Quitting Clerkship After 2 months

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Re: Quitting Clerkship After 2 months

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:41 pm

I had a similar experience, too. Still in the midst of it actually, but it might help with some perspective.

Shortly before starting at my (big law) firm, my long time girlfriend broke things off. I had chosen the location based on our relationship, and didn’t have a whole lot of other reasons to be there. Initially, I was sure that I wouldn’t even start the job. Planned to switch locations, type of practice, everything.

That was about a year ago. Didn’t think I would make it this far, for sure. But, there really is some value in being single and re-establishing your sense of self, not to mention dating around in a city of any size as an attorney.

I plan to stick around for another six months or so, keep enjoying the single life and getting paid, until moving back to my home area. When you have a deadline and can work on a plan for the next step, which you do and can, it helps a lot. Light at the end of the tunnel.

My advice would be to stick with the clerkship. Most of your difficulty is stemming from the break up at this point, to be honest, not the job. Join some social groups, like a weekly basketball or volleyball game, and get into a gym routine. Reconnect with old friend, even if just remotely, or go visit for a weekend. And work on lining up that next step to be one you’re comfortable with.

Before you know it, six months will have passed, then a year’s just around the corner. You’ve got a lot to work through outside of the job — that part can actually be something consistent in your life. And, since it’s a clerkship, it will give you more mobility in the future regardless of your practice; it’s utility value is pretty high, and you may end up wanting that extra bump on the resume. Good luck!

Anon b/c my other posts give up a lot of personal details and the content of this one is a touch sensitive.

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Re: Quitting Clerkship After 2 months

Postby Npret » Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:48 am

OP - you sound clinically depressed which is understandable given your drastically changed future. You can get through this though. Don’t look so much into your entire future. You don’t know what life has in store for you. I’m guessing it will be more than waking up with no life at 40. You’re already aware of what you want so I’m betting you will find it.

It sounds like you have taken all the right steps to get on a better path. Don’t quit your clerkship. You can do this with the support you need.

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Re: Quitting Clerkship After 2 months

Postby BaronBarrister » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:32 am

Be prepared to kiss your career goodbye if you do.

The fact that you're even seriously entertaining that thought for more than a nanosecond shows a) how little appreciation you have for the incredible opportunities you've been given, b) how little understanding (or interest) you have of how the real world (and the legal world) works, and c) how you are letting your emotions and relationship problems completely control your life.

If you are expecting some sort of windfall from a trust fund and you have no problem in life bouncing around with no direction, and really don't care about your future, sure, quit your clerkship. You'll do permanent damage to your own employability and alienate your school & peers in the process. If you care about any of these things, you should a) not quit, and b) think long and hard about why you would seriously contemplate doing so in the first place. SOs and friends, hate to say it, can often be temporary fixtures in your life. Your career sticks with you. It makes zero logical sense to throw away your future over a relationship that didn't work. Time to grow up and get your priorities straight.

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Re: Quitting Clerkship After 2 months

Postby nixy » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:43 am

The above seems pretty harsh. I don’t think it’s a good idea for the OP to quit, but I also don’t think doing so would permanently derail their career. Nor do I think that considering it is some kind of sign of immaturity or slackerdom - just deep unhappiness (and possibly some naïveté, but not to the degree you suggest. Besides, no one is born knowing how employment within a specific profession works - everyone has to learn this. It’s not a moral failing).

Also not sure why you say the OP has been given opportunities versus earning them.

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Re: Quitting Clerkship After 2 months

Postby BaronBarrister » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:52 am

nixy wrote:The above seems pretty harsh. I don’t think it’s a good idea for the OP to quit, but I also don’t think doing so would permanently derail their career. Nor do I think that considering it is some kind of sign of immaturity or slackerdom - just deep unhappiness (and possibly some naïveté, but not to the degree you suggest).

Also not sure why you say the OP has been given opportunities versus earning them.


I don't think I'm harsh but rather honest and matter-of-fact. Clerking for a federal judge is both highly coveted in the legal profession and a serious responsibility. Think about how many lives are impacted by litigation in federal courts. Do you think the impact of OP getting up and walking out will extend beyond just his own personal life? (Hint: It will.) Also, "earn" suggests some sort of entitlement. No one is entitled to a fancy clerkship or a big law job. Yes, you need certain credentials to get in the door, but there is always a huge amount of luck and chance involved. So in a certain sense, we are all given opportunities, we are not entitled to them because we went to a particular school or performed well on exams.

Also, quitting a clerkship will be absolutely devastating to OP's career. This is for two reasons: 1) A clerkship represents a short-term commitment. If OP can't even follow through for a year without some personal problem causing them to quit, what firm would hire them? It shows total irresponsibility and a lack of control in one's life. 2) A clerkship is such a highly sought after and invaluable opportunity for an attorney to grow that any employer would assume that someone who walks away from that must not give a damn about their career.

In other words, leaving a federal clerkship after 2 months, absent some justification like a serious illness (cancer, heart attack) or the death/illness of an immediate family member, this is a major RED FLAG to every future employer that OP is unreliable, unable to commit, and may do the same to them.

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Re: Quitting Clerkship After 2 months

Postby nixy » Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:20 am

So, a few things:

First, the OP had already suggested their firm would be willing to take them back early. I didn’t see any indication they were willing to bail without that option available.

Second, why on earth would the OP tell employers in the future that they walked away from a clerkship? You’d just leave it off your resume (as I’d recommend doing with any job someone left after 2 months). As important as judges are, they’re not in a position to broadcast that to every future employer, ever. How will it be a red flag if the OP doesn’t put it on their resume? I agree it would be disruptive, but not all judges would even necessarily hold it against someone, depending on how it all went down.

Third, not all corporate attorneys will value a clerkship so highly (remember the OP wants to switch from litigation to corporate).

Finally, earn doesn’t mean “entitled to,” but “given” implies the OP didn’t do anything to get this job. On the contrary, they worked hard enough to get into Stanford, and then did well enough at Stanford to get this job. I agree there’s a lot of luck/randomness in clerkship hiring, but I disagree with the implication that therefore they should be grateful for the opportunity and suck it up.

I don’t think being so unhappy that you want to quit a job in a location where you know no one, when your LDR has just ended unexpectedly (and unwillingly on your end), and when you don’t like the work, shows total irresponsibility and lack of control in one’s life. It shows that the OP is human. And, sensibly, the OP didn’t just up and quit, but reached out to find out how such a thing would be viewed. When told (universally) that it would be a bad idea, they went out and got a therapist and seem to be working on getting through the situation. So I find the superlatives getting thrown around a bit extreme.

(Again, I agree that the OP shouldn’t quit, but I don’t think a Stanford grad who was able to get a clerkship in the first place would be doomed forever in the legal profession if they did. I agree they’re in a better position if they don’t, though.)

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Re: Quitting Clerkship After 2 months

Postby nativtracker » Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:25 pm

OP here.

First, I have to say that the TLS community has been amazing. I truly appreciate all the advice and support. Even those tough love posts. Reading them gets me through those rough days. Second, I'm still here. I've decided to take it a month at a time and tell myself that no one is chaining me to this desk. My own health and happiness will take priority and that even if I did "quit," it would not be a failure. I am truly grateful for the opportunity and realize many individuals question why I would even contemplate quitting in the first place. Unfortunately, any success people may view is all relative. There is very little privilege here. I worked hard to get where I am. I studied long hours. Took the LSAT multiple times. Delayed life to get where I am. Everyday I am grateful for what I have been given. But somedays, its just plain hard. Its hard when you miss someone and all you want to do is talk to them again... but you can't, mainly because you have too much self respect. Its hard when you had planned a future together, to travel, to be a cute Instagram couple, all that shit. Its hard when you see all your friends getting married, think about the life ahead for you (i.e., big law) and wonder if you'll ever find time to be in a successful relationship again. Its also hard when you havn't completely let go. When you are still dreaming of a future with this person. These may sound trivial and juvenile, and to some, a little naïve, but we all have our own truths. I mean as much as it pains me to say that (definitely not a special snowflake from Stanford) we all want different things, and maybe I have to balance work and life better, I don't know. But regardless, I am more than grateful for all the support and advice that's been given.

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Re: Quitting Clerkship After 2 months

Postby LBJ's Hair » Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:36 pm

nativtracker wrote:OP here.

First, I have to say that the TLS community has been amazing. I truly appreciate all the advice and support. Even those tough love posts. Reading them gets me through those rough days. Second, I'm still here. I've decided to take it a month at a time and tell myself that no one is chaining me to this desk. My own health and happiness will take priority and that even if I did "quit," it would not be a failure. I am truly grateful for the opportunity and realize many individuals question why I would even contemplate quitting in the first place. Unfortunately, any success people may view is all relative. There is very little privilege here. I worked hard to get where I am. I studied long hours. Took the LSAT multiple times. Delayed life to get where I am. Everyday I am grateful for what I have been given. But somedays, its just plain hard. Its hard when you miss someone and all you want to do is talk to them again... but you can't, mainly because you have too much self respect. Its hard when you had planned a future together, to travel, to be a cute Instagram couple, all that shit. Its hard when you see all your friends getting married, think about the life ahead for you (i.e., big law) and wonder if you'll ever find time to be in a successful relationship again. Its also hard when you havn't completely let go. When you are still dreaming of a future with this person. These may sound trivial and juvenile, and to some, a little naïve, but we all have our own truths. I mean as much as it pains me to say that (definitely not a special snowflake from Stanford) we all want different things, and maybe I have to balance work and life better, I don't know. But regardless, I am more than grateful for all the support and advice that's been given.


Good stuff OP, glad to hear it. Hard to believe it in the moment (I didn't when I went through a difficult breakup)....but I promise you, in a few months, you *will* feel *much* better. Doesn't mean today's pain isn't real/valid though.

nixy

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Re: Quitting Clerkship After 2 months

Postby nixy » Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:05 pm

Hi OP,

Just wanted to note that wrt to what it sounds like is really making you unhappy now, you’re just going to have to deal with that whichever job you have. If your biglaw job is in a location where you have more of a support network, I can see why you’d want to go back there - but the things you describe, you’d be dealing with them wherever you are.

But I’ll echo LBJ and say that it will get better. And that there are a million different paths to happiness in life, and while it’s totally natural right now to mourn the one you’ve lost, it wasn’t the only path to any of those things.



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