Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

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Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:02 am

About me: 8 Hs + 1 book prize in Federal Litigation during my 1L year at Stanford (one more grade outstanding). Just found out I didn't make law review, despite trying my best during the write-on. I'm working for a federal judge this summer.

What I'm seeking: Ideally, a COA clerkship. 9/2/10/DC preferred, but truly I would take a clerkship in any geographical location. I'm very flexible. I would also clerk for a D.Ct. judge--really, I just want a clerkship.

I think I could get some solid recommendations. Don't know if it would be anything stellar, but I think I could get a couple professors to say some pretty nice things about me. Potentially one who's on the clerkship committee. If it matters, I'll be in clinic this fall, so I won't be taking any classes and thus won't get any grades.

My question is how much not being on LR hurts me with these other credentials, and what I should do to make up for not having LR on my resume. Should I be a research assistant? Get on a secondary journal? Any advice is much appreciated.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby notellewoods » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:About me: 8 Hs + 1 book prize in Federal Litigation during my 1L year at Stanford (one more grade outstanding). Just found out I didn't make law review, despite trying my best during the write-on. I'm working for a federal judge this summer.

What I'm seeking: Ideally, a COA clerkship. 9/2/10/DC preferred, but truly I would take a clerkship in any geographical location. I'm very flexible. I would also clerk for a D.Ct. judge--really, I just want a clerkship.

I think I could get some solid recommendations. Don't know if it would be anything stellar, but I think I could get a couple professors to say some pretty nice things about me. Potentially one who's on the clerkship committee. If it matters, I'll be in clinic this fall, so I won't be taking any classes and thus won't get any grades.

My question is how much not being on LR hurts me with these other credentials, and what I should do to make up for not having LR on my resume. Should I be a research assistant? Get on a secondary journal? Any advice is much appreciated.


My advice would be to get on a secondary journal. It looks good and there are some job positions that require it.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:57 am

Yeah, I'm not sure it really hurts except for maybe some feeders. That said, some kind of journal experience is important—it generally says that you've spent time developing your writing and editing skills, especially attention to detail, beyond what you'd otherwise get just passing through law school. Looking at resumes, an H/Y/S resume with no journal experience would be at a disadvantage, especially considering how many people have that experience.

Being an RA isn't a huge deal, unless you get a great LOR out of it.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby mahlonpitneybowes » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:About me: 8 Hs + 1 book prize in Federal Litigation during my 1L year at Stanford (one more grade outstanding). Just found out I didn't make law review, despite trying my best during the write-on. I'm working for a federal judge this summer.

What I'm seeking: Ideally, a COA clerkship. 9/2/10/DC preferred, but truly I would take a clerkship in any geographical location. I'm very flexible. I would also clerk for a D.Ct. judge--really, I just want a clerkship.

I think I could get some solid recommendations. Don't know if it would be anything stellar, but I think I could get a couple professors to say some pretty nice things about me. Potentially one who's on the clerkship committee. If it matters, I'll be in clinic this fall, so I won't be taking any classes and thus won't get any grades.

My question is how much not being on LR hurts me with these other credentials, and what I should do to make up for not having LR on my resume. Should I be a research assistant? Get on a secondary journal? Any advice is much appreciated.


Just out of curiosity, how do you know that 8 Hs + 1 prize puts you in top 25%? I'm not suggesting you're wrong in either direction, just interested in the methodology.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:17 pm

I was in a similar situation. You can definitely get a district court clerkship, but you probably can't control exactly where. Apply widely (ie, anywhere you don't mind living).

CoA is more of a crapshoot. Try and get a close relationship with a professor, perhaps by being an RA, or otherwise take on moot court etc. to demonstrate research and writing chops.

Also consider doing district court and then CoA.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby radio1nowhere » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:43 pm

mahlonpitneybowes wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:About me: 8 Hs + 1 book prize in Federal Litigation during my 1L year at Stanford (one more grade outstanding). Just found out I didn't make law review, despite trying my best during the write-on. I'm working for a federal judge this summer.

What I'm seeking: Ideally, a COA clerkship. 9/2/10/DC preferred, but truly I would take a clerkship in any geographical location. I'm very flexible. I would also clerk for a D.Ct. judge--really, I just want a clerkship.

I think I could get some solid recommendations. Don't know if it would be anything stellar, but I think I could get a couple professors to say some pretty nice things about me. Potentially one who's on the clerkship committee. If it matters, I'll be in clinic this fall, so I won't be taking any classes and thus won't get any grades.

My question is how much not being on LR hurts me with these other credentials, and what I should do to make up for not having LR on my resume. Should I be a research assistant? Get on a secondary journal? Any advice is much appreciated.


Just out of curiosity, how do you know that 8 Hs + 1 prize puts you in top 25%? I'm not suggesting you're wrong in either direction, just interested in the methodology.


If SLS's proportion of Hs given per class is anything close to HLS's, top 25% sounds like a super conservative estimate with those grades.

Either way OP: I'd definitely get on a secondary journal (and try to get a position with a title as soon as you can) for the extra bump, but don't stress out about not making LR. Again, I'm most familiar with HLS, but I knew a ton of people there who got COA gigs without LR. Aiming for 2/9/DC is always a bit of a dice roll even for top students because of how insanely competitive those circuits are, so I'd broaden your search a little, but you're in a good spot.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:26 pm

mahlonpitneybowes wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:About me: 8 Hs + 1 book prize in Federal Litigation during my 1L year at Stanford (one more grade outstanding). Just found out I didn't make law review, despite trying my best during the write-on. I'm working for a federal judge this summer.

What I'm seeking: Ideally, a COA clerkship. 9/2/10/DC preferred, but truly I would take a clerkship in any geographical location. I'm very flexible. I would also clerk for a D.Ct. judge--really, I just want a clerkship.

I think I could get some solid recommendations. Don't know if it would be anything stellar, but I think I could get a couple professors to say some pretty nice things about me. Potentially one who's on the clerkship committee. If it matters, I'll be in clinic this fall, so I won't be taking any classes and thus won't get any grades.

My question is how much not being on LR hurts me with these other credentials, and what I should do to make up for not having LR on my resume. Should I be a research assistant? Get on a secondary journal? Any advice is much appreciated.


Just out of curiosity, how do you know that 8 Hs + 1 prize puts you in top 25%? I'm not suggesting you're wrong in either direction, just interested in the methodology.

I'm OP.

It's a rough estimate, to be sure. But I figure that, if about 1/3 of people get an H in a class, then about 4 Hs out of 13 classes taken during 1L year would be median. I have double that number of Hs, so maybe I'm top 25%. Of course, there could be clustering at any point in the grade distribution and I would have no way of knowing. But there are also some posts from several years ago on TLS that tell me I might be in this range. The 1 book prize might put me in the top 20% though.

The HLS poster might think that my estimate is conservative because H students take fewer courses during their 1L year, as they're not on the quarter system. I think it's 10 courses, as opposed to our 13 (though I took 14).

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby BaberhamLincoln » Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:39 pm

A few things:
1) At least when they hired based on 1L alone, your grades put you out of range for feeders. I don’t know if that makes law review more or less important, but thought I’d flag so you know. (I also don’t know how the plan changes things)
2) To be a contrarian, I’d suggest really investing in your clinical experience rather than half assedly joining a secondary journal. Clerkship hiring is highly relationship driven (especially at a tiny school with lots of connected faculty members) and a clinician will be well positioned to vouch for you since it’s such an immersive experience. Ditto to an RA position. You want people “in your corner.” You won’t get that by begrudgingly bluebooking. Plus, then you can spin lack of law review as a decision to prioritize experiential learning (rather than just “I didn’t make it, so settled for a secondary journal”).
3) If you’re conservative (or even just ideologically neutral), consider putting feelers out for off plan FedSoc judges.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby fivestarfolds » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:09 pm

I agree with point (2). The committed public interest students at my HYS are generally not on law review and tend to do very well in the clerkship process. By commited, I mean multiple clinics, public interest summer internships, and public interest-focused coursework (think crim pro, evidence, employment discrimination, etc. not corporations).

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby BaberhamLincoln » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:27 pm

I wrote the 3 points above and the response made me think to add one more big picture comment:
In every class at SLS, there’s going to be someone (or a handful of someones) who gets through with all the “standard” gold stars: law review, perfect/near perfect grades, moot court winner, SCOTUS clinic, whatever. You’re not that person (nor am I!). But the good news is that most people who go on to clerkships (including highly competitive clerkships) aren’t either. I think rather than trying to approximate that vanilla mold of a “star student” and doing it imperfectly, you’d be better served trying to create the best version of yourself. Go to office hours. Take every single class the professors you like offer. Take on a meaningful pro bono matter, or submit papers for publication, or join a niche research project, or whatever. Figure out what makes you tick and go for it. The grades, relationships, and credentials that you need for a clerkship will flow from there — and you’ll stand out from the pack of cookie cutter applicants all striving for the same conventional markers of “prestige” with varying degrees of success.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:19 pm

The assumption of the last few posts seems to be that it isn't possible to both serve on a secondary journal and do the other good and interesting things mentioned. My impression from looking at at resumes coming to chambers is that's not the case. I know that most secondary journals have lighter workloads than flagship law reviews.

My coclerks and I consider no journal at all a negative, and I don't think we're alone in that. Success at it signals this is a person who can put their nose to the grindstone and do lots of good, detail-oriented work on something that is not particularly rewarding. That's important in chambers (and in law practice) when you're dealing with mine-run cases most of the time rather than super-sexy cases that are their own reward.

Not saying it's outcome determinative, but in a world where there are lots and lots of glitteringly accomplished people, there are plenty who who manage "all of the above."

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby Wild Card » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:08 am

Your judicial clerkship office should keep an appendix of every SLS student who's clerked over the past X years. The appendix should also tell you their journal affiliation (if any!).

I go to NYU, which has been doing very poorly lately (<4%) in placing grads straight out. As to the Ninth Circuit, I see that at least one-third of clerks were on a "secondary journal." These people probably graduated in the to 10% of the class. Because you're at SLS, all you'd need to do is remain in the top 25%.

Keep trying your best, and good things will come to you.

But you should really look at that appendix.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby paragonloop » Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:30 pm

Secondary journals are not too significant of a commitment, so I'd recommend getting on one of those. If you didn't do a secondary journal during your 1L year, you can trying emailing the EICs of whatever secondary journal interests you most to see if they have a need for Senior Editors. Sometimes 2Ls are also added as board members to secondary journals over the summer.

You might also consider trying to note on to SLR next year. You're likely a pretty good writer if you got a book prize in Fed Lit, and you can take Directed Research for a quarter to work on developing a Note. This may help if you're looking to clerk at 2/9/10/D.C. farther out from graduation.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby abl » Sat Jul 21, 2018 1:39 pm

Every class is different, but my guess is that 8Hs 6Ps and 1 book prize would put you around the top 15%-20% cut-off while 9Hs / 5Ps and a book award is plausibly top 10%. (It also depends, obviously, on what weight you afford book prizes.) In any event, clinical experience isn't going to help a ton for CoA judges, while secondary journal e-board experience will. I'd say the reverse is true for dct judges.

There are a substantial number of people every year with your stats out of Stanford (and no LR) who get CoA clerkships. There will be people with worse grades than you (and no LR) who get clerkships. Your success is going to be based on the strength of your recommendations and your application strategy (time your applications well; apply broadly; etc) more so than by anything else. That said, if you can craft a compelling narrative about yourself, that always helps (and a clinic or a secondary journal can help in that respect).

Re application strategy, I'd assume feeders are out of the question and target well-respected active and senior judges in the 9th and 10th (if you're PI-focused, look at Paez; if you're right-leaning and have a 10th-Cir connection look at Tymkovich, etc.). You're a fringe candidate for most DC Cir judges, and the 2nd Cir can be a little tough sometimes out of Stanford, but my advice would be to err on the side of applying broadly. It'll help a lot if you're willing to do a clerkship a year or so out. Oh, and you're borderline enough that a couple of additional Hs or Ps could swing you either way, so your second-year grades could really end up mattering.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:51 pm

I'm a current clerk for a well-known judge who averages 1 SCOTUS clerk per year. Those grades definitely meet my judge's cutoff. That said, you need the complete package to get an interview: great recommendations, strong writing sample, and a cover letter/resume that would make us think you'd be a good "fit" in chambers.

If I were in your position, I wouldn't do a secondary journal, and would put all of the time you would have spent on the journal in the Stanford Supreme Court clinic. You could tell judges that you chose to do that instead of a journal and you could get some great recs from well-known professors.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby 1MichMan23 » Sun Jul 22, 2018 10:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I wrote the 3 points above and the response made me think to add one more big picture comment:
In every class at SLS, there’s going to be someone (or a handful of someones) who gets through with all the “standard” gold stars: law review, perfect/near perfect grades, moot court winner, SCOTUS clinic, whatever. You’re not that person (nor am I!). But the good news is that most people who go on to clerkships (including highly competitive clerkships) aren’t either. I think rather than trying to approximate that vanilla mold of a “star student” and doing it imperfectly, you’d be better served trying to create the best version of yourself. Go to office hours. Take every single class the professors you like offer. Take on a meaningful pro bono matter, or submit papers for publication, or join a niche research project, or whatever. Figure out what makes you tick and go for it. The grades, relationships, and credentials that you need for a clerkship will flow from there — and you’ll stand out from the pack of cookie cutter applicants all striving for the same conventional markers of “prestige” with varying degrees of success.


This is very well said and, now on the other side of things, I couldn't agree with it more.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 23, 2018 6:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a current clerk for a well-known judge who averages 1 SCOTUS clerk per year. Those grades definitely meet my judge's cutoff. That said, you need the complete package to get an interview: great recommendations, strong writing sample, and a cover letter/resume that would make us think you'd be a good "fit" in chambers.

If I were in your position, I wouldn't do a secondary journal, and would put all of the time you would have spent on the journal in the Stanford Supreme Court clinic. You could tell judges that you chose to do that instead of a journal and you could get some great recs from well-known professors.

OP here. I appreciate the advice and perspective (and from everyone else as well--dont want to reply to everyone). Didn't get SCOTUS clinic unfortunately, but good to know I'm still in the running for lots of good stuff. Got the 9th H, though idk what the marginal benefit is there. As you said, it sounds like it largely is about various non-grade variables once you hit a certain threshold.

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Re: Top 25% at S--how much does no law review matter?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 24, 2018 11:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a current clerk for a well-known judge who averages 1 SCOTUS clerk per year. Those grades definitely meet my judge's cutoff. That said, you need the complete package to get an interview: great recommendations, strong writing sample, and a cover letter/resume that would make us think you'd be a good "fit" in chambers.

If I were in your position, I wouldn't do a secondary journal, and would put all of the time you would have spent on the journal in the Stanford Supreme Court clinic. You could tell judges that you chose to do that instead of a journal and you could get some great recs from well-known professors.

OP here. I appreciate the advice and perspective (and from everyone else as well--dont want to reply to everyone). Didn't get SCOTUS clinic unfortunately, but good to know I'm still in the running for lots of good stuff. Got the 9th H, though idk what the marginal benefit is there. As you said, it sounds like it largely is about various non-grade variables once you hit a certain threshold.


Clerk here. I didn't realize that it was application-based to get into that clinic, but it makes sense. To generalize my advice: try to spend your time doing something notable or worthwhile. In my opinion, being on a secondary journal doesn't move the needle but it also doesn't negatively affect you when you have those grades. That said, not being on a secondary journal AND not doing anything with the free time is a red flag.



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