats than you with no recommender calling on my behalf and I had 1 interview with a district judge in an uncompetitive district toward the middle of the country that lead to an interview and eventually a clerkship. Either you're applying to just competitive places and that's knockin you out or you have a glaring typo in your cover letter or somewhere in the app. Judges are notorious for dinging anyone, no matter how qualified, if they find a single typo in their application. And it can be discovered after you've already been granted an interview so that the interview ends up being a waste. Thoroughly go through your whole app and make sure it's perfect.

I really think if the OP had errors in his/her app s/he wouldn't have got 4 interview invites, though.

And three of those judges overlooked this typo initially, got all the way through the interview process before they noticed, and then decided to ding OP because of it.


There still could be a typo. Not all judges ding applicants automatically whenever there is a single typo. You wouldn't ding a top 5% at Penn because there was a typo if you would be left with just a top 35% at Iowa or WashU (an extreme example I know but just for explanation that a typo isn't the end of someone). A close friend of mine said she got an interview, went to it, thought it went really well, but when she was told they hired someone else, she was also told as a heads up that she had a typo in her application in case she's applying somewhere else. She then quickly fixed it in her other apps but I'm sure that typo is one reason why they went with someone else. I've also done hiring for my past clerkships. In one, there were so many applications that there's no way we could read them all or even the top ones closely before we were rushed to send out interviews so I can see a possibility of missing typos at first. In the other, there were actually not a lot of candidates who fit what the judge was looking for and a lot of those who did surprisingly had a good number of typos so that if the ones toward the top got picked off by other judges and we had to go deeper into the app pool we would have been I think ok to ignore a small typo and extend an interview. So it could very well be the case that OP has a typo or similar mistake in the app, is still getting interviews, but isn't getting the offer, especially since he's done alright in all other areas (good schools, prof calls, mock interviews, etc) and because I've seen so many applicants with typos in their apps it's crazy. It could NEVER hurt to go back through the app with a fine tooth comb and make sure everything is perfect.

User avatar
Lincoln

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

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby Lincoln » Sun May 21, 2017 8:08 am

I also don't think you need to sell yourself short by not applying to some courts (short of feeders and SCOTUS).

I do think the most helpful thing you can do is try to target judges where you can get some kind of in. For example, you are more likely to get noticed by judges who frequently hire from your school, who have one current clerk from your school, who are located in the same district as your school, or who are alums of your school.

As stated above, recommenders are really most helpful for getting your app pulled, but I did not have recommenders who could make that happen until I was an alum, so I'm not surprised if you don't either.

You're doing the right things here. Just keep applying. All it takes is one.

cfe298

New
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri May 19, 2017 9:56 pm

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby cfe298 » Mon May 22, 2017 1:14 am

Thank you so much, everyone. That point about the typos is especially helpful and good to know -- wasn't aware of just how closely judges/clerks may be scrutinizing an applicant's materials even post-interview. Sounds like that may not be the case in all chambers, but as you helpfully indicated, there's certainly at least some out there who may invite applicants to interview after doing only a cursory review of their materials, and then more closely reviewing those materials for typos (and dinging accordingly) after the fact. Certainly don't want to risk that happening to me--if it hasn't already--so I'll continue to check and recheck my materials...if your posts are any indication, there's no such thing as reviewing the materials too many times.

Thank you also for the anecdotal info re: applicants w/ similar starts who have successfully landed both district court and COA clerkships. I know that, especially with my stats, nothing in this process is guaranteed--far from it--but it's quite reassuring to know that landing a clerkship with a judge in, say, EDNY or SDNY, or the COA, may not be entirely quixotic, as I had been led to believe (and of course when I say this I'm excluding feeders -- those, I know, are non-starters).

Clerkshipbro1231 -- I wasn't aware that there was such a thing as "institutional letters of recommendation," but if they do exist at my school, they are, evidently, written only for the chosen ones (i.e., those on LR/at the very top of the class). And, unfortunately, I am not one of them. Still, it's encouraging to know that, although potentially very helpful, these letters are not absolutely necessary. The path to attaining a clerkship without one simply may be more challenging--as it certainly has been for me these past few months--but I'll continue to push forward and hope for the best, while tuning out the naysayers, as you rightly suggested.

If anyone else has any other insights and wishes to share, I'd love to hear them. I just can't express enough how helpful and encouraging your responses have been after months of being completely in the dark on so much of this seemingly mystifying process. Thank you so much, to all of you, again.

-G

Barrred

Bronze
Posts: 167
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:49 pm

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby Barrred » Mon May 22, 2017 11:36 am

I echo what everyone else has said re: applying widely, not limiting yourself, etc.

Commenting to add that your main problem is very clearly (to me) that your application is getting lost on OSCAR. The filters on OSCAR coupled with the sheer number of applications means that your resume isnt getting any eyes on it, despite applying to hundreds of judges. At this point I would resubmit paper applications to judges that you are interested in and already applied on OSCAR (as far as a number, just pick the top 20 judges you would be excited about clerking for).

This may be controversial advice, but I wouldn't even limit my paper applications to judges on OSCAR who indicate that they also accept paper applications. My judge's OSCAR profile said that he only accepted online apps, yet we would routinely get paper apps mailed to us that we would take a quick look at anyway---we even hired people who only submitted paper apps (or whose app we subsequently pulled from OSCAR after the paper version piqued our interest). I can see some judges being turned off that you didn't follow their instructions on OSCAR, but since you already applied to them online and got nothing, it seems highly unlikely that those judges were ever going to look at your OSCAR app anyway.

tl;dr: apply broadly, have people call/email chambers on your behalf to get your app out of the OSCAR pile, and send out 20 paper apps to judges you are interested in regardless of your having previously applied via OSCAR or whether or not they indicate that they accept paper apps.

lavarman84

Platinum
Posts: 7719
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 5:01 pm

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby lavarman84 » Mon May 22, 2017 11:56 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Lol at schools sending out any part of your application. Check your T14 privilege.


Agreed. My school doesn't have a clerkship office.

Lavitz wrote:
GoneSouth wrote:To be fair, we have to ask our professors' assistants to generate letters every time we send apps. I had the same thought as you initially, but realized that they may not want to just keep letters on file in case professors aren't willing to recommend you to certain judges or need to update their letter (once a letter is on file, they may not remember what's in it and might not realize that it needs to be updated).

I suppose that's fair. The last time I sent out a batch of applications, one professor e-mailed me and asked for an updated resume because he wanted to update his letter.

Still doesn't explain why it sometimes takes a month.


It shouldn't. It takes between a day and a week for the support staff at my school. The professors do leave them on file. That's really surprising. I take back my agreement about t14 privilege. :lol:

lolwat

Silver
Posts: 1216
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:30 pm

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby lolwat » Mon May 22, 2017 11:59 am

Barrred wrote:I echo what everyone else has said re: applying widely, not limiting yourself, etc.

Commenting to add that your main problem is very clearly (to me) that your application is getting lost on OSCAR. The filters on OSCAR coupled with the sheer number of applications means that your resume isnt getting any eyes on it, despite applying to hundreds of judges. At this point I would resubmit paper applications to judges that you are interested in and already applied on OSCAR (as far as a number, just pick the top 20 judges you would be excited about clerking for).

This may be controversial advice, but I wouldn't even limit my paper applications to judges on OSCAR who indicate that they also accept paper applications. My judge's OSCAR profile said that he only accepted online apps, yet we would routinely get paper apps mailed to us that we would take a quick look at anyway---we even hired people who only submitted paper apps (or whose app we subsequently pulled from OSCAR after the paper version piqued our interest). I can see some judges being turned off that you didn't follow their instructions on OSCAR, but since you already applied to them online and got nothing, it seems highly unlikely that those judges were ever going to look at your OSCAR app anyway.

tl;dr: apply broadly, have people call/email chambers on your behalf to get your app out of the OSCAR pile, and send out 20 paper apps to judges you are interested in regardless of your having previously applied via OSCAR or whether or not they indicate that they accept paper apps.


You know what, I 100% agree with the paper application advice but also with the "controversial advice" to a large extent.
I just went up and read the OP again and being in the "top 15%" can be a hard cut-off on OSCAR if the judge typically looks for top 10%.
I definitely have to say it's very random though. I've applied over many cycles and there is one judge I got some interest from one year but not the other 3-4 years I applied to them (both before and after the one year I got a call from their chambers).

lavarman84

Platinum
Posts: 7719
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 5:01 pm

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby lavarman84 » Mon May 22, 2017 12:10 pm

Lincoln wrote:I also don't think you need to sell yourself short by not applying to some courts (short of feeders and SCOTUS).

I do think the most helpful thing you can do is try to target judges where you can get some kind of in. For example, you are more likely to get noticed by judges who frequently hire from your school, who have one current clerk from your school, who are located in the same district as your school, or who are alums of your school.

As stated above, recommenders are really most helpful for getting your app pulled, but I did not have recommenders who could make that happen until I was an alum, so I'm not surprised if you don't either.

You're doing the right things here. Just keep applying. All it takes is one.


I agree with Lincoln. I even am applying to feeders despite knowing I have essentially no chance. Figure essentially no chance is still a better chance than I'd have if I don't apply.

cfe298

New
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri May 19, 2017 9:56 pm

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby cfe298 » Mon May 22, 2017 12:46 pm

Thank you! This is all incredibly helpful. In all honesty, I had never even considered applying by paper to judges, other than those that accept paper-only applications. Of course, I'm sure mileage varies when sending by paper--I'm certainly not expecting to suddenly get like 5,000 interview requests simply by virtue of having submitted my apps by mail--but at the very least, sounds like applying by paper may help bring more attention to my application, even if in most cases only marginally, than would be the case with OSCAR.

I know this is hardly revelatory, but this really is such an amazing resource. I appreciate the honest, straightforward, reliable, and simply exceptionally thoughtful feedback that all of you have provided more than you can know.

Anonymous User
Posts: 326666
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Incredibly Discouraged and Seeking Advice

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 22, 2017 7:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Just want to chime in and say that I'm in the same school range with slightly worse stats, and I, too, thought CoA was completely off the table right up until I landed a CoA clerkship. It was the only interview I got, and it was via a paper application. I'm posting this to anecdotally reinforce what some others have said: don't sell yourself short as a candidate, and don't get discouraged. You're still in the game.


This is almost the exact same thing that happened to me (my stats and school are also very similar to yours). What's more, the one call for a CoA interview that I got (out of 40-50 paper applications), I got about 11 months after I sent in my application. And it turned into a clerkship. So you really can never be sure how it'll work out. Just keep trying.



Return to “Judicial Clerkships�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.