When's the earliest I can apply for post-clerkship jobs?

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istan

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When's the earliest I can apply for post-clerkship jobs?

Post by istan » Thu Sep 03, 2020 2:39 pm

I'm a 3L with a federal district clerkship lined up for 2021-22. I couldn't accept the offer from my summer firm because it's in the same city as my clerkship (secondary market) and the judge doesn't allow that for conflict reasons. Now I've decided I want to aim for NYC biglaw after my clerkship.

When's the earliest I can reach out to NYC firms about a post-clerkship job? I know the conventional wisdom is that post-clerkship hiring starts in the early spring before the clerkship ends (or late fall/winter at the earliest--so maybe around January 2022 for me). And I know it probably won't be a good time to apply to NYC firms anytime soon due to Covid uncertainty. But I'm anxious to make contact with these firms since I haven't had any before, and I worry that the economic situation could get even worse than it is now. I'd like to feel like I have irons in the fire in NYC as soon as possible, just to calm my own anxiety. When's the earliest I could reach out to them and actually have a productive conversation that might lead to an interview?

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polareagle

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Re: When's the earliest I can apply for post-clerkship jobs?

Post by polareagle » Thu Sep 03, 2020 3:10 pm

istan wrote:
Thu Sep 03, 2020 2:39 pm
I'm a 3L with a federal district clerkship lined up for 2021-22. I couldn't accept the offer from my summer firm because it's in the same city as my clerkship (secondary market) and the judge doesn't allow that for conflict reasons. Now I've decided I want to aim for NYC biglaw after my clerkship.

When's the earliest I can reach out to NYC firms about a post-clerkship job? I know the conventional wisdom is that post-clerkship hiring starts in the early spring before the clerkship ends (or late fall/winter at the earliest--so maybe around January 2022 for me). And I know it probably won't be a good time to apply to NYC firms anytime soon due to Covid uncertainty. But I'm anxious to make contact with these firms since I haven't had any before, and I worry that the economic situation could get even worse than it is now. I'd like to feel like I have irons in the fire in NYC as soon as possible, just to calm my own anxiety. When's the earliest I could reach out to them and actually have a productive conversation that might lead to an interview?
The most important person to whom you have to ask this question is your judge, who may have a policy about when you're allowed to apply as well. (I get the same city vs. New York firm distinction, but big New York firms practice in federal district courts all over the country, so a conflict conceivably could arise, and you'll want to have raised the issue with your judge first.) Pre-application conversations about working for x/y/z firm are almost certainly fine, but you'll want to ask about your judge's policies before things get too far along.

You probably won't be able to have actually productive conversations until some point during your clerkship year, which is a good thing because firms will have a much better sense of their hiring needs at that point than they do now (when COVID has potentially screwed everything up).

If we were in a world where receptions and coffees still happened, you could *maybe* hit those up during 3L to start the process, but that isn't really a thing right now.

Potentially, you could reach out to any of your judge's alums at New York firms, introduce yourself, and ask for advice on succeeding in the clerkship and getting the most out of the experience. They might have helpful things to say, and you'll have established contact that you can keep up/re-ignite later on during your job search. Your judge's network will be valuable to you, no reason to wait until you start clerking to start taking advantage of it. (And, reaching out to former clerks for advice about the clerkship is not the sort of thing you'd need to clear with the judge.)

istan

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Re: When's the earliest I can apply for post-clerkship jobs?

Post by istan » Thu Sep 03, 2020 3:24 pm

polareagle wrote:
Thu Sep 03, 2020 3:10 pm

Potentially, you could reach out to any of your judge's alums at New York firms, introduce yourself, and ask for advice on succeeding in the clerkship and getting the most out of the experience. They might have helpful things to say, and you'll have established contact that you can keep up/re-ignite later on during your job search. Your judge's network will be valuable to you, no reason to wait until you start clerking to start taking advantage of it. (And, reaching out to former clerks for advice about the clerkship is not the sort of thing you'd need to clear with the judge.)
This is helpful--hadn't thought of it and it seems like the most realistic thing I can do now. Thanks!

justanotherlurker

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Re: When's the earliest I can apply for post-clerkship jobs?

Post by justanotherlurker » Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:31 pm

For a Fall 2022 start (~Sept 2022 to Jan 2023), NYC Biglaw recruiting will likely start in December 2021 (ultra-competitive places like Susman and other small boutiques start early), and peak in January to March 2022. But you absolutely must confirm your judge's policies before starting to apply and interview.

No real reason to apply earlier than December/January - firms won't know their need or be thinking about clerk hiring.

If you want to do anything before then, just network - law school alums, former clerks for your judge, even former clerks for other judges in your judge's district.

istan

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Re: When's the earliest I can apply for post-clerkship jobs?

Post by istan » Fri Sep 04, 2020 7:31 pm

Why is clerk hiring so delayed by the standards of firm hiring? They have no problem hiring summers, knowing they’ll have to make them an offer, two years out.

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polareagle

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Re: When's the earliest I can apply for post-clerkship jobs?

Post by polareagle » Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:13 pm

istan wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 7:31 pm
Why is clerk hiring so delayed by the standards of firm hiring? They have no problem hiring summers, knowing they’ll have to make them an offer, two years out.
A couple reasons. One is just that it's the convention just like summer hiring is the convention. And clerk hiring is far more like what the firms would prefer to do--fill the gaps they've got rather than put on a big dog and pony show and give everyone offers.

Second, firms use clerk hiring to fill gaps precisely because summer hiring is somewhat unpredictable and happens so far in advance. The typical firm will get a rough sense of how many junior associates it needs, subtract from that the number of incoming first-years they expect (they've got experience with this, it'll be something less than the number who accept their offers), and then use clerk and junior associate lateral hiring to fill those gaps. If the firms hired really far in advance, it would just be guesswork like summer hiring is.

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