D. Ct. Clerkship or Policy Fellowship

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Clerk or Fellowship

Poll ended at Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:55 pm

Clerk
5
71%
Fellowship
2
29%
 
Total votes: 7

Anonymous User
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D. Ct. Clerkship or Policy Fellowship

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 15, 2020 2:55 pm

I have a federal district court clerkship interview in "flyover" country for 2020. I have already accepted a year-long fellowship with a conservative public policy think tank in DC that does legal policy work (e.g. Heritage; Cato; AEI). Pay would be about the same; though cost of living would be substantially different.

After the one year, I am hoping to either clerk for a CoA in 2021, work for government, or a public interest litigation firm like (Institute for Justice or the Pacific Legal Foundation). I hope to end up in DC or Chicago doing litigation long-term.

I am leaning towards reneging on the fellowship, provided I receive an offer to clerk. The only thing that gives me pause is that I feel it could impact my ability to work at organizations like Institute for Justice in the long-term if I renege. My school's career planning seems to be onboard with my decision whatever I choose, but any thoughts would help!

Anonymous User
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Re: D. Ct. Clerkship or Policy Fellowship

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 15, 2020 3:55 pm

I'd have two questions. Is this fellowship a litigating fellowship or more of a policy fellowship? And does this judge have connections in the conservative legal world?

If a non-litigation fellowship, take the district court clerkship. You want to litigate, and if you get typecast as a policy person early on it's tougher to become a litigator. If the district court is some random judge with no connections in the conservative legal world, take the fellowship. Doing the work you want to do longterm will come down (at least in part) to who you know and who knows you in the conservative legal world, and the fellowship guarantees at least some of those connections (in addition to highly relevant experience).

If the choice is a litigation fellowship versus a connected conservative judge, just pick one and don't look back.

Anonymous User
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Re: D. Ct. Clerkship or Policy Fellowship

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 15, 2020 4:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'd have two questions. Is this fellowship a litigating fellowship or more of a policy fellowship? And does this judge have connections in the conservative legal world?

If a non-litigation fellowship, take the district court clerkship. You want to litigate, and if you get typecast as a policy person early on it's tougher to become a litigator. If the district court is some random judge with no connections in the conservative legal world, take the fellowship. Doing the work you want to do longterm will come down (at least in part) to who you know and who knows you in the conservative legal world, and the fellowship guarantees at least some of those connections (in addition to highly relevant experience).

If the choice is a litigation fellowship versus a connected conservative judge, just pick one and don't look back.
The fellowship would primarily be policy based with some opportunities to work on amicus briefs. To my knowledge, the judge is not especially well-connected. He has been a district court judge for ~30 years and is conservative, so he likely would have some connections. Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous User
Posts: 350760
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: D. Ct. Clerkship or Policy Fellowship

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 15, 2020 4:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'd have two questions. Is this fellowship a litigating fellowship or more of a policy fellowship? And does this judge have connections in the conservative legal world?

If a non-litigation fellowship, take the district court clerkship. You want to litigate, and if you get typecast as a policy person early on it's tougher to become a litigator. If the district court is some random judge with no connections in the conservative legal world, take the fellowship. Doing the work you want to do longterm will come down (at least in part) to who you know and who knows you in the conservative legal world, and the fellowship guarantees at least some of those connections (in addition to highly relevant experience).

If the choice is a litigation fellowship versus a connected conservative judge, just pick one and don't look back.
The fellowship would primarily be policy based with some opportunities to work on amicus briefs. To my knowledge, the judge is not especially well-connected. He has been a district court judge for ~30 years and is conservative, so he likely would have some connections. Thanks for your comment!
It's hard to say, then. Both seem justifiable.

lavarman84

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Re: D. Ct. Clerkship or Policy Fellowship

Post by lavarman84 » Wed Apr 15, 2020 5:17 pm

I think the D. Ct. clerkship is a better experience. The only thing that gives me pause is how influential those organizations are in the conservative world. Any chance you could defer the fellowship or push the D. Ct. clerkship back a year? I know you want to do a COA for 2021, but you could do it in 2022 and avoid having to make this call. And assuming you don't have a COA clerkship lined up, having both a D. Ct. judge in your pocket and an influential conservative organization behind you could definitely help.

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ninthcircuitattorney

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Re: D. Ct. Clerkship or Policy Fellowship

Post by ninthcircuitattorney » Wed Apr 15, 2020 6:38 pm

You need to take the clerkship if it's offered. After Biden takes total authority, The Heritage Foundation (and about 50% of the population) will have 0% input in policy.

desiperc

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Re: D. Ct. Clerkship or Policy Fellowship

Post by desiperc » Wed Apr 15, 2020 9:31 pm

ninthcircuitattorney wrote:You need to take the clerkship if it's offered. After Biden takes total authority, The Heritage Foundation (and about 50% of the population) will have 0% input in policy.
I agree with taking the clerkship if its offered. I don't think it would hurt you in the policy world and I think it could only help in the litigating world. I disagree with the bolded statement on two things: (1) I don't think the election's a done deal and (2) I don't think you should be hinging your options on the presidential election.

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