Best and worst judges to clerk for

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sun May 31, 2020 8:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 4:34 pm
Any intel on other federal judges with chambers in Houston besides those mentioned above?

Specifically looking for insight/opinions on Jones (5th Cir.), Hanen (S.D. Tex.), and Eskridge (S.D. Tex.).
Jones runs a very tight ship and is extremely conservative, but it's a good experience.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 4:34 pm
Any intel on other federal judges with chambers in Houston besides those mentioned above?

Specifically looking for insight/opinions on Jones (5th Cir.), Hanen (S.D. Tex.), and Eskridge (S.D. Tex.).

Eskridge is new so not much else to say about him yet. Hanen and Jones are both conservative enough that it bleeds through to their jurisprudence but otherwise they offer good clerkships.

Rosenthal and Ellison are the most selective and prestigious of the Houston district judges. Rosenthal has a great reputation, but her clerks have a very heavy workload - think often having to come in on Saturdays.

Hittner has way more trials than the median federal judge; he actively poaches cases that are about to go to trial from other judges' dockets so he can try them. Lake has a "lifestyle" clerkship; his term clerks apparently only work 9-5 and do nothing but draft opinions. Both have senior status but draw full or mostly full caseloads.

Hughes has a bad reputation. Avoid unless you do your due diligence.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:57 am
Wild Card wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:42 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 3:23 pm
In the spirit of the thread, former SDNY clerk here willing to take questions.
How does Rakoff-Katzmann hiring work?
I am not sure of the exact details. Katzmann is one of the founders of the current clerkship hiring plan, and I think it's his goodwill (and that of Garland) in the 2d Cir, D.C. Cir, and around the country that has encouraged many judges to go along. So obviously he hires some according to the plan and he strictly does not consider 1L apps. But I know he also hires people who, by the time they begin the clerkship, will have been several years out. So he also considers 3L and, maybe, post-grad applications.

I know both Rakoff and Katzmann interview candidates, either back to back or within a few days. They have very different personalities. Katzmann is truly one of the nicest people in the federal courts. He will give you a tour of his office. He is also a former academic, and I think likes hiring people who fit that mold. Rakoff is quirky but very personable and funny. In general, you obviously need top grades. They both teach at schools in the city (Katzmann at NYU, Rakoff at Columbia), and may pull promising students through that pipeline. Both also rely heavily on professor reccs — they are well-connected to profs at all the top schools. It seems they hire mainly from the usual suspect schools: YLS, HLS, SLS, Chicago, NYU, Columbia. I'm not sure how often they drop below the T6. The duo also feeds, and thus they look for potential feeder material in the clerks they hire. Katzmann may have an ideological litmus test — the people who I know have gone to clerk for him have been liberal, and he is obviously a purposivist (he wrote the leading modern defense of that theory of statutory interpretation).

One thing to keep in mind with Rakoff is that he has a very small civil docket and, like Judge Wood, mainly does criminal trials. That materially affects the substantive work of your clerkship and QOL. Trials are grueling experiences for judges and clerks. But you get to be in the fire of trial with one of the best crim pro minds in the nation.
The former clerks I know would be amused by the notion that Rakoff has a very small civil docket. He and his clerks stay very busy on both sides of the docket. It is true that he has a lot of trials, but that's just on top of everything else.

Hiring is done jointly. Candidates get a call from one chambers to set up interviews in both. It's typically on the same day, usually back to back. They hire people who have at least a credible shot at the Supreme Court, and they are strong enough feeders that they get plenty of people who are shoo-ins. That means mostly top YLS and HLS students who have met the right professors. The top two or three students at Columbia and NYU, maybe. Number 1s from lower in the T14 have also been hired. Their clerks tend to be liberals but I know of at least one member of the odious federalist society that slipped through the cracks.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:26 pm

Back to SCOTX for one follow-up question.

How do TX employers see the justices compared to federal district judges?

Do firms recruit from the court or are people generally stuck with where they summered?

And along similar lines, is it possible to go from SCOTX to TX AG or government pretty easily? Are you able to form those connections or not really since the AG is often a party before the court? (Likewise, are there certain judges to target for this.)

Sorry if this is off-topic. Mods, please feel free to delete it if so.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Pneumonia » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:26 pm
Back to SCOTX for one follow-up question.

How do TX employers see the justices compared to federal district judges?

Do firms recruit from the court or are people generally stuck with where they summered?

And along similar lines, is it possible to go from SCOTX to TX AG or government pretty easily? Are you able to form those connections or not really since the AG is often a party before the court? (Likewise, are there certain judges to target for this.)

Sorry if this is off-topic. Mods, please feel free to delete it if so.
In general any AIII > than any SCOTX. Firms do not recruit from SCOTX. Each year, there are at least 2 or 3 of the 18 clerks who did not do an SA or otherwise don't have a job lined up. These clerks spend the year looking for a job, usually with pretty active support from their judge, but they are not always successful. Going to the AG is possible, or to the Coleman fellowship, but not straight to a long-term SG job. I'm not sure about other government. You can make AG connections through Austin fedsoc. There aren't any ethical walls that prevent you from talking to folks from the AG's office. Feel free to PM me if you want to know more.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by lavarman84 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 4:37 am
Hughes has a bad reputation. Avoid unless you do your due diligence.
I'd say just to avoid Lynn Hughes, due diligence or not. I've heard horror stories about him as a boss and a person, and he's a horrible jurist on top of that. He's the Manny Real of the Fifth Circuit imo. When you're so extreme that the extremely conservative Fifth Circuit is chastising you for your ridiculous decisions, you should just call it a career.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 10, 2020 9:40 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:26 pm
Back to SCOTX for one follow-up question.

How do TX employers see the justices compared to federal district judges?

Do firms recruit from the court or are people generally stuck with where they summered?

And along similar lines, is it possible to go from SCOTX to TX AG or government pretty easily? Are you able to form those connections or not really since the AG is often a party before the court? (Likewise, are there certain judges to target for this.)

Sorry if this is off-topic. Mods, please feel free to delete it if so.
I would compare SCOTX to federal magistrate judges. Employers recognize there is value there but it does not have the prestige or resume shine that an AIII clerkship does.

Texas AG is pretty much always hiring because there is a lot of churn, especially in the less desirable divisions. But the availability of entry-level and 1-year experience positions are a bit random. Clerks of any kind have a great shot at getting that kind of job if they're open to it, less because of a special connection and more because (1) clerks tend to be well qualified and (2) there's no competition from 3Ls for entry-level positions because in 95% of cases you can't get a job offer from the Texas govt already being barred.

Entry level lawyer jobs at other Texas agencies (and counties and municipalities) are rarer but exist.

The only justice-specific thing I would suggest is that Boyd and Blacklock have the best connections to people in the executive branch because they both worked for the governor before being appointed to the court not long ago. But all of the justices have connections throughout the Texas political and legal communities.

My limited and anecdotal experience is SCOTX clerks do not have trouble finding jobs if they are willing to look outside of Austin. The Austin-only types struggle more because Austin is not a huge legal market, but even most of them manage to find something.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jun 10, 2020 10:22 am

I’ve heard from a former clerk that Jay Richardson on the Fourth is a really wonderful clerkship experience.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:38 pm

Any recommendations for smart judges who are good bosses who we might've overlooked? E.g. I imagine some people might overlook Sidney Thomas or Robert Bacharach based on location and law school. I've got apps to burn in OSCAR and I've gone through the usual appellate suspects plus judges in the districts I'm targeting.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:38 pm
Any recommendations for smart judges who are good bosses who we might've overlooked? E.g. I imagine some people might overlook Sidney Thomas or Robert Bacharach based on location and law school. I've got apps to burn in OSCAR and I've gone through the usual appellate suspects plus judges in the districts I'm targeting.
No one is overlooking Sidney Thomas, he's the Chief Judge, his clerkship experience is well known to be amazing, and he is very competitive. I believe he usually reserves a spot for a local clerk as well.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:50 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:38 pm
Any recommendations for smart judges who are good bosses who we might've overlooked? E.g. I imagine some people might overlook Sidney Thomas or Robert Bacharach based on location and law school. I've got apps to burn in OSCAR and I've gone through the usual appellate suspects plus judges in the districts I'm targeting.
No one is overlooking Sidney Thomas, he's the Chief Judge, his clerkship experience is well known to be amazing, and he is very competitive. I believe he usually reserves a spot for a local clerk as well.
Likewise with Judge Bacharach - his personality and experience are well known on the thread to be amazing.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:50 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:38 pm
Any recommendations for smart judges who are good bosses who we might've overlooked? E.g. I imagine some people might overlook Sidney Thomas or Robert Bacharach based on location and law school. I've got apps to burn in OSCAR and I've gone through the usual appellate suspects plus judges in the districts I'm targeting.
No one is overlooking Sidney Thomas, he's the Chief Judge, his clerkship experience is well known to be amazing, and he is very competitive. I believe he usually reserves a spot for a local clerk as well.
I agree that it's a phenomenal outcome, which is why I used him as an example. But he also has a lot of characteristics that make his reputation surprising (didn't go to a fancy law school, clerk for a fancy judge, work at a fancy firm, or ever leave Montana).

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:13 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:50 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:38 pm
Any recommendations for smart judges who are good bosses who we might've overlooked? E.g. I imagine some people might overlook Sidney Thomas or Robert Bacharach based on location and law school. I've got apps to burn in OSCAR and I've gone through the usual appellate suspects plus judges in the districts I'm targeting.
No one is overlooking Sidney Thomas, he's the Chief Judge, his clerkship experience is well known to be amazing, and he is very competitive. I believe he usually reserves a spot for a local clerk as well.
I agree that it's a phenomenal outcome, which is why I used him as an example. But he also has a lot of characteristics that make his reputation surprising (didn't go to a fancy law school, clerk for a fancy judge, work at a fancy firm, or ever leave Montana).

I'm not arguing that Sidney Thomas is not a great judge and he has lived a fascinating life. But he isn't "overlooked" on OSCAR and his office will be inundated with applications. Actually overlooked judges are going to be Senior Judges that people mistakenly think don't do a lot of real legal work.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:42 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 11:13 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:50 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:38 pm
Any recommendations for smart judges who are good bosses who we might've overlooked? E.g. I imagine some people might overlook Sidney Thomas or Robert Bacharach based on location and law school. I've got apps to burn in OSCAR and I've gone through the usual appellate suspects plus judges in the districts I'm targeting.
No one is overlooking Sidney Thomas, he's the Chief Judge, his clerkship experience is well known to be amazing, and he is very competitive. I believe he usually reserves a spot for a local clerk as well.
I agree that it's a phenomenal outcome, which is why I used him as an example. But he also has a lot of characteristics that make his reputation surprising (didn't go to a fancy law school, clerk for a fancy judge, work at a fancy firm, or ever leave Montana).

I'm not arguing that Sidney Thomas is not a great judge and he has lived a fascinating life. But he isn't "overlooked" on OSCAR and his office will be inundated with applications. Actually overlooked judges are going to be Senior Judges that people mistakenly think don't do a lot of real legal work.
Ah, I see the confusion, I think you're missing my point (which might not have been clear). I'm not looking for judges who won't receive many apps, I'm just looking for judges who'd be cool to work for who applicants might miss using common filters (geography, resume, etc.). If you know of any really great senior judges in that category, though, let me know!

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jun 13, 2020 12:02 am

Any intel on quality of life for S.D.Fl. Trump appointees?

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:18 am

I've heard very very good things about Altman and Ruiz. No info as to Smith or Singhaal.


I would clerk for either Altman and RUiz in a heartbeat. Hours are probably worse than typical government clerkship, but both are apparently such amazing bosses and such good lawyers that its probably worth it.

SDFL is a very busy district and very quick. It isn't as busy as SDNY, or as quick as EDVA, but it does more trials than anywhere other than SDTX (which does a bunch of one day illegal reentry trials) and has the second quickest complaint to trial timeline.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:22 pm

Anyone have recent insights on EDNY judges (specifically Amon, Brodie, Chen, Cogan, Kovner, Kuntz, Mauskopf)? What it's like to clerk for them, how competitive hiring is, etc. Also who the most competitive EDNY judges are?

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Wild Card » Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:22 pm
Anyone have recent insights on EDNY judges (specifically Amon, Brodie, Chen, Cogan, Kovner, Kuntz, Mauskopf)? What it's like to clerk for them, how competitive hiring is, etc. Also who the most competitive EDNY judges are?
Ross appears to be the only EDNY judge who meaningfully feeds to the Second Circuit - but she hires only public interest-oriented candidates.

Two Matsumoto clerks have made their way to Justice Sotomayor for the October 2017 term.

Median GPA is top 25% at T6.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by LBJ's Hair » Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:01 pm

Given her connections to SCOTUS, I'd think Kovner is going to require borderline feeder credentials. Every every right-of-center gunner in the country will apply. And probably plenty of liberals too -- she's in NY, was in the SG's office, wasn't a controversial appointee.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2020 4:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:22 pm
Anyone have recent insights on EDNY judges (specifically Amon, Brodie, Chen, Cogan, Kovner, Kuntz, Mauskopf)? What it's like to clerk for them, how competitive hiring is, etc. Also who the most competitive EDNY judges are?
When I spoke to recent Brodie clerks they said they work long hours (not uncommon to have 12 hour days, weekend work).

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 14, 2020 4:51 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:22 pm
Anyone have recent insights on EDNY judges (specifically Amon, Brodie, Chen, Cogan, Kovner, Kuntz, Mauskopf)? What it's like to clerk for them, how competitive hiring is, etc. Also who the most competitive EDNY judges are?
When I spoke to recent Brodie clerks they said they work long hours (not uncommon to have 12 hour days, weekend work).
Seconding this. A word that came to mind from clerks I spoke to; "perfectionist". An associate of the NY V10 I summered at (who was clerking in EDNY for another judge) said she worked people as much/more than the firm.

That said, the clerks seemed to find it a worthwhile experience, just be prepared for the hours.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2020 6:40 pm

Does anyone have Fourth Cir insights? Specifically: Keenan, Wynn, Harris, Diaz

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:18 pm

LBJ's Hair wrote:
Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:01 pm
Given her connections to SCOTUS, I'd think Kovner is going to require borderline feeder credentials. Every every right-of-center gunner in the country will apply. And probably plenty of liberals too -- she's in NY, was in the SG's office, wasn't a controversial appointee.
I know from a prof who’s been in touch with the judge that she has indeed received a ton of killer apps.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:18 pm
LBJ's Hair wrote:
Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:01 pm
Given her connections to SCOTUS, I'd think Kovner is going to require borderline feeder credentials. Every every right-of-center gunner in the country will apply. And probably plenty of liberals too -- she's in NY, was in the SG's office, wasn't a controversial appointee.
I know from a prof who’s been in touch with the judge that she has indeed received a ton of killer apps.
Think she'll be a Chhabria-level feeder right out of the gate?

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 14, 2020 6:40 pm
Does anyone have Fourth Cir insights? Specifically: Keenan, Wynn, Harris, Diaz
Keenan- Strong judge but certainly runs a stricter shift and has a more business-like approach to interactions. Somewhat like Judge Motz, but not quite to that extent.

Diaz- Highly respected, very sensible approach to the law, have heard positive things about the experience from some of his former clerks.

Wynn- Based on interactions with clerks, I'd put up a strong yellow, approaching red, flag here. Separately, probably the most equity-oriented judge on the circuit, with Judge Gregory being the other contender.

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