Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

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Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 31, 2017 9:52 am

2017 graduate with biglaw lined up in a regulatory practice group (includes litigation, but is separate from the focused litigation group). Any wisdom on how leaving to clerk after second year looks? Is this an odd time to leave as an associate, especially if I plan to go back to the same firm?

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Rowinguy2009

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby Rowinguy2009 » Wed May 31, 2017 10:29 am

I did this (left my firm to clerk after two years). But I did it with the goal of trying to go government.

Personally, I don't think it makes sense if your goal is to go back to the firm. Once I told my firm about the clerkship people were hesitant to put me on new cases because I wouldn't be able to finish them out. People also assumed (correctly in my case) that I was trying to jump ship. Your fourth year is when you should be taking on more substantial responsibility, doing a little bit of client development, but doing the clerkship means you'll be starting your fourth year kinda back at square one.

Although I will admit that clerking is enjoyable, and is a great resume line. Also my firm made clear I was welcome back, and I think I could have done so and eventually have been fine. But overall, I don't think it is worth it.

Obviously do what's best for you though - the fact that you're deciding between these things indicates you're going to be fine either way.

Edited to add - I don't think it is worth it if you are in the OPs shoes and want to stay at your firm. If you want to transition to gov't or somewhere similar, this can be a great move IMO.

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby lolwat » Wed May 31, 2017 12:13 pm

Edited to add - I don't think it is worth it if you are in the OPs shoes and want to stay at your firm. If you want to transition to gov't or somewhere similar, this can be a great move IMO.


I think this is the main reason people clerk after X years at biglaw. I can't speak for whether it's beneficial in OP's case specifically, but I do think looking long-term, the right clerkship can help. Let's say if you're practicing in DC biglaw, you probably REALLY need to be clerking at DDC or some COA rather than some district court in North Dakota or Montana.

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby JakeTappers » Wed May 31, 2017 12:36 pm

lolwat wrote:
Edited to add - I don't think it is worth it if you are in the OPs shoes and want to stay at your firm. If you want to transition to gov't or somewhere similar, this can be a great move IMO.


I think this is the main reason people clerk after X years at biglaw. I can't speak for whether it's beneficial in OP's case specifically, but I do think looking long-term, the right clerkship can help. Let's say if you're practicing in DC biglaw, you probably REALLY need to be clerking at DDC or some COA rather than some district court in North Dakota or Montana.


I am currently doing this (clerking in place of my 4th and 5th year in biglaw) and can update in a few months about how the job search is going (gunning for gov't but my firm would welcome me back). At this point, I back Rowinguy's point. If you're going back to the firm and trying for partner there, it doesn't seem worth it. You lose money, time, etc. I told my firm about me leaving much closer to the time I left so that I would continue on cases but I suppose that could have backfired too. If you want gov't or changing locales or if you are unsure of the future (clerkship will obviously never hurt).

Rowinguy - did going to gov't work out? Mind PM'ing me if so? Always looking for data points/advice.

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby lolwat » Wed May 31, 2017 12:47 pm

JakeTappers wrote:
lolwat wrote:
Edited to add - I don't think it is worth it if you are in the OPs shoes and want to stay at your firm. If you want to transition to gov't or somewhere similar, this can be a great move IMO.


I think this is the main reason people clerk after X years at biglaw. I can't speak for whether it's beneficial in OP's case specifically, but I do think looking long-term, the right clerkship can help. Let's say if you're practicing in DC biglaw, you probably REALLY need to be clerking at DDC or some COA rather than some district court in North Dakota or Montana.


I am currently doing this (clerking in place of my 4th and 5th year in biglaw) and can update in a few months about how the job search is going (gunning for gov't but my firm would welcome me back). At this point, I back Rowinguy's point. If you're going back to the firm and trying for partner there, it doesn't seem worth it. You lose money, time, etc. I told my firm about me leaving much closer to the time I left so that I would continue on cases but I suppose that could have backfired too. If you want gov't or changing locales or if you are unsure of the future (clerkship will obviously never hurt).

Rowinguy - did going to gov't work out? Mind PM'ing me if so? Always looking for data points/advice.


Yeah, I definitely agree with all of these points. I'm just basically thinking the chances of people making partner at biglaw are already so low that, as a junior associate, it almost doesn't make sense to make that a factor. I also think the timing matters a ton in terms of biglaw years. Clerking when you'd otherwise be a 3rd year is probably different than clerking when you'd otherwise be a 5th year, for example, because of what you're expected to do in those respective years. Take my posts here with a grain of salt of potentially not knowing what the hell I'm talking about w/r/t biglaw. :)

(As an aside, the advice I've gotten is that even as a mid-level it's worth it to do a COA clerkship if you want to get into appellate work.)

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 31, 2017 11:59 pm

OP here. Thanks for the comments. I did a judicial internship 1L summer and thought clerking would be something I would really enjoy doing at some point, but kinda missed the boat for 2017. Maybe I'll just hold off till I start at the firm before I start throwing around 2019 applications.

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby Jchance » Thu Jun 01, 2017 12:18 am

Why wait that long? Plenty of 2018- spots are still open, and clerking after 1 year at a firm is better than 2 years at a firm

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:31 am

OP here - I was told by a senior associate at a different firm that the second year can be the worst year to do a clerkship because you've JUST established yourself and are JUST learning what you're doing and then you leave. I don't know if that was accurate, but it stuck with me. Maybe it's the same after two years, but this particular associate seemed to think that with at least with 2 years under your belt, you could be trusted when/if you got back.

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby Barrred » Thu Jun 01, 2017 12:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here - I was told by a senior associate at a different firm that the second year can be the worst year to do a clerkship because you've JUST established yourself and are JUST learning what you're doing and then you leave. I don't know if that was accurate, but it stuck with me. Maybe it's the same after two years, but this particular associate seemed to think that with at least with 2 years under your belt, you could be trusted when/if you got back.


I was given the opposite advice back when I was applying. I was told by a lot of associates/partners to get my clerking done early, but to be honest there probably isn't a major difference between clerking for your 2nd vs 3rd year.

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby lolwat » Thu Jun 01, 2017 12:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here - I was told by a senior associate at a different firm that the second year can be the worst year to do a clerkship because you've JUST established yourself and are JUST learning what you're doing and then you leave. I don't know if that was accurate, but it stuck with me. Maybe it's the same after two years, but this particular associate seemed to think that with at least with 2 years under your belt, you could be trusted when/if you got back.


Well, if that's the case then there is never a good year to do a clerkship other than your 1st year. 2nd/3rd year you've just established/learned what you're doing. 4th/5th year you're just starting to get substantive experience . From then on you're probably expected to start running cases . Clerkships are a good substitute for one of your first 3 years because it gives you a leg up over all the associates writing memos on discrete legal issues & doing shitty doc review. Clerkships are a poor substitute for your 4th year on because the experience you SHOULD be getting at the firm should generally be getting more important for your overall development than your experience as a clerk.

All kind of YMMV based on the firm and how early they give their associates real experience though.

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby wwwcol » Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:18 pm

lolwat wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here - I was told by a senior associate at a different firm that the second year can be the worst year to do a clerkship because you've JUST established yourself and are JUST learning what you're doing and then you leave. I don't know if that was accurate, but it stuck with me. Maybe it's the same after two years, but this particular associate seemed to think that with at least with 2 years under your belt, you could be trusted when/if you got back.


Well, if that's the case then there is never a good year to do a clerkship other than your 1st year. 2nd/3rd year you've just established/learned what you're doing. 4th/5th year you're just starting to get substantive experience . From then on you're probably expected to start running cases . Clerkships are a good substitute for one of your first 3 years because it gives you a leg up over all the associates writing memos on discrete legal issues & doing shitty doc review. Clerkships are a poor substitute for your 4th year on because the experience you SHOULD be getting at the firm should generally be getting more important for your overall development than your experience as a clerk.

All kind of YMMV based on the firm and how early they give their associates real experience though.


I understand the bolded to be the conventional wisdom (at least among partners and senior associates I've talked to), and lawyers seem especially unhappy if people leave after one year (for the reasons explained in other posts).

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Re: Setting up a clerkship for 2 years in to biglaw

Postby 84651846190 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 4:44 pm

wwwcol wrote:
lolwat wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here - I was told by a senior associate at a different firm that the second year can be the worst year to do a clerkship because you've JUST established yourself and are JUST learning what you're doing and then you leave. I don't know if that was accurate, but it stuck with me. Maybe it's the same after two years, but this particular associate seemed to think that with at least with 2 years under your belt, you could be trusted when/if you got back.


Well, if that's the case then there is never a good year to do a clerkship other than your 1st year. 2nd/3rd year you've just established/learned what you're doing. 4th/5th year you're just starting to get substantive experience . From then on you're probably expected to start running cases . Clerkships are a good substitute for one of your first 3 years because it gives you a leg up over all the associates writing memos on discrete legal issues & doing shitty doc review. Clerkships are a poor substitute for your 4th year on because the experience you SHOULD be getting at the firm should generally be getting more important for your overall development than your experience as a clerk.

All kind of YMMV based on the firm and how early they give their associates real experience though.


I understand the bolded to be the conventional wisdom (at least among partners and senior associates I've talked to), and lawyers seem especially unhappy if people leave after one year (for the reasons explained in other posts).


Eh, I would say this is "conventional wisdom" among people who haven't clerked. Most partners who haven't clerked view it as counterproductive to clerk after year 1 (because, well, they made partner and didn't need to clerk, so why should you think you need to?).

Most biglaw litigation partners who clerked told me that clerking was invaluable and that they learned things that they didn't even know how people could learn without clerking. Thus, in their opinion, while clerking after year 1 was not ideal, it was still valuable for a future career, even if it pisses some people off. I think a lot of what happens is case-by-case and firm dependent. If you're gunning for some hyper-lockstep firm like Cravath, clerking any time other than right out of law school is probably a terrible idea. If you're at one of these other firms that has an infinite path to partnership and generally keeps people around as long as they do good work and are not insufferable, then you'd probably be fine leaving, even as a 3rd or 4th year.



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