Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

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Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:30 pm

Hey all, just wondering about the clerkship hiring timeline now with the new hiring plan in place.

I know some judges were still accepting applications this summer (that's a boat I missed) but that some might be accepting this upcoming winter.

I am looking towards more conservative leaning judges but can go both ways, I wouldn't mind clerking for a more left leaning judge either. Looking for both a district clerkship and an appellate. Should I plan to apply this upcoming winter? Or just wait until next summer and cast a wide net? ( I am a rising 2L)

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Re: Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:Hey all, just wondering about the clerkship hiring timeline now with the new hiring plan in place.

I know some judges were still accepting applications this summer (that's a boat I missed) but that some might be accepting this upcoming winter.

I am looking towards more conservative leaning judges but can go both ways, I wouldn't mind clerking for a more left leaning judge either. Looking for both a district clerkship and an appellate. Should I plan to apply this upcoming winter? Or just wait until next summer and cast a wide net? ( I am a rising 2L)


There's no reason not to apply as early as possible to judges not on the new plan. I'd add that having "stages" of your application process can make the whole thing a little more manageable (e.g., COA judges who are jurisprudentially sympathetic first, then maybe preferred jurisdictions, then everybody else, or some other order), and the on-plan/off-plan distinction is a good way to further divvy things up.

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Re: Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 24, 2018 6:55 pm

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:There's no reason not to apply as early as possible to judges not on the new plan.


Well, the obvious reason is if your first choice judges have stated they're following the plan. You may get hired before they ever look at you. My guess is that that's a relatively small pool of feeder-aspiring applicants focused on the 2d/7th/9th/DC, but still, there is a downside.

And FWIW, Kozinski was a notorious early hire even back when the last iteration of the plan existed. I know more than one former clerk of his who regretted jumping at the first shiny clerkship available - his - given everything they endured in the end. As one learned more about the experience between applying in early 2L and graduation, s/he literally dreaded the year following law school. Now that the Kozinski clerkship experience has been made public in all its "glory," I would definitely do my research before applying to those who hire far ahead of the plan. Judges who aren't the nicest to their clerks benefit from low information, high noise, quick decision-making environments.

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Re: Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:17 pm

Amazingly no one has tried to make a list of on-plan and off-plan judges, but my general sense based on what I’m hearing at my HYS school: on-plan circuit judges seem to be on a coastal circuit, liberal, or both. Off-plan judges seem to be those on “flyover” circuits (think 5/6/8/11), conservative, or both. Not sure if they’re hiring through the FedSoc network or openly soliciting. YMMV.

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Re: Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Amazingly no one has tried to make a list of on-plan and off-plan judges, but my general sense based on what I’m hearing at my HYS school: on-plan circuit judges seem to be on a coastal circuit, liberal, or both. Off-plan judges seem to be those on “flyover” circuits (think 5/6/8/11), conservative, or both. Not sure if they’re hiring through the FedSoc network or openly soliciting. YMMV.


9th is officially on the plan. Since this is the first year it’s in effect for (the policy is no Class of 2020 candidates may be interviewed before June 2019) we’ll see how well the judges stick to it over the next 10 months. To my knowledge no 9th Circuit judge has hired a member of the Class of 2020, but I could be wrong about that. I do know that many judges on the circuit have hired for 2020 and I believe some are hiring for 2021, which means it will be dificult for these rising 2L’s to get a CA9 clerkship directly out of law school.

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Re: Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:There's no reason not to apply as early as possible to judges not on the new plan.


Well, the obvious reason is if your first choice judges have stated they're following the plan. You may get hired before they ever look at you. My guess is that that's a relatively small pool of feeder-aspiring applicants focused on the 2d/7th/9th/DC, but still, there is a downside.


Yeah, obvious reason is not so obvious for 99.9% of clerkship applicants. Very few people are in any position to bide their time and apply strategically for their "first-choice judges" rather than playing the numbers game. For everybody but those in the running for SCOTUS clerkships it's a numbers game.

And by the way, brave, brave anon use there.

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Re: Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 25, 2018 9:57 am

BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:There's no reason not to apply as early as possible to judges not on the new plan.


Well, the obvious reason is if your first choice judges have stated they're following the plan. You may get hired before they ever look at you. My guess is that that's a relatively small pool of feeder-aspiring applicants focused on the 2d/7th/9th/DC, but still, there is a downside.


Yeah, obvious reason is not so obvious for 99.9% of clerkship applicants. Very few people are in any position to bide their time and apply strategically for their "first-choice judges" rather than playing the numbers game. For everybody but those in the running for SCOTUS clerkships it's a numbers game.

And by the way, brave, brave anon use there.


"Brave Anon" here. I anon'd for several reasons, including discussing the Koz anecdotes. Anyone who'd prefer to clerk on the 9th Circuit will have a downside to not waiting, and I think more than 0.1% of clerkship applicants have a strong desire to clerk on the 9th (or the 2d, or the 7th, or DC). Maybe it's just where I went to law school, but I knew a number of people who restricted their searches geographically. I'm not sure why you seem to take umbrage at the notion that some people might have geographic preferences for their future jobs and would be willing to wait patiently to see if they can fulfill them. I speculated this might be mostly feeder-aspirants in my earlier post, but a clerkship is a job like any other, and like any other job, many people have reasons why they wouldn't accept a random job anywhere and with any employer. This is especially true for people with spouses, families, financial considerations, or other constraints. That would seem to be much more than 0.1% of applicants, and I also know a number of alums who applied - eventually successfully - only to specific judges/regions over more than one cycle (after getting no bites the first time), because they simply did not/could not move across the country to a random city just to clerk for a year.

Moreover, the part of my post you didn't excerpt is another reason not to apply indiscriminately to off-plan judges, and one that probably also applies to more than 0.1% of potential applicants: on information and belief, my observation has been that a disproportionate number of the notorious-within-the-legal-world "not so nice boss" judges were off-plan hirers during the prior iteration of the plan. There's a benefit for those bosses to hiring in a low-information, fast-moving environment. I am almost certain it's how K. could get some of the clerks he did, because they would not have chosen that lifestyle a priori if they had other options available side-by-side, or had time to fully vet the opportunity. His entire hiring process quietly happened within just a few weeks 2L fall when 95% of law students didn't even know clerkship hiring had begun. I would like to think more than 0.1% of applicants would want to consider this issue. For the rest, the downside risk of applying off-plan is having less information now than you'll have next June, and in having to decide without any other options. My observation has been that almost no one turns down a clerkship offer when they don't have another offer already, and that condition generally describes most off-plan hiring, which means as soon as you send in the application, you're essentially saying you'll accept the clerkship if you get it. By contrast, I knew a number of people who interviewed on plan with 2-5 judges in the same week and were given the time and space to decide which was the best fit. To me, that's a much healthier hiring environment for the applicants.

Regardless, there is only upside to providing prospective applicants with more factors to consider, no? Peace.

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Re: Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
BlackAndOrange84 wrote:There's no reason not to apply as early as possible to judges not on the new plan.


Well, the obvious reason is if your first choice judges have stated they're following the plan. You may get hired before they ever look at you. My guess is that that's a relatively small pool of feeder-aspiring applicants focused on the 2d/7th/9th/DC, but still, there is a downside.


Yeah, obvious reason is not so obvious for 99.9% of clerkship applicants. Very few people are in any position to bide their time and apply strategically for their "first-choice judges" rather than playing the numbers game. For everybody but those in the running for SCOTUS clerkships it's a numbers game.

And by the way, brave, brave anon use there.


"Brave Anon" here. I anon'd for several reasons, including discussing the Koz anecdotes. Anyone who'd prefer to clerk on the 9th Circuit will have a downside to not waiting, and I think more than 0.1% of clerkship applicants have a strong desire to clerk on the 9th (or the 2d, or the 7th, or DC). Maybe it's just where I went to law school, but I knew a number of people who restricted their searches geographically. I'm not sure why you seem to take umbrage at the notion that some people might have geographic preferences for their future jobs and would be willing to wait patiently to see if they can fulfill them. I speculated this might be mostly feeder-aspirants in my earlier post, but a clerkship is a job like any other, and like any other job, many people have reasons why they wouldn't accept a random job anywhere and with any employer. This is especially true for people with spouses, families, financial considerations, or other constraints. That would seem to be much more than 0.1% of applicants, and I also know a number of alums who applied - eventually successfully - only to specific judges/regions over more than one cycle (after getting no bites the first time), because they simply did not/could not move across the country to a random city just to clerk for a year.

Moreover, the part of my post you didn't excerpt is another reason not to apply indiscriminately to off-plan judges, and one that probably also applies to more than 0.1% of potential applicants: on information and belief, my observation has been that a disproportionate number of the notorious-within-the-legal-world "not so nice boss" judges were off-plan hirers during the prior iteration of the plan. There's a benefit for those bosses to hiring in a low-information, fast-moving environment. I am almost certain it's how K. could get some of the clerks he did, because they would not have chosen that lifestyle a priori if they had other options available side-by-side, or had time to fully vet the opportunity. His entire hiring process quietly happened within just a few weeks 2L fall when 95% of law students didn't even know clerkship hiring had begun. I would like to think more than 0.1% of applicants would want to consider this issue. For the rest, the downside risk of applying off-plan is having less information now than you'll have next June, and in having to decide without any other options. My observation has been that almost no one turns down a clerkship offer when they don't have another offer already, and that condition generally describes most off-plan hiring, which means as soon as you send in the application, you're essentially saying you'll accept the clerkship if you get it. By contrast, I knew a number of people who interviewed on plan with 2-5 judges in the same week and were given the time and space to decide which was the best fit. To me, that's a much healthier hiring environment for the applicants.

Regardless, there is only upside to providing prospective applicants with more factors to consider, no? Peace.


Fair point re: family situations, etc. And I agree that anyone can be more picky, but you're likely making a significant trade off in terms of how soon you'll be able to clerk and the probability of landing a clerkship before you give up.

No one is going to ID you by your relation of the Koz anecdotes, which are widely known, or that you went to a highly-ranked school where there were some people who could be picky in clerkship applications who you happened to know. At best it'd tip you off as having attended an HYS school or maybe Columbia or Chicago. There's no case for anon use here.

Also, the Koz situation was never a secret—he spelled it out in plain English on his OSCAR profile, besides that it was common knowledge among clerkship offices and former clerks—and people knew what they were getting themselves into. But he fed upward of %50-75 of his clerks every year. Outside of Michael Luttig who's been off the bench for a while, the number of judges as consistently prolific can be counted on one hand. Prospective clerks knew what they were getting into and made a choice to give themselves the best chance to make it to SCOTUS. Maybe in hindsight they wished they'd done things differently, but everybody knew the Faustian bargain they were getting by applying to, interviewing with, and accepting a job offer from him. In hindsight it's easy to say, "Oh, I wish I'd never applied to him, if only I knew how really bad it was," (as though everyone didn't already know how bad it was, i.e. every bit as bad as he admitted on OSCAR and clerks gossip about) but that's post hoc bullshit rationalization.

For your point about bad judges to work for being off plan, that's not clear to me and seems like a mighty weak reason to hold off if an applicant intends to apply broadly (as OP mentioned) anyway. Plenty of judges on the DC Circuit hired off plan (before the new plan, and I wouldn't be surprised if they're among the early defectors) and are at least fine if not great bosses, and that's true for what I know of conservative-leaning feeder judges who regularly hire early, too. In fact, among feeder-level off-plan judges, I haven't heard of any outside of Koz (and maybe Easterbrook, and he only hires people with connections to certain profs at UC, and I understand he might even be quite cordial with his clerks) who aren't good to work for. I don't claim comprehensive knowledge here, but maybe you can name some names, since you're anon.

Bottom line, for most applicants, it doesn't make sense to not apply to the broad universe of judges that aren't on plan just because there's a chance that you might end up with more options and the ability to choose among them. With the exception of the extraordinarily qualified/connected, anyone who follows this advice artificially limits their chances to clerk. And there's no reason to anon here because you haven't posted anything remotely identifying.

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Re: Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:20 pm

blackandorange, out of curiosity, what is your objection to anon's anonymity? seems like most of us posting in the clerkships section like to post anonymously. actually, every post in this thread but yours is anonymous?

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Re: Clerkship Timeline and new Hiring Plan

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Sun Aug 26, 2018 12:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:blackandorange, out of curiosity, what is your objection to anon's anonymity? seems like most of us posting in the clerkships section like to post anonymously. actually, every post in this thread but yours is anonymous?


The point of anon is to be able post when identifying potentially identifying information that could allow someone to tie a pseudonym to a real person. Over time, particularly since the old guard of TLS left, more and more people are posting anonymously even when not posting information that is remotely identifying. The mods aren't as active and can't demask everyone.

The problem is that consistently posting anon prevents the original poster and others who are reading from evaluating the credibility and knowledge of a poster based on his posting history (length of history, quality of posts, experience indicated by history, etc.). It isn't rare here that some 1L or 0L or rising 2L (not much better, but a little) mouths off without knowing anything under the cover of anon. Not rarely in the past, someone mouthing off as anon was uncovered as full of shit. With everyone posting anon and less enforcement, I'm concerned that both the quality of information and the ability of discerning readers to separate wheat from chaff is dropping here.

Basically, unless you have a good reason to anon, you shouldn't, and that goes for you too.

ETA: it's different if you've had an interview with a judge and want to get timeline info or something similar. That information is so identifying that it's obvious why anon is appropriate. If it isn't obvious why anon is appropriate, it probably isn't.



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