Clerkship Application Strategy

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Clerkship Application Strategy

Postby GFox345 » Tue May 29, 2018 11:02 am

White Male Rising 3L at MVP
Top 3%
EIC of a Secondary Journal
Former Paralegal at a V5 firm
1L SA experience at a Lit Boutique and currently doing a 2L SA at a V15
Clinic experience arguing criminal cases before Federal Appellate Courts
Letters of Rec from the former Dean of my school and two other professors with whom I have worked extensively
Graduated Phi Beta Kappa from a Top 5 Undergrad
Aiming to do 1 year D. Ct. and 1 year COA clerkships

I've been applying to clerkships (the vast majority of them appellate) since last summer. My GPA has risen dramatically since then from the low 3.8s to mid 3.9s, moving me from the top 10% or so to the Top 10 students in my class overall. I have had two COA interviews in in 4/6/11 but no offer yet. I have been corresponding with a District Court judge's judicial assistant for roughly 8 months. The judge has requested updates throughout my 2nd year. No interview offer yet, but I am still waiting on my last grade for the semester, and the judge has historically adhered pretty closely to the old plan timeline. I would be thrilled to clerk for this District Court judge. I very much enjoy their writing, and they sit in an up-and coming city about 25 minutes from where I grew up.

However, my ultimate goal would be to get as competitive of a COA clerkship as I can. I recognize that I have nearly no chance at a feeder judge and no chance at SCOTUS, but if I wanted to maximize my chance of clerking in 2/9/DC, how should I proceed? If I was fortunate enough to receive an offer from the D. Ct. judge, should I take it immediately? Should I work for a year or two at my summer firm, assuming I get an offer, and then reapply for D. Ct. and COA? It seems like judges are really starting to prefer work experience more than ever. Will I be able to reach higher if I wait and work for a while or should I jump at this D. Ct. clerkship because it's ideal for me now?

I apologize if the post sounds arrogant. It's an honor to clerk for any judge, but I do want to maximize my potential. Thanks.


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Re: Clerkship Application Strategy

Postby itsnotmeipromise » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:45 am

hey gfox345

ill tell you this, thats an impressive cv, and you should be proud of what you've accomplished (v15, is that like an improved version of v8 juice, hahahahahaha). however, i think your mindset about all of this is a little off, and here's why: you are too preoccupied with finding a clerkship on a particular circuit (or "reaching higher" as you put it). unless you are putting all of your eggs in the scotus basket, this shouldn't matter to you, at all. what should matter is finding a clerkship with a judge who you click with, in a city that you want to spend a year. no one who matters in your life will ever give a shit that you clerked on the second circuit or the sixth circuit or the fifteenth circuit (how many circuits are there?). what will matter is the quality of EXPERIENCE you receive and the quality of the RELATIONSHIPS you will make (sorry i love capitalizing things for emphasis, some people think its annoying but Pennsylvania is barely a state). the experience will help you become a good lawyer, which after all the gold stars have taken you as far as they can (not that far) will be what other lawyers actually care about. and the relationships will help you establish a network of cool, smart people who can get you into cool, smart things they are working on. what could be better?

so yeah my tldr is stop worrying about the top law schools version of circuit court prestige because this forum is one big toxic cesspool, and start worrying about how you are going to build a fulfilling career after your gold stars stop impressing people. if you think the district court judge is a cool guy, and a good writer, and you can learn from him, then take the job and dont look back.

<3 u even if others don't understand, good luck!

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Re: Clerkship Application Strategy

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:29 am

I'll echo the advice above. Don't worry about the prestige of the circuit. If you want to practice in the 9th or 2nd, then go after it. If you want to practice elsewhere, look elsewhere. And feel free to apply for feeders. I recommend applying to every judge who interests you. At the end of the day, the most important parts of your clerkships are going to be your relationship with your judge, what you learn, and the network you build. The reason why the 2/9/DC are popular is because people tend to want to practice in Cali, NY, and DC.(and those circuits have a higher number of feeders)

As for the D. Ct., I'd take the job if you are offered. It will help with your COA applications. Many COA judges highly value D. Ct. clerkships.

I've done a good number of clerkship interviews, and I can tell you that you won't click with every judge. I'd rather work for a judge with whom I can build a strong relationship than a prestigious judge with whom I can't. I can say that I am lucky enough to have accepted an offer from a judge who is a tremendous person, and it has made my clerkship experience a great one.

Personally, if you asked me, my ideal job would be clerking for an awesome judge in a cool city on the 10th Circuit. Why the 10th? I've interviewed with judges on the circuit, and their clerks tend to have a good QoL while clerking because the caseloads aren't high.(that's not universally true; for example, Holmes works his clerks quite hard, and some judges aren't great mentors, so it's good to find out which judges provide the best experience)

Anyways, look for judges who will provide the best experience in cities or regions where you want to live and practice. Stop worrying about maximizing prestige.

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Re: Clerkship Application Strategy

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:49 am

I have worse stats than you and interviewed with three feeders in 2/9/DC. You'll be fine. And certainly having a dist. ct. clerkship helps.

My advice is to target the regions/judges you're most interested in, and then apply more broadly after a few weeks.

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Re: Clerkship Application Strategy

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:32 pm

This has been said ad naeuseum, but 1) congrats on your resume, and 2) a generic CA2/9 judge is not viewed as "more prestigious" than one from CA7/5/whatever: there are *specific judges* on CA2/9 that are "more prestigious." Now if you want to *practice in NY*, then of course it would make sense to preference a generic CA2 over a generic CA7 judge - the CA2 judge would be well-known in the NY legal community, has connections there, etc. But because TLS is NY-centric, people have taken this rule of thumb - that a CA2 judge in NY is preferable to other non-feeder CA judges - and wrongly extrapolated it to the rest of the country. SCOTUS does share this view, and if you don't believe me, look at the Wiki page of former SCOTUS clerks: they come from feeder judges, and D.C. D.C. is the only "prestigious" circuit.

Given that, if I were you, I'd apply to feeders+D.C. and the market you plan to work in post-clerkship. If that's CA2/CA9, go for it! If not, do not feel obligated to apply.

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