Difference between work during clerkship and in practice Forum

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Difference between work during clerkship and in practice

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 20, 2024 6:23 pm

I'm doing an appellate clerkship and find the work in the abstract interesting, but I really, really, really dislike the process of writing bench memos. Being singularly responsible for a complicated case and then just sitting down in my office, pouring through hundreds of pages of precedents, and writing thousands of words all by myself is making me insane. I'm wondering if this is the nature of legal work or is this something unique to appellate clerkships. I tend to enjoy doing lots of smaller projects or assignments in teams rather than just one massive complicated project by myself. I think biglaw will more in tune with those interests rather than the process of writing bench memos but I just wanted to confirm.

Similarly are there areas of practice which are closer to smaller, team assignments rather than one singular big assignment by myself.

The nature of my summer associateship was that it was essentially useless as far as getting a "true" taste of what biglaw life is like.

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Re: Difference between work during clerkship and in practice

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 20, 2024 10:43 pm

Being a junior or mid-level litigation associate in biglaw is in fact how you describe it. When you're assigned to a case, you work on teams and more senior people delegate work to you in chunks as the process moves forward and is managed by someone above you. I promise you that, so long as you'll be doing litigation, the work you're doing now as an appellate law clerk is very worthwhile and will make you a better litigator no matter what you do. Also, I promise you that there are many biglaw juniors and mid-levels working 24/7 for disorganized senior attorneys with poor management skills. These people would probably love to trade places with you. "If only I didn't have to look at my email on my phone every 20 seconds, waiting for someone to tell me to do something. If only I could just be in charge of my own work structure and have some autonomy. If only I could analyze high-level legal precedents rather than sift through thousands of boring documents, tagging them as either responsive or non-responsive to the other side's document requests. That would be the life."

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Re: Difference between work during clerkship and in practice

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 21, 2024 9:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 20, 2024 10:43 pm
Being a junior or mid-level litigation associate in biglaw is in fact how you describe it. When you're assigned to a case, you work on teams and more senior people delegate work to you in chunks as the process moves forward and is managed by someone above you. I promise you that, so long as you'll be doing litigation, the work you're doing now as an appellate law clerk is very worthwhile and will make you a better litigator no matter what you do. Also, I promise you that there are many biglaw juniors and mid-levels working 24/7 for disorganized senior attorneys with poor management skills. These people would probably love to trade places with you. "If only I didn't have to look at my email on my phone every 20 seconds, waiting for someone to tell me to do something. If only I could just be in charge of my own work structure and have some autonomy. If only I could analyze high-level legal precedents rather than sift through thousands of boring documents, tagging them as either responsive or non-responsive to the other side's document requests. That would be the life."
You're probably right... but every time I get assigned a new 20+ page bench memo requiring detailed analysis on a topic I know nothing about I would be lying if my heart didn't sink. Much more prefer the assignments that are like hey research this small issue, or do this cite check, etc... But this is what I signed up for i guess.

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Re: Difference between work during clerkship and in practice

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 24, 2024 9:05 am

I wonder if you will find the work more compelling when you're working on behalf of a client, so trying to figure out a strategy that best serves their interests, rather than just objectively reacting to an issue that's laid before you? Not suggesting you will/should have some emotional connection to the client, just that trying to "win" is a sort of different mental state, and de facto makes you part of a "team" with the client (and doubtless others, whether you're junior enough to be receiving assignments or senior enough to be doling them out).

I also just think trial work is fundamentally different because you're building the case from the ground up, rather than having the entire thing plopped on your desk, fully formed, but I can't say that it won't also involve diving into a big pile of documents/cases and generating 20+ page memos.

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Re: Difference between work during clerkship and in practice

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 24, 2024 9:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 24, 2024 9:05 am
I wonder if you will find the work more compelling when you're working on behalf of a client, so trying to figure out a strategy that best serves their interests, rather than just objectively reacting to an issue that's laid before you? Not suggesting you will/should have some emotional connection to the client, just that trying to "win" is a sort of different mental state, and de facto makes you part of a "team" with the client (and doubtless others, whether you're junior enough to be receiving assignments or senior enough to be doling them out).

I also just think trial work is fundamentally different because you're building the case from the ground up, rather than having the entire thing plopped on your desk, fully formed, but I can't say that it won't also involve diving into a big pile of documents/cases and generating 20+ page memos.
This is a good point, which when I think about it probably plays a partial role.

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