High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

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AllAboutTheBasis

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High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by AllAboutTheBasis » Wed May 13, 2020 1:43 pm

Thought I would see what the TLS hivemind has to say about my chances for COA and D Ct clerkships. I'm somewhat limited geographically (don't want to upset SO's job for one year, especially with the chance of moving again to a different city at my SA firm). So I'm trying to apply in and around cities where her firm has offices. I'm open to suggestions if people know of other places close to the ones I have picked out.

Stats:
  • GPA: ~ Top 10% (school doesn't rank but I'm off the historical cutoff for Magna/Order of the Coif cutoff by about .01 as a 2L)
  • School: T14 (NU/Duke/Mich/Berk)
  • Journal: None
  • Extracurriculars and work experience: Research Assistant, Club VP, pre-law school work experience in litigation consulting at a well-known known Econ consulting firm, BigLaw 2L SA.
  • Recommenders: Pretty strong. Also have some professors willing to make calls for me, one seems to be particularly well connected in one of the districts I'm sending apps.
I apologize for any extraneous info, I don't know what matters in clerkship apps.

Anyways, due to geographic restrictions, I'm looking at the following:
  • ND Ill
  • ED PA
  • D Delaware
  • D NJ
  • The Court of International Trade (this actually seems really cool)
  • COA near these areas: 3/6/7
I've thought about throwing apps out to SDNY/EDNY and ND Cal (with accompanying COA judges) but probably have a 0% chance so I'm not really sure it is worth it. Also considering D DC, EDVA (and accompanying COA judges) but am hesitant for the same reasons.

Also planning on applying to the Tax Court in the fall (I'm interested in tax, if you can't tell from my username).

Just curious about my chances or any input about the Tax Court and Court of International Trade.

Thanks in advance!

texanslimjim

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by texanslimjim » Wed May 13, 2020 2:13 pm

Top 10% at a middle T14 roughly makes you competitive enough that it's worth blanket applying. Blanket applying in 4 districts and 3 circuits should give you pretty good odds of at least pulling an interview or three.

No journal or moot court hurts; will result in some judges tossing away your app. But some care about it less than others. Basically all of them say "requires law review or journal" on their listings so you need to apply to all of them to see who actually cares that much. Top 10% at Duke or Michigan is strong enough that your app will get looks anyway.

decimalsanddollars

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by decimalsanddollars » Wed May 13, 2020 2:18 pm

Good chances at any judges with connections to your recommenders or yourself. Decent but not awesome chances at other judges in your target districts (better chances if the judge went to your school, hires often from your school, etc. or if you have ties to the district/city/state). Especially given your restrictions, you should tailor your apps to the judges you apply to as much as possible. Do your research, send more apps than you think you need to, and work with your school's clerkship committee/office or career office. I'm betting you will land a district clerkship in your target jurisdiction (not COA).

dm1683

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by dm1683 » Wed May 13, 2020 2:21 pm

texanslimjim wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 2:13 pm
Top 10% at a middle T14 roughly makes you competitive enough that it's worth blanket applying. Blanket applying in 4 districts and 3 circuits should give you pretty good odds of at least pulling an interview or three.

No journal or moot court hurts; will result in some judges tossing away your app. But some care about it less than others. Basically all of them say "requires law review or journal" on their listings so you need to apply to all of them to see who actually cares that much. Top 10% at Duke or Michigan is strong enough that your app will get looks anyway.
Basically this, though I disagree on the point about judges explicitly saying they require LR. It's a plus for sure but I don't recall seeing many OSCAR posts with a hard requirement. I think in practice it's rarely more than a boost. Grades are the most important and you have them, OP. Combine that with really good work experience and I think only the most competitive judges (e.g. Friedland, Fletcher, CADC) are out of your league entirely.

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 13, 2020 3:29 pm

I agree with blanket applying. I had worse grades at a slightly higher-ranked T14 (CCN range) and got multiple interviews in the districts and circuits you highlighted. I thought SDNY was out of reach for me but figured the costs of applying were so low compared to the relative reward, and I landed a clerkship there.

Several (but not all) of my interviews did come from professor outreach though, so definitely work those connections and explain to your professor why you really want to work in that area or for a certain judge so they can really sell you.

I would have an answer ready for why you aren’t on a journal though. A lot of judges may ask.

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AllAboutTheBasis

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by AllAboutTheBasis » Wed May 13, 2020 3:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 3:29 pm
I agree with blanket applying. I had worse grades at a slightly higher-ranked T14 (CCN range) and got multiple interviews in the districts and circuits you highlighted. I thought SDNY was out of reach for me but figured the costs of applying were so low compared to the relative reward, and I landed a clerkship there.

Several (but not all) of my interviews did come from professor outreach though, so definitely work those connections and explain to your professor why you really want to work in that area or for a certain judge so they can really sell you.

I would have an answer ready for why you aren’t on a journal though. A lot of judges may ask.
Yeah, I've been working on a response that I think will be satisfactory. Any thoughts or suggestions?

AllAboutTheBasis

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by AllAboutTheBasis » Wed May 13, 2020 3:40 pm

Thanks guys, this is definitely the (honest) boost I needed to keep me focused and working on applications. Do your answers change at all if I'm on the "lower end" (i.e. NU/Berk) of the spectrum I listed? I didn't mean to be misleading or anything, just trying to preserve relative anonymity. I'd imagine it doesn't make a difference, just curious.

texanslimjim

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by texanslimjim » Wed May 13, 2020 11:29 pm

AllAboutTheBasis wrote:
Wed May 13, 2020 3:40 pm
Thanks guys, this is definitely the (honest) boost I needed to keep me focused and working on applications. Do your answers change at all if I'm on the "lower end" (i.e. NU/Berk) of the spectrum I listed? I didn't mean to be misleading or anything, just trying to preserve relative anonymity. I'd imagine it doesn't make a difference, just curious.
Doesn't change anything. You have to go much farther down in the rankings before placement for students in the top 10% starts to drop off. Top 10% anywhere in the T14 (and probably the T20) = you get to clerk if you want to and apply widely enough.

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 21, 2020 10:03 pm

Tax Court clerk here. You have a good chance of getting interviews with several chambers with just a JD, but a majority of chambers won't talk to you unless you are starting at an LLM program this fall. If you aren't entering a program, your tax classes (both grades and number of classes) and reason for being interested in tax will be extremely important. My advice is to reach out to clerks via LinkedIn and find out more information (mention you are applying in your connection request).

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kilgoretrout7

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by kilgoretrout7 » Fri May 22, 2020 5:39 am

As a former Court of International Trade clerk, I think that you definitely have a strong application for that court (and a competitive application for the districts you mentioned generally), though, of course, clerkships are always somewhat of a crapshoot. I would echo previous comments to apply to SDNY/EDNY as well; you have a shot with your qualifications and it can't hurt.

Going back to the Court of International Trade, I had a great experience there. My judge was awesome, and, because of the court's quasi-appellate jurisdiction (in part, reviewing Dep't of Commerce determinations with an already established factual record), the work has more of an appellate feel (and you don't have to deal with the motion work of a district court). Cases are almost always decided at the summary judgment stage (a motion for judgment on the agency record) after an oral argument. You will have to explain in your cover letter/in the interview why you are interested in international trade, but, if you are, you should definitely apply. I note that probably half of the clerks during my term went into general lit and the other half stayed in trade (or international arbitration), some with firms and some with the government (Dep't of Commerce, U.S. Trade Representative, or Customs). A number also went on to COA clerkships. Happy to answer any specific CIT questions you have, if any.

AllAboutTheBasis

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by AllAboutTheBasis » Fri May 29, 2020 11:51 am

kilgoretrout7 wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 5:39 am
As a former Court of International Trade clerk, I think that you definitely have a strong application for that court (and a competitive application for the districts you mentioned generally), though, of course, clerkships are always somewhat of a crapshoot. I would echo previous comments to apply to SDNY/EDNY as well; you have a shot with your qualifications and it can't hurt.

Going back to the Court of International Trade, I had a great experience there. My judge was awesome, and, because of the court's quasi-appellate jurisdiction (in part, reviewing Dep't of Commerce determinations with an already established factual record), the work has more of an appellate feel (and you don't have to deal with the motion work of a district court). Cases are almost always decided at the summary judgment stage (a motion for judgment on the agency record) after an oral argument. You will have to explain in your cover letter/in the interview why you are interested in international trade, but, if you are, you should definitely apply. I note that probably half of the clerks during my term went into general lit and the other half stayed in trade (or international arbitration), some with firms and some with the government (Dep't of Commerce, U.S. Trade Representative, or Customs). A number also went on to COA clerkships. Happy to answer any specific CIT questions you have, if any.
I am definitely interested in International Trade, at the very least as an intellectual matter. I think some of my specific experiences lends itself well to CIT as well. What is the work in trade like? I've had a hard time getting a feel for it -- I haven't met any attorneys in the space. I know a little bit about the USTR jobs and they seem pretty interesting. It could be particularly interesting combining that with tax.

Basically, I think I'm committed to tax (I think), and I think a CIT clerkship would be interesting, help expose me to another area of law I would be interested in, and benefit my future tax practice because, at least as I understand it, it is very technical and statute based. Are those good enough reasons or is there something more?

I definitely dig the appellate feel, that's pretty cool.

Also, do you have any opinions on the two judges hiring this year, Baker and Katzmann? Good bosses?

AllAboutTheBasis

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by AllAboutTheBasis » Fri May 29, 2020 12:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:03 pm
Tax Court clerk here. You have a good chance of getting interviews with several chambers with just a JD, but a majority of chambers won't talk to you unless you are starting at an LLM program this fall. If you aren't entering a program, your tax classes (both grades and number of classes) and reason for being interested in tax will be extremely important. My advice is to reach out to clerks via LinkedIn and find out more information (mention you are applying in your connection request).
Thanks. As a general question: Is a non-tax court clerkship worth it if you are interested in tax? "Worth it" in this context is meant pretty broadly.

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by Anon-non-anon » Fri May 29, 2020 5:38 pm

I think you'd have good shots at DNJ and the like. EDNY SDNY is certainly possible, but you'll have a better shot after you get a year or two under your belt.

CoA will also be more likley once you have District Court clerkship if you're interest in both.

I was advised not to do court of int'l trade unless you really want to work in that area. It's pretty specific.

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 29, 2020 8:38 pm

I feel like CA7 is probably low-key harder than CA9 (and maybe even CA2) for an applicant in your position at the moment. Wood and Hamilton are two of the most desirable non-feeders in the country and Scudder is likely to get there before too long (great, well-connected boss in a major city). Easterbrook, Scudder, and Wood all teach at Chicago and hire exclusively (Easterbrook) or heavily (Scudder, Wood) from there. Barrett and Sykes are highly ideological feeder/semi-feeders. St. Eve requires work experience. Rovner doesn't hire clerks. That leaves Flaum, Kanne, and the seniors, who are all pretty ancient, and Brennan, who's hard-line FedSoc.

If your geographic restrictions stretch to the northern part of CA8, there aren't really any bad judges there (except maybe Grasz?). Stras is out of your league but Colloton (if you don't mind a grouchy workhorse), Gruender, Loken, Kelly, Kobes, Melloy are all solid judges that you might have a shot at (esp if you're FedSoc, though if you were you'd have a clerkship by now).
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri May 29, 2020 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kilgoretrout7

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by kilgoretrout7 » Fri May 29, 2020 8:39 pm

AllAboutTheBasis wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 11:51 am
kilgoretrout7 wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 5:39 am
As a former Court of International Trade clerk, I think that you definitely have a strong application for that court (and a competitive application for the districts you mentioned generally), though, of course, clerkships are always somewhat of a crapshoot. I would echo previous comments to apply to SDNY/EDNY as well; you have a shot with your qualifications and it can't hurt.

Going back to the Court of International Trade, I had a great experience there. My judge was awesome, and, because of the court's quasi-appellate jurisdiction (in part, reviewing Dep't of Commerce determinations with an already established factual record), the work has more of an appellate feel (and you don't have to deal with the motion work of a district court). Cases are almost always decided at the summary judgment stage (a motion for judgment on the agency record) after an oral argument. You will have to explain in your cover letter/in the interview why you are interested in international trade, but, if you are, you should definitely apply. I note that probably half of the clerks during my term went into general lit and the other half stayed in trade (or international arbitration), some with firms and some with the government (Dep't of Commerce, U.S. Trade Representative, or Customs). A number also went on to COA clerkships. Happy to answer any specific CIT questions you have, if any.
I am definitely interested in International Trade, at the very least as an intellectual matter. I think some of my specific experiences lends itself well to CIT as well. What is the work in trade like? I've had a hard time getting a feel for it -- I haven't met any attorneys in the space. I know a little bit about the USTR jobs and they seem pretty interesting. It could be particularly interesting combining that with tax.

Basically, I think I'm committed to tax (I think), and I think a CIT clerkship would be interesting, help expose me to another area of law I would be interested in, and benefit my future tax practice because, at least as I understand it, it is very technical and statute based. Are those good enough reasons or is there something more?

I definitely dig the appellate feel, that's pretty cool.

Also, do you have any opinions on the two judges hiring this year, Baker and Katzmann? Good bosses?
Well, there is international trade work, generally, and then there is the specific jurisdiction of the CIT, which is far more narrow. International trade work, generally, is pretty broad--WTO litigation, domestic anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations/annual reviews at the Dep't of Commerce (and appealed to the CIT), Customs work (e.g., classification of entered goods), sanctions work, export controls, anti-boycott regs, CFIUS/national security issues, trade and investment policy, investor-state dispute settlement (which is generally in the int'l arb group at a firm, but USTR does it for the U.S.), etc.

The CIT's docket is primarily comprised of challenges to Dep't of Commerce determinations in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, and challenges to Customs' decisions. Cases are primarily decided by looking at the statute/legislative history, and regs, not case law.

That all being said, if you're committed to tax, I would do the tax court over the CIT. I don't think the CIT would hurt you, but I don't think it would help as much. But if you are open to int'l trade work, or general lit, and would prefer to be in NYC, it is a pretty great job and a great court to work at. To a later comment about only doing a CIT clerkship if you want to do trade, I think that is fair (given that is what you'll do every day, unless your judge sits by designation elsewhere, which many do) but I don't think it is as limiting for the post-clerkship job as it is perceived. The clerks that I knew that didn't want to stay in trade didn't have too hard of a time getting out (a few did COA clerkships, one is an AUSA, some went to firms for general lit). I think a lot of clerks stay in trade because they choose to. But it is obviously a question that comes up during interviews. Overall, it probably makes it slightly harder to get out of trade, but not significantly so. Frankly, the clerks that had trouble finding what they wanted after were those with lesser credentials. Top 10% from a T14, you'd be fine.

With regard to your last question, Judge Katzmann is awesome. He is smart, incredibly kind, and really goes to bat for his clerks. I don't know Judge Baker that well, but he was nice when I met him.

Feel free to DM me if you want to talk about more specifics.

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 30, 2020 9:58 pm

AllAboutTheBasis wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 12:20 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:03 pm
Tax Court clerk here. You have a good chance of getting interviews with several chambers with just a JD, but a majority of chambers won't talk to you unless you are starting at an LLM program this fall. If you aren't entering a program, your tax classes (both grades and number of classes) and reason for being interested in tax will be extremely important. My advice is to reach out to clerks via LinkedIn and find out more information (mention you are applying in your connection request).
Thanks. As a general question: Is a non-tax court clerkship worth it if you are interested in tax? "Worth it" in this context is meant pretty broadly.
Tax Court clerk responding. It is kind of hard to tell you since my only experience is with the tax court (I actually have other experience, but it would out me), but I think a district court clerkship would be fine depending on the circumstances. The reasons to take a district court clerkship would appear to me to include that judge having a few noteworthy tax cases (aka rebate or FBAR cases) on his or her docket, you wanting to work in a particular jurisdiction (e.g. district court in Alabama would help you break into the limited number of big law firms in Alabama), or aiming to move on to a COA clerkship afterwards (which never hurts).

I'd apply to all of the available positions with each court and see what you get. Just make sure your applications are well-targeted (if I read your cover letter and it says "Dear Judges" or "To Whom it May Concern", it will be hard not to throw it in the trash).

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Re: High Grades, No Journal, Geographic Restrictions -- Chances?

Post by AllAboutTheBasis » Sat May 30, 2020 11:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 9:58 pm
AllAboutTheBasis wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 12:20 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:03 pm
Tax Court clerk here. You have a good chance of getting interviews with several chambers with just a JD, but a majority of chambers won't talk to you unless you are starting at an LLM program this fall. If you aren't entering a program, your tax classes (both grades and number of classes) and reason for being interested in tax will be extremely important. My advice is to reach out to clerks via LinkedIn and find out more information (mention you are applying in your connection request).
Thanks. As a general question: Is a non-tax court clerkship worth it if you are interested in tax? "Worth it" in this context is meant pretty broadly.
Tax Court clerk responding. It is kind of hard to tell you since my only experience is with the tax court (I actually have other experience, but it would out me), but I think a district court clerkship would be fine depending on the circumstances. The reasons to take a district court clerkship would appear to me to include that judge having a few noteworthy tax cases (aka rebate or FBAR cases) on his or her docket, you wanting to work in a particular jurisdiction (e.g. district court in Alabama would help you break into the limited number of big law firms in Alabama), or aiming to move on to a COA clerkship afterwards (which never hurts).

I'd apply to all of the available positions with each court and see what you get. Just make sure your applications are well-targeted (if I read your cover letter and it says "Dear Judges" or "To Whom it May Concern", it will be hard not to throw it in the trash).
Would you mind PM’ing me? There are some specifics I’d like to discuss but would rather not out either of us.

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