4 years into litigation practice - is it too late to apply to clerkship?

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4 years into litigation practice - is it too late to apply to clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:24 pm

I am a T20 grad with mediocre GPA and a 4th year employment lit associate at a biglaw firm. My dream has always been to do public interest/serve the public as an AUSA. I really really really want to do white collar criminal prosecution. I had a shot at district court clerkship during my 2nd year of biglaw. I ended up not getting the clerkship(probably due to my mediocre GPA).

I know most people get clerkships straight out of law school or 1, maybe 2 years in to practice. Is it uncommon for someone like me to apply? I want to gauge my chances before I expend resources and time into applying. Thank you.

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Re: 4 years into litigation practice - is it too late to apply to clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:47 pm

I kind of have a similar question: clerked for Dj right of of school and then practiced for two years before commencing my current magistrate clerkship. Want to clerk again after this. I just don’t know how judges will view my app and whether I am too seasoned.

Here’s what I’ll say: of the district judges on my current court, at least one seems keen to hiring very experienced clerks. A recent hire had been practicing for like 11 years. Also, it seems that magistrate judges tend to highly value experience—and not just the two years out of law school kind. I’m talking real, substantive level experience.

On the other hand, I just had an interview with a dj where I was rejected in favor of an applicant fresh out of school. I think my experience hurt me with this judge.

I’d focus on off plan judges, especially those needing to fill vacancies quickly, as well as those indicating a preference for experience.

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Re: 4 years into litigation practice - is it too late to apply to clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:13 pm

I think it's becoming more common for junior and even midlevel associates to clerk, so I wouldn't worry overmuch about your seniority affecting your chances. But it does have implications for what you do after the clerkship.

What term would the clerkship be for, and how many years would it run? You're painting yourself into less of a corner if you're looking to clerk in 2020-21 than you are if you're seeking 2022-23 positions or a multi-year clerkship. It's not all that rare for firms to hire sixth-year associates, but if you'd be clerking at your seventh or eighth year of practice, it may be more difficult to jump back on the BigLaw ship.
You mentioned that you want to work for the government. How soon would you want to make this transition? Because of the potential difficulty of returning to BigLaw after the clerkship (see above), be sure that you're committed to the possibility of beginning a government career immediately following the clerkship. I'd think it's a little more typical for someone at your seniority level to use a clerkship as a BigLaw-->Government transition.

Anecdotally, I did 1 year BigLaw, followed by a 1-year district court clerkship, and will have done 2+ years of BigLaw when my CoA clerkship begins. I'm agnostic about returning to BigLaw - could return for a few more years if I have to - but hope to be competitive for Big Fed/Main Justice following the CoA gig. One of my predecessor clerks on the district court did a CoA clerkship immediately after law school, worked at the SEC for three years, then clerked for my district judge, and then went to work at a V10 firm. (He was willing to take a hit on his class year.) Not sure how normal either of our paths are, but they could provide some helpful data points for you.



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