Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

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Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:46 pm

Hey all - I'm currently a rising 2L at Chicago, with grades close to the top of the class. Haven't applied to any judges off-plan. Aside from making law review, going to office hours/doing research with well-connected professors, and keeping my grades up, are there any major steps that I should be taking to prepare for OSCAR applications come next year?

Also, any idea how soon after the posting of spring grades Kirkland and Ellis scholars/law review is announced?

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by ksm6969 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:33 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:46 pm
Hey all - I'm currently a rising 2L at Chicago, with grades close to the top of the class. Haven't applied to any judges off-plan. Aside from making law review, going to office hours/doing research with well-connected professors, and keeping my grades up, are there any major steps that I should be taking to prepare for OSCAR applications come next year?

Also, any idea how soon after the posting of spring grades Kirkland and Ellis scholars/law review is announced?
Join FedSoc, buy (and wear) a MAGA hat.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by beepboopbeep » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:02 am

You will get an email from the dean if you make K&E. Those emails went out mid-July my year. There is (or was) a reception at Kirkland that you are (were) required to go to. No idea how that will all happen with covid.

Fuck the guy above re: fedsoc/maga. The clerkship people will tell you, correctly, that you punch higher as a Chicago fedsoc candidate than as a Chicago liberal candidate. But they know it's not in your favor to fake it. Judges who legitimately care about fedsoc will figure that out quickly. Anyway, a lot of the Chicago fedsoc types are closer to the nevertrump end of the spectrum than the MAGA end.

I'd send Strahilevitz an email about meeting (probably by phone) now. OCS will probably also have you meet with Hutchinson. Other than that, think about who your recommenders will be. Baude tends to do a lot because the law-review-type students take all of his classes. Mortara, of course, if fedsoc. Stone and Strauss. I'm probably forgetting some of the other heavy hitters. In addition to the obvious external steps, I'd also encourage thinking hard about what you want out of a clerkship -- it may legitimately be just the gold star, but there are better reasons (and interview answers). And of course there are hundreds of federal judges and you probably don't know all that much about them (other than that some are feeders), so that's something that can be researched and figured out now, too.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by namefromplace » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:08 am

I would schedule a meeting with someone on the clerkship committee/a professor you liked who clerked/a professor who has a reputation of getting students clerkships (ideally all three) and have them talk you through the process. They will also likely be able to tell you judges who they have connections with who you can specifically prepare for, and maybe some judges who hire off-plan you should start preparing for now.

Otherwise, the only thing I would add to your list is to get a good writing sample. I think it's best to have a strong practical writing sample (that you wrote entirely on your own) and a law review note. Some judges want the former, some want the latter, and some want both. Also, if you can get your note published (or scheduled to be published) in your school's law review before next summer, that's a very helpful feather in your cap.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:41 pm

This is OP - thanks very much for the answers, they're extremely helpful.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:51 pm

beepboopbeep wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:02 am

Fuck the guy above re: fedsoc/maga. The clerkship people will tell you, correctly, that you punch higher as a Chicago fedsoc candidate than as a Chicago liberal candidate. But they know it's not in your favor to fake it. Judges who legitimately care about fedsoc will figure that out quickly. Anyway, a lot of the Chicago fedsoc types are closer to the nevertrump end of the spectrum than the MAGA end
Never mind, not worth it.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:51 pm
beepboopbeep wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:02 am

Fuck the guy above re: fedsoc/maga. The clerkship people will tell you, correctly, that you punch higher as a Chicago fedsoc candidate than as a Chicago liberal candidate. But they know it's not in your favor to fake it. Judges who legitimately care about fedsoc will figure that out quickly. Anyway, a lot of the Chicago fedsoc types are closer to the nevertrump end of the spectrum than the MAGA end
Never mind, not worth it.
??? want to see the drama lol

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by beepboopbeep » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:34 pm

Good call, brave anon.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:44 pm

1. Last year K&E came out 7/26. I don’t believe there was a reception at Kirkland (possibly because it came out bizarrely late and very close to OCI), but I know they’ve had one in previous years. Law Review came out the second weekend in July; I think they tell you the day in advance? I know board are grading the competition right now. Both might move due to Covid. You’ll write on so as long as you completed and put in a good faith effort you’ll be fine.

2. Work hard on your note, aim for publication, and gun for a board position. You don’t necessarily need a fancy one; I think the marginal advantage of exec board vs. just managing board is pretty low for clerkships from what I’ve seen and it’s a huge difference in time commitment.

3. Take classes with professors who are known to be excellent letter writers. Masur, Strahilevitz, Stone, Strauss, Mortara, Baude, Rappaport off the top of my head. You don’t need to suck up—plenty of people barely know their recommenders and do well—but not being a stranger can’t hurt.

4. Just to calibrate expectations, if you’re a liberal white/Asian man, you basically need highest honors or a really, really cool background to have a good shot with feeders. If you’re conservative (which I assume you’re not), a woman, or a URM, standards are more relaxed. Any top 10% conservative has a good shot at Pryor, Thapar, O’Scannlain, etc. It’s not fair but nothing about the process is.

5. Try to work at a cool firm that makes sense for you at OCI. That doesn’t necessarily mean like Williams & Connolly, though it might—my strong hunch is that strong, demonstrated ties to an uncommon region or practice area (e.g. union-side labor, Indian law, 1A impact lit, small markets) can help make you stand out. You’re going to tell a story in interviews/apps and “I want to work in Chicago so I went to Kirkland” is fine but doesn’t pack an extra punch. If you want to work generic biglaw but have some non-generic goals consider a split and take advantage of the long summer.

6. At some point, set up a meeting with Masur, Strahilevitz, and/or Susan Staab to talk clerkships.

7. Consider if you’d be willing to work for a conservative or if there are parts of your background that appeal to one. If so, it’ll help a lot even if you’re not conservative.

8. Become friends with 3Ls through preexisting connections, classes, firms, and Law Review. Like 90% of Law Review board would be happy to have coffee with random 2Ls to talk clerkships. They’ll help you in the process and might even be able to push you to judges they know (which is especially a thing in Fed Soc).

9. If you have people at your 1L employer who clerked, talk to them about their experiences. It’ll help you learn the lay of the land and some might go to bat for you with their judges/friends when the time comes. Elite law is a much smaller world than you’d expect.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:10 pm

As others have said, talk to Strahilevitz. He takes a very active role in the clerkship committee and coordinating calls from other professors behind the scenes. He's also very happy to talk to prospective applicants right after 1L/before and throughout 2L.

I've seen a few people bring up Strauss. He's a wonderful, wonderful teacher and I can't recommend more taking his classes. He's also a great letter-writer, from what I've heard. But be aware that he doesn't participate in the rat-race of calling judges on the eve of the hiring plan these days. Professors who do include Strahilevitz, Hemel, and Rappaport, just to name a few of the most prolific callers. If you have a very specific judge you're interested in and know which professor has connections to them, it can behoove you to get to know those professors (I wish someone would've told me that when I was registering for 2L classes).

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:10 pm
As others have said, talk to Strahilevitz. He takes a very active role in the clerkship committee and coordinating calls from other professors behind the scenes. He's also very happy to talk to prospective applicants right after 1L/before and throughout 2L.

I've seen a few people bring up Strauss. He's a wonderful, wonderful teacher and I can't recommend more taking his classes. He's also a great letter-writer, from what I've heard. But be aware that he doesn't participate in the rat-race of calling judges on the eve of the hiring plan these days. Professors who do include Strahilevitz, Hemel, and Rappaport, just to name a few of the most prolific callers. If you have a very specific judge you're interested in and know which professor has connections to them, it can behoove you to get to know those professors (I wish someone would've told me that when I was registering for 2L classes).
Good advice. Figuring out which professors have connections isn't easy, though. Some are obvious like Rappaport for Watford. Some are (as far as I can tell) completely indecipherable from the outside like Hemel for Wardlaw. Talking to 3Ls and current/former/future clerks for your target judge is probably the best way to figure them out.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:17 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:10 pm
As others have said, talk to Strahilevitz. He takes a very active role in the clerkship committee and coordinating calls from other professors behind the scenes. He's also very happy to talk to prospective applicants right after 1L/before and throughout 2L.

I've seen a few people bring up Strauss. He's a wonderful, wonderful teacher and I can't recommend more taking his classes. He's also a great letter-writer, from what I've heard. But be aware that he doesn't participate in the rat-race of calling judges on the eve of the hiring plan these days. Professors who do include Strahilevitz, Hemel, and Rappaport, just to name a few of the most prolific callers. If you have a very specific judge you're interested in and know which professor has connections to them, it can behoove you to get to know those professors (I wish someone would've told me that when I was registering for 2L classes).
Good advice. Figuring out which professors have connections isn't easy, though. Some are obvious like Rappaport for Watford. Some are (as far as I can tell) completely indecipherable from the outside like Hemel for Wardlaw. Talking to 3Ls and current/former/future clerks for your target judge is probably the best way to figure them out.
In my experience the best way to get the skinny on who knows who, if you're aiming high, is to scour the clerkship manual for the 3Ls who are going to feeder judges. There's a good chance that these people got the jobs they wanted not only by performing well academically, but also by making some asks. This is true especially of judges in the same region they're clerking for--.e.g. I talked to a 3L with 2 feeder clerkships in California and she gave me the rundown on who knows the fancy 9th Circuit and district-court judges.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by HillandHollow » Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:34 pm

For the next stage: reach out to any alums who clerked for a judge you are interested in (should be in the clerkship manual). More recent is better, but any alum will do in a pinch.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:05 pm

HillandHollow wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:34 pm
For the next stage: reach out to any alums who clerked for a judge you are interested in (should be in the clerkship manual). More recent is better, but any alum will do in a pinch.
Have you had any success networking with former clerks other than to get info about the hiring process? I've reached out to a lot over the last few months and they've all been very helpful in giving me good info, but I've never had one actually flag my application for the judge.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:05 pm
HillandHollow wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:34 pm
For the next stage: reach out to any alums who clerked for a judge you are interested in (should be in the clerkship manual). More recent is better, but any alum will do in a pinch.
Have you had any success networking with former clerks other than to get info about the hiring process? I've reached out to a lot over the last few months and they've all been very helpful in giving me good info, but I've never had one actually flag my application for the judge.
In my experience, 3Ls who I have preexisting relationships with have been more helpful because they’re willing to give more detailed and specific advice and know you well enough to go to bat. I got apps pulled by two highly selective judges somewhere on the feeder spectrum off a call from a 3L to their judge and a note from another 3L to their friend clerking for another judge.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:43 pm

If you are a 1L reading this who’s interested in applying this summer, or if you have friends who are, you need to be applying literally right now if you haven’t yet. Drop whatever you’re doing and send in your apps.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:43 pm
If you are a 1L reading this who’s interested in applying this summer, or if you have friends who are, you need to be applying literally right now if you haven’t yet. Drop whatever you’re doing and send in your apps.
Seconded. Some judges who hire 1Ls are already done (Smith, 5th Circuit). Others have acknowledged applications and said they are moving forward into reading them.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:43 pm
If you are a 1L reading this who’s interested in applying this summer, or if you have friends who are, you need to be applying literally right now if you haven’t yet. Drop whatever you’re doing and send in your apps.
Seconded. Some judges who hire 1Ls are already done (Smith, 5th Circuit). Others have acknowledged applications and said they are moving forward into reading them.
To clarify, this is only true for judges who don't follow the hiring plan. There's no secret back-door (at least for most judges) that you can use to circumvent the hiring plan for those who follow it. So you can take it easy if you're set on only applying to liberal judges, assuming the hiring plan holds. (But do start talking to Strahilevitz/Masur/Hemel/Nou/whoever else is on the clerkship committee).

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:43 pm
If you are a 1L reading this who’s interested in applying this summer, or if you have friends who are, you need to be applying literally right now if you haven’t yet. Drop whatever you’re doing and send in your apps.
Seconded. Some judges who hire 1Ls are already done (Smith, 5th Circuit). Others have acknowledged applications and said they are moving forward into reading them.
Smith isn't done per OSCAR and he accepts applications until all his spots are filled. He's got 3 left apparently.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:21 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:43 pm
If you are a 1L reading this who’s interested in applying this summer, or if you have friends who are, you need to be applying literally right now if you haven’t yet. Drop whatever you’re doing and send in your apps.
Seconded. Some judges who hire 1Ls are already done (Smith, 5th Circuit). Others have acknowledged applications and said they are moving forward into reading them.
Smith isn't done per OSCAR and he accepts applications until all his spots are filled. He's got 3 left apparently.
That is patently false as of late last week unless the offerees turned him down.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:24 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:21 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:43 pm
If you are a 1L reading this who’s interested in applying this summer, or if you have friends who are, you need to be applying literally right now if you haven’t yet. Drop whatever you’re doing and send in your apps.
Seconded. Some judges who hire 1Ls are already done (Smith, 5th Circuit). Others have acknowledged applications and said they are moving forward into reading them.
Smith isn't done per OSCAR and he accepts applications until all his spots are filled. He's got 3 left apparently.
That is patently false as of late last week unless the offerees turned him down.
If you've got inside knowledge, you've got inside knowledge - I just checked OSCAR and he's usually pretty good about updating it. But yes, 1Ls who are interested in clerkships should be applying ASAP.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:30 pm
If you've got inside knowledge, you've got inside knowledge - I just checked OSCAR and he's usually pretty good about updating it. But yes, 1Ls who are interested in clerkships should be applying ASAP.
My previous response was snippier in tone than was merited. I apologize. The solid information I have is that Smith has wrapped up the process and is simply waiting on responses.

More broadly, as you say, apply ASAP!

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by HillandHollow » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:09 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:05 pm
HillandHollow wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:34 pm
For the next stage: reach out to any alums who clerked for a judge you are interested in (should be in the clerkship manual). More recent is better, but any alum will do in a pinch.
Have you had any success networking with former clerks other than to get info about the hiring process? I've reached out to a lot over the last few months and they've all been very helpful in giving me good info, but I've never had one actually flag my application for the judge.
In the past year or so, I have spoken with 5 students who reached out to me about one or the other of my judges. I emailed the judge about 3 of them. For the other two, one never circled back to tell me whether they ever applied, and the other was just not really a good applicant for the judge they were applying to (mostly for lack of experience, which is usually a deal breaker for the judge). I told them that on the phone call as well, but also encouraged them to apply anyway if they wanted to. I just did not email my judge to say anything one way or the other, and I doubt they dropped my name in the cover letter.

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:24 am

Drop everything and apply but do not be discouraged because many great judges are not hiring yet.

Talk to your recommenders, but make sure they are in the know. For instance, Levmore or Case are probably out of the loop. However, Baude, Strahi, etc. are definitely in. Don't cold email Mortara for help.

Reach out to 3Ls who are clerking for judges you are interested in. They are generally happy to talk about their experiences all day. They can also likely give you more detailed insights into particular chambers.

Look at the clerkship list and feel free to reach out to alums. Cold works but if you can find a connection for an introduction, even better. I would probably put a 7-10 year limit on this. I found the most helpful alums clerked within the last 5 years for the judges that I was interested in.

Apply broadly at this stage. Most of the judges hiring now are extremely competitive. Keep at it and you will get something. I know people who got clerkships before the end of 1L and some who got them the last quarter of 3L. It's stressful but both you and your judge will want to make sure the fit is right. A clerkship is more than a resume line; it's a mentor and career advice for the foreseeable future. You want it to be the right person.

Good luck!!

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Re: Preparing for Clerkships @UChicago?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:40 am

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