What's the worst that can come out of a federal appellate clerkship?

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What's the worst that can come out of a federal appellate clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:30 pm

I potentially will have an offer from a judge who, at least in the past, has been met with some skepticism over his/her associations with various groups. I think my inclination is that if you get an offer from a federal appellate judge, you MUST take it, without any hesitation. But, just so I can ponder this a little bit, does anybody know of clerks who have had difficulty post-clerkship specifically because of their judge's reputation? I am particularly worried because I do not have elite credentials that I could fall back on if this were to be the case.

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Re: What's the worst that can come out of a federal appellate clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:46 pm

I can’t think of any COA judges who fit these parameters. Kozinski was a well known creepoid douchebag and his clerks continued to have promising, brilliant careers. To what sort of affiliations do you refer? Political?

minnbills

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Re: What's the worst that can come out of a federal appellate clerkship?

Postby minnbills » Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:49 pm

So you're thinking of working for a Trump nominee, eh?

As far as your employment outcomes, any COA clerkship will set you up well. Don't worry about that.

And you can decline a clerkship offer. It may be bad form, but it's one year of your life, which is more important.

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Re: What's the worst that can come out of a federal appellate clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote: I think my inclination is that if you get an offer from a federal appellate judge, you MUST take it, without any hesitation.


This is a piece of conventional wisdom that, in my experience, has no basis in fact. No federal judge whom I've known has ever felt this way, at all. In fact, they'd strongly prefer that you take your time to make a thoughtful decision about whether to work for them: if you're going to work for them, they want you to want to be there.

I realize that law schools tell their students that they MUST accept any clerkship offers they get, but I have no idea where the schools are getting that from. Maybe there are judges who want you to make a decision on the spot, under pressure, but I wouldn't want to work for someone like that.

It's hard to answer your question without knowing more specifics, but I doubt you have anything to worry about. The number of federal clerkships that might hurt you is vanishingly small, and I'm not sure there are any circuit judges out there right now who fit that description.

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Re: What's the worst that can come out of a federal appellate clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:12 am

Depending on the affiliations, you ability to work for an organization like the ACLU or be highly involved with Fed Soc afterwards might be compromised. As might your ability to work for a judge with very different affiliations. But, by and large, your employment prospects will improve.

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Re: What's the worst that can come out of a federal appellate clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:03 pm

Depending on the affiliations, you ability to work for an organization like the ACLU or be highly involved with Fed Soc afterwards might be compromised. As might your ability to work for a judge with very different affiliations. But, by and large, your employment prospects will improve.


Not even, necessarily. I know someone who clerked for a judge who is regularly described as above and got a job at a highly competitive organization like the ACLU or Fed Soc on the opposite end of the political spectrum as the judge. From my understanding, (s)he didn't take any steps to explain that decision, nor was (s)he asked about it at any point during the application process. I imagine it can impact your job opportunities at the far political extreme, but I wouldn't assume that it necessarily will -- especially if there are other things about your CV that indicate who you are as a person and where you fall politically.

That said, I want to reiterate: it's absolutely acceptable to turn down an offer. No judge wants you to clerk for him/her if you're not excited about clerking for him/her. You probably shouldn't have applied or accepted an interview with a judge for whom you might be categorically opposed to working, but it's too late to do anything about that. If you decide to decline, I am sure that you can find some sort of a graceful excuse.

Final piece of advice: at some point you can't keep every feasible option open forever. It's worth considering how much you actually would want to work at the ACLU/Fed Soc-type place -- the fact that it's a theoretically nice option to have doesn't mean that there is any reasonable likelihood that you would ever possibly apply to work there. Has this long been one of your top couple career dreams, or are you just reluctant to narrow your future possibilities?

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Re: What's the worst that can come out of a federal appellate clerkship?

Postby hdivschool » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:25 pm

Very few judges are famous. Most people will have never heard of the judge. Certainly very few big law attorneys will have heard of them, and even fewer will know of the "associations with various groups" that were met with "skepticism" "in the past," and even fewer will care. And this will become even less of an issue as time passes.

I could only see it hurting if you wanted to be a law professor, but the odds of becoming one are slim anyway, especially without a clerkship and without "elite credentials."



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