Best and worst judges to clerk for

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Quichelorraine

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Quichelorraine » Sun Nov 15, 2020 12:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 9:48 am
So I am considering being a prosecutor for a career after law school but wanted to clerk first. While it would be ideal to get a judge who handles criminal, how much would it hurt my chances if the judge does not do criminal cases but civil cases?
Breaking this down a bit: I don't know the exact spread, but a lot of federal district judges handle the criminal side of the docket themselves. In my district, this was the default assumption, but judges were obviously happy to loop in clerks who wanted some criminal experience, and/or would seek clerk input on non-rote disputes. So at least on the federal district court side, what you care about isn't whether a judge "does" criminal cases, but how a judge handles her criminal docket.

Outside of the "standard" federal district judges, there are plenty of specialty federal courts and/or state courts that hear civil matters exclusively. The question of whether clerking for these courts would "hurt" you has no simple answer; it depends on the kind of prosecutors' office, how competitive things are, how weird the hiring cycle is, etc.

I suppose that some prosecutors' offices might wonder why you spun your wheels outside of your preferred subject area, but plenty of people do other things before becoming prosecutors.

Tl;dr: if you're interested in becoming a state prosecutor, and your question is "would a federal clerkship with a district judge who uses his clerks mostly as civil motions clerks actively hurt me?" my answer is "probably not."

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Nov 16, 2020 10:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 9:48 am
So I am considering being a prosecutor for a career after law school but wanted to clerk first. While it would be ideal to get a judge who handles criminal, how much would it hurt my chances if the judge does not do criminal cases but civil cases?
Giving a slightly different take now that I have some visibility on federal prosecution hiring process. (I agree with above poster that it doesn’t matter for an ADA position.) No one cares about the breakdown. The judge becomes a certain and outsize factor really only when you are applying DOJ Honors to Main Justice or SDNY (which nowadays the only office that participates). And it will be nice for him/her to say you worked on some criminal stuff, but what matters more is whether he/she was a former AUSA in some office or a Main Justice prosecutor and can argue credibly that you would do well in the office or department to which the candidate is applying. One of my judges, a former AUSA, has had a bunch of success placing people in both, and what mattered was when she got people on the phone and extolled how great the candidate would be as an AUSA/prosecutor given her visibility of what a USAO does and how an AUSA must act behind the scenes. (What certainly also helps is that she does get a supply of highly credentialed people who have shown interest in prosecution before or during law school.)

The judge becomes less important (though still relevant and helpful) if you have more professional experience. Much more helpful at that point is not only your actual criminal/litigation experience as a practitioner but also a reference/recommender who was a former AUSA in that particular office or at least someone (judge or practitioner) who is well connected and respected in that particular jurisdiction’s criminal bar.

Again, in neither circumstance does it matter whether you actually touched criminal work during your time in chambers.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by GoneSouth » Thu Nov 19, 2020 1:34 am

jackshunger wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:07 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Nov 09, 2020 11:54 pm

VanDyke is an under the radar candidate for the Nuts category. Collins is very conservative, but I don’t think he’s nuts.
Brave anon, please inform us which one of the 6 opinions VanDyke has written that indicates he is a "nut." Or do you have some personal information to share about his chambers which would be helpful to applicants? Or are you just reciting information from his confirmation hearing that any applicant could look up with a Google search?
Any one still want to die on the hill of VanDyke's professionalism after reading this? https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/ ... -70666.pdf

lavarman84

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by lavarman84 » Thu Nov 19, 2020 2:28 am

GoneSouth wrote:
Thu Nov 19, 2020 1:34 am
jackshunger wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:07 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Nov 09, 2020 11:54 pm

VanDyke is an under the radar candidate for the Nuts category. Collins is very conservative, but I don’t think he’s nuts.
Brave anon, please inform us which one of the 6 opinions VanDyke has written that indicates he is a "nut." Or do you have some personal information to share about his chambers which would be helpful to applicants? Or are you just reciting information from his confirmation hearing that any applicant could look up with a Google search?
Any one still want to die on the hill of VanDyke's professionalism after reading this? https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/ ... -70666.pdf
Sigh. It's sad that some judges think that writing style is endearing. I think it only serves to discredit the judiciary. That "dubitante" comes off as pettish.

Quichelorraine

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Quichelorraine » Fri Nov 20, 2020 3:26 pm

Now would be a perfect time to dish about that orientation video.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 01, 2021 7:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 6:32 pm
Anonymous User wrote:Any thoughts on 8th Circuit judges?
In order of prestige/selectivity, I think roughly Stras > Colloton/Gruender/Kelly > Loken/Kobes > everyone else. I don't really know anything about Benton though my guess is he's in category 3. Melloy seems to be a well-regarded senior judge.

Stras feeds to Gorsuch and Thomas but also hires liberals. Stras, Kelly, and Kobes are all supposed to be friendly and good to work for. Kelly requires work experience or a district court clerkship. There are several Colloton clerks with bad experiences, he's reportedly not very personable and he works his clerks hard. I know at least one upper T14 clerkship office has a caveat emptor attitude towards him. Grasz seems like a bit of a political hack that stumbled his way into a seat on a federal appellate court, though that might be unfair.

The vast majority of the circuit (maybe even everyone but Kelly) is off-plan.

I think Minnesota and Iowa also have notably strong state supreme courts, though nobody at Stras's level pre-COA, which might be something to look into. Papik on the Nebraska Supreme Court is very well-credentialed as well.
Can anyone clarify re: Grasz. I don’t care about the politics at all. I’ll work for anyone on either side. I just want to know if he is a Kosinski or Holmes (10th cir) before applying or whether anyone knows whether he is a nice man generally, etc. thanks for any wisdom. Also work expectations compared to other COA clerkships.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 23, 2021 6:39 pm

Any opinions on Menashi and/or Michael Park, either as bosses/mentors or for feeder potential? Neither have fed yet, even though Rao who was confirmed at roughly the same time has, but I would assume they will eventually given CA2 + their resumes + their Alito connections, but looking for second opinions.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jan 23, 2021 6:39 pm
Any opinions on Menashi and/or Michael Park, either as bosses/mentors or for feeder potential? Neither have fed yet, even though Rao who was confirmed at roughly the same time has, but I would assume they will eventually given CA2 + their resumes + their Alito connections, but looking for second opinions.
I know one person with Menashi right now, and he seems to love the experience (and, contra indications at confirmation, Menashi doesn't seem to be another Ho or Rao, at least not yet).

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 28, 2021 3:59 pm

Does anyone have any information on Judge Gibbons (6th Circuit)?

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 28, 2021 4:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 28, 2021 3:59 pm
Does anyone have any information on Judge Gibbons (6th Circuit)?
One of the more moderate conservatives on the court. She had some health problems 1-2 years ago and seems to have rebounded. I don't know much about her hiring practices, but her clerks seemed happy and not-too-stressed/overworked when I interacted with them. She's been a federal judge for nearly forty years now (half spent as a district judge, half after elevation), so she definitely knows her stuff.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 28, 2021 9:46 pm

Anyone have an idea what it's like to clerk for Myron Thompson these days? I know he's very well-regarded, and he's only 74, but it looks like he's only hiring two clerks and sharing one or both of them with another judge. Wondering how active he is.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 29, 2021 2:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 28, 2021 9:46 pm
Anyone have an idea what it's like to clerk for Myron Thompson these days? I know he's very well-regarded, and he's only 74, but it looks like he's only hiring two clerks and sharing one or both of them with another judge. Wondering how active he is.
A friend clerked for him within the past 5 years, told me that he is a wonderful person, but that there was very limited face time, and that they mostly just worked alone on stuff. Sounded like a 75% docket, but the friend had not clerked previously, so hard to pinpoint on their estimation.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 29, 2021 4:45 pm

Avoid Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo at all costs. I know some of her former clerks. She is verbally and emotionally abusive.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 29, 2021 10:24 pm

Lynn Hughes on SD Tex just cot reversed by CA5 for generally being a crackpot.

https://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/p ... 53-CV0.pdf

He has had a couple of notable sexism controversies before, probably best to avoid.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 30, 2021 1:33 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 28, 2021 4:13 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jan 28, 2021 3:59 pm
Does anyone have any information on Judge Gibbons (6th Circuit)?
One of the more moderate conservatives on the court. She had some health problems 1-2 years ago and seems to have rebounded. I don't know much about her hiring practices, but her clerks seemed happy and not-too-stressed/overworked when I interacted with them. She's been a federal judge for nearly forty years now (half spent as a district judge, half after elevation), so she definitely knows her stuff.
This is accurate. I might even go as far as to call her a moderate at this point (especially relative to the Sixth). The clerks of hers whom I met were liberals. And she was definitely to the left of my judge, who is conservative but not Trump-appointee conservative. But yes, the health problems would be my concern. Her chambers fell way behind on things during that period, and I don't think she was in the office much. But she's a very nice lady, and I echo the opinion that her clerks seemed happy and not overworked.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 30, 2021 9:05 pm

Any intel on Consuelo Marshall?

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 30, 2021 9:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jan 30, 2021 9:05 pm
Any intel on Consuelo Marshall?
Does she mix career clerks w term now? Not particularly active caseload-wise, but heard good things about her from courthouse staff and seems to be very patient in the courtroom. The substantive orders she puts out seem pretty darn good, so I think it would be a fairly slow-paced, deliberate environment. Also fairly choosy on cases, I was working for an active judge at a very busy time and we seemed to get them after they had been reassigned from her on a pretty frequent basis.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 06, 2021 2:31 am

General Question: what is the order of the prestige/career outcome bump of the federal circuits. I know the DC/2/9 are the most prestigious, but could someone perhaps rank all of them? And any basis that supports the ranking would be noteworthy. Or perhaps they are all equal after the aforementioned ones?

Hopefully this will help me and others decide what circuits to shoot for.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 06, 2021 11:26 am

Any intel on Ohio/KY district judges?

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 06, 2021 11:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 2:31 am
General Question: what is the order of the prestige/career outcome bump of the federal circuits. I know the DC/2/9 are the most prestigious, but could someone perhaps rank all of them? And any basis that supports the ranking would be noteworthy. Or perhaps they are all equal after the aforementioned ones?

Hopefully this will help me and others decide what circuits to shoot for.
I fundamentally disagree with the idea of circuit ranking in the first place. I think the idea that 2/9/DC are more prestigious confuses two factors. First, 2/9/DC tend to have a lot of (especially liberal) feeders, but feeders are already ranked, so when we are talking about circuits, presumably we are talking about clerkships with non-feeders. Secondly, 2/9/DC tend to be more desirable because lots of people want to live/practice in NY, LA, and SF, but its not clear why that fact would make a judge in Idaho or Vermont more prestigious than a judge in Wyoming or New Hampshire.

Therefore, you shouldn't be worried about "circuit" rankings. Try to find a well-regarded judge in a place you want to live, but other than that, just apply broadly and see what you get. If you don't have the grades for a feeder, the idea that anyone is going to care about the difference between a non-feeder in San Diego and a non-feeder in Atlanta seems highly unlikely. And if you have the grades for a feeder, the idea of turning down someone like Kethledge or Barron for a 2/9/DC non-feeder doesn't make much sense.

lavarman84

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by lavarman84 » Sat Feb 06, 2021 11:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 11:37 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 2:31 am
General Question: what is the order of the prestige/career outcome bump of the federal circuits. I know the DC/2/9 are the most prestigious, but could someone perhaps rank all of them? And any basis that supports the ranking would be noteworthy. Or perhaps they are all equal after the aforementioned ones?

Hopefully this will help me and others decide what circuits to shoot for.
I fundamentally disagree with the idea of circuit ranking in the first place. I think the idea that 2/9/DC are more prestigious confuses two factors. First, 2/9/DC tend to have a lot of (especially liberal) feeders, but feeders are already ranked, so when we are talking about circuits, presumably we are talking about clerkships with non-feeders. Secondly, 2/9/DC tend to be more desirable because lots of people want to live/practice in NY, LA, and SF, but its not clear why that fact would make a judge in Idaho or Vermont more prestigious than a judge in Wyoming or New Hampshire.

Therefore, you shouldn't be worried about "circuit" rankings. Try to find a well-regarded judge in a place you want to live, but other than that, just apply broadly and see what you get. If you don't have the grades for a feeder, the idea that anyone is going to care about the difference between a non-feeder in San Diego and a non-feeder in Atlanta seems highly unlikely. And if you have the grades for a feeder, the idea of turning down someone like Kethledge or Barron for a 2/9/DC non-feeder doesn't make much sense.
I agree with this. At the circuit level, prestige is based more on the judge than the circuit. If you aren't a feeder-caliber applicant, look for judges in the circuit(s) in which you want to live and practice.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by nixy » Sat Feb 06, 2021 11:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 11:37 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 2:31 am
General Question: what is the order of the prestige/career outcome bump of the federal circuits. I know the DC/2/9 are the most prestigious, but could someone perhaps rank all of them? And any basis that supports the ranking would be noteworthy. Or perhaps they are all equal after the aforementioned ones?

Hopefully this will help me and others decide what circuits to shoot for.
I fundamentally disagree with the idea of circuit ranking in the first place. I think the idea that 2/9/DC are more prestigious confuses two factors. First, 2/9/DC tend to have a lot of (especially liberal) feeders, but feeders are already ranked, so when we are talking about circuits, presumably we are talking about clerkships with non-feeders. Secondly, 2/9/DC tend to be more desirable because lots of people want to live/practice in NY, LA, and SF, but its not clear why that fact would make a judge in Idaho or Vermont more prestigious than a judge in Wyoming or New Hampshire.

Therefore, you shouldn't be worried about "circuit" rankings. Try to find a well-regarded judge in a place you want to live, but other than that, just apply broadly and see what you get. If you don't have the grades for a feeder, the idea that anyone is going to care about the difference between a non-feeder in San Diego and a non-feeder in Atlanta seems highly unlikely. And if you have the grades for a feeder, the idea of turning down someone like Kethledge or Barron for a 2/9/DC non-feeder doesn't make much sense.
Yeah, I agree entirely with the above. To the extent any circuit clerkship is more prestigious than any other, it's a function of the judge, not the circuit. Certain locations are more desirable to more people, and therefore arguably more competitive, but not inherently more prestigious. The basic career bump is from having the clerkship and is what it is for everyone. Some judges may be more active/effective in advocating for their clerks, which might provide some additional boost, but again, that's a function of the judge, not the location.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by mjb447 » Sat Feb 06, 2021 3:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 11:37 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 2:31 am
General Question: what is the order of the prestige/career outcome bump of the federal circuits. I know the DC/2/9 are the most prestigious, but could someone perhaps rank all of them? And any basis that supports the ranking would be noteworthy. Or perhaps they are all equal after the aforementioned ones?

Hopefully this will help me and others decide what circuits to shoot for.
I fundamentally disagree with the idea of circuit ranking in the first place. I think the idea that 2/9/DC are more prestigious confuses two factors. First, 2/9/DC tend to have a lot of (especially liberal) feeders, but feeders are already ranked, so when we are talking about circuits, presumably we are talking about clerkships with non-feeders. Secondly, 2/9/DC tend to be more desirable because lots of people want to live/practice in NY, LA, and SF, but its not clear why that fact would make a judge in Idaho or Vermont more prestigious than a judge in Wyoming or New Hampshire.

Therefore, you shouldn't be worried about "circuit" rankings. Try to find a well-regarded judge in a place you want to live, but other than that, just apply broadly and see what you get. If you don't have the grades for a feeder, the idea that anyone is going to care about the difference between a non-feeder in San Diego and a non-feeder in Atlanta seems highly unlikely. And if you have the grades for a feeder, the idea of turning down someone like Kethledge or Barron for a 2/9/DC non-feeder doesn't make much sense.
Agree with this. Apply based on where you want to practice or what you can find out about particular judges, not "circuit prestige."

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 06, 2021 4:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 11:37 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Feb 06, 2021 2:31 am
General Question: what is the order of the prestige/career outcome bump of the federal circuits. I know the DC/2/9 are the most prestigious, but could someone perhaps rank all of them? And any basis that supports the ranking would be noteworthy. Or perhaps they are all equal after the aforementioned ones?

Hopefully this will help me and others decide what circuits to shoot for.
I fundamentally disagree with the idea of circuit ranking in the first place. I think the idea that 2/9/DC are more prestigious confuses two factors. First, 2/9/DC tend to have a lot of (especially liberal) feeders, but feeders are already ranked, so when we are talking about circuits, presumably we are talking about clerkships with non-feeders. Secondly, 2/9/DC tend to be more desirable because lots of people want to live/practice in NY, LA, and SF, but its not clear why that fact would make a judge in Idaho or Vermont more prestigious than a judge in Wyoming or New Hampshire.

Therefore, you shouldn't be worried about "circuit" rankings. Try to find a well-regarded judge in a place you want to live, but other than that, just apply broadly and see what you get. If you don't have the grades for a feeder, the idea that anyone is going to care about the difference between a non-feeder in San Diego and a non-feeder in Atlanta seems highly unlikely. And if you have the grades for a feeder, the idea of turning down someone like Kethledge or Barron for a 2/9/DC non-feeder doesn't make much sense.
I mostly agree with this but would push back a little on the idea that circuit "prestige" doesn't exist or doesn't matter. Anon because I've been involved in hiring at two lit boutiques. Having a 2/7/9/DC clerkship - any of them - was generally viewed as a plus over, say, a CA11 clerkship. (Of course, absent SCOTUS, clerking in our home circuit was the biggest plus, and I totally agree with what's been said already about clerking in the place you want to work unless you're in feeder contention.) There was some granularity in that to the extent that we were aware of which judges were harder "gets" in our home circuit, but not as much as you might expect, and we obviously had less insight into how competitive the non-feeders outside our home circuit are.

Any circuit "prestige" effect is at least partly just proxy for applicant quality overall, so it's hard to say how much this actually matters. But it is the sort of thing that comes up, sometimes explicitly and sometimes obliquely - e.g. someone saying that a candidate has "good clerkships" when those clerkships are in a 2/7/9/DC circuit, and not saying the same when a candidate's clerkships are in flyovers.

That all said, I ultimately agree with these takeaways even while disagreeing that circuit prestige "exists". In particular, which individual judge you clerk for, and whether they're a good boss and someone who will care about your professional development, matters so much more IMO than any incremental boost in hiring at snobby employers. Yes, it's hard to figure that stuff out and that often requires calling former clerks and just doing harder work than "this judge is on a 'prestigious' circuit so they're better." But doing that work is worth it and should outweigh any circuit "prestige" concerns.

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Re: Best and worst judges to clerk for

Post by Iowahawk » Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:44 pm

Imo 2 and DC are kind of unique because of their unique dockets/roles in major areas of law (for business lit and admin respectively) and high concentrations of highly prominent judges. The SCOTUS clerk answering questions on here also suggested the justices view the DC Circuit as meaningfully superior to otherwise equivalent ones (I assume due to a mix of docket, selectivity, social connections to the justices, having lots of former SCOTUS advocates, etc.).

To a lesser degree 7 as well for whatever reason has a lot of really highly-regarded judges, and it publishes a ton of opinions that studies find are disproportionately followed elsewhere. I don't know that 9 is really the same, though its en banc process is pretty unique and it gets a lot of big cases, as it's so big and doesn't have tons of major feeders anymore.

But yeah in general judge >> circuit.

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