Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

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Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:26 pm

I'm a relatively new AUSA in a large city but not a hyper competitive district. I'm between 3-5 years out from law school.

Before this, I worked at a very well regarded DC boutique, not an elite like W&C or Kellogg Huber, but still well regarded. Got lucky getting to the boutique which is what helped me get to my current AUSA job. I don't have great law school stats -- top 1/3 of my t20 and some decent extra currics but nothing crazy (published 1 article in an T6 main journal, EIC of secondary journal, Mock trial champ). I definitely out performed my academic stats up to this point.

I think if I clerked, I could come back to my current position (not guaranteed but I'm well liked so I think its very likely assuming an opening). I wouldn't do this until after my 3 year commitment ends.

My medium-term goal is to get to be an AUSA at a competitive district (think NDCA, SDNY, EDNY, NDIL, CDCA, where I'm from).

Should I still clerk?

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby FascinatedWanderer » Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:27 pm

I'm not an expert at all on this type of situation, but my gut is that there's little value to clerking at this point.

If for some reason your credentials are lacking, picking up a clerkship at this late stage isn't going to give you a boost for districts like SDNY (unless of course it's an SDNY judge who's plugged in to the USAO there; similar for other districts).

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby quiver » Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:00 pm

FascinatedWanderer wrote:I'm not an expert at all on this type of situation, but my gut is that there's little value to clerking at this point.

If for some reason your credentials are lacking, picking up a clerkship at this late stage isn't going to give you a boost for districts like SDNY (unless of course it's an SDNY judge who's plugged in to the USAO there; similar for other districts).

Agreed. If you're already an AUSA, I think the best thing you can do to get into a more competitive district is to amass as much experience in your current office as you can.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby mjb447 » Sun Oct 08, 2017 3:07 pm

I agree with others - unless the judge has a special in with an office (that he's also willing to use for you, which is probably hard to know in advance and maybe not that common), I think you'd be better off continuing with your current AUSA gig so that you have that many more "here's why I'm a great AUSA" angles.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:27 pm

lol. You're already an AUSA, but you want to be in an AUSA in a competitive district? Why?

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:lol. You're already an AUSA, but you want to be in an AUSA in a competitive district? Why?

OP wants to move to the district where she (or he) is from. It's right there in the post.

ETA: this is runinthefront. Idk why this posted anon.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Lincoln » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:41 pm

What is a “senior lawyer”? Are you talking about clerking for a senior district court judge?

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Nebby » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:47 pm

Lincoln wrote:What is a “senior lawyer”? Are you talking about clerking for a senior district court judge?

OP is a senior lawyer. The OP title is confusing, but if you took the time to read the first post, you'd understand.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:52 pm

Thanks for the responses all. General consensus seems to be that clerking would be little value.

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:lol. You're already an AUSA, but you want to be in an AUSA in a competitive district? Why?

OP wants to move to the district where she (or he) is from. It's right there in the post.

ETA: this is runinthefront. Idk why this posted anon.


+1

Nebby wrote:
Lincoln wrote:What is a “senior lawyer”? Are you talking about clerking for a senior district court judge?

OP is a senior lawyer. The OP title is confusing, but if you took the time to read the first post, you'd understand.


also +1, and agreed -- sorry for confusing title.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Lincoln » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:07 pm

Nebby wrote:
Lincoln wrote:What is a “senior lawyer”? Are you talking about clerking for a senior district court judge?

OP is a senior lawyer. The OP title is confusing, but if you took the time to read the first post, you'd understand.


I did read the first post. I just didn’t connect 3-5 years’ experience with being a “senior lawyer,” so I wanted to make sure I understood the ask. I clerked for a senior district judge, so that’s why I was asking if that was OP’s question.

As to your question, OP, I agree that a clerkship probably isn’t worth it. On the margins, a judge in your home district may be able to pull strings to get you in the door, but the chances of that happening isn’t worth a year, imo. Unless you really want to clerk, of course.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:lol. You're already an AUSA, but you want to be in an AUSA in a competitive district? Why?

OP wants to move to the district where she (or he) is from. It's right there in the post.

ETA: this is runinthefront. Idk why this posted anon.


Oh I read it as he wanted to move to a competitive district and was just naming examples and one happened to be EDCA where op was from. If he’s looking to move to his home office then that makes sense.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby lolwat » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:41 pm

Lincoln wrote:
Nebby wrote:
Lincoln wrote:What is a “senior lawyer”? Are you talking about clerking for a senior district court judge?

OP is a senior lawyer. The OP title is confusing, but if you took the time to read the first post, you'd understand.


I did read the first post. I just didn’t connect 3-5 years’ experience with being a “senior lawyer,” so I wanted to make sure I understood the ask. I clerked for a senior district judge, so that’s why I was asking if that was OP’s question.

As to your question, OP, I agree that a clerkship probably isn’t worth it. On the margins, a judge in your home district may be able to pull strings to get you in the door, but the chances of that happening isn’t worth a year, imo. Unless you really want to clerk, of course.


The original post was a little all over the place, but it seemed to me that he was saying he's currently 3-5 years out, but wouldn't clerk until his 3-year commitment to his AUSA job ends, so basically he'd be 6-8 years by the time he clerks. (And depending on the clerkship hiring cycle, it could be even farther out than that.)

As for OP's question, I'd also say there's little value. But if it's something you're interested in, and you somehow can lock in a position back at your current AUSA office after the clerkship (no idea if that's allowed for govt jobs like AUSA) so you're not facing a whole lot of risk, then maybe a COA clerkship or a D.Ct. clerkship in the district you want to end up in would be okay. A COA clerkship might help if you're looking at trying to get in the appellate division of the AUSA office, but I'm not sure.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a relatively new AUSA in a large city but not a hyper competitive district. I'm between 3-5 years out from law school.

Before this, I worked at a very well regarded DC boutique, not an elite like W&C or Kellogg Huber, but still well regarded. Got lucky getting to the boutique which is what helped me get to my current AUSA job. I don't have great law school stats -- top 1/3 of my t20 and some decent extra currics but nothing crazy (published 1 article in an T6 main journal, EIC of secondary journal, Mock trial champ). I definitely out performed my academic stats up to this point.

I think if I clerked, I could come back to my current position (not guaranteed but I'm well liked so I think its very likely assuming an opening). I wouldn't do this until after my 3 year commitment ends.

My medium-term goal is to get to be an AUSA at a competitive district (think NDCA, SDNY, EDNY, NDIL, CDCA, where I'm from).

Should I still clerk?


Did you already clerk? I only ask because working at a lit boutique and being an AUSA in a large city often are the two jobs that require clerking. In any event, clerking adds almost zero value to your future career prospects now that you're (presumably) a trial attorney in federal court. You can try lateraling directly into the AUSA office you want to be in or going to a firm in that city for a year and then trying to lateral in.

If I were you, I'd talk to the powers that be after year 2 and see if they'll let you break your commitment without any bad blood if you'd lateral to another USAO. It's not like you're breaking the commitment to lateral to a firm. The reason I am saying this is because if you're too senior, you'll be a really expensive hire for the USAO (each office has an independent budget for hires) and it could sink your chances. It is really difficult to get any USAO to hire line assistants any more than 6 years out.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a relatively new AUSA in a large city but not a hyper competitive district. I'm between 3-5 years out from law school.

Before this, I worked at a very well regarded DC boutique, not an elite like W&C or Kellogg Huber, but still well regarded. Got lucky getting to the boutique which is what helped me get to my current AUSA job. I don't have great law school stats -- top 1/3 of my t20 and some decent extra currics but nothing crazy (published 1 article in an T6 main journal, EIC of secondary journal, Mock trial champ). I definitely out performed my academic stats up to this point.

I think if I clerked, I could come back to my current position (not guaranteed but I'm well liked so I think its very likely assuming an opening). I wouldn't do this until after my 3 year commitment ends.

My medium-term goal is to get to be an AUSA at a competitive district (think NDCA, SDNY, EDNY, NDIL, CDCA, where I'm from).

Should I still clerk?


Did you already clerk? I only ask because working at a lit boutique and being an AUSA in a large city often are the two jobs that require clerking. In any event, clerking adds almost zero value to your future career prospects now that you're (presumably) a trial attorney in federal court. You can try lateraling directly into the AUSA office you want to be in or going to a firm in that city for a year and then trying to lateral in.

If I were you, I'd talk to the powers that be after year 2 and see if they'll let you break your commitment without any bad blood if you'd lateral to another USAO. It's not like you're breaking the commitment to lateral to a firm. The reason I am saying this is because if you're too senior, you'll be a really expensive hire for the USAO (each office has an independent budget for hires) and it could sink your chances. It is really difficult to get any USAO to hire line assistants any more than 6 years out.


I'm not sure this is true for all offices. I've seen the USAOs in CA regularly hire people more than 6 years out, both from inside and outside of the DOJ.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:27 am

I've also seen a number of AUSA hires of people more than 6 years out, but admittedly not at one of the major offices the OP originally cites - more "flyover" districts that hire a lot of state prosecutors.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:I've also seen a number of AUSA hires of people more than 6 years out, but admittedly not at one of the major offices the OP originally cites - more "flyover" districts that hire a lot of state prosecutors.


Well, it's happened more than once in both CDCA and NDCA in the last 2 years.

OP: My sense is that internal DOJ transfers are driven more by supervisory connections (and recommendations) than anything else.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:36 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I've also seen a number of AUSA hires of people more than 6 years out, but admittedly not at one of the major offices the OP originally cites - more "flyover" districts that hire a lot of state prosecutors.


Well, it's happened more than once in both CDCA and NDCA in the last 2 years.

OP: My sense is that internal DOJ transfers are driven more by supervisory connections (and recommendations) than anything else.

Oh to be clear, I wasn't contesting that such hires had happened in CDCA and NDCA, just saying I didn't have experience with that.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:52 pm

Thanks all. Seems like the general sentiment weighs heavily towards forgoing the clerkship. I think my concern is basically how there are always those people saying things like "for [insert competitive USAO district], a clerkship is essentially mandatory." I think I literally just saw a thread/post in the "Legal Employment" forum where someone said something like that for SDNY/NDCA.

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a relatively new AUSA in a large city but not a hyper competitive district. I'm between 3-5 years out from law school.

Before this, I worked at a very well regarded DC boutique, not an elite like W&C or Kellogg Huber, but still well regarded. Got lucky getting to the boutique which is what helped me get to my current AUSA job. I don't have great law school stats -- top 1/3 of my t20 and some decent extra currics but nothing crazy (published 1 article in an T6 main journal, EIC of secondary journal, Mock trial champ). I definitely out performed my academic stats up to this point.

I think if I clerked, I could come back to my current position (not guaranteed but I'm well liked so I think its very likely assuming an opening). I wouldn't do this until after my 3 year commitment ends.

My medium-term goal is to get to be an AUSA at a competitive district (think NDCA, SDNY, EDNY, NDIL, CDCA, where I'm from).

Should I still clerk?


Did you already clerk? I only ask because working at a lit boutique and being an AUSA in a large city often are the two jobs that require clerking. In any event, clerking adds almost zero value to your future career prospects now that you're (presumably) a trial attorney in federal court. You can try lateraling directly into the AUSA office you want to be in or going to a firm in that city for a year and then trying to lateral in.

If I were you, I'd talk to the powers that be after year 2 and see if they'll let you break your commitment without any bad blood if you'd lateral to another USAO. It's not like you're breaking the commitment to lateral to a firm. The reason I am saying this is because if you're too senior, you'll be a really expensive hire for the USAO (each office has an independent budget for hires) and it could sink your chances. It is really difficult to get any USAO to hire line assistants any more than 6 years out.


Nope, never clerked. Law school -> DC Boutique -> current AUSA

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby FascinatedWanderer » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:12 am

I think I just posted that in the legal employment forum. And certainly for SDNY, it is true. For SDNY specifically, and maybe some other districts, you may just have to accept that the transfer likely isn't going to happen.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:34 am

FascinatedWanderer wrote:I think I just posted that in the legal employment forum. And certainly for SDNY, it is true. For SDNY specifically, and maybe some other districts, you may just have to accept that the transfer likely isn't going to happen.


Why? I know AUSAs that have transferred from other districts to SDNY.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:00 am

FascinatedWanderer wrote:I think I just posted that in the legal employment forum. And certainly for SDNY, it is true. For SDNY specifically, and maybe some other districts, you may just have to accept that the transfer likely isn't going to happen.


Thanks, didn't realize that was you. Can you walk me through your thought process? Do you think that whatever soft/hard requirement that SDNY, etc. has for applicants with clerking experience isn't met with clerking as more a senior lawyer?

I also realize, after re-reading your posts, that you caveated your phrase in the LE forum with "basically." So are you thinking that my chances, however small, are greater nonetheless with a direct transfer instead of the clerkship?

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:13 pm

The "basically" is because I do know a handful (less than a handful really) of SDNY AUSAs who never clerked. They mostly came from biglaw though. I think one came from main justice, which is why I think transferring would be a possibility.

I know the transfer process can be brutal though. Out in NDCA, AUSAs from other districts are very often not even interviewed when they apply to transfer.

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Re: Is there value to clerking for senior lawyers?

Postby FascinatedWanderer » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:25 pm

That was an accidental anon, that's me above.

My thinking (in addition to the above) is that frankly SDNY is very much a churn and burn office. People stay for much shorter stints than at most other offices. And the hiring path is pretty well worn-- pretty young lawyers with super fancy credentials, who'll come for a few years and then leave. They might not really know what to do with an applicant like you. And SDNY places a very high premium on the way that they do things. I got the sense that coming off of a clerkship, they'd much prefer a newbie who they can mold who hasn't picked up bad habits from another office.

But, if you get senior enough/high profile enough in your current office, I think there's a better chance of not being lumped in with all the other standard post-clerk applicants.




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