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Proposed Pay Cut During Clerkship

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 2:18 pm
by Anonymous User
Curious about whether I have any options here. Currently about halfway through first year of a two-year clerkship at a state appellate court. State is considering a 20% pay cut for all state employees, including clerks, which would put me at about 50k/yr for remainder of clerkship. Under these circumstances, would it ever be permissible to try to leave at end of my first year? I am afraid that I am stuck and just need to take the hit, as it I made a commitment. Prior to COVID-19, I would have considered myself very employable, but now I am not even sure that I could find something else since most firms have hiring freezes.

Re: Proposed Pay Cut During Clerkship

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 4:18 pm
by QContinuum
If your judge isn't an asshole, hopefully they will understand that a 20% pay cut, especially for clerks who are already paid very little, could not have been anticipated and may very well place clerks into an intolerable situation financially.

If your judge is an asshole, maybe be more cautious.

Re: Proposed Pay Cut During Clerkship

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 4:45 pm
by nixy
Yeah, I would say that this boils down to know your judge and weigh your options. Some judges are willing to be flexible and some aren’t; I know some judges who I think would even be forthright with their clerks that they understand a pay cut means you’d look elsewhere, and others who won’t consider that sufficient to break a commitment. I suspect your judge has clerks stagger their terms so there’s always one experienced one? If so, leaving early is a bit more of a disruption, but again, depends on the judge.

In the end, the judge can’t make you stay, but it’s a sticky situation in that I think it might be difficult to apply widely without it getting back to your judge (I suppose it depends if you’re applying in that state or not). So I’d probably want to raise the issue with the judge before sending out applications, personally.

Re: Proposed Pay Cut During Clerkship

Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2020 5:19 pm
by wishywashy
Don't know your personal situation (finances, etc.) and that stuff is not my business, but add the following into your thought process:

Sticking it out through Covid and a big pay cut may (depending on judge) get you one heck of a recommendation letter. The right judge would work all their connections (within the limits of judicial ethics of course) to land you where you want to be.

Also, employers may like to see that you stuck it out. They could also just think you didn't have a choice and had to stay. Plus it *seems* like two years out is better job hunting window than current one.

Just make sure you think about what staying might get you in terms of your judge's willingness to go the extra mile for you on the other end (of course if you are in an office with a ton of clerks and no work then maybe judge doesn't care but if you are really helping that place stay afloat in trouble times then that goes a long way).

Best of luck and sorry you are in that spot.

Re: Proposed Pay Cut During Clerkship

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 10:49 am
by The Lsat Airbender
wishywashy wrote:Don't know your personal situation (finances, etc.) and that stuff is not my business, but add the following into your thought process:

Sticking it out through Covid and a big pay cut may (depending on judge) get you one heck of a recommendation letter. The right judge would work all their connections (within the limits of judicial ethics of course) to land you where you want to be.

Also, employers may like to see that you stuck it out. They could also just think you didn't have a choice and had to stay. Plus it *seems* like two years out is better job hunting window than current one.

Just make sure you think about what staying might get you in terms of your judge's willingness to go the extra mile for you on the other end (of course if you are in an office with a ton of clerks and no work then maybe judge doesn't care but if you are really helping that place stay afloat in trouble times then that goes a long way).

Best of luck and sorry you are in that spot.
Agree with this. The upside to finishing the clerkship is probably worth more than $12k or whatever the pay-cut comes out to, although it's obviously a tough spot, and I'm sorry you have to deal with this OP.

Another thing to consider, if you're in a financial bind, is talking to your judge squarely about that. They might be able to mitigate the situation somehow. Having the money conversation now also builds credibility if you want to leave for money reasons later.

Re: Proposed Pay Cut During Clerkship

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 11:18 am
by Anon-non-anon
Agree unless your judge is a dick just ask. You may find it very difficult to find another job though, and perhaps you might even want to extend your clerkship instead of the opposite. Maybe that could open up a different pay scale too?