Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

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Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 20, 2020 10:39 pm

Seems like there are some former SC clerks who are reading this forum and writing helpful stuff (we appreciate it!), so I'll try something I've been wondering about.

Based on this chart: top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1142, it seems like there are some feeders (and maybe semi-feeders; not sure where to draw that line) who send to both the liberal and conservative wings of the Court. Wilkinson seems like the most prominent example. If an applicant were a plausible candidate for (and happy to clerk for) any of the justices, then there isn't really much of a question. But what if an applicant is only interested in clerking for one side or the other? If I'm conservative, should I look only at the numbers for the conservatives? Or is it a meaningful signal if the judge feeds to both sides? Curiosity provoked mostly by the linked post sorting by ideology.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 20, 2020 11:37 pm

Different feeders have different relationships with different justices, so yes you should pay attention to that. Most feeders aren't "all-purpose," though some are (e.g. Griffith and Sutton, https://www.yalejreg.com/nc/d-c-circuit ... er-judges/). Most highly one-sided feeders/semi-feeders like Pryor won't take cross-ideological clerks anyway, though there are some exceptions (e.g. Thapar, Ikuta, and Stras will all go for liberals they like).

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 25, 2020 2:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:37 pm
Different feeders have different relationships with different justices, so yes you should pay attention to that. Most feeders aren't "all-purpose," though some are (e.g. Griffith and Sutton, https://www.yalejreg.com/nc/d-c-circuit ... er-judges/). Most highly one-sided feeders/semi-feeders like Pryor won't take cross-ideological clerks anyway, though there are some exceptions (e.g. Thapar, Ikuta, and Stras will all go for liberals they like).
Just out of curiosity, how big of feeders are Ikuta and Stras? I know I can look up online how many clerks they have sent in the past. But I am more interested in how people think this will play out in the future, with two of the largest conservative feeders being promoted to SCOTUS in the past few years.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 25, 2020 4:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 2:58 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:37 pm
Different feeders have different relationships with different justices, so yes you should pay attention to that. Most feeders aren't "all-purpose," though some are (e.g. Griffith and Sutton, https://www.yalejreg.com/nc/d-c-circuit ... er-judges/). Most highly one-sided feeders/semi-feeders like Pryor won't take cross-ideological clerks anyway, though there are some exceptions (e.g. Thapar, Ikuta, and Stras will all go for liberals they like).
Just out of curiosity, how big of feeders are Ikuta and Stras? I know I can look up online how many clerks they have sent in the past. But I am more interested in how people think this will play out in the future, with two of the largest conservative feeders being promoted to SCOTUS in the past few years.
My 2 cents as someone who explored clerking for both judges (ended up with someone else) and asked the same question: both want to be feeders. Ikuta has been an overlooked conservative workhorse on the 9th for many years and is becoming more prominent with Kozinski gone and O'Scannlain scaling back. She's now the ranking conservative on the court but an interesting wrinkle is that she's the lone Bush appointee alongside all the younger Trump appointees (Callahan and MD Smith are less ideologiclal). I'm very interested to see if she emerges as the "godmother" of the right bloc on the 9th, or if the Trump appointees rally around one of their own instead. But either way, she's a peer of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and someone who generally has the respect of the Justices.

Stras, even more than Ikuta, very much wants to be a feeder and actively looks to hire people who already have SCOTUS-level credentials. I also got the sense that he's trying to raise his profile and build his relationship with the Justices. I don't know whether he's fed anyone yet, but if he's able to attract top people to St. Paul I feel like it will just be a matter of time.

Both of them are really jostling for position with the "elite" Trump appointees. Katsas and Rao will feed the most because they're on the DC Circuit, and Thapar is already established, but people like Larsen, Willett, Ho, Oldham, Grant, Menashi, etc. are all going to be looking to establish themselves in the coming years.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 25, 2020 9:39 pm

I'm the OP and this is helpful. But I'll ask a follow up with a different hypo: Let's say I'm liberal and wouldn't clerk for the conservative wing including the Chief and I'm thinking about applying to Livingston. Is the fact that she has sent two to Roberts and two to Alito even relevant? Or, perhaps to generalize the point, is it better to look at this kind of thing on a justice by justice level? Obviously, they all run their own hiring processes. So I'm just curious whether (and how) it might matter if a judge has fed to a justice to which you wouldn't even consider applying. People tend to look at the aggregate numbers and that might make sense as a useful shorthand but it seems to me (as someone with 0 knowledge and just trying to think about it from the outside) that the only thing that would really matter is how many a given judge has fed to the justices you would actually think about clerking for

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by beepboopbeep » Mon May 25, 2020 9:59 pm

There's a poster on the Other Forum That Shall Not Be Named that used to do justice-by-justice rankings here, and I would link it to you if I could without getting my post nuked (but I can't, so you'll just have to do some searching -- the post is called "Feeder Judge Rankings"). In general, that data tends to show that judges feed to one side or the other almost exclusively -- there are some rare exceptions, like when Justice Kavanaugh was on the D.C. Circuit, but yes, if you are 100% for sure never going to clerk for the conservative wing of the court, you can basically ignore judges who have only fed to conservatives. Some of the heavy hitters will be something like 80/20 or 90/10 to one wing or the other, in which case it's a judgment call if you are such a shining star that you're in a position to choose between feeders.

I'd probably encourage not having that mindset. But that is a choice only you can make with your conscience and ideological approach to the law.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2020 1:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 4:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 2:58 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:37 pm
Different feeders have different relationships with different justices, so yes you should pay attention to that. Most feeders aren't "all-purpose," though some are (e.g. Griffith and Sutton, https://www.yalejreg.com/nc/d-c-circuit ... er-judges/). Most highly one-sided feeders/semi-feeders like Pryor won't take cross-ideological clerks anyway, though there are some exceptions (e.g. Thapar, Ikuta, and Stras will all go for liberals they like).
Just out of curiosity, how big of feeders are Ikuta and Stras? I know I can look up online how many clerks they have sent in the past. But I am more interested in how people think this will play out in the future, with two of the largest conservative feeders being promoted to SCOTUS in the past few years.
My 2 cents as someone who explored clerking for both judges (ended up with someone else) and asked the same question: both want to be feeders. Ikuta has been an overlooked conservative workhorse on the 9th for many years and is becoming more prominent with Kozinski gone and O'Scannlain scaling back. She's now the ranking conservative on the court but an interesting wrinkle is that she's the lone Bush appointee alongside all the younger Trump appointees (Callahan and MD Smith are less ideologiclal). I'm very interested to see if she emerges as the "godmother" of the right bloc on the 9th, or if the Trump appointees rally around one of their own instead. But either way, she's a peer of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and someone who generally has the respect of the Justices.

Stras, even more than Ikuta, very much wants to be a feeder and actively looks to hire people who already have SCOTUS-level credentials. I also got the sense that he's trying to raise his profile and build his relationship with the Justices. I don't know whether he's fed anyone yet, but if he's able to attract top people to St. Paul I feel like it will just be a matter of time.

Both of them are really jostling for position with the "elite" Trump appointees. Katsas and Rao will feed the most because they're on the DC Circuit, and Thapar is already established, but people like Larsen, Willett, Ho, Oldham, Grant, Menashi, etc. are all going to be looking to establish themselves in the coming years.
Have also researched Stras. Stras's clerks seem to fall into three buckets:

1. Conservative students with SCOTUS-ish credentials. These are pretty likely to go to SCOTUS (e.g I believe he's fed one who clerked for Pryor before Stras and will in all likelihood imminently feed another).

2. Liberal students with SCOTUS-ish credentials (e.g. he took an ACS, LR board, summa CCN grad). He might become an "all-purpose" feeder eventually because of his willingness to take these students but he's definitely not there now.

3. Students with rock solid ties to the Eighth Circuit who are very high performers but less likely to clerk for SCOTUS (e.g. magna at a T6 or valedictorian of a Midwestern state flagship). This overlaps with 1 and 2 in some cases (e.g. the one he fed to Thomas is Minnesotan). He has particularly strong ties to Minnesota Law and Iowa Law, though I don't know if he's ever taken a clerk from the latter.

I know a very liberal Ikuta clerk and believe that she does not screen clerks for ideology, period. That means her ceiling might be a bit lower but given her location, reputation, and seniority she'll almost certainly continue to be at least a minor feeder.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2020 2:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 4:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 2:58 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:37 pm
Different feeders have different relationships with different justices, so yes you should pay attention to that. Most feeders aren't "all-purpose," though some are (e.g. Griffith and Sutton, https://www.yalejreg.com/nc/d-c-circuit ... er-judges/). Most highly one-sided feeders/semi-feeders like Pryor won't take cross-ideological clerks anyway, though there are some exceptions (e.g. Thapar, Ikuta, and Stras will all go for liberals they like).
Just out of curiosity, how big of feeders are Ikuta and Stras? I know I can look up online how many clerks they have sent in the past. But I am more interested in how people think this will play out in the future, with two of the largest conservative feeders being promoted to SCOTUS in the past few years.
My 2 cents as someone who explored clerking for both judges (ended up with someone else) and asked the same question: both want to be feeders. Ikuta has been an overlooked conservative workhorse on the 9th for many years and is becoming more prominent with Kozinski gone and O'Scannlain scaling back. She's now the ranking conservative on the court but an interesting wrinkle is that she's the lone Bush appointee alongside all the younger Trump appointees (Callahan and MD Smith are less ideologiclal). I'm very interested to see if she emerges as the "godmother" of the right bloc on the 9th, or if the Trump appointees rally around one of their own instead. But either way, she's a peer of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and someone who generally has the respect of the Justices.

Stras, even more than Ikuta, very much wants to be a feeder and actively looks to hire people who already have SCOTUS-level credentials. I also got the sense that he's trying to raise his profile and build his relationship with the Justices. I don't know whether he's fed anyone yet, but if he's able to attract top people to St. Paul I feel like it will just be a matter of time.

Both of them are really jostling for position with the "elite" Trump appointees. Katsas and Rao will feed the most because they're on the DC Circuit, and Thapar is already established, but people like Larsen, Willett, Ho, Oldham, Grant, Menashi, etc. are all going to be looking to establish themselves in the coming years.
I don't believe that the clerks Judge Ho has taken from my school so far are generally plausibly SCOTUS-level. They're more notable for being very, very conservative (likely due in part to self-selection).

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2020 3:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 2:06 pm
I don't believe that the clerks Judge Ho has taken from my school so far are generally plausibly SCOTUS-level. They're more notable for being very, very conservative (likely due in part to self-selection).
+1. The Ho clerks from my school are less well-credentialed than most if not all clerks for other COA judges. If he's trying to establish a reputation, it's not as a feeder judge.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2020 4:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 3:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 2:06 pm
I don't believe that the clerks Judge Ho has taken from my school so far are generally plausibly SCOTUS-level. They're more notable for being very, very conservative (likely due in part to self-selection).
+1. The Ho clerks from my school are less well-credentialed than most if not all clerks for other COA judges. If he's trying to establish a reputation, it's not as a feeder judge.
On the other hand, one of the clerks in his first class came to him from Kozinski and was a YLS grad. And he has a female conservative magna cum laude HLS grad coming to him within the next couple years. Aberrations maybe, but it's not as if he doesn't have at least some plausible SCOTUS-level clerks.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2020 8:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 1:49 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 4:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 2:58 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 11:37 pm
Different feeders have different relationships with different justices, so yes you should pay attention to that. Most feeders aren't "all-purpose," though some are (e.g. Griffith and Sutton, https://www.yalejreg.com/nc/d-c-circuit ... er-judges/). Most highly one-sided feeders/semi-feeders like Pryor won't take cross-ideological clerks anyway, though there are some exceptions (e.g. Thapar, Ikuta, and Stras will all go for liberals they like).
Just out of curiosity, how big of feeders are Ikuta and Stras? I know I can look up online how many clerks they have sent in the past. But I am more interested in how people think this will play out in the future, with two of the largest conservative feeders being promoted to SCOTUS in the past few years.
My 2 cents as someone who explored clerking for both judges (ended up with someone else) and asked the same question: both want to be feeders. Ikuta has been an overlooked conservative workhorse on the 9th for many years and is becoming more prominent with Kozinski gone and O'Scannlain scaling back. She's now the ranking conservative on the court but an interesting wrinkle is that she's the lone Bush appointee alongside all the younger Trump appointees (Callahan and MD Smith are less ideologiclal). I'm very interested to see if she emerges as the "godmother" of the right bloc on the 9th, or if the Trump appointees rally around one of their own instead. But either way, she's a peer of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and someone who generally has the respect of the Justices.

Stras, even more than Ikuta, very much wants to be a feeder and actively looks to hire people who already have SCOTUS-level credentials. I also got the sense that he's trying to raise his profile and build his relationship with the Justices. I don't know whether he's fed anyone yet, but if he's able to attract top people to St. Paul I feel like it will just be a matter of time.

Both of them are really jostling for position with the "elite" Trump appointees. Katsas and Rao will feed the most because they're on the DC Circuit, and Thapar is already established, but people like Larsen, Willett, Ho, Oldham, Grant, Menashi, etc. are all going to be looking to establish themselves in the coming years.
Have also researched Stras. Stras's clerks seem to fall into three buckets:

1. Conservative students with SCOTUS-ish credentials. These are pretty likely to go to SCOTUS (e.g I believe he's fed one who clerked for Pryor before Stras and will in all likelihood imminently feed another).

2. Liberal students with SCOTUS-ish credentials (e.g. he took an ACS, LR board, summa CCN grad). He might become an "all-purpose" feeder eventually because of his willingness to take these students but he's definitely not there now.

3. Students with rock solid ties to the Eighth Circuit who are very high performers but less likely to clerk for SCOTUS (e.g. magna at a T6 or valedictorian of a Midwestern state flagship). This overlaps with 1 and 2 in some cases (e.g. the one he fed to Thomas is Minnesotan). He has particularly strong ties to Minnesota Law and Iowa Law, though I don't know if he's ever taken a clerk from the latter.

I know a very liberal Ikuta clerk and believe that she does not screen clerks for ideology, period. That means her ceiling might be a bit lower but given her location, reputation, and seniority she'll almost certainly continue to be at least a minor feeder.
I think this overstates things a little. Stras gave me an interview, and my credentials aren't really SCOTUS-worthy, nor do I have any ties to the Midwest (though I was active in FedSoc).

I'd say he's more at the semi-feeder level, at least right now. Great judge, great reputation, but strong FedSoc applicants concerned only with "prestige"/feeding potential aren't viewing him as up there with anyone on D.C. Cir. or the more traditional conservative feeders.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2020 8:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 4:38 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 3:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 2:06 pm
I don't believe that the clerks Judge Ho has taken from my school so far are generally plausibly SCOTUS-level. They're more notable for being very, very conservative (likely due in part to self-selection).
+1. The Ho clerks from my school are less well-credentialed than most if not all clerks for other COA judges. If he's trying to establish a reputation, it's not as a feeder judge.
On the other hand, one of the clerks in his first class came to him from Kozinski and was a YLS grad. And he has a female conservative magna cum laude HLS grad coming to him within the next couple years. Aberrations maybe, but it's not as if he doesn't have at least some plausible SCOTUS-level clerks.
I'm the anon who originally listed Ho. Interesting to know. My list was entirely speculative based on the judges' backgrounds and the prominence of the court they're on, as I got out of the clerkship market right around the time the first big batch of Trump appointees took the bench and don't have a great sense of who is hiring who. But Ho is a Thomas clerk and was a rising star in the Bush DOJ, so his resume fits the type of someone who could feed if he made it a priority.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2020 9:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 4:38 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 3:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 2:06 pm
I don't believe that the clerks Judge Ho has taken from my school so far are generally plausibly SCOTUS-level. They're more notable for being very, very conservative (likely due in part to self-selection).
+1. The Ho clerks from my school are less well-credentialed than most if not all clerks for other COA judges. If he's trying to establish a reputation, it's not as a feeder judge.
On the other hand, one of the clerks in his first class came to him from Kozinski and was a YLS grad. And he has a female conservative magna cum laude HLS grad coming to him within the next couple years. Aberrations maybe, but it's not as if he doesn't have at least some plausible SCOTUS-level clerks.
+3 (or 4?) for my school, although I suspect we're probably overlapping somewhere on this quote chain. Some cum laude folks, at least one not even that based on a quick internet search.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2020 10:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 8:20 pm
I'd say he's more at the semi-feeder level, at least right now. Great judge, great reputation, but strong FedSoc applicants concerned only with "prestige"/feeding potential aren't viewing him as up there with anyone on D.C. Cir. or the more traditional conservative feeders.
I definitely agree and didn't mean to imply that he's on the level of Katsas/Rao or the traditional conservative true feeders (it would be absurd to call someone who's fed once anything better than a semi-feeder with potential). My emphasis was more on categories 2-3, which he's unlikely to feed at the moment in any case (remember the original topic of the thread).

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2020 10:44 pm

I believe that the current non-Thapar Trump appointee feeder rankings are something like:

1. Friedrich, Katsas (5)

2. Barrett, Larsen, Oldham, Rao, Stras (1)

So obviously a lot remains to be seen. I think Katsas took some people already scheduled to clerk on SCOTUS and Friedrich must have as well based on the time frames which helps to explain their huge leads. I feel like Friedrich kind of came out of nowhere but I'm not super plugged into FedSoc circles.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 27, 2020 11:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 9:39 pm
I'm the OP and this is helpful. But I'll ask a follow up with a different hypo: Let's say I'm liberal and wouldn't clerk for the conservative wing including the Chief and I'm thinking about applying to Livingston. Is the fact that she has sent two to Roberts and two to Alito even relevant? Or, perhaps to generalize the point, is it better to look at this kind of thing on a justice by justice level? Obviously, they all run their own hiring processes. So I'm just curious whether (and how) it might matter if a judge has fed to a justice to which you wouldn't even consider applying. People tend to look at the aggregate numbers and that might make sense as a useful shorthand but it seems to me (as someone with 0 knowledge and just trying to think about it from the outside) that the only thing that would really matter is how many a given judge has fed to the justices you would actually think about clerking for
This is the anon former YLS/SCOTUS clerk from this forum. (I say this in part to explain why I am going to say what I am going to say). My view of the over/under on this is that from the outside looking in, if all you care about is maximizing your chances of clerking for a particular Justice, your best datapoint for deciding which lower court judges to prioritize is the number of prior clerks who've later clerked for that Justice. It's a somewhat noisy datapoint, but it's the best one by which you can draw inferences about which judges feed clerks to which Justices -- unless you have inside information about how that Justice hires and the avenues by which certain judges are especially able to position their clerks to have a strong chance at getting hired by that Justice. However, if you already had that information, I assume you wouldn't need to ask such questions here, and honestly even most former SCOTUS clerks have only a sketchy idea of those pipelines outside of their own Justice's hiring practices.

Now with that being said, three caveats:
1. For all but a very small number of top feeder judges (think Garland level), (far) fewer than 50% of any feeder judge's clerks go on to clerk on the Court. So ceteris paribus, your ordinary odds are fairly substantially less than 50/50 with just about any feeder judge, even moreso if your application profile is not akin to the HLR/YLJ EIC -- i.e., a near-shoe-in regardless of which lower court judge(s) you clerk for. So when you get to the level of someone like Livingston (your example), your odds are pretty relatively low such that I am skeptical that it's worth weighing this factor overly heavily in your decisionmaking. And avoiding specifics, some judges feed as much by accident as by concerted effort. In some cases, the proximate cause of a feeder judge's clerk getting hired "upstairs" is not really the feeder judge (see my earlier post in the other forum of the most common non-judge-led avenues to a SCOTUS clerkship). That doesn't mean that a given feeder judge doesn't aid the cause in a meaningful way, but it means that some may have an eye for hiring talent at least as much as they do a proclivity for promoting it.

2. Much more important, IMHO, is finding a boss you want to work for, who will be a dedicated and caring mentor, who manages her/his chambers well, and who has a clerk alumni circle who are prominent in the sectors of the legal (and sometimes non-legal) profession you want to join. Those factors are far more likely to influence how positively you view the experience than the marginal additional "feeder"iness of the judge, first and foremost because there is a 100% chance those factors will significantly affect your year in chambers and your career afterwards. Whereas most people who play the lottery never win it.

3. If you are the kind of clerkship applicant who can meaningfully control which judge is going to invite you for an interview, then you should also probably be looking at the Garlands of the world, because you presumably are already an extremely, extremely strong applicant. Most successful applicants to feeder judges -- even those of us who ended up winning the lottery and having the great fortune to clerk at the Court -- were not steering the helm of our application process. Many of us had an application process more akin to floating in a tiny dinghy without an oar, hoping our boat would somehow find its way into a favorable harbor. If your application process can be so finely tuned as to control precisely which feeder judge hires you first, more power to you. Aim as high as possible and cross your fingers.

Good luck!

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by lavarman84 » Thu May 28, 2020 12:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:44 pm
I believe that the current non-Thapar Trump appointee feeder rankings are something like:

1. Friedrich, Katsas (5)

2. Barrett, Larsen, Oldham, Rao, Stras (1)

So obviously a lot remains to be seen. I think Katsas took some people already scheduled to clerk on SCOTUS and Friedrich must have as well based on the time frames which helps to explain their huge leads. I feel like Friedrich kind of came out of nowhere but I'm not super plugged into FedSoc circles.
I think Grant on the Eleventh has at least 1 or 2.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 28, 2020 10:12 am

lavarman84 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 12:29 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:44 pm
I believe that the current non-Thapar Trump appointee feeder rankings are something like:

1. Friedrich, Katsas (5)

2. Barrett, Larsen, Oldham, Rao, Stras (1)

So obviously a lot remains to be seen. I think Katsas took some people already scheduled to clerk on SCOTUS and Friedrich must have as well based on the time frames which helps to explain their huge leads. I feel like Friedrich kind of came out of nowhere but I'm not super plugged into FedSoc circles.
I think Grant on the Eleventh has at least 1 or 2.
Katsas certainly took people already scheduled to clerk for SCOTUS. At least some of his first four Thomas clerks were going to CT either way. Friedrich has done well in part because she took on some of Kavanaugh's clerks while Kavanaugh was getting confirmed (they also used to date earlier in life). And Grant also took at least two of Kavanaugh's clerks for him as he was getting confirmed (there's some overlap in those numbers).

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 28, 2020 10:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 11:57 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 9:39 pm
I'm the OP and this is helpful. But I'll ask a follow up with a different hypo: Let's say I'm liberal and wouldn't clerk for the conservative wing including the Chief and I'm thinking about applying to Livingston. Is the fact that she has sent two to Roberts and two to Alito even relevant? Or, perhaps to generalize the point, is it better to look at this kind of thing on a justice by justice level? Obviously, they all run their own hiring processes. So I'm just curious whether (and how) it might matter if a judge has fed to a justice to which you wouldn't even consider applying. People tend to look at the aggregate numbers and that might make sense as a useful shorthand but it seems to me (as someone with 0 knowledge and just trying to think about it from the outside) that the only thing that would really matter is how many a given judge has fed to the justices you would actually think about clerking for
This is the anon former YLS/SCOTUS clerk from this forum. (I say this in part to explain why I am going to say what I am going to say). My view of the over/under on this is that from the outside looking in, if all you care about is maximizing your chances of clerking for a particular Justice, your best datapoint for deciding which lower court judges to prioritize is the number of prior clerks who've later clerked for that Justice. It's a somewhat noisy datapoint, but it's the best one by which you can draw inferences about which judges feed clerks to which Justices -- unless you have inside information about how that Justice hires and the avenues by which certain judges are especially able to position their clerks to have a strong chance at getting hired by that Justice. However, if you already had that information, I assume you wouldn't need to ask such questions here, and honestly even most former SCOTUS clerks have only a sketchy idea of those pipelines outside of their own Justice's hiring practices.

Now with that being said, three caveats:
1. For all but a very small number of top feeder judges (think Garland level), (far) fewer than 50% of any feeder judge's clerks go on to clerk on the Court. So ceteris paribus, your ordinary odds are fairly substantially less than 50/50 with just about any feeder judge, even moreso if your application profile is not akin to the HLR/YLJ EIC -- i.e., a near-shoe-in regardless of which lower court judge(s) you clerk for. So when you get to the level of someone like Livingston (your example), your odds are pretty relatively low such that I am skeptical that it's worth weighing this factor overly heavily in your decisionmaking. And avoiding specifics, some judges feed as much by accident as by concerted effort. In some cases, the proximate cause of a feeder judge's clerk getting hired "upstairs" is not really the feeder judge (see my earlier post in the other forum of the most common non-judge-led avenues to a SCOTUS clerkship). That doesn't mean that a given feeder judge doesn't aid the cause in a meaningful way, but it means that some may have an eye for hiring talent at least as much as they do a proclivity for promoting it.

2. Much more important, IMHO, is finding a boss you want to work for, who will be a dedicated and caring mentor, who manages her/his chambers well, and who has a clerk alumni circle who are prominent in the sectors of the legal (and sometimes non-legal) profession you want to join. Those factors are far more likely to influence how positively you view the experience than the marginal additional "feeder"iness of the judge, first and foremost because there is a 100% chance those factors will significantly affect your year in chambers and your career afterwards. Whereas most people who play the lottery never win it.

3. If you are the kind of clerkship applicant who can meaningfully control which judge is going to invite you for an interview, then you should also probably be looking at the Garlands of the world, because you presumably are already an extremely, extremely strong applicant. Most successful applicants to feeder judges -- even those of us who ended up winning the lottery and having the great fortune to clerk at the Court -- were not steering the helm of our application process. Many of us had an application process more akin to floating in a tiny dinghy without an oar, hoping our boat would somehow find its way into a favorable harbor. If your application process can be so finely tuned as to control precisely which feeder judge hires you first, more power to you. Aim as high as possible and cross your fingers.

Good luck!
SCOTUS clerk: first, thanks for your continuing assistance to clerkship applicants.

Second, I’m just curious that you refer to HLR/YLJ EICs as “shoe-ins.” At Chicago, not many people run for EIC, I believe that it’s reasonably common for the EIC to not be a high honors student, and (as far as I know but I could be wrong) none of our recent SCOTUS clerks were EIC. Does journal position matter a lot more when your school doesn’t have true grades? Is the culture around that position at H/Y such that more people run for it or that it tends to be a better proxy for grades so the justices care about it more? Or should students at Chicago and similar schools view EIC as more desirable than they seem to now?

Grant has fed two btw.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 28, 2020 10:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:17 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 11:57 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 9:39 pm
I'm the OP and this is helpful. But I'll ask a follow up with a different hypo: Let's say I'm liberal and wouldn't clerk for the conservative wing including the Chief and I'm thinking about applying to Livingston. Is the fact that she has sent two to Roberts and two to Alito even relevant? Or, perhaps to generalize the point, is it better to look at this kind of thing on a justice by justice level? Obviously, they all run their own hiring processes. So I'm just curious whether (and how) it might matter if a judge has fed to a justice to which you wouldn't even consider applying. People tend to look at the aggregate numbers and that might make sense as a useful shorthand but it seems to me (as someone with 0 knowledge and just trying to think about it from the outside) that the only thing that would really matter is how many a given judge has fed to the justices you would actually think about clerking for
This is the anon former YLS/SCOTUS clerk from this forum. (I say this in part to explain why I am going to say what I am going to say). My view of the over/under on this is that from the outside looking in, if all you care about is maximizing your chances of clerking for a particular Justice, your best datapoint for deciding which lower court judges to prioritize is the number of prior clerks who've later clerked for that Justice. It's a somewhat noisy datapoint, but it's the best one by which you can draw inferences about which judges feed clerks to which Justices -- unless you have inside information about how that Justice hires and the avenues by which certain judges are especially able to position their clerks to have a strong chance at getting hired by that Justice. However, if you already had that information, I assume you wouldn't need to ask such questions here, and honestly even most former SCOTUS clerks have only a sketchy idea of those pipelines outside of their own Justice's hiring practices.

Now with that being said, three caveats:
1. For all but a very small number of top feeder judges (think Garland level), (far) fewer than 50% of any feeder judge's clerks go on to clerk on the Court. So ceteris paribus, your ordinary odds are fairly substantially less than 50/50 with just about any feeder judge, even moreso if your application profile is not akin to the HLR/YLJ EIC -- i.e., a near-shoe-in regardless of which lower court judge(s) you clerk for. So when you get to the level of someone like Livingston (your example), your odds are pretty relatively low such that I am skeptical that it's worth weighing this factor overly heavily in your decisionmaking. And avoiding specifics, some judges feed as much by accident as by concerted effort. In some cases, the proximate cause of a feeder judge's clerk getting hired "upstairs" is not really the feeder judge (see my earlier post in the other forum of the most common non-judge-led avenues to a SCOTUS clerkship). That doesn't mean that a given feeder judge doesn't aid the cause in a meaningful way, but it means that some may have an eye for hiring talent at least as much as they do a proclivity for promoting it.

2. Much more important, IMHO, is finding a boss you want to work for, who will be a dedicated and caring mentor, who manages her/his chambers well, and who has a clerk alumni circle who are prominent in the sectors of the legal (and sometimes non-legal) profession you want to join. Those factors are far more likely to influence how positively you view the experience than the marginal additional "feeder"iness of the judge, first and foremost because there is a 100% chance those factors will significantly affect your year in chambers and your career afterwards. Whereas most people who play the lottery never win it.

3. If you are the kind of clerkship applicant who can meaningfully control which judge is going to invite you for an interview, then you should also probably be looking at the Garlands of the world, because you presumably are already an extremely, extremely strong applicant. Most successful applicants to feeder judges -- even those of us who ended up winning the lottery and having the great fortune to clerk at the Court -- were not steering the helm of our application process. Many of us had an application process more akin to floating in a tiny dinghy without an oar, hoping our boat would somehow find its way into a favorable harbor. If your application process can be so finely tuned as to control precisely which feeder judge hires you first, more power to you. Aim as high as possible and cross your fingers.

Good luck!
SCOTUS clerk: first, thanks for your continuing assistance to clerkship applicants.

Second, I’m just curious that you refer to HLR/YLJ EICs as “shoe-ins.” At Chicago, not many people run for EIC, I believe that it’s reasonably common for the EIC to not be a high honors student, and (as far as I know but I could be wrong) none of our recent SCOTUS clerks were EIC. Does journal position matter a lot more when your school doesn’t have true grades? Is the culture around that position at H/Y such that more people run for it or that it tends to be a better proxy for grades so the justices care about it more? Or should students at Chicago and similar schools view EIC as more desirable than they seem to now?

Grant has fed two btw.

My understanding of how the EIC is selected at most T14s is that it is a political process designed to promote diversity. At mine, for example, the last white male chosen for the position was back in the mid-2000s. You can agree or disagree with the merits of this (I've personally found my EICs to be excellent in the roles), but certain judges may view it differently.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 30, 2020 11:34 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:17 am
SCOTUS clerk: first, thanks for your continuing assistance to clerkship applicants.

Second, I’m just curious that you refer to HLR/YLJ EICs as “shoe-ins.” At Chicago, not many people run for EIC, I believe that it’s reasonably common for the EIC to not be a high honors student, and (as far as I know but I could be wrong) none of our recent SCOTUS clerks were EIC. Does journal position matter a lot more when your school doesn’t have true grades? Is the culture around that position at H/Y such that more people run for it or that it tends to be a better proxy for grades so the justices care about it more? Or should students at Chicago and similar schools view EIC as more desirable than they seem to now?

Grant has fed two btw.
Former YLS/SCOTUS here. As you know I am a former YLS, so I know YLJ selection practices much better than any others. Unless the selection process has changed recently at YLJ, for most of the prior decade plus, the EIC has largely been equivalent to "best in show" in a dog show competition - the membership has tended to select someone who is very smart, works very efficiently, gets alone well with everyone, ably brokers compromise, and has the work ethic to devote an incredible amount of time to an extra-curricular activity that involves reading and writing about cutting edge issues in the law.

Well, it probably comes as now surprise that all those same traits make for a really excellent law clerk. Whether it's because they were already destined to be a strong SCOTUS applicant going in (and during the years I was at YLS, that was true of all the EICs), or because by the end of the process they have acquired all those useful skills, it's hard to say. But if you go back through the mastheads of YLJ over the past decade and a half you'll see that nearly every one of the EICs has ended up clerking on the Court. To a somewhat lesser degree, I believe this is true for the HLR President and the SLR EIC as well (based on my anecdotal knowledge).

Having seen the process on both ends, I think a Justice who hires a YLJ EIC can as be as assured as they can be for anyone that they hire that they will be getting a clerk who can amiably do high-stakes work well under pressure. With perhaps the exception of the Bristow fellowship, I cannot think of an experience that better prepares an applicant for the job of SCOTUS clerk.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 30, 2020 3:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 11:34 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:17 am
SCOTUS clerk: first, thanks for your continuing assistance to clerkship applicants.

Second, I’m just curious that you refer to HLR/YLJ EICs as “shoe-ins.” At Chicago, not many people run for EIC, I believe that it’s reasonably common for the EIC to not be a high honors student, and (as far as I know but I could be wrong) none of our recent SCOTUS clerks were EIC. Does journal position matter a lot more when your school doesn’t have true grades? Is the culture around that position at H/Y such that more people run for it or that it tends to be a better proxy for grades so the justices care about it more? Or should students at Chicago and similar schools view EIC as more desirable than they seem to now?

Grant has fed two btw.
Former YLS/SCOTUS here. As you know I am a former YLS, so I know YLJ selection practices much better than any others. Unless the selection process has changed recently at YLJ, for most of the prior decade plus, the EIC has largely been equivalent to "best in show" in a dog show competition - the membership has tended to select someone who is very smart, works very efficiently, gets alone well with everyone, ably brokers compromise, and has the work ethic to devote an incredible amount of time to an extra-curricular activity that involves reading and writing about cutting edge issues in the law.

Well, it probably comes as now surprise that all those same traits make for a really excellent law clerk. Whether it's because they were already destined to be a strong SCOTUS applicant going in (and during the years I was at YLS, that was true of all the EICs), or because by the end of the process they have acquired all those useful skills, it's hard to say. But if you go back through the mastheads of YLJ over the past decade and a half you'll see that nearly every one of the EICs has ended up clerking on the Court. To a somewhat lesser degree, I believe this is true for the HLR President and the SLR EIC as well (based on my anecdotal knowledge).

Having seen the process on both ends, I think a Justice who hires a YLJ EIC can as be as assured as they can be for anyone that they hire that they will be getting a clerk who can amiably do high-stakes work well under pressure. With perhaps the exception of the Bristow fellowship, I cannot think of an experience that better prepares an applicant for the job of SCOTUS clerk.
Anon you responded to. Interesting, that seems more interesting/substantive than our EIC job, which is extremely demanding in hours but has a lot of admin work and rubber-stamp to light-touch editing. I don't think we really have a "best in show" but to the extent we do it's probably executive articles.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 30, 2020 4:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 3:17 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 11:34 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:17 am
SCOTUS clerk: first, thanks for your continuing assistance to clerkship applicants.

Second, I’m just curious that you refer to HLR/YLJ EICs as “shoe-ins.” At Chicago, not many people run for EIC, I believe that it’s reasonably common for the EIC to not be a high honors student, and (as far as I know but I could be wrong) none of our recent SCOTUS clerks were EIC. Does journal position matter a lot more when your school doesn’t have true grades? Is the culture around that position at H/Y such that more people run for it or that it tends to be a better proxy for grades so the justices care about it more? Or should students at Chicago and similar schools view EIC as more desirable than they seem to now?

Grant has fed two btw.
Former YLS/SCOTUS here. As you know I am a former YLS, so I know YLJ selection practices much better than any others. Unless the selection process has changed recently at YLJ, for most of the prior decade plus, the EIC has largely been equivalent to "best in show" in a dog show competition - the membership has tended to select someone who is very smart, works very efficiently, gets alone well with everyone, ably brokers compromise, and has the work ethic to devote an incredible amount of time to an extra-curricular activity that involves reading and writing about cutting edge issues in the law.

Well, it probably comes as now surprise that all those same traits make for a really excellent law clerk. Whether it's because they were already destined to be a strong SCOTUS applicant going in (and during the years I was at YLS, that was true of all the EICs), or because by the end of the process they have acquired all those useful skills, it's hard to say. But if you go back through the mastheads of YLJ over the past decade and a half you'll see that nearly every one of the EICs has ended up clerking on the Court. To a somewhat lesser degree, I believe this is true for the HLR President and the SLR EIC as well (based on my anecdotal knowledge).

Having seen the process on both ends, I think a Justice who hires a YLJ EIC can as be as assured as they can be for anyone that they hire that they will be getting a clerk who can amiably do high-stakes work well under pressure. With perhaps the exception of the Bristow fellowship, I cannot think of an experience that better prepares an applicant for the job of SCOTUS clerk.
Anon you responded to. Interesting, that seems more interesting/substantive than our EIC job, which is extremely demanding in hours but has a lot of admin work and rubber-stamp to light-touch editing. I don't think we really have a "best in show" but to the extent we do it's probably executive articles.

Speaking from experience, HLR used to be like YLJ in the sense described by the YLJ poster above ("best in show"), and most if not all HLR Presidents would go on to clerk at SCOTUS. It's become more of a "let's celebrate (race/gender-based) diversity" position now, as a previous poster has mentioned. Whether that means fewer HLR Presidents go on to clerk on SCOTUS remains to be seen, as the trend I'm talking about is relatively recent, though marked.

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by cheaptilts » Sat May 30, 2020 4:39 pm

A lot of recent comments in this thread seem to emanate from disgruntled staff editors

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Re: Ideologically mixed feeders/semi feeders

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 30, 2020 5:06 pm

cheaptilts wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 4:39 pm
A lot of recent comments in this thread seem to emanate from disgruntled staff editors
I've been directly told by an "ideologically mixed semi-feeder" judge that s/he has greatly reduced the weighting of LR membership when assessing clerkship applicants from top schools, for reasons similar to those discussed in this thread. Not commenting on whether this is wise or reasonable, just pointing out that changes in LR selection procedures are (a) definitely occurring, and (b) definitely being noticed by other audiences.

(For what it's worth, I personally never understood the use of LR membership as a proxy for anything other than diligence and Bluebooking skills, neither of which should be affected at all by selection procedures.)

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