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Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:25 pm
by donkeyteeth2017
Does a bankruptcy clerkship help your chances of subsequently clerking for a District Ct. or COA judge? Has anyone here made this move before?

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:31 pm
by lavarman84

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:51 am
by FascinatedWanderer
It also depends on the district. Frankly, many bankruptcy judges aren't well regarded-- even in what would be considered major districts.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:54 pm
by Anonymous User
OP here.

"Frankly, many bankruptcy judges aren't well regarded-- even in what would be considered major districts."

That's a pretty broad generalization. What makes you say that?

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:13 pm
by FascinatedWanderer
Anonymous User wrote:OP here.

"Frankly, many bankruptcy judges aren't well regarded-- even in what would be considered major districts."

That's a pretty broad generalization. What makes you say that?


I'm clerking in one of the biggest districts in the country and the district judges here are very open that they don't think highly of the bankruptcy court.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:18 pm
by Anonymous User
.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:22 pm
by FascinatedWanderer
Anonymous User wrote:That's anecdotal though. Maybe it's just the Dist. judges in your district who have these opinions


Yes, that's obviously anecdotal-- I'm just giving a heads up about something that may well be true. And even if that's only my district, you're talking about dozens of district court judges.

Look, you obviously don't have the credentials currently for a district court, and potentially a bankruptcy clerkship could give you a leg up, all I'm saying is be careful.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:25 pm
by Anonymous User
Well you're wrong about my credentials. Careful with those assumptions

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:21 pm
by lavarman84
Anonymous User wrote:Well you're wrong about my credentials. Careful with those assumptions


If you have the credentials, why do you need the bankruptcy clerkship?

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:57 pm
by MichelleMichelle
FascinatedWanderer wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here.

"Frankly, many bankruptcy judges aren't well regarded-- even in what would be considered major districts."

That's a pretty broad generalization. What makes you say that?


I'm clerking in one of the biggest districts in the country and the district judges here are very open that they don't think highly of the bankruptcy court.



I'm curious about this statement. I am a current Bankruptcy clerk in a small district (so definitely not your district). Is the attitude that the Bankruptcy judges are bad? Or that the Bankruptcy court is bad? In a place like, say, Chicago, the court just doesn't get that many big cases, so it is perceived as less interesting than Bankruptcy Courts in DE, SDNY, etc. That doesn't mean the judges themselves are poorly regarded. Also, how openly discussed is this attitude? I would find it strange for judges to openly diss their colleagues.

As far as OP's question-- I know someone who clerked for a bankruptcy judge, then went to a district judge. She actually preferred clerking in bankruptcy, but obviously the DC clerkship is perceived as more prestigious. But, as has been mentioned already, if you have the credentials for a DC clerkship and want to do that, then why bother with Bankruptcy?

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:21 pm
by los blancos
FascinatedWanderer wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here.

"Frankly, many bankruptcy judges aren't well regarded-- even in what would be considered major districts."

That's a pretty broad generalization. What makes you say that?


I'm clerking in one of the biggest districts in the country and the district judges here are very open that they don't think highly of the bankruptcy court.


you're being kind of a dick here

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:22 pm
by los blancos
MichelleMichelle wrote: if you have the credentials for a DC clerkship and want to do that, then why bother with Bankruptcy?


if you want to practice BK, you take something like D. Del. or S.D.N.Y. BK over the most preftigious district judge in the country. Every time.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:40 pm
by FascinatedWanderer
The attitude is more "we have to take a harder look at bankruptcy appeals because we don't entirely trust the work product that comes out of those chambers."

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:45 pm
by A. Nony Mouse
So, to generalize wildly, in my district court the judges didn't like getting bankruptcy stuff because it was a whole bunch of stuff they weren't very familiar with, but didn't have any problem with the bk court/bk judges.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:37 pm
by MichelleMichelle
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Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:30 am
by rpupkin
MichelleMichelle wrote:There is a wide gap between that, and saying (as someone else in this thread did) that "many bankruptcy judges aren't well regarded."

I don't have strong feelings on this topic, but I'll bother to note that, whereas AIII judges are nominated and confirmed by the political branches, bankruptcy judges are selected by the COA judges of the Circuit in which the bankruptcy judges sit. So I am a little skeptical of the notion that bankruptcy judges aren't respected by the other federal judges in the region.

Having said that, I don't think that clerking for a bankruptcy judge is the way to go if you're trying to improve your chances at a district court clerkship. It has nothing to do with the quality of the judges; it has to do with the fact that clerking for a speciality court (whether we're talking about bankruptcy court or CIT or tax court or whatever) is generally poor preparation for a clerkship with a court that has more varied subject-matter jurisdiction.

If you want to practice in a niche area like bankruptcy, then go clerk for a bankruptcy judge and start practicing bankruptcy law. If you don't want to do that, then don't clerk for a bankruptcy judge.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:43 am
by radio1nowhere
Anonymous User wrote:Well you're wrong about my credentials. Careful with those assumptions

If you already have the credentials, you don't need to do a bankruptcy clerkship to "help your chances."

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:32 pm
by FascinatedWanderer
rpupkin wrote:
MichelleMichelle wrote:There is a wide gap between that, and saying (as someone else in this thread did) that "many bankruptcy judges aren't well regarded."

I don't have strong feelings on this topic, but I'll bother to note that, whereas AIII judges are nominated and confirmed by the political branches, bankruptcy judges are selected by the COA judges of the Circuit in which the bankruptcy judges sit. So I am a little skeptical of the notion that bankruptcy judges aren't respected by the other federal judges in the region.

Having said that, I don't think that clerking for a bankruptcy judge is the way to go if you're trying to improve your chances at a district court clerkship. It has nothing to do with the quality of the judges; it has to do with the fact that clerking for a speciality court (whether we're talking about bankruptcy court or CIT or tax court or whatever) is generally poor preparation for a clerkship with a court that has more varied subject-matter jurisdiction.

If you want to practice in a niche area like bankruptcy, then go clerk for a bankruptcy judge and start practicing bankruptcy law. If you don't want to do that, then don't clerk for a bankruptcy judge.


I'm not trying to say that they go around openly disrespecting them. Just that I've heard multiple judges make offhand comments like "double check the bankruptcy opinion below, many times they don't get it right."

I've never heard that sort of comment about the mags in our district, so I think maybe the bankruptcy judges here maybe are a bit sloppy.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:37 pm
by Anonymous User
MichelleMichelle wrote:
Also, how openly discussed is this attitude? I would find it strange for judges to openly diss their colleagues.



As someone clerking on a federal district court, I can tell you it isn't strange at all to hear a judge "diss" their colleagues. The fact of the matter is that some judges are intellectual lightweights and/or care so little about their work-product that they rightfully earn bad reputations. For example: my district relies heavily on magistrate judges to produce R&Rs on certain referred motions, and there are some who are so notoriously bad that we basically never credit what they produce. On the flipside, there are some that are so unbelievably good that their R&Rs are given particular deference. My judge, and other judges, communicate those impressions quite clearly to their staff.

Judges are people, and they form strong opinions about their colleagues just like any other workplace.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:26 pm
by rpupkin
FascinatedWanderer wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
MichelleMichelle wrote:There is a wide gap between that, and saying (as someone else in this thread did) that "many bankruptcy judges aren't well regarded."

I don't have strong feelings on this topic, but I'll bother to note that, whereas AIII judges are nominated and confirmed by the political branches, bankruptcy judges are selected by the COA judges of the Circuit in which the bankruptcy judges sit. So I am a little skeptical of the notion that bankruptcy judges aren't respected by the other federal judges in the region.

Having said that, I don't think that clerking for a bankruptcy judge is the way to go if you're trying to improve your chances at a district court clerkship. It has nothing to do with the quality of the judges; it has to do with the fact that clerking for a speciality court (whether we're talking about bankruptcy court or CIT or tax court or whatever) is generally poor preparation for a clerkship with a court that has more varied subject-matter jurisdiction.

If you want to practice in a niche area like bankruptcy, then go clerk for a bankruptcy judge and start practicing bankruptcy law. If you don't want to do that, then don't clerk for a bankruptcy judge.


I'm not trying to say that they go around openly disrespecting them. Just that I've heard multiple judges make offhand comments like "double check the bankruptcy opinion below, many times they don't get it right."

That's basically how COA judges talk about district court judges. Yet COA judges still hire district-court clerks.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:50 pm
by FascinatedWanderer
rpupkin wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
MichelleMichelle wrote:There is a wide gap between that, and saying (as someone else in this thread did) that "many bankruptcy judges aren't well regarded."

I don't have strong feelings on this topic, but I'll bother to note that, whereas AIII judges are nominated and confirmed by the political branches, bankruptcy judges are selected by the COA judges of the Circuit in which the bankruptcy judges sit. So I am a little skeptical of the notion that bankruptcy judges aren't respected by the other federal judges in the region.

Having said that, I don't think that clerking for a bankruptcy judge is the way to go if you're trying to improve your chances at a district court clerkship. It has nothing to do with the quality of the judges; it has to do with the fact that clerking for a speciality court (whether we're talking about bankruptcy court or CIT or tax court or whatever) is generally poor preparation for a clerkship with a court that has more varied subject-matter jurisdiction.

If you want to practice in a niche area like bankruptcy, then go clerk for a bankruptcy judge and start practicing bankruptcy law. If you don't want to do that, then don't clerk for a bankruptcy judge.


I'm not trying to say that they go around openly disrespecting them. Just that I've heard multiple judges make offhand comments like "double check the bankruptcy opinion below, many times they don't get it right."

That's basically how COA judges talk about district court judges. Yet COA judges still hire district-court clerks.


Sure, but that's an inapt comparison for a number of reasons (and I'm sure you know that and are just being a bit flippant).

First, institutionally the difference between District Courts and Circuits is that we're essentially meant to get things wrong once in a while. The docket is so slammed that we have to churn through and don't have huge amounts of time to devote to tough legal issues. Not so for Bankruptcy- it's a specialized court whose only job is to get this sort of thing right.

Second, there's a huge degree of overlap in the strength of D.Ct. clerks and CoA clerks. Not only are they of similar caliber, but they're often literally the same people. Not so for bankruptcy- while some might choose it bc of the specialized nature of the work, it's indisputable that generally speaking those clerks are less qualified than district court clerks. That's an explanation for less adequate decisions in a way entirely distinct from the structural disconnect D. Ct.s and CoAs have.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:53 pm
by A. Nony Mouse
FascinatedWanderer wrote:Not so for bankruptcy- while some might choose it bc of the specialized nature of the work, it's indisputable that generally speaking those clerks are less qualified than district court clerks.

Eh, not at all convinced of this.

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:56 pm
by FascinatedWanderer
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:Not so for bankruptcy- while some might choose it bc of the specialized nature of the work, it's indisputable that generally speaking those clerks are less qualified than district court clerks.

Eh, not at all convinced of this.


That's fair, I suppose. But at my school we have lots of top 10% types going into District Courts and CoAs, but literally none into bankruptcy courts. Maybe also SDNY/D. Del. get very good clerks, but I find it hard to believe that strong students would do bankruptcy in any other district- why deal with small beans personal bankruptcies for a year while getting paid less and getting no employment boost?

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:59 pm
by A. Nony Mouse
Because they want to go into bankruptcy work.

Also I should probably specify that by "qualified" I mean "good at the work," not "has a particular academic pedigree."

Re: Bk clerkship > D.Ct. or COA clerkship?

Posted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:05 pm
by rpupkin
FascinatedWanderer wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:Not so for bankruptcy- while some might choose it bc of the specialized nature of the work, it's indisputable that generally speaking those clerks are less qualified than district court clerks.

Eh, not at all convinced of this.


That's fair, I suppose. But at my school we have lots of top 10% types going into District Courts and CoAs, but literally none into bankruptcy courts. Maybe also SDNY/D. Del. get very good clerks, but I find it hard to believe that strong students would do bankruptcy in any other district- why deal with small beans personal bankruptcies for a year while getting paid less and getting no employment boost?

"Indisputable," "literally none" . . . do you work in the registrar's office of your law school? How are you getting the access to the kind of granular data you would need to support these statements?

This is why COA judges are so skeptical of the judgments of district courts--it's hard to trust opinions drafted by clerks with a penchant for unfounded certainty. :D