how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

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Anonymous User
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how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:22 pm

I clerked at the federal district level last year. Graduated top 15% (closer to 10% though) from UT/Vandy/GULC. No law review but pretty good gpa and also very good grades from my 1L school (ttt). For the past year, I've worked at a small litigation centered firm in a small market. It is not shit law (respected in the area but not well known outside the market) and I've acquired tremendous experience: multiple msjs filed in federal court, depositions taken, argued a motion in state court, drafted federal appellate brief...). However, I kind of don't like practice and want to go back to being a clerk, specifically at the district level where I'm familiar with the process and general terrain.

The problem? I feel that my stats are a bit sub par and I'm lucky I received a clerkship the first go round. The previous clerkship is my main calling card. So for those of you that clerked at the district level and participated in hiring decisions, how big is the bump when a judge specifies that he/she wants prior legal or clerkship experience? If he wants top 10% grades, and I'm like, .03 off that mark, still an auto ding even with the clerkship? I know there's not likely a real answer to this question and it varies from chambers to chambers, but I'm bored, curious, and desperate to return to clerking.

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Lavitz
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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby Lavitz » Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:20 am

I highly doubt most judges who say that they prefer top 10% grades will auto-reject someone for being, say, top 12% instead, especially when you have prior clerking experience. That is, as long as they see your application. Biggest problem I see is that they may use OSCAR to filter out anyone below top 10%. I'd submit paper apps where possible.

Prior experience will probably help with many judges, but some judges or their clerks may also think it's weird that you'd want to do a second clerkship on the same level. And if you provide the same answer you just provided in the OP, saying that it's just because you don't like practicing litigation, I'm not sure how enthusiastic they'd be about hiring you.

I also don't see much utility in doing a second district court clerkship. I think you're competitive for COA clerkships, but even then, I'm not sure how valuable it would be to you if you actually don't want to practice in litigation anymore, which is what it sounds like. Obviously, it would provide a one-year respite from practice, and maybe that's all you're interested in, which is fine. But if you actually want to get out of litigation practice altogether, I think you should also consider what you want to do instead and whether a second clerkship is really going to help with that. If you really think that clerking is the only thing you could enjoy, maybe consider looking for a career clerk position instead of just another one-year term? Or investigate other practice areas or other jobs besides private practice and clerking.

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:52 am

All I'll say is I'm arranging interviews rn and you would have been a very competitive applicant in my pile specifically because of the prior D. Ct. and practice experience + what I and my Judge would see as very solid paper stats (I thought t10%ish at a T20 is pretty competitive for clerkships? Did you really overachieve that much in getting the first one?). I'd think you'll get bites. But as you know hiring is very idiosyncratic and some Judges/clerks really don't give a shit beyond t5% or whatever, whether out of a need to cull the pile or some self-perpetuating batshit belief that it actually matters.

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:12 am

This is OP. I appreciate the thoughtful replies. With respect to first post, I certainly would formulate a better reason for clerking again than I don't like private practice. But do you really think judge and staff would be offput by one seeking a second clerkship at the same level? I really just enjoyed the experience so much and love legal research. I would love to be a career clerk one day.

To second post, the only reason I felt so lucky to receive first clerkship was because I transferred from a ttt school where I had, admittedly, very good grades (top 5-6%).

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Lavitz
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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby Lavitz » Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:40 am

Anonymous User wrote:This is OP. I appreciate the thoughtful replies. With respect to first post, I certainly would formulate a better reason for clerking again than I don't like private practice. But do you really think judge and staff would be offput by one seeking a second clerkship at the same level? I really just enjoyed the experience so much and love legal research. I would love to be a career clerk one day.

To second post, the only reason I felt so lucky to receive first clerkship was because I transferred from a ttt school where I had, admittedly, very good grades (top 5-6%).

Not necessarily offput, but in my chambers, we definitely would think it's out of the ordinary and want to know why you're applying. We also liked giving clerkships to those whose career goals would be advanced by the clerkship. We'd be skeptical of how a clerkship with us would do that if you already had one on the same level. But obviously this will differ by chambers. I'm sure many judges won't care that much. Just giving you a heads up.

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:53 am

There will likely be judges who will be thrilled to get an experienced clerk, though I think having a reason for doing a second one at the same level will be helpful. Honestly I might just tell them I'm interested in clerking permanently (as long as you make clear you don't expect it to be for them/understand the current clerkship is a term one).

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 18, 2017 12:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:This is OP. I appreciate the thoughtful replies. With respect to first post, I certainly would formulate a better reason for clerking again than I don't like private practice. But do you really think judge and staff would be offput by one seeking a second clerkship at the same level? I really just enjoyed the experience so much and love legal research. I would love to be a career clerk one day.

To second post, the only reason I felt so lucky to receive first clerkship was because I transferred from a ttt school where I had, admittedly, very good grades (top 5-6%).


If you really want to be a career clerk, then I strongly suggest that you just look for and apply for career clerkships. For one thing, I think clerkship applicants look more attractive when they seem to have an idea of what they're doing in life, and you don't look like you know what you're doing if you're just applying for multiple term clerkships at the same level. For another thing, if you do more than one term clerkship and then try applying for a career clerkship, it's going to raise some eyebrows (or at least it would in my chambers). It'll look like your goal all along was to get a career clerkship but that you weren't able to convince any of the other judges you clerked for to hire you long-term, which is a real negative for your application. This may not be a fair assumption, but it's what at least some hiring chambers are going to think.

You should really figure out what your long-term goals are and then do what you need to do to pursue those goals. Otherwise, you might shoot yourself in the foot by doing something that seems good in the short term but will hurt your chances in the long term.

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:59 pm

In my chambers it would not be a bump at all and would probably be a negative. We'd need to see a very good explanation for why someone wanted to clerk again, and generally we're not too interested in clerks with prior clerking experience.

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby Jwood » Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:56 pm

In my chamber's it would be a BIG PLUS. I think it would be a big plus for about half the judges in my district also. About half the judges in my district seem to want experience, especially prior clerkship experience. I have even seen judges in the district explicitly say in postings that they prefer prior clerkship experience.

It seems that most federal judges here are swamped in work and want experienced clerks. I believe that all 12 or so judges in the district have a career clerk, and most would take two if it was still allowed.

I also think that the judges that want experienced clerks may be a little less interested in the mentoring aspect.

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:01 pm

OP here

Thanks for all the insight. I never considered that it might look bad applying for a second district clerkship--especially when so many seem clerkship experience.

I'll focus on longer term clerkships and see what I can find out wrt career clerk positions, which seem rare.

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby lolwat » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here

Thanks for all the insight. I never considered that it might look bad applying for a second district clerkship--especially when so many seem clerkship experience.

I'll focus on longer term clerkships and see what I can find out wrt career clerk positions, which seem rare.


It's generally a plus but yes it's not across the board.

Career clerk positions are rare but sometimes do show up on OSCAR. Might be easier to network and see if you can find anything out via word of mouth. The problem, of course, is that judges who want career clerks often already have one, and since they're career clerks, they're not exactly looking to leave anytime soon. :) Could always be worthwhile to, as Nony said, mention to any judge you're interviewing with that you're interested in clerking permanently. You can make clear you understand the clerkship you're applying for is a term one, but sometime during your clerkship you can still approach your judge with the idea.

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby Laser Lady » Sat Aug 19, 2017 2:05 am

I agree with lolwat and would add that, if you had a good relationship with the judge you clerked for last year, he or she might be a good place to start with the networking process.

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby mjb447 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:29 am

Agree that networking is key, or at least that OSCAR isn't likely to get you a career position. Hiring a career clerk is even more important to get right than hiring a term clerk, so judges tend to go with known quantities, often meaning former term clerks of theirs or of judges they trust.

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Re: how much bump does previous clerkship give for second district clerkship app?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:53 am

Yeah, all the career clerks I know had formerly clerked for judges in the same courthouse as where they ended up career clerking (sometimes they'd already been career clerks).




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