Clerkship After Working

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Clerkship After Working

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Apr 26, 2020 12:43 pm

What does work experience (probably mid sized firm associte) do to help a clerkship application if you're applying 1-2 years after graduation? I will graduate from a T50, probably in about the top third of the class with a 3.4/3.5 GPA. Law review (e-board position and hopefully will publish), moot court, RA, TA, and other extracurriculars including SBA. Right now, I am barely competitive for state appellate courts, so how would this change with work experience? Also, how does the expectation of recommenders change? If courts want 2-3 recommendations, how many have to be professors if you've already graduated?

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Re: Clerkship After Working

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Apr 26, 2020 4:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What does work experience (probably mid sized firm associte) do to help a clerkship application if you're applying 1-2 years after graduation? I will graduate from a T50, probably in about the top third of the class with a 3.4/3.5 GPA. Law review (e-board position and hopefully will publish), moot court, RA, TA, and other extracurriculars including SBA. Right now, I am barely competitive for state appellate courts, so how would this change with work experience? Also, how does the expectation of recommenders change? If courts want 2-3 recommendations, how many have to be professors if you've already graduated?
if you are barely competitive for a state appellate now, unfortunately 1-2 years at a midsize won't really change anything.

i think if you'll be 2 years out, you probably want 2 professors and 1 employer rec letter

nixy

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Re: Clerkship After Working

Post by nixy » Sun Apr 26, 2020 6:28 pm

There are judges who prefer to hire people with experience, so working for a couple of years would help, and I think you could use more employer letters than prof letters. Probably at least one is good so it doesn't look like you can't find any.

Trout et al

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Re: Clerkship After Working

Post by Trout et al » Mon Apr 27, 2020 9:17 am

If I were at a midsize firm with few associates I don't think I would go around asking for recs to apply to a new job - even a clerkship - particularly in the current economic climate. I would just go with 3 profs. I think a judge would recognize this.

If you're at a huge firm with legions of associates and a culture of associates leaving to clerk then maybe the advice is different, and maybe the expectation from a judge would be too.

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Re: Clerkship After Working

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Apr 27, 2020 7:34 pm

I clerked State Supreme Court after law school (Tier 4 law school) and then worked for a small plaintiff’s firm. After 2 years in practice, I landed a District Court clerkship and will be starting a COA clerkship next year. I took a unique strategy and had my recommendations ONLY come from prior judges and colleagues that I practiced with and against. I had no professor recommendations for either of my federal clerkships. But I was very targeted and applied to judges who really valued practical experience. It worked really well for me. It all depends on the judge though. Some will really respect the practical/experienced approach and some won’t give you a second look. I think newer federal judges really appreciate the practical experience more so than the Wilkinson type judges who haven’t practiced law in 40 years.

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lavarman84

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Re: Clerkship After Working

Post by lavarman84 » Mon Apr 27, 2020 7:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I clerked State Supreme Court after law school (Tier 4 law school) and then worked for a small plaintiff’s firm. After 2 years in practice, I landed a District Court clerkship and will be starting a COA clerkship next year. I took a unique strategy and had my recommendations ONLY come from prior judges and colleagues that I practiced with and against. I had no professor recommendations for either of my federal clerkships. But I was very targeted and applied to judges who really valued practical experience. It worked really well for me. It all depends on the judge though. Some will really respect the practical/experienced approach and some won’t give you a second look. I think newer federal judges really appreciate the practical experience more so than the Wilkinson type judges who haven’t practiced law in 40 years.
To be nitpicky (on what is great advice), I think it's less to do with not appreciating practical experience and more to do with having years and years of experience on the bench. A newer judge is learning the ropes, so having people who are capable of handling themselves is one less thing on that judge's plate. Once you've been on the bench for decades, you know the ropes, so many of these judges probably get more satisfaction out of mentoring young lawyers than anything else. That would be my theory. (Although, I'm not sure if that's as applicable to feeders like Wilkinson. In that case, it's more that the clerks who have the credentials to be SCOTUS candidates are getting clerkships out of school with somebody, so the whole "keeping up with the Joneses" mindset tends to factor in there.)

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Re: Clerkship After Working

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What does work experience (probably mid sized firm associte) do to help a clerkship application if you're applying 1-2 years after graduation? I will graduate from a T50, probably in about the top third of the class with a 3.4/3.5 GPA. Law review (e-board position and hopefully will publish), moot court, RA, TA, and other extracurriculars including SBA. Right now, I am barely competitive for state appellate courts, so how would this change with work experience? Also, how does the expectation of recommenders change? If courts want 2-3 recommendations, how many have to be professors if you've already graduated?
This was me except I had less extracurriculars than you. I got a federal magistrate clerkship and then a district court clerkship. I think more judges are open to hiring attorneys with experience, even if they didn't have great grades in law school. They appreciate the fact that experienced attorneys are used to working long hours, they understand why and when motions are being filed from the attorney's perspective, and they appreciate the substantive work and not having to bill hours.

As far as recommenders, try to develop a relationship and keep in touch with at least one of your law professors (particularly one with clerkship experience/connections). As soon as you can, get involved with your local bar association, inn of court, and other professional organizations so you can meet with more senior attorneys outside your firm for possible references. If possible, try to get on a local bar committee/group that deals with the judiciary. The more involved you are, the better people will get to know you and act as your recommender. Hopefully you can also find attorneys you work with at your firm who are willing to write you a recommendation letter. Odds are you will work with someone who will leave your firm, so they won't have an issue with you leaving the firm for a clerkship. I developed a great working relationship with a partner that became my mentor, and he wrote me a letter despite the fact that I would be leaving his firm.

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