Questions to Ask During Interview

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littlewing67

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Questions to Ask During Interview

Post by littlewing67 » Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:48 am

If this has been asked and answered before, I would love for someone to point me in the right direction, however, I am curious if there are really good or unique questions to ask (1) during an informal call with a former/current clerk before sending in app/being invited to interview and (2) during an interview with current clerks & judge.

Thanks!

nixy

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Re: Questions to Ask During Interview

Post by nixy » Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:58 am

I don’t think asking a judge or his clerks what firm culture is like will be very productive.

OP, I don’t think there are any really good unique questions, but common useful questions are how are cases or workload distributed and how would they describe the chambers’ caseload (meaning more the kinds of cases, like balance of criminal/civil). With a clerk you can ask about the judge’s working style, their role as a mentor, and what they (the clerk) found most interesting/rewarding about the position.

Edit: lol, the post about asking about firm culture got deleted, so never mind that.

littlewing67

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Re: Questions to Ask During Interview

Post by littlewing67 » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:01 pm

nixy wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:58 am
I don’t think asking a judge or his clerks what firm culture is like will be very productive.

OP, I don’t think there are any really good unique questions, but common useful questions are how are cases or workload distributed and how would they describe the chambers’ caseload (meaning more the kinds of cases, like balance of criminal/civil). With a clerk you can ask about the judge’s working style, their role as a mentor, and what they (the clerk) found most interesting/rewarding about the position.

Edit: lol, the post about asking about firm culture got deleted, so never mind that.
Thank you! I think that person may have been confused and thought I was asking about law firms and not judges. No biggie :oops:

nixy

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Re: Questions to Ask During Interview

Post by nixy » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:02 pm

Easily done.

lavarman84

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Re: Questions to Ask During Interview

Post by lavarman84 » Fri Jun 05, 2020 2:29 pm

My best advice is to keep in mind that an interview is at its best when it's like a conversation, so the best questions to ask are ones that naturally flow from the interview. However, it is important to come into the interview with a list of questions you are prepared to ask just in case. I'd just think of questions that couldn't be easily answered via an internet search. Frankly, though, the questions you thought of beforehand are unlikely to be the sort of unique or really good questions that move the needle. Because, again, it's a conversation, so you're more likely to score points with a thoughtful follow-up question to something discussed during the interview.

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Re: Questions to Ask During Interview

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:22 pm

I don't have d.ct. clerking experience and there are probably some specific d.ct. chambers practices questions that those clerks can help with, but for a CA9 clerkship, I'd encourage asking about:

- whether the judge participates in the bench memo pool (there are a handful of judges who don't, and it always seemed like it would be way more work for those judges' clerks).

- how active the judge is with en banc activity, and how much time / opportunity clerks have to work on en banc cases (which can be really significant time sinks, especially if your judge has writing responsibility for an EB panel)

- whether clerks participate when the judge sits on motions panels and oral screening panels

- for the clerks, how often they interact with clerks from other chambers (depends on which courthouse, and also chambers expectations -- if you're eating lunch with your judge every day, you're probably not eating with other clerks / etc)

- the judge's process for editing clerk's work (this varies a ton chambers to chambers, and a judge willing to spend time explaining their thinking for stylistic edits can be really valuable in improving your writing)

- whether the judge prefers a clerk's internal work to "advocate" or "analyze" (i know several judges make this distinction, but I am not sure I know of any CA9 judge who explicitly prefers the former)

- how many clerks travel to out-of-town panels (typically 2, but i believe some judges bring all 4)

- whether the clerks regularly send comment/response memos to other chambers' bench memos (most do not, but some notoriously do)

Some of these will apply to other circuits, but afaik only CA9 does shared bench memos by default, so ymmv. Maybe another circuit clerk can indicate which questions would be meaningful for their circuit.

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Re: Questions to Ask During Interview

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:22 pm
I don't have d.ct. clerking experience and there are probably some specific d.ct. chambers practices questions that those clerks can help with, but for a CA9 clerkship, I'd encourage asking about:

- whether the judge participates in the bench memo pool (there are a handful of judges who don't, and it always seemed like it would be way more work for those judges' clerks).

- how active the judge is with en banc activity, and how much time / opportunity clerks have to work on en banc cases (which can be really significant time sinks, especially if your judge has writing responsibility for an EB panel)

- whether clerks participate when the judge sits on motions panels and oral screening panels

- for the clerks, how often they interact with clerks from other chambers (depends on which courthouse, and also chambers expectations -- if you're eating lunch with your judge every day, you're probably not eating with other clerks / etc)

- the judge's process for editing clerk's work (this varies a ton chambers to chambers, and a judge willing to spend time explaining their thinking for stylistic edits can be really valuable in improving your writing)

- whether the judge prefers a clerk's internal work to "advocate" or "analyze" (i know several judges make this distinction, but I am not sure I know of any CA9 judge who explicitly prefers the former)

- how many clerks travel to out-of-town panels (typically 2, but i believe some judges bring all 4)

- whether the clerks regularly send comment/response memos to other chambers' bench memos (most do not, but some notoriously do)

Some of these will apply to other circuits, but afaik only CA9 does shared bench memos by default, so ymmv. Maybe another circuit clerk can indicate which questions would be meaningful for their circuit.
The Sixth shares as well.

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Re: Questions to Ask During Interview

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:22 pm
I don't have d.ct. clerking experience and there are probably some specific d.ct. chambers practices questions that those clerks can help with, but for a CA9 clerkship, I'd encourage asking about:

- whether the judge participates in the bench memo pool (there are a handful of judges who don't, and it always seemed like it would be way more work for those judges' clerks).

- how active the judge is with en banc activity, and how much time / opportunity clerks have to work on en banc cases (which can be really significant time sinks, especially if your judge has writing responsibility for an EB panel)

- whether clerks participate when the judge sits on motions panels and oral screening panels

- for the clerks, how often they interact with clerks from other chambers (depends on which courthouse, and also chambers expectations -- if you're eating lunch with your judge every day, you're probably not eating with other clerks / etc)

- the judge's process for editing clerk's work (this varies a ton chambers to chambers, and a judge willing to spend time explaining their thinking for stylistic edits can be really valuable in improving your writing)

- whether the judge prefers a clerk's internal work to "advocate" or "analyze" (i know several judges make this distinction, but I am not sure I know of any CA9 judge who explicitly prefers the former)

- how many clerks travel to out-of-town panels (typically 2, but i believe some judges bring all 4)

- whether the clerks regularly send comment/response memos to other chambers' bench memos (most do not, but some notoriously do)

Some of these will apply to other circuits, but afaik only CA9 does shared bench memos by default, so ymmv. Maybe another circuit clerk can indicate which questions would be meaningful for their circuit.
Wow, this is a really good list of CA9 questions--other than "Is the judge an a-hole?", "Does the judge eat lunch/socialize with clerks?", and "What is chambers dress code?", the answers to these questions will account for just about all the quality of life and workload differences between 9th circuit clerkships.

That being said I would recommend saving some of the more technical questions, like about screening panels and comment memos, for calls with former clerks. During the interview itself, it would have struck me as odd if a candidate started asking whether clerks participated in motions panels. But many of the other questions, especially about the judge's editing style and whether they prefer bench memos to "analyze" or "advocate" are excellent questions to ask at an interview.

Anonymous User
Posts: 350988
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Questions to Ask During Interview

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:40 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:22 pm
I don't have d.ct. clerking experience and there are probably some specific d.ct. chambers practices questions that those clerks can help with, but for a CA9 clerkship, I'd encourage asking about:

- whether the judge participates in the bench memo pool (there are a handful of judges who don't, and it always seemed like it would be way more work for those judges' clerks).

- how active the judge is with en banc activity, and how much time / opportunity clerks have to work on en banc cases (which can be really significant time sinks, especially if your judge has writing responsibility for an EB panel)

- whether clerks participate when the judge sits on motions panels and oral screening panels

- for the clerks, how often they interact with clerks from other chambers (depends on which courthouse, and also chambers expectations -- if you're eating lunch with your judge every day, you're probably not eating with other clerks / etc)

- the judge's process for editing clerk's work (this varies a ton chambers to chambers, and a judge willing to spend time explaining their thinking for stylistic edits can be really valuable in improving your writing)

- whether the judge prefers a clerk's internal work to "advocate" or "analyze" (i know several judges make this distinction, but I am not sure I know of any CA9 judge who explicitly prefers the former)

- how many clerks travel to out-of-town panels (typically 2, but i believe some judges bring all 4)

- whether the clerks regularly send comment/response memos to other chambers' bench memos (most do not, but some notoriously do)

Some of these will apply to other circuits, but afaik only CA9 does shared bench memos by default, so ymmv. Maybe another circuit clerk can indicate which questions would be meaningful for their circuit.
The Sixth shares as well.
*Some* judges on the Sixth share.

Anonymous User
Posts: 350988
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Questions to Ask During Interview

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jun 05, 2020 10:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:47 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:40 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:22 pm
Some of these will apply to other circuits, but afaik only CA9 does shared bench memos by default, so ymmv. Maybe another circuit clerk can indicate which questions would be meaningful for their circuit.
The Sixth shares as well.
*Some* judges on the Sixth share.
Yes. That is true of the Ninth as well. Like the Ninth, the default is sharing. A few judges on both circuits have opted out.

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