Permanent vs Term

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xmgr

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Permanent vs Term

Postby xmgr » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:15 pm

I wonder if someone can answer a newbie question about permanent law clerks vs term clerkships. Is it the same job (with the obvious exception that one ends on a set date)?

I have seen a job posting for a permanent law clerk but it doesn't ask for writing samples, references, etc or as much detail as the term clerkships that I see out there. I know that they can ask for all this later but I was wondering if it's a tipoff that the job is more or less rigorous or "prestigious"?

This is a state Supreme Court. Thanks!

nixy

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Re: Permanent vs Term

Postby nixy » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:40 pm

It is the same job.

A career clerkship tends to be somewhat less "prestigious" than a term clerkship just in that the exit options are different. Career clerkships are great positions if you like research and writing, you like your judge, and (often) you want very good work/life balance. (For instance the majority of career clerks I've ever known have been women with small-ish kids.) But after you've been a career clerk for a few years it can be harder to get other jobs - you don't really fit the traditional firm trajectories (if you clerk for 4 years are you going to come in as a 5th year but you've never practiced? as a first year although you have experience?) and there's kind of a concern that if you didn't want to move on and practice before, do you really want to now? There's also not really any way to advance - you're going to stay in the same job/title for your whole career - so it can look a little stagnant. This isn't inevitable - people do move into other jobs - but it's a less conventional employment path and it can be tougher to move out of.

I think the difference in hiring that you're seeing is that judges often want to hire experienced clerks as career clerks, and it's even more about fit/personality than for term clerkship hiring. For a year, you can pick someone based on writing samples/references/etc, and if they turn out terribly they'll be gone relatively soon. That's tougher when hiring a career clerk. Frankly every career clerk I know had either already worked for their judge, or had clerked for another judge (usually on the same court) and had been strongly personally recommended by that judge.

(Meant to add: some state supreme court justices will hire a career clerk who also works partly as their judicial assistant. So there can be a slight difference in that respect. But generally it's the same job.)

xmgr

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Re: Permanent vs Term

Postby xmgr » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:24 am

Thanks for the detailed response. All of that makes sense. I am already in a non-traditional place because I have been working as an engineer, even during law school, and now I am in this corner where I have a lot of work experience but no legal experience. I realize that I have to go back a bit but I'm also trying to not have to go all the way back (start from scratch). It's now a year since graduation so I am a little antsy...

This seems like a great opportunity but it makes sense that inside connections make all the difference. The truth is that's the way it is in every job! We shall see if I can get any traction on this one.

nixy

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Re: Permanent vs Term

Postby nixy » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:16 pm

Good luck! I have to say that some of the happiest lawyers I’ve ever met are career clerks.



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