Keep striking out—defeated

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Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:23 pm

Im now 0-2 on clerkship interviews this season. Feeling defeated. It’s so hard to get these things in the first place, and I’ve submitted a bunch of other apps without hearing anything. I hate this profession. Just continually makes you feel like a fuck up.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Wild Card » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:01 pm

IME, because there are close to a thousand applicants for two to four spots, either you have to be the perfect fit for a judge, or your recommender has to be friends with the judge and make a call for you.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:06 pm

Yea. It’s weird because I’ve already done one dist clerkship and am currently doing magistrate. I went 2/2 on those (obviously), but they were also the only two clerkship interviews I had ever done previously.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Yea. It’s weird because I’ve already done one dist clerkship and am currently doing magistrate. I went 2/2 on those (obviously), but they were also the only two clerkship interviews I had ever done previously.
You are trying to get your third clerkship and you feel this way? Imagine how people who are trying to just land their first clerkship feel. Count your blessings on that part and realize you've already beaten the odds twice and are very lucky.

I applied for over a year before I got my clerkship. I did more than two interviews (don't want to give number and out myself). I had professors make calls, and would tell them I had the interview, and then would have to go back and tell them I didn't get it. It was incredibly demoralizing. But as you mentioned, it's so hard just to get an interview, and then once you do, you're competing for sometimes only one spot. I ended up with my ideal clerkship, but it took a lot of anguish, time, and effort. I think people and clerkship offices do applicants a disservice by not being more transparent about how difficult and lengthy this process can be.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:41 pm

Chin up, OP. I'll share my story in the hopes that it will make you feel better and perhaps offer some perspective.

I began applying for AIII clerkships during Spring 2L. I was in the top quintile at a T14 with significant publications and journal leadership: a strong applicant, but not one of the chosen ones and not strong enough to get much help from my school's clerkship committee.

I had no interview offers until about a year after I started sending in apps. I received 2 invites in the space of about a month: 1 with a district judge in a non-competitive district, and 1 with a Staff Attorneys' Office at a CoA. Both interviews went well (or so I thought). But I remember gritting my teeth, to an extent, over the positions: both were 2-year gigs and were not really what I wanted. Geographically, the district court position would put a strain on my relationship, and serving as a Staff Attorney for 2 years seemed to be underselling my own abilities/credentials. Well, I got rejected by the district judge because s/he decided to hire a clerk who committed to a 4-year term. Why I was rejected by the CoA Staff Attorneys' Office, I'll never know. I didn't feel too bad about the district court position because there was no way in hell I was going to do a 4-year clerkship. But it felt pretty shitty to be rejected from a position where I wouldn't have even been an elbow clerk.

I joined a big firm after graduation and kept applying, though with less zeal. A few months into my first year, I got an interview invite from a district judge in the competitive district where I was working: seemed too good to be true. Interview invites went out all at once to those whom the judge was inviting and, through a sloppy administrative error by which other invitees were CC'd instead of BCC'd, I saw that there were 8 others invited to interview. 9 candidates for 3 spots. I swallowed hard, prepped as best I could, and went to the interview. This one felt good too, but I was jaded after the prior ones. I got the offer from the judge the next day at work. I screamed myself hoarse in my office and then had to fabricate some stupid explanation to my concerned co-workers.

Once I had that offer, I redoubled my COA applications. As luck would have it, a few months after getting the nod from the district judge, two CoA judges wanted to interview me - on the same day, no less! Feeling like hot shit, I booked my flights and began prepping. Despite the grueling day of interviews, I left thinking that the first interview was meh but that the second one was awesome - really connected with the judge. Got the ding from the first judge within 2 weeks - whatever, no bigs, s/he wasn't really my bag anyway. I waited another FIVE weeks to hear from the second: another rejection, but couched as "I really liked you so apply for my next term."

I applied for the second COA judge's next term...and the next term...and the next term. No dice. I also applied to CoAs while clerking on the district court and then after rejoining BigLaw. Not even a sniff. 9 months after I applied, 6 months after I'd stopped applying entirely, and over 3 years out of law school, a CoA judge asked me to interview. I almost didn't go, given some changes in my life circumstances. Glad I did, though: the judge offered me on the spot, and I accepted. This time I raged with joy in the rental car and didn't have to explain my silliness to anyone. I'm slated to begin in 2020.

In each case, I went 1/3 on interviews; in each case, the third time was the charm.

I also didn't know it when I was in law school, but the recommenders I chose on the basis of getting A grades in their classes and ingratiating myself to them (i.e., office hours, social functions) had zero relevant connections and gave me no leg up whatsoever: no calls to judges, no helpful advice or strategy, nothing. This isn't to say I'm not grateful to them, because I suspect their letters were quite strong, but only that every other applicant has strong letters - so they didn't set me apart in any meaningful way.

From my first app to my last app, something like 4.5 years passed. It was over 3 years from my first offer to my second - and not because I wasn't applying! The AIII game, especially at the CoA level, is fucking silly if you don't have a) elite grades from the most elite law schools or b) the right connections. But the game can be played, and won, without those things; it just takes a lot of patience, some flexibility, and a belief that the right opportunity is out there for you. Your rejections may prove a blessing, as mine did.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by goodkarma56 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:28 am

OP, do you have aspirations of serving as a career/permanent clerk? I'm a former court of appeals clerk and while my judge only hired clerks for one-year terms, I do recall at least two judges on our circuit who each had one career/permanent clerk in chambers. I reckon that your prior clerkship experiences would make you a very competitive candidate for one of these positions.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by cavalier1138 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I joined a big firm after graduation and kept applying, though with less zeal. A few months into my first year, I got an interview invite from a district judge in the competitive district where I was working: seemed too good to be true.
How much do you think your firm helped with that (either directly or indirectly)?

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jul 22, 2019 3:19 pm

You can't lose hope this early on. I sent over 100 applications and did 6 interviews before finally locking up my clerkship.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:19 pm

I'm like 2-10 and ended up with great judges in competitive districts/circuits after nearly a year of interviewing. Don't give up!

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Im now 0-2 on clerkship interviews this season. Feeling defeated. It’s so hard to get these things in the first place, and I’ve submitted a bunch of other apps without hearing anything. I hate this profession. Just continually makes you feel like a fuck up.
It's rough, but keep going. I didn't get an offer until my eighth interview (and many, many apps)--which I was convinced had gone terribly until I got the call. Best of luck.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by lavarman84 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Im now 0-2 on clerkship interviews this season. Feeling defeated. It’s so hard to get these things in the first place, and I’ve submitted a bunch of other apps without hearing anything. I hate this profession. Just continually makes you feel like a fuck up.
0 for 2 isn't concerning. I went 2 for 8. You just have to keep persevering. Eventually, things will pan out. I landed with two amazing judges (D. Ct. and COA), and I feel that the rejections ended up being the best thing for me.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Tenzen » Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:41 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I joined a big firm after graduation and kept applying, though with less zeal. A few months into my first year, I got an interview invite from a district judge in the competitive district where I was working: seemed too good to be true.
How much do you think your firm helped with that (either directly or indirectly)?
This is a good question.

Also. Pretty rude of the judge to solicit you, pulling you away from that sweet salary.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by nixy » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:54 am

Tenzen wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I joined a big firm after graduation and kept applying, though with less zeal. A few months into my first year, I got an interview invite from a district judge in the competitive district where I was working: seemed too good to be true.
How much do you think your firm helped with that (either directly or indirectly)?
This is a good question.

Also. Pretty rude of the judge to solicit you, pulling you away from that sweet salary.
Lol no.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:51 pm

Just came across this from last year. I'm officially 0/4 on district court interviews. Even though I know clerkship hiring is super random, these rejections really sting. I've got a COA interview coming up next week and I almost want to cancel it :(

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Wild Card » Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:51 pm
Just came across this from last year. I'm officially 0/4 on district court interviews. Even though I know clerkship hiring is super random, these rejections really sting. I've got a COA interview coming up next week and I almost want to cancel it :(
I'm also 0/4. #5 has not gotten back to me for months, so it's really 0/5. ;;;D

Good luck. I think a handful of judges are waiting until they can meet with candidates in person to start interviewing. So, who knows, we may be 0/8 or 0/10 soon enough.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:20 am

Wild Card wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:17 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:51 pm
Just came across this from last year. I'm officially 0/4 on district court interviews. Even though I know clerkship hiring is super random, these rejections really sting. I've got a COA interview coming up next week and I almost want to cancel it :(
I'm also 0/4. #5 has not gotten back to me for months, so it's really 0/5. ;;;D

Good luck. I think a handful of judges are waiting until they can meet with candidates in person to start interviewing. So, who knows, we may be 0/8 or 0/10 soon enough.
Quoted anon here, I lol'ed. Thanks for that :) ... :(

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by FascinatedWanderer » Fri Aug 21, 2020 11:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:41 pm


Once I had that offer, I redoubled my COA applications. As luck would have it, a few months after getting the nod from the district judge, two CoA judges wanted to interview me - on the same day, no less! Feeling like hot shit, I booked my flights and began prepping. Despite the grueling day of interviews, I left thinking that the first interview was meh but that the second one was awesome - really connected with the judge. Got the ding from the first judge within 2 weeks - whatever, no bigs, s/he wasn't really my bag anyway. I waited another FIVE weeks to hear from the second: another rejection, but couched as "I really liked you so apply for my next term."

I applied for the second COA judge's next term...and the next term...and the next term. No dice.
I also applied to CoAs while clerking on the district court and then after rejoining BigLaw. Not even a sniff. 9 months after I applied, 6 months after I'd stopped applying entirely, and over 3 years out of law school, a CoA judge asked me to interview. I almost didn't go, given some changes in my life circumstances. Glad I did, though: the judge offered me on the spot, and I accepted. This time I raged with joy in the rental car and didn't have to explain my silliness to anyone. I'm slated to begin in 2020.
For the benefit of applicants, the bolded kind of statement is always just a courtesy/platitude, so I wouldn't read into it. A judge that really likes you is perfectly capable of simply offering you a spot for a future term, so saying "hey apply again" is just a somewhat nicer straight rejection.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 6:28 pm

FascinatedWanderer wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 11:44 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:41 pm


Once I had that offer, I redoubled my COA applications. As luck would have it, a few months after getting the nod from the district judge, two CoA judges wanted to interview me - on the same day, no less! Feeling like hot shit, I booked my flights and began prepping. Despite the grueling day of interviews, I left thinking that the first interview was meh but that the second one was awesome - really connected with the judge. Got the ding from the first judge within 2 weeks - whatever, no bigs, s/he wasn't really my bag anyway. I waited another FIVE weeks to hear from the second: another rejection, but couched as "I really liked you so apply for my next term."

I applied for the second COA judge's next term...and the next term...and the next term. No dice.
I also applied to CoAs while clerking on the district court and then after rejoining BigLaw. Not even a sniff. 9 months after I applied, 6 months after I'd stopped applying entirely, and over 3 years out of law school, a CoA judge asked me to interview. I almost didn't go, given some changes in my life circumstances. Glad I did, though: the judge offered me on the spot, and I accepted. This time I raged with joy in the rental car and didn't have to explain my silliness to anyone. I'm slated to begin in 2020.
For the benefit of applicants, the bolded kind of statement is always just a courtesy/platitude, so I wouldn't read into it. A judge that really likes you is perfectly capable of simply offering you a spot for a future term, so saying "hey apply again" is just a somewhat nicer straight rejection.
I don't know if this is true? Plenty of judges don't like hiring too far in advance, might want to compare you versus the next group of applicants, etc.

Fwiw I went 0 for 4 and got pretty demoralized (on top of going like 1 for 8 for OCI callbacks) then got some more interviews, went 4 for 4, and ended up with two clerkships that were perfect for me. Just keep at it.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 6:44 pm

Wild Card wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:01 pm
IME, because there are close to a thousand applicants for two to four spots, either you have to be the perfect fit for a judge, or your recommender has to be friends with the judge and make a call for you.

Anecdotes notwithstanding, these are definitely NOT the only two ways to get a clerkship, even in more competitive places. Having been on the hiring side, there's lots of other ways to get asked in for an interview.

OP, schedule a session with the school office, reach out to friends/former clerks/colleagues, let people know you're actively searching. Maybe even reach out to former professors you had not previously tapped. And keep sending out apps!

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:21 pm

I don't think this has been mentioned yet, but if you're centrist/conservative/ideologically flexible, hunt down recent and unpopular Trump appointees if you can grit your teeth about their ABA ratings. They are much more likely to be impressed by a strong desire to work for them in particular.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by jackshunger » Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:21 pm
I don't think this has been mentioned yet, but if you're centrist/conservative/ideologically flexible, hunt down recent and unpopular Trump appointees if you can grit your teeth about their ABA ratings. They are much more likely to be impressed by a strong desire to work for them in particular.
Is there any evidence behind this or is this entirely based on the tweets about the Harvard law clerkship office email? From my experience, the Trump appointees with the worst press have some of the most demand in Fedsoc (read Duncan, Rushing, Vandyke) - just take a look at the John Marshall Fellows or linkedin. I cant speak to the District Court judges, so this could hold for Pitlak, Teeter, Starr, and others - but you also have to be geographically flexible above all else to clerk for them anyway.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:58 pm

jackshunger wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:21 pm
I don't think this has been mentioned yet, but if you're centrist/conservative/ideologically flexible, hunt down recent and unpopular Trump appointees if you can grit your teeth about their ABA ratings. They are much more likely to be impressed by a strong desire to work for them in particular.
Is there any evidence behind this or is this entirely based on the tweets about the Harvard law clerkship office email? From my experience, the Trump appointees with the worst press have some of the most demand in Fedsoc (read Duncan, Rushing, Vandyke) - just take a look at the John Marshall Fellows or linkedin. I cant speak to the District Court judges, so this could hold for Pitlak, Teeter, Starr, and others - but you also have to be geographically flexible above all else to clerk for them anyway.
Huh, I'd never heard of John Marshall Fellows before. The amount of resume-stacking with random right-wing fellowships and stuff on those bios shows just how big the benefits of never-ending cash and clerkships are for the small number of conservative law students. One of them was wrapped up in a racism scandal at my school, doesn't seem to have hurt them any.

Regardless I don't think it's accurate to say they're "some of the most" desirable. I don't think many conservative students are taking Bush, Duncan, Ho, Rushing, Vandyke, etc. over Newsom, Oldham, Park, Stras, etc.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by jackshunger » Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:58 pm
jackshunger wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:21 pm
I don't think this has been mentioned yet, but if you're centrist/conservative/ideologically flexible, hunt down recent and unpopular Trump appointees if you can grit your teeth about their ABA ratings. They are much more likely to be impressed by a strong desire to work for them in particular.
Is there any evidence behind this or is this entirely based on the tweets about the Harvard law clerkship office email? From my experience, the Trump appointees with the worst press have some of the most demand in Fedsoc (read Duncan, Rushing, Vandyke) - just take a look at the John Marshall Fellows or linkedin. I cant speak to the District Court judges, so this could hold for Pitlak, Teeter, Starr, and others - but you also have to be geographically flexible above all else to clerk for them anyway.
Huh, I'd never heard of John Marshall Fellows before. The amount of resume-stacking with random right-wing fellowships and stuff on those bios shows just how big the benefits of never-ending cash and clerkships are for the small number of conservative law students. One of them was wrapped up in a racism scandal at my school, doesn't seem to have hurt them any.

Regardless I don't think it's accurate to say they're "some of the most" desirable. I don't think many conservative students are taking Bush, Duncan, Ho, Rushing, Vandyke, etc. over Newsom, Oldham, Park, Stras, etc.
Your comment implies they are desperate for clerks, or are somehow less attainable, and it doesn't seem to be backed by evidence. Plenty of students apply for their limited spots. I don't see how stating any particular desire to work for them would improve your chances when they likely hire based on school, GPA, and recommendations like the other FedSoc judges.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Aug 22, 2020 1:09 am

jackshunger wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:11 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:58 pm
jackshunger wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:21 pm
I don't think this has been mentioned yet, but if you're centrist/conservative/ideologically flexible, hunt down recent and unpopular Trump appointees if you can grit your teeth about their ABA ratings. They are much more likely to be impressed by a strong desire to work for them in particular.
Is there any evidence behind this or is this entirely based on the tweets about the Harvard law clerkship office email? From my experience, the Trump appointees with the worst press have some of the most demand in Fedsoc (read Duncan, Rushing, Vandyke) - just take a look at the John Marshall Fellows or linkedin. I cant speak to the District Court judges, so this could hold for Pitlak, Teeter, Starr, and others - but you also have to be geographically flexible above all else to clerk for them anyway.
Huh, I'd never heard of John Marshall Fellows before. The amount of resume-stacking with random right-wing fellowships and stuff on those bios shows just how big the benefits of never-ending cash and clerkships are for the small number of conservative law students. One of them was wrapped up in a racism scandal at my school, doesn't seem to have hurt them any.

Regardless I don't think it's accurate to say they're "some of the most" desirable. I don't think many conservative students are taking Bush, Duncan, Ho, Rushing, Vandyke, etc. over Newsom, Oldham, Park, Stras, etc.
Your comment implies they are desperate for clerks, or are somehow less attainable, and it doesn't seem to be backed by evidence. Plenty of students apply for their limited spots. I don't see how stating any particular desire to work for them would improve your chances when they likely hire based on school, GPA, and recommendations like the other FedSoc judges.
I mean at my school the students going to the former group generally do not have the same grades, etc. as the students going to the latter group. Students going to the former often are outside of the top quarter, students going to the latter are generally in the top 10% (at a HYSCCN). I agree that a particular desire to work for them probably won't matter much but they're more attainable for sure.

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Re: Keep striking out—defeated

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Aug 23, 2020 1:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 1:09 am
jackshunger wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:11 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:58 pm
jackshunger wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:21 pm
I don't think this has been mentioned yet, but if you're centrist/conservative/ideologically flexible, hunt down recent and unpopular Trump appointees if you can grit your teeth about their ABA ratings. They are much more likely to be impressed by a strong desire to work for them in particular.
Is there any evidence behind this or is this entirely based on the tweets about the Harvard law clerkship office email? From my experience, the Trump appointees with the worst press have some of the most demand in Fedsoc (read Duncan, Rushing, Vandyke) - just take a look at the John Marshall Fellows or linkedin. I cant speak to the District Court judges, so this could hold for Pitlak, Teeter, Starr, and others - but you also have to be geographically flexible above all else to clerk for them anyway.
Huh, I'd never heard of John Marshall Fellows before. The amount of resume-stacking with random right-wing fellowships and stuff on those bios shows just how big the benefits of never-ending cash and clerkships are for the small number of conservative law students. One of them was wrapped up in a racism scandal at my school, doesn't seem to have hurt them any.

Regardless I don't think it's accurate to say they're "some of the most" desirable. I don't think many conservative students are taking Bush, Duncan, Ho, Rushing, Vandyke, etc. over Newsom, Oldham, Park, Stras, etc.
Your comment implies they are desperate for clerks, or are somehow less attainable, and it doesn't seem to be backed by evidence. Plenty of students apply for their limited spots. I don't see how stating any particular desire to work for them would improve your chances when they likely hire based on school, GPA, and recommendations like the other FedSoc judges.
I mean at my school the students going to the former group generally do not have the same grades, etc. as the students going to the latter group. Students going to the former often are outside of the top quarter, students going to the latter are generally in the top 10% (at a HYSCCN). I agree that a particular desire to work for them probably won't matter much but they're more attainable for sure.
OP of the Trump judges comment here. At the risk of distracting from the original OP's subject, and for the benefit of interested applicants, I wanted to clarify I did not mean what the first responder has paraphrased me as saying. I just meant what the other responder said: if you're looking for an edge, you may want to pursue judges who receive fewer applicants overall (even if they are popular among the Fed Soc crowd). It is widely understood- to the point of being boring to clarify every time- that getting a federal clerkship is not easy for just about anyone, no matter how "desirable" a judge is.

I will say, from my own experience that some of these judges new to the bench are excited to see a centrist/conservative student who is stoked about that judge in particular and demonstrates it throughout the application process. I don't think it's an insult to the judge's competence to speculate that they may be happy to feel like desirable employers among their more-esteemed and longer-seated peers.

As a general note to anyone new to this process, we're really limited to anecdotal evidence when discussing how and why judges hire. Judges are notoriously secretive about their reasoning for making a hiring decision. Any former clerks are usually reluctant to be seen as divulging a judge's secrets or, god forbid, badmouthing him/her. So when you're reading forum advice, you should keep in mind that your mileage may vary when following what has worked for a stranger on the internet.

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