Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

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Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:43 pm

I worry that my chances at a COA clerkship are nil. I am around 25-30% at CCN, on law review (wrote on, I imagine), and I think I can get 3 or 4 pretty strong recommendations. The issue is that my grades were just not strong enough first year. And now I am starting to get nervous because all of my classmates have sent in their applications, and many of them are interviewing with judges already. I fear that I may be missing (or have missed) the boat.

I decided to hold off on applying until after I get enough semester of grades under my belt (so that, hopefully, I can squeeze my way into the top 20%). My plan is also to apply to district court judges for 19-20, and then apply to COA judges once I have, at least, one semester of 2L grades back.

I am getting a bit of traction at the district level, but the conversations I have had with folks about COA have been quite discouraging. This is where your advice would be very useful. Do folks suggest that: (1) I send in my apps ASAP and see what happens, (2) take another semester and try to improve my transcript, (3) apply to district court judges asap and then wait until I get my 2L grades to apply to COA judges, or (4) just go straight to a firm.

Please be as honest as possible. Thanks in advance for the advice!

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Lincoln

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby Lincoln » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:49 pm

Why do you want to clerk on COA but not district court?

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby KingWolf72 » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:54 pm

Lincoln wrote:Why do you want to clerk on COA but not district court?
Last edited by KingWolf72 on Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:55 pm

KingWolf72 wrote:
Lincoln wrote:Why do you want to clerk on COA but not district court?


Sorry for not being clear. I do want to clerk at the district level, but I would also like to clerk for a COA judge. If possible, I'd like to clerk for the district judge first and then the COA judge the following year.

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby Lincoln » Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
KingWolf72 wrote:
Lincoln wrote:Why do you want to clerk on COA but not district court?


Sorry for not being clear. I do want to clerk at the district level, but I would also like to clerk for a COA judge. If possible, I'd like to clerk for the district judge first and then the COA judge the following year.


Then option 3 seems like the obvious choice. Many (most?) district judges have hired for 2019-20, so you're looking at taking a year off anyway.

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby radio1nowhere » Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:26 pm

Lincoln wrote:Many (most?) district judges have hired for 2019-20, so you're looking at taking a year off anyway.


....?????? Absolutely not even close to the case. The substantial majority of district judges have not hired for 19-20.

If you mean that many/most of SDNY judges have hired, that's true. But I didn't see anything in OP's post about going SDNY or bust, which is a tricky proposition for anyone, especially if you're pretty well outside the top 10%.

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:26 am

OP here, thanks for the feedback guys. I'm definitely not looking exclusively at SDNY or any of the other ultra-competitive district courts.

My worry is that my 1L grades preclude me from COA clerkships opportunities for 2020-2021. That is mainly why I chose to wait for at least another semester of grades. That way, I can apply for those positions with a stronger transcript. It seems to me that top 25-30% (CCN) is right (or maybe a ways) outside of the line of plausibility for COA clerkships. But the process is a bit of a blackbox, and I'm not sure if I'm totally off.

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby quiver » Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here, thanks for the feedback guys. I'm definitely not looking exclusively at SDNY or any of the other ultra-competitive district courts.

My worry is that my 1L grades preclude me from COA clerkships opportunities for 2020-2021. That is mainly why I chose to wait for at least another semester of grades. That way, I can apply for those positions with a stronger transcript. It seems to me that top 25-30% (CCN) is right (or maybe a ways) outside of the line of plausibility for COA clerkships. But the process is a bit of a blackbox, and I'm not sure if I'm totally off.
Without post-law school WE and/or some unnaturally strong connection, those grades are not very competitive for COA clerkships in my experience. That said, it doesn't take much effort to apply if you're already gathering materials for dct clerkships anyway. Just apply to every clerkship you'd take and keep applying until it either pans out, or you feel like you're too senior to clerk. A district court clerkship, other WE, and higher grades will help in the long run too.

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby jrf12886 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:25 pm

There is really no harm in applying for COA clerkships now. I agree its unlikely that you will get any interviews with your current grades, but it cannot hurt. You can reapply later, when hopefully you will have a D. Ct clerkship, better grades, or some work experience.

Also, I think many judges are hired or are currently hiring for 2019 so get your apps out ASAP. Some judges have even started to hire for 2020.

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby mjb447 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:09 pm

Yeah, I'd apply for COA now too even though your odds aren't great just because the risk is zero/low and you'll have your materials together anyway.

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:13 am

I got a COA clerkship--and several interviews--after being in the top 25% but not top 10% after 2L at NYU (and I was barely above median my 1L year) and writing on to law review. So I think a COA clerkship in a major city--e.g., Philly or Nashville--is definitely possible with those stats if you're willing to look outside the 2/9/DC circuits, although it may be easier w/ a year of work experience (esp. as a district clerk). Softs/calls can definitely make a difference, but don't rule yourself out based on those grades.

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I worry that my chances at a COA clerkship are nil. I am around 25-30% at CCN, on law review (wrote on, I imagine), and I think I can get 3 or 4 pretty strong recommendations. The issue is that my grades were just not strong enough first year. And now I am starting to get nervous because all of my classmates have sent in their applications, and many of them are interviewing with judges already. I fear that I may be missing (or have missed) the boat.

I decided to hold off on applying until after I get enough semester of grades under my belt (so that, hopefully, I can squeeze my way into the top 20%). My plan is also to apply to district court judges for 19-20, and then apply to COA judges once I have, at least, one semester of 2L grades back.

I am getting a bit of traction at the district level, but the conversations I have had with folks about COA have been quite discouraging. This is where your advice would be very useful. Do folks suggest that: (1) I send in my apps ASAP and see what happens, (2) take another semester and try to improve my transcript, (3) apply to district court judges asap and then wait until I get my 2L grades to apply to COA judges, or (4) just go straight to a firm.

Please be as honest as possible. Thanks in advance for the advice!


I was probably around top 20% at HYS, non-LR. For me, the key was DCt clerkship in competitive DCt (SDNY/DDC/NDCA/CDCA) within the competitive COA (2/9/DC) I was targeting. Aced the DCt clerkship and got a LoR from DCt judge asserting I was their strongest-ever clerk in the past couple decades. The COA clerkship (in one of the circuits mentioned above, active judge) was easy to land after that. If you've got time for DCt --> COA, just target that and kick ass at your first clerkship. Of course, don't hold back from applying to COA directly either.

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Re: Clerkship Conundrum (Should I wait or should I go?)

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:15 pm

After 1L, I was top third - maybe - at my lower T14. Waited for a semester of 2L grades to bump me into top 20%-25%. Figured I had no chance at COA, but applied anyway, because what the hell? Got an offer a few months later. Don't count yourself out.



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