Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

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Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 16, 2020 7:18 am

Does anyone know which judges (I'm assuming mostly FedSoc ones) take applications from 1Ls over the summer? Is there a place to find this information? My clerkship hasn't been very helpful as they discourage 1Ls from applying to clerkships.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:36 am

The judges who hire 1Ls are primarily feeders (who you would know if you had a chance for), FedSoc (who contact the school's FedSoc group when they want to hire), and certain judges in the 8th, 10th, and 11th circuits. You can just call chambers and see honestly, can't hurt.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:09 am

Jerry Smith on the 5th only hires rising 2L's, and casts a very wide net in his interviews. I'd start with him.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by decimalsanddollars » Thu Apr 16, 2020 11:40 am

You're right that it's mostly fed soc judges, but:
J. Smith, Elrod, Ho, Costa (not really FS) on 5th all hire a couple years out
Several judges have announced they're "free market"/not on the Plan, including a few in 6th/8th/10th.
At least before the Plan, Wilkinson (and most of 4th Cir.) hired two years out
2d Cir: most judges prefer prior experience/clerkships, but those that hire straight out generally follow the Plan
DC Cir: most judges make their hiring practices very well-known and virtually all follow the Plan
9th Cir: most judges hire on the Plan and some prefer experience; hiring practices more opaque

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by LBJ's Hair » Thu Apr 16, 2020 12:39 pm

I'd check OSCAR postings for judges in CA3-6, CA8, CA10, CA11. Just make a dummy account with a 2020 graduation date.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 16, 2020 8:36 pm

Lots of Fedsoc judges are hiring now. I would join your school's fed soc email list asap. They send out posts.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by stupididiot » Fri Apr 17, 2020 10:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:The judges who hire 1Ls are primarily feeders (who you would know if you had a chance for)...
Kind of related question from a lost 1L-- how important is FedSoc (or whatever the liberal counterpart is) if your grades are good? I assume my 1L grades are good enough for feeders (think half DS, other half H), but I have been essentially told to wait until 2L before applying to any clerkships (granted, I know this year is different because of the P/F fall).

Dont really care about feeders but would be nice to lock down a good clerkship 1L. I am not politically involved at all- does this preclude me? In other words, if grades are good enough do i STILL need to be involved in the stupid political clubs?

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by decimalsanddollars » Fri Apr 17, 2020 10:52 am

stupididiot wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:The judges who hire 1Ls are primarily feeders (who you would know if you had a chance for)...
Kind of related question from a lost 1L-- how important is FedSoc (or whatever the liberal counterpart is) if your grades are good? I assume my 1L grades are good enough for feeders (think half DS, other half H), but I have been essentially told to wait until 2L before applying to any clerkships (granted, I know this year is different because of the P/F fall).

Dont really care about feeders but would be nice to lock down a good clerkship 1L. I am not politically involved at all- does this preclude me? In other words, if grades are good enough do i STILL need to be involved in the stupid political clubs?
Smith and Costa don't really care about fed soc, but the trend is that most judges hiring way far out are fed soc-focused judges. A lot of great judges don't care about political clubs, but most of them are on the Plan.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2020 10:53 am

stupididiot wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:The judges who hire 1Ls are primarily feeders (who you would know if you had a chance for)...
Kind of related question from a lost 1L-- how important is FedSoc (or whatever the liberal counterpart is) if your grades are good? I assume my 1L grades are good enough for feeders (think half DS, other half H), but I have been essentially told to wait until 2L before applying to any clerkships (granted, I know this year is different because of the P/F fall).

Dont really care about feeders but would be nice to lock down a good clerkship 1L. I am not politically involved at all- does this preclude me? In other words, if grades are good enough do i STILL need to be involved in the stupid political clubs?
From what I have heard FedSoc is pretty important for the conservative judges. Especially the more recent appointments. However, I think the real dichotomy is between demonstrable commitment to FedSoc (i.e. board member) and not (either non-member or not active member). I don't think they will give you a big bump just for having "FedSoc member" on your resume. I can't speak to the liberal end but I'm guessing there is less of a concern since judges probably assume that if you do not have conservative markers on your resume you are liberal.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:04 pm

There is more correlation with early hiring being FedSoc judges than causation; historically the flyover districts (that have more FedSoc judges now, but they resisted long before) have resisted the plan because they've found that the best students all end up applying for 2nd, DC, 9th Circuits and they have a much harder time attracting the top applicants. The FedSoc associated judges on the 2nd, as far as I am aware, follow the Plan.

I'd say the circuit matters more, though the fact FedSoc will let you know exactly when judges are hiring is a huge advantage (you do need to have a demonstrable commitment though). There really is no liberal equivalent to FedSoc, ACS certainly does not count.

I made the comment about feeders earlier; usually your school will let you know when they are hiring and direct you toward them if you are competitive (even if they claim to follow the plan).

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:38 pm

Do we know if feeders will continue to try and hire 1Ls this year considering the fact that most of us only have a handful of grades? If not, would it be better to wait and apply next year rather than take a good, but not "feeder", clerkship? The obvious risk here being a drop in grades and having to try really hard for another year.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Apr 17, 2020 1:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do we know if feeders will continue to try and hire 1Ls this year considering the fact that most of us only have a handful of grades? If not, would it be better to wait and apply next year rather than take a good, but not "feeder", clerkship? The obvious risk here being a drop in grades and having to try really hard for another year.

Its really hard to answer questions like this because all of them hire very differently. Some feeders hire post first semester 1L always and look at what students did prior to law school/accomplishments, some only take the DS students in admin law at HLS, some get a list of students from the clerkship office at their home university and only hire those students, and many others have different conditions. Some follow the Plan (DC Circuit especially).

Your clerkship office and professors who have clerked for feeders know about their specific requirements. If your clerkship office is completely useless and refuses to aid students in getting these feeder positions at all (there are 2 notable ones in the T6 like this), then you need to network and hope.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by floatie » Fri Apr 17, 2020 5:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote: There really is no liberal equivalent to FedSoc, ACS certainly does not count.
This is mostly true, and I say this as an active ACS member. ACS is trying to mimic FedSoc's clerkship pipeline, but they're very far behind. There are far fewer openly ACS-affiliated federal judges, and they're all extremely competitive. Very few ACS judges (to my knowledge) actively seek out ACS members in the same way that some FedSoc judges seek out FedSoc-affiliated students.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote: Your clerkship office and professors who have clerked for feeders know about their specific requirements. If your clerkship office is completely useless and refuses to aid students in getting these feeder positions at all (there are 2 notable ones in the T6 like this), then you need to network and hope.
I feel like the HLS CSO is not that great, unless they have been secretly going hard to help feeder caliber students to the detriment of everyone else. I don't have HLR but have very solid grades (4 DS, 6 H, and 4 P) and they've never told me what judges are out of play or which I should target etc. They've told me I'm not out of the running for feeders (very skeptical of this), but that at the feeder level (assuming excellent grades) it's all about connections (which I don't really have; I'd imagine my recommenders would have told me).

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:56 pm

stupididiot wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:The judges who hire 1Ls are primarily feeders (who you would know if you had a chance for)...
Kind of related question from a lost 1L-- how important is FedSoc (or whatever the liberal counterpart is) if your grades are good? I assume my 1L grades are good enough for feeders (think half DS, other half H), but I have been essentially told to wait until 2L before applying to any clerkships (granted, I know this year is different because of the P/F fall).

Dont really care about feeders but would be nice to lock down a good clerkship 1L. I am not politically involved at all- does this preclude me? In other words, if grades are good enough do i STILL need to be involved in the stupid political clubs?
One problem with applying now; HLS prevents professors from sending letters of rec before plan hiring starts. AND, many if not most professors will not be a "reference" the judge can reach out to either (although I assume the conservative profs just say fuck the rules)

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: Your clerkship office and professors who have clerked for feeders know about their specific requirements. If your clerkship office is completely useless and refuses to aid students in getting these feeder positions at all (there are 2 notable ones in the T6 like this), then you need to network and hope.
I feel like the HLS CSO is not that great, unless they have been secretly going hard to help feeder caliber students to the detriment of everyone else. I don't have HLR but have very solid grades (4 DS, 6 H, and 4 P) and they've never told me what judges are out of play or which I should target etc. They've told me I'm not out of the running for feeders (very skeptical of this), but that at the feeder level (assuming excellent grades) it's all about connections (which I don't really have; I'd imagine my recommenders would have told me).
I had similar grades and felt like those weren't high enough for them to do much for me. They did offer once to backchannel my materials to a CADC judge, so I think it's worth staying on their radar. But otherwise, plan on figuring it out yourself. (You're plenty competitive to get a good clerkship, even if not a feeder clerkship.)

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by LBJ's Hair » Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:53 pm

floatie wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: There really is no liberal equivalent to FedSoc, ACS certainly does not count.
This is mostly true, and I say this as an active ACS member. ACS is trying to mimic FedSoc's clerkship pipeline, but they're very far behind. There are far fewer openly ACS-affiliated federal judges, and they're all extremely competitive. Very few ACS judges (to my knowledge) actively seek out ACS members in the same way that some FedSoc judges seek out FedSoc-affiliated students.
I mean, reality is that ACS will never be FedSoc For The Liberals, because 90 percent of law students are left-of-center. So being a member doesn't really tell anyone anything useful. The whole reason FedSoc is value is that most law students aren't part of it.

I've always felt that ACS misunderstands that aspect of FedSoc. It thinks FedSoc is a political advocacy org, sort of like the ACLU for conservatives. So if you just create a liberal advocacy org, why wouldn't that work?

But FedSoc isn't really an advocacy org. Sure, there's a political aspect to it, but at law schools it's really just a social network. And it's a tight social network because right-of-center/originalist/whatever students are the (overwhelming) minority, and, like anyone else, want to find people in their "tribe." Same as BLSA or OutLaws or w/e. And it has value for judges because they can't find those people just by posting on OSCAR.
Last edited by LBJ's Hair on Sun Apr 19, 2020 1:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Apr 19, 2020 12:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: Your clerkship office and professors who have clerked for feeders know about their specific requirements. If your clerkship office is completely useless and refuses to aid students in getting these feeder positions at all (there are 2 notable ones in the T6 like this), then you need to network and hope.
I feel like the HLS CSO is not that great, unless they have been secretly going hard to help feeder caliber students to the detriment of everyone else. I don't have HLR but have very solid grades (4 DS, 6 H, and 4 P) and they've never told me what judges are out of play or which I should target etc. They've told me I'm not out of the running for feeders (very skeptical of this), but that at the feeder level (assuming excellent grades) it's all about connections (which I don't really have; I'd imagine my recommenders would have told me).
I had similar grades and felt like those weren't high enough for them to do much for me. They did offer once to backchannel my materials to a CADC judge, so I think it's worth staying on their radar. But otherwise, plan on figuring it out yourself. (You're plenty competitive to get a good clerkship, even if not a feeder clerkship.)
Thanks. Not complaining, just wondering where the mythical feeder pipeline process happens. Do they just pull aside the Sears and Morgan Chu people as well as HLR members with 3-4 DS and the rest H? I know of some leg reg profs who recommend the top student(s) to Garland, but that's about it. And I'd imagine the Fed Soc feeder process is it's own thing completely?

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by LBJ's Hair » Sun Apr 19, 2020 1:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: Your clerkship office and professors who have clerked for feeders know about their specific requirements. If your clerkship office is completely useless and refuses to aid students in getting these feeder positions at all (there are 2 notable ones in the T6 like this), then you need to network and hope.
I feel like the HLS CSO is not that great, unless they have been secretly going hard to help feeder caliber students to the detriment of everyone else. I don't have HLR but have very solid grades (4 DS, 6 H, and 4 P) and they've never told me what judges are out of play or which I should target etc. They've told me I'm not out of the running for feeders (very skeptical of this), but that at the feeder level (assuming excellent grades) it's all about connections (which I don't really have; I'd imagine my recommenders would have told me).
I had similar grades and felt like those weren't high enough for them to do much for me. They did offer once to backchannel my materials to a CADC judge, so I think it's worth staying on their radar. But otherwise, plan on figuring it out yourself. (You're plenty competitive to get a good clerkship, even if not a feeder clerkship.)
Thanks. Not complaining, just wondering where the mythical feeder pipeline process happens. Do they just pull aside the Sears and Morgan Chu people as well as HLR members with 3-4 DS and the rest H? I know of some leg reg profs who recommend the top student(s) to Garland, but that's about it. And I'd imagine the Fed Soc feeder process is it's own thing completely?
Generally, if you want a realistic shot at a feeder-level clerkship, you gotta be proactive about it by making yourself known to the profs with the juice to get you an interview and asking 'em to go to bat for you.

The way this usually works is like, a professor who knows Feeder Judge X him/her that that This Student Is My Guy/Gal, You Should Interview Him/Her And If You Don't, You're Missing Out. And the way you get that phone call is by going to that professor's office/setting up a phone call, chit-chatting, talking about your clerkship goals, and showing 'em your transcript, and asking what sort of clerkships are realistic. That's why people RA for heavy-hitter profs: to build the relationship with the prof. (FedSoc mostly works the same way, just sometimes different set of professors making calls. And FWIW not all the students who clerk for feeder conservative judges are themselves particularly conservative.)

Grades are necessary, but not sufficient. You don't get a feeder clerkship just by like hoping that the clerkship office is gonna set you up for it. There are way more people that want it/are qualified for it than can get it, and a professor usually isn't gonna make a call for someone just because some administrator says that someone they've never met is on track for magna.

To give you perspective: One nameless judge told me that if he didn't get a call from the Dean, he assumed that the school wasn't serious about the applicant. Obviously the Dean doesn't personally know most of the students he's calling on behalf of, but someone who the Dean trusts definitely does, and pitches him on it.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Apr 19, 2020 2:56 pm

The FedSoc hiring process is not really this mythical process where being part of FedSoc means that a whole bunch of judges automatically know of you and you get an entirely different set of letters of rec.

Generally speaking, FedSoc judges will let the chapter know when they are hiring and what they expect in an application and then the students themselves still have to go to individual professors they know and get letters of recommendation. These letters are usually from liberal professors.

I've found that most professors, regardless of whatever the school says, will write letters of recommendation for students that they know (otherwise they are pointlessly screwing their own students out of clerkship oppurtunities). Some school clerkship offices help with this process for judges that they know hire straight out of 1L (and those that hire after one semester), others don't.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Apr 19, 2020 3:11 pm

I'm at a lower t13, not H, so this may be a little bit different but would just like to echo the point that it's not just about grades. I reached out to my schools clerkship office as a first semester 1L to express my interest in judicial internships then clerkships. Kept in contact with professors on the clerkship committee who would serve as recommenders and tactically took classes/RA positions. I got okay grades my first semester then did progressively better after that. Probably ended up around top 25% when I got my clerkships.

By the time I applied, the clerkship office knew who I was, my professors were ready to write letters for me and it was really just a matter of which judges I was going to apply. For the first clerkship, the coordinator basically said oh you're from X, Judge Y like's students from X and we can forward your materials along. Got an interview that week. The second, one of my recommenders knew the judge and called. Had an interview request the next day. Those ended up being my only two interviews out of around 30 OSCAR apps and I got both.

I know it's not as simple as this for some people but be personable with professors and the clerkship office and show interest early and often and people will absolutely be willing to go to bat for you. I have no legal connections beyond the ones I formed in school and at my firm.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by stupididiot » Sun Apr 19, 2020 5:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:The FedSoc hiring process is not really this mythical process where being part of FedSoc means that a whole bunch of judges automatically know of you and you get an entirely different set of letters of rec.

Generally speaking, FedSoc judges will let the chapter know when they are hiring and what they expect in an application and then the students themselves still have to go to individual professors they know and get letters of recommendation. These letters are usually from liberal professors.
You are missing a pretty big piece here, which is: Will a FedSoc judge hire someone not in FedSoc? Like, if they let the FedSoc chapter know when they are hiring and what they expect, that is still a pretty big advantage on its own. But if, in addition to that, they only hire FedSoc members, then yeah it is pretty much a different process wherein essentially only FedSoc members can get clerkships 1L (assuming FedSox judges are the only ones not on the plan).

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Apr 19, 2020 6:58 pm

stupididiot wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:The FedSoc hiring process is not really this mythical process where being part of FedSoc means that a whole bunch of judges automatically know of you and you get an entirely different set of letters of rec.

Generally speaking, FedSoc judges will let the chapter know when they are hiring and what they expect in an application and then the students themselves still have to go to individual professors they know and get letters of recommendation. These letters are usually from liberal professors.
You are missing a pretty big piece here, which is: Will a FedSoc judge hire someone not in FedSoc? Like, if they let the FedSoc chapter know when they are hiring and what they expect, that is still a pretty big advantage on its own. But if, in addition to that, they only hire FedSoc members, then yeah it is pretty much a different process wherein essentially only FedSoc members can get clerkships 1L (assuming FedSox judges are the only ones not on the plan).

It would seem apparent that if they contact the chapter, then yes, they presumably want students affiliated with FedSoc. Speaking from personal experience, it's not exactly difficult to join.

As I've mentioned previously above though, many of the non-sexy circuits do not follow the plan, and never have. Anyone can get hired for those judges, you just have to be ok with living in flyover country and figure out when they are hiring.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 21, 2020 11:59 am

Does anyone know any other specific judges? The only ones I could find for sure from OSCAR are Smith, Ho, and Elrod. Not sure whether only requiring 1 year of grades = 1Ls are welcome to apply, especially given P/F this semester.

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Re: Applying to a clerkship as a 1L

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 21, 2020 12:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone know any other specific judges? The only ones I could find for sure from OSCAR are Smith, Ho, and Elrod. Not sure whether only requiring 1 year of grades = 1Ls are welcome to apply, especially given P/F this semester.
At my HYS I know of Fed Soc 2Ls who have Grant, Wilkinson, and Pryor clerkships. I’d imagine some of them would be amenable to applications (although they may require 1.5 semesters of grades, not sure)

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