Lavitz wrote:You don't necessarily have to be top 25%. A few people, including several TLSers, have gotten good clerkships below top 1/3rd. Of course, grades help, but they're not the entire story.
Since OP PM'd me, I'll just post some general info here for future reference.
The percentage of the class in federal clerkships right after graduation is usually between 5-10%, which is in line with the rest of the T-14 besides HYS, Chicago, and UVA, which usually have over 10%. However, since clerkship hiring has accelerated, a lot of students end up clerking after 1-2 years of working, and so the employment numbers no longer account for them. Hence a rather dismal year last year.
In addition, clerkship resources have definitely improved since I was a 1L. Back then, the public service office was in charge of clerkships, and mostly all they did was maintain symplicity and host one panel to explain to 1Ls how OSCAR works. When Dean P took over, clerkships went way up on the administration's priority list, so we have a separate clerkship office which hosts many more events, sends out weekly e-mails highlighting opportunities and providing advice, etc. So I think the opportunities here are similar to any other lower T-14 now. I can go into more detail in PM though.
Current SDNY clerk here. District Court clerkships are, as Lavitz says, exceedingly rare right out of school. Almost every judge in the SDNY and EDNY now hires clerks for one or more years out. That makes the clerkship statistics almost useless.
Cornell is reasonably competitive when it comes to clerkships, and the school has gotten better at getting students into them. But I still wouldn't rely on the clerkship office. Clerkships typically require a lot of legwork. You should keep a spreadsheet of all the judges in courts in which you would consider clerking and fill it in with any information you get from OSCAR or calling the judges' chambers.