D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

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D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:55 am

I'm starting a (quasi-flyover) district court clerkship in a couple weeks and and haven't received any information on weekly schedules or vacations. I figure the HR folks (and/or the judge) let you know when you get there, but I thought I'd see if y'all had any experience with what a typical week and what vacation schedules look like. Not really something I want to bug chambers about, but would like to know sooner rather than later to give friends and family reasonable expectations.

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grand inquisitor

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby grand inquisitor » Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:24 am

i wouldn't expect a "vacation schedule" if i were you. some judges let you take a day or two here and there but if you are waiting for HR to tell you about your 3 weeks of vacation i think you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. my judge took some limited vacations but the clerks kept working while he was gone (though things were quieter). i took 2 days off to take the bar exam in the state i was clerking in and i left early a couple of fridays.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby mjb447 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:00 am

Your daily and vacation schedule are basically what the judge wants them to be and can be in flux depending on what chambers needs at any given time, so you may not find out much officially until after you start, or even until you put in any particular leave request. (Even judges who are on the Leave Act don't necessarily let you take all your accrued time when you want.) A former clerk or friendly career clerk may be able to tell you unofficially what to expect in general.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:29 am

Yeah, the only vacation schedule I would feel confident about is that you will likely get federal holidays "off" because the court is closed - but if you have work to do and/or your judge comes in anyway they won't really be holidays.

(My chambers was strictly 9-5 unless there was a trial or something equally pressing and holidays were days off. In contrast, one of the judges in my courthouse worked every Saturday and so his clerks did too. I think they stayed later as well and I'm not confident they even got holidays.)

I did take a couple of days for job interviews, and worked remotely between Xmas and NYE (because my husband was in another city and the judge was very supportive of the long distance thing).

You're probably best off aiming for a vacation between the end of your clerkship and wherever you go next, depending on what you're doing then.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:33 am

It is completely up to the judge. While I ask for time off for doctor's appointments and asked for one day off for a personal trip with no problem, if the judge is in, I am in. When the judge is on vacation, I work a few days and take off a few days. Everyone in chambers works together to make sure there is always someone here when the judge is gone.

As for daily schedule, when the judge is in, I am in. Thankfully, he gets in just after nine and leaves right before five, so my hours are cake. Some other clerks within my district stay later than their judges if there is work to be done and some leave earlier if their judges are nightowls/workaholics. There have been a few Fridays where I left right at 5 p.m. before the judge. If the judge stays late, I'll stay a little later and leave if he is staying late for something I am not assigned to. And if there is work that I need to get done for the next day, I stay late/get in early to get it done.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby Barrred » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:34 am

You should go in expecting to work 8am-7pm, Monday through Friday, with a couple hours of reading on the weekends, and to get no time off except for Court holidays and one or two half-days to interview at firms/make doctors' appointments.

If you go in with this expectation, you will probably be pleasantly surprised at your actual schedule/vacation time, but might as well anticipate the worst case scenario (8-7 is probably worst-case for a quasi-flyover d.ct.). I went in with this expectation and was pleasantly surprised at my 7:45am-4:30pm, 5-days a week, an hour or two on the weekends, 2-3 days off here and there to make 3 or 4-day-weekend trips, plus 4-5 extra days off around the holidays when my judge was also going to be gone (just had to be on call, but had no work and didnt have to be in chambers).

Your mileage may vary. If you know former clerks of this judge, you can ask them what the judge's/clerks typical schedule is, and whether the judge allows you to take any time off.

(Edited for spelling)

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:23 pm

Does anyone have experience being pregnant/having a child during a clerkship. Also curious for men if most judges would let them off if their wife had a baby.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby rpupkin » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone have experience being pregnant/having a child during a clerkship. Also curious for men if most judges would let them off if their wife had a baby.

As others have suggested ITT, it's difficult to make generalizations about "most judges" when it comes to situations like this. But I'll share two anecdotes, both involving friends of mine.

First friend's wife got pregnant at the beginning of his clerkship. His judge was older and traditional. The judge permitted my friend to leave work for the birth itself and for one day after. That was it. My friend asked if he could have a full week. Judge said no. (By the way, this is not a judge who has a reputation as a difficult person to work for.) My friend found the situation ironic: he took the clerkship in part to get a break from big law, but he said that his big-law firm would've been more understanding about him taking time off.

My second friend started his clerkship when his wife was five months pregnant. His judge went out of his way to accommodate the situation. I don't believe that my friend ever took a sustained period off from clerking, but the the judge was very flexible about letting him take days (and half-days) off here and there, both before and after the birth.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:56 pm

I do know of someone who was pregnant during a clerkship and her judge gave a relatively sustained chunk of time off - I want to say 6 weeks (isn't that what FMLA requires? Not that it applies to this job but I wonder if the judge wanted to be consistent). That's quite a lot out of a 1-year clerkship and pretty generous - I wouldn't presume that would happen - but just as another anecdote.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby rpupkin » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:05 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I do know of someone who was pregnant during a clerkship and her judge gave a relatively sustained chunk of time off - I want to say 6 weeks (isn't that what FMLA requires? Not that it applies to this job but I wonder if the judge wanted to be consistent). That's quite a lot out of a 1-year clerkship and pretty generous - I wouldn't presume that would happen - but just as another anecdote.

To be clear, I was focused on the "father" side of the anon's question. A female clerk on my court got pregnant during her clerkship and she took at least six weeks off.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:20 pm

rpupkin wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:I do know of someone who was pregnant during a clerkship and her judge gave a relatively sustained chunk of time off - I want to say 6 weeks (isn't that what FMLA requires? Not that it applies to this job but I wonder if the judge wanted to be consistent). That's quite a lot out of a 1-year clerkship and pretty generous - I wouldn't presume that would happen - but just as another anecdote.

To be clear, I was focused on the "father" side of the anon's question. A female clerk on my court got pregnant during her clerkship and she took at least six weeks off.

Oh gotcha.

(Also to be clear, I wouldn't call 6 weeks generous in the usual course of events, just that it's a decent chunk of a one-year job. And I certainly wouldn't expect a judge to expect the mother to take no more than one day off.)

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby Lincoln » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:30 pm

My judge allows us to take "about a week" as vacation, and that's one of the more generous policies I know of in the building.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby rpupkin » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:38 pm

OP,

I believe that Lincoln is in SDNY, where the day-to-day burdens on a judge (and his clerks and staff) are likely greater than where you're heading. I do think the fact that you're clerking in a "quasi-flyover" district increases the chances that your judge will allow for more time off. But, again, you just never know with judges.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:39 pm

Echoing what everybody else has said re. the varied policies and providing another data point from a "quasi-flyover" district.

My judge generally allows us to work wherever or whenever we want so long as the work gets done. Need Friday off? That's fine, just work a bit more during the week. Want to work remotely for a week if there are no hearings? No problem, just get your work done and be available via email and the internal messaging system. Also gives about a week of vacation.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby mjb447 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:13 pm

I know two clerks who took parental leave (one man, one woman). Man took about six weeks, woman took nearly three months. I get the impression that both "breaks" were on the longer end of what is typical.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby FascinatedWanderer » Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:21 pm

Wow I'm surprised a judge would allow 3 months. If I were the co-clerk I'd be pissed.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby mjb447 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:17 pm

FascinatedWanderer wrote:Wow I'm surprised a judge would allow 3 months. If I were the co-clerk I'd be pissed.

Think he was senior w/ reduced caseload, but still, I agree.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby hlsperson1111 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:49 pm

Clerked in a district court in a medium-sized city in the Ninth (think Sacramento, Tucson, Portland, Las Vegas, etc.). The only hard-and-fast rules in my chambers were that:

(1) You had to get your work done on time;
(2) At least one of the judge's clerks had to be in chambers during normal business hours, even if the judge was out; and
(3) You could not miss civil law and motion calendar under any circumstances short of a true emergency (death of an immediate relative, being hospitalized, etc.)

Other than that, the expectation was that, as long as you were on top of your work, you could take court holidays off (plus Black Friday and December 26th if it was a weekday) and that the clerks could take some time off when the judge was on vacation or otherwise out of town. Taking a few hours off here and there for doctors' appointments, dentists' appointments, emergency auto repair, etc. was totally kosher too.

We were among the more liberal (but not the most liberal) chambers in our district with respect to time off.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby wwwcol » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:26 pm

hlsperson1111 wrote:Clerked in a district court in a medium-sized city in the Ninth (think Sacramento, Tucson, Portland, Las Vegas, etc.). The only hard-and-fast rules in my chambers were that:

(1) You had to get your work done on time;
(2) At least one of the judge's clerks had to be in chambers during normal business hours, even if the judge was out; and
(3) You could not miss civil law and motion calendar under any circumstances short of a true emergency (death of an immediate relative, being hospitalized, etc.)

Other than that, the expectation was that, as long as you were on top of your work, you could take court holidays off (plus Black Friday and December 26th if it was a weekday) and that the clerks could take some time off when the judge was on vacation or otherwise out of town. Taking a few hours off here and there for doctors' appointments, dentists' appointments, emergency auto repair, etc. was totally kosher too.

We were among the more liberal (but not the most liberal) chambers in our district with respect to time off.


We had similar rules, but for us, the first rule (finish your work on time) meant in practice that you work from 8-6 every day and could only take off a day or two every few months. Even in our secondary district (which you might describe as a "quasi-flyover"), there's a constant and pressing flow of motions. Taking a week off would put you significantly behind.

And my judge was pretty forgiving about deadlines. Some impose hard deadlines, e.g., you must resolve a motion to dismiss w/in 30 days of filing or a motion for summary judgment within 60 days. If that's the case, don't expect too many vacation days.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby hlsperson1111 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:33 pm

wwwcol wrote:
hlsperson1111 wrote:Clerked in a district court in a medium-sized city in the Ninth (think Sacramento, Tucson, Portland, Las Vegas, etc.). The only hard-and-fast rules in my chambers were that:

(1) You had to get your work done on time;
(2) At least one of the judge's clerks had to be in chambers during normal business hours, even if the judge was out; and
(3) You could not miss civil law and motion calendar under any circumstances short of a true emergency (death of an immediate relative, being hospitalized, etc.)

Other than that, the expectation was that, as long as you were on top of your work, you could take court holidays off (plus Black Friday and December 26th if it was a weekday) and that the clerks could take some time off when the judge was on vacation or otherwise out of town. Taking a few hours off here and there for doctors' appointments, dentists' appointments, emergency auto repair, etc. was totally kosher too.

We were among the more liberal (but not the most liberal) chambers in our district with respect to time off.


We had similar rules, but for us, the first rule (finish your work on time) meant in practice that you work from 8-6 every day and could only take off a day or two every few months. Even in our secondary district (which you might describe as a "quasi-flyover"), there's a constant and pressing flow of motions. Taking a week off would put you significantly behind.

And my judge was pretty forgiving about deadlines. Some impose hard deadlines, e.g., you must resolve a motion to dismiss w/in 30 days of filing or a motion for summary judgment within 60 days. If that's the case, don't expect too many vacation days.


We had significantly stricter rules about deadlines (don't want to out myself but we were expected to have draft orders done within a couple days of the reply being filed) but still found time to take days off here and there when the judge was out of town or when the calendar was slow. For whatever it's worth, I worked past 6 PM many nights and came in on weekend days frequently, even though the judge didn't care in the abstract about the hours I was there.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:50 am

To piggyback on this, any advice about managing a long-distance relationship while working for a busy chambers? Does weekend work come up last minute or is it possible to book plane/train tickets in advance for long weekends? Chambers-dependent?

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:58 am

DCt? IME things didn't generally come up last minute - I worked weekends only if 1) I hadn't got my regular work done, but that was on my time management, not stuff coming up last minute (also I usually did that from home, I didn't have to be in chambers), or 2) we had a trial (I was usually in chambers for this). You should have a fair amount of notice - but again, it will depend on the judge. If a judge is someone who will have you working on weekends you may not get a ton of notice, depending on what they want you doing (though I have no idea how that would work. I just think short notice is a possibility).

I will say that if your judge knows about the LDR and is supportive that helps a lot. I left early on Fridays/came instead on Mondays a couple of times, and got to work remotely over the holidays. I had to sort of track down IT to get the remote stuff worked out, it wasn't established automatically (at least in my judge's chambers), so that may be something to address early.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby mjb447 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:08 am

Anonymous User wrote:To piggyback on this, any advice about managing a long-distance relationship while working for a busy chambers? Does weekend work come up last minute or is it possible to book plane/train tickets in advance for long weekends? Chambers-dependent?

Varies, but I'd set my expectations to include some weekend work. Some chambers reliably work on the weekends, and even if weekend work isn't the norm, any chambers can have an "emergency motion" come in on a Friday or something. You might not end up working weekends at all, though - just depends.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby Lincoln » Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:25 pm

hlsperson1111 wrote:(3) You could not miss civil law and motion calendar under any circumstances short of a true emergency (death of an immediate relative, being hospitalized, etc.)


What does "civil law and motion calendar" mean? Just curious. I've never heard that term in my chambers.

ETA: Fixed html.

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Re: D.Ct. Schedules and Vacations

Postby Lincoln » Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:27 pm

rpupkin wrote:OP,

I believe that Lincoln is in SDNY, where the day-to-day burdens on a judge (and his clerks and staff) are likely greater than where you're heading. I do think the fact that you're clerking in a "quasi-flyover" district increases the chances that your judge will allow for more time off. But, again, you just never know with judges.


Yes, I'm in the SDNY. As always, YMMV.



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