Biglaw and Clerking Questions

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Biglaw and Clerking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:04 pm

I'm a 3L with a biglaw gig lined up. I am now thinking that it would be wise to pursue a clerkship (I want to be a litigator). However, I am not sure about what is the best way to set this up to maximize the benefits. Couple of questions:

1) Is a federal clerkship really going to make a big difference in my progression as a biglaw associate in a litigation department?

2) Is it important to clerk in the city which I'll be practicing in or can I pursue it elsewhere?

3) Most important, should I try to get a clerkship right out of school (might be a little too late now, but I can still try), and if not, what is the best time-frame (1 yr vs 2 yrs after starting)?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Barrred

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Re: Biglaw and Clerking Questions

Postby Barrred » Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 3L with a biglaw gig lined up. I am now thinking that it would be wise to pursue a clerkship (I want to be a litigator). However, I am not sure about what is the best way to set this up to maximize the benefits. Couple of questions:

1) Is a federal clerkship really going to make a big difference in my progression as a biglaw associate in a litigation department?

2) Is it important to clerk in the city which I'll be practicing in or can I pursue it elsewhere?

3) Most important, should I try to get a clerkship right out of school (might be a little to late now, but I can still try), and if not, what is the best time-frame (1 yr vs 2 yrs after starting)?

1) You will get different answers on this question. Anecdotally, I feel that I was given more responsibility earlier in my career (especially writing responsibility) because I clerked. I also think I got more initial attention from the big-shot partners at my firm because I was a former clerk. YMMV.
2) It is somewhat important to clerk in a district/circuit that your biglaw firm *potentially* litigates in. That's not the same as the district/circuit where you will primarily practice. For instance, even if you are going to start at a biglaw firm in LA, a clerkship in the Second Circuit would still be beneficial, because your firm probably has cases there. But even if you clerk in the middle of nowhere, a clerkship is still somewhat beneficial because you still presumably got good training in that clerkship.
3) You really want to clerk within the first 3 years out of law school. After that, leaving to clerk becomes far too disruptive, and it will be hard for you to go back to a firm. (Clerking right out of law school is ideal, but its becoming more and more common for people to go to biglaw for a year or two prior to clerking).

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Re: Biglaw and Clerking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:44 pm

Barrred wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 3L with a biglaw gig lined up. I am now thinking that it would be wise to pursue a clerkship (I want to be a litigator). However, I am not sure about what is the best way to set this up to maximize the benefits. Couple of questions:

1) Is a federal clerkship really going to make a big difference in my progression as a biglaw associate in a litigation department?

2) Is it important to clerk in the city which I'll be practicing in or can I pursue it elsewhere?

3) Most important, should I try to get a clerkship right out of school (might be a little to late now, but I can still try), and if not, what is the best time-frame (1 yr vs 2 yrs after starting)?

1) You will get different answers on this question. Anecdotally, I feel that I was given more responsibility earlier in my career (especially writing responsibility) because I clerked. I also think I got more initial attention from the big-shot partners at my firm because I was a former clerk. YMMV.
2) It is somewhat important to clerk in a district/circuit that your biglaw firm *potentially* litigates in. That's not the same as the district/circuit where you will primarily practice. For instance, even if you are going to start at a biglaw firm in LA, a clerkship in the Second Circuit would still be beneficial, because your firm probably has cases there. But even if you clerk in the middle of nowhere, a clerkship is still somewhat beneficial because you still presumably got good training in that clerkship.
3) You really want to clerk within the first 3 years out of law school. After that, leaving to clerk becomes far too disruptive, and it will be hard for you to go back to a firm. (Clerking right out of law school is ideal, but its becoming more and more common for people to go to biglaw for a year or two prior to clerking).


Thanks for the response. I figured with question 1 people will vary, and it honestly creates a huge dilemma. Its pretty much debatable whether forgoing ~$120K will actually benefit my career (as long as I stay in biglaw). But its good to know that I should try to get it out of the way as soon as possible.

objctnyrhnr

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Re: Biglaw and Clerking Questions

Postby objctnyrhnr » Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:41 pm

Assuming you can land fed article 3, do it regardless. Just suck it up and go for it. At this stage in your career, you might be concerned about how clerking in a year or two could mess with your momentum, but Dont.

Having a year of that on your resume will pay dividends the rest of your career, and it’ll be an awesome experience. Just go for it.

Good luck.

QContinuum

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Re: Biglaw and Clerking Questions

Postby QContinuum » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:04 pm

objctnyrhnr wrote:Assuming you can land fed article 3, do it regardless. Just suck it up and go for it. At this stage in your career, you might be concerned about how clerking in a year or two could mess with your momentum, but Dont.

Having a year of that on your resume will pay dividends the rest of your career, and it’ll be an awesome experience. Just go for it.

Good luck.


I agree. It's like doing a journal. It may feel like a ton of work/investment, but it's one of those things that's really worth it for a litigator to have on their CV.

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Re: Biglaw and Clerking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:54 am

Replying to this as a 2L without personal experience so can only give anecdotal info.

My cousin who was a congressman for 12 years and a biglaw partner for 30 years said that clerking was a huge plus for litigation, public policy, or similar practice groups (like white collar investigations) at his firm. He very, very strongly suggested that I clerk if interested in these groups. His firm gives credit for clerking so if you clerk for 2 years and then join the firm they count it (for salary/seniority) as if you worked at the firm for 2 years. I think many other firms do this, too. Most of their hiring for those groups comes from those doing clerkships, not OCI. This suggests to me that clerking is a huge benefit (question 1) and clerking out of school is preferred in terms of hiring for his firm (question 3). If you don't clerk I don't think practice areas like public policy are even an option at his firm.

Not sure about your other questions, but for him and his practice group they gave a lot of weight to clerking and it was viewed as a big benefit.

For context: market is Atlanta.

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Re: Biglaw and Clerking Questions

Postby Redamon1 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:01 pm

If you manage to land a clerkship in the district where you anticipate practicing, by all means. Getting to know the judges and the district's preferences will definitely be an advantage. If not possible, clerk elsewhere anyway because the skills are transferable.

I clerked after a few years in Big Law and found the break worthwhile. The pay cut sucks, but (1) the federal pay scale includes a bump that lessens the pain, (2) the practice experience makes the clerkship less stressful and even more meaningful, (3) the clerkship will still be valued by your firm or another, and pay lifelong dividends, (4) clerking a few years into Big Law gave me a chance to step back from the grind and consider my options -- it's a perfect bridge to another path or another firm.



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