Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

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Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:25 pm

I'm a biglaw associate. While I'm getting good substantive experience and my reviews are good, I just can't handle the hours. I work all day, every day with at least one or two all-nighters each week. It's gotten to the point where I feel physically ill from lack of sleep, and my work product is slipping.

I've been applying to clerkships as an escape route from biglaw. I've recently been going on interviews for last-minute openings in 2018, but I don't have much interest in the actual work clerks do. I'm having a hard time seeing how it would help my current practice, other than serving as a way to transition to the government or another firm. After my last interview, I'm wondering if this is even a good idea. Would I be better served to tough out another few months or year at the firm? I feel like giving up my current salary and opportunity to gain skills/experiences might be a mistake, but I'm also just not sure how much more I can take. A clerkship would obviously be better than completely burning out and ending up unemployed.

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Re: Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:59 pm

I'd urge you to reconsider if you fundamentally do not like the research/administrative functions that clerks do. As much as Biglaw is an awful grind, there is space to dodge bad partners or senior associates that are difficult to work for/don't like you professionally or vice-versa. There is no space like that in chambers. It has to work fit-wise for all concerned and that's what judges are assessing at the interview stage. If you have no genuine interest in the work that will come out over the short-term after you on-board and if there's a personality issue it will be another slog as bad or worse than the Biglaw grind in a different way.

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Re: Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:30 pm

If not a clerkship, have you considered a staff attorney position on the COA level? It is not as prestigious but it will give you a break from the firm for a year and it does not entail the close-nit relationship situation of chambers that the above poster mentioned. Also, unlike in some chambers, the hours in staff attorney positions are very set and after you've been there a bit you are eligible for comp time if you work more than 40 hours in a given week. Not sure the pay cut is worth it but maybe something to consider.

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Re: Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 2:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If not a clerkship, have you considered a staff attorney position on the COA level? It is not as prestigious but it will give you a break from the firm for a year and it does not entail the close-nit relationship situation of chambers that the above poster mentioned. Also, unlike in some chambers, the hours in staff attorney positions are very set and after you've been there a bit you are eligible for comp time if you work more than 40 hours in a given week. Not sure the pay cut is worth it but maybe something to consider.


If OP wants the exit options that a clerkship helps open, particularly BigFed jobs, this may not be a great idea. Alternatively, OP, if you aren't that interested in actually clerking, why aren't you applying to gov't jobs? Or why not just lateral into a more humane setting (smaller market, smaller firm in same market, etc)?

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Re: Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby lawposeidon » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:24 pm

Biglaw is the only employer that values clerkships so . . .

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Re: Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:14 pm

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:If OP wants the exit options that a clerkship helps open, particularly BigFed jobs, this may not be a great idea. Alternatively, OP, if you aren't that interested in actually clerking, why aren't you applying to gov't jobs? Or why not just lateral into a more humane setting (smaller market, smaller firm in same market, etc)?


I'm currently a first year, so I don't feel like I'm competitive for most openings.

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Re: Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:46 pm

lawposeidon wrote:Biglaw is the only employer that values clerkships so . . .

Actually, the federal government values clerkships quite a lot.

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Re: Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 04, 2018 2:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
lawposeidon wrote:Biglaw is the only employer that values clerkships so . . .

Actually, the federal government values clerkships quite a lot.


For government lit jobs? Makes sense.

BlackAndOrange84

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Re: Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:44 pm

If you're burning yourself out in the first year, are you sure you aren't doing it wrong? Most firms have ways to take some load off of an associate who's been swamped for too long, which certainly sounds like it's the case for you. Wouldn't that be preferable to giving up the salary for a job you don't seem to be particularly interested in? Also, I want to echo what the second poster said: a clerkship is a bad place to be if you don't particularly want to be there.

Traynor Brah

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Re: Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby Traynor Brah » Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:24 am

I would try to express to your teams/assigning people that your current pace is not sustainable, then just go to another firm if things don't get better. Even for NYC sweatshops your experience doesn't sound typical

jd20132013

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Re: Worth Clerking to Escape Biglaw?

Postby jd20132013 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:20 pm

I think there’s a lot of value in just starting to refuse work. Worst case is they freeze you out and fire you...in like a year. And since you clearly aren’t going to make partner who cares



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