Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

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Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:52 am

Curious whether a magistrate clerkship in a brand name district is worth considering over a dist ct clerkship in a less prestigious, but still competitive, jx (think EDNC/NDTX/SDFL). Would a mag clerkship give you a significant leg up in applying for a dist ct clerkship in the jx you clerk for the magistrate in? Or are those districts so competitive that it wouldn't make much difference?

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:17 am

The general consensus is that district > magistrate. But there are certainly other factors to consider, including what you're hoping to do after your clerkship and whether you're willing to spend an extra year getting to an SDNY/DDC/CDCA clerkship (which isn't guaranteed coming off of a mag clerkship).

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by lavarman84 » Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:55 am

Unless you're set on being in NYC, D.C., or LA, I think a district court clerkship is a major metropolitan area like Miami, Dallas, etc. would be more valuable to your career, especially if you're interested in living in those places long term. Obviously, though, the EDNC seems a bit different than the others. I'm assuming you have a specific reason for targeting it.

Even if you do plan to practice in NYC for a period, I still think the D. Ct. is more valuable if you could see yourself ending up back in Florida, Texas, NC, etc. However, if you know you want to be in NYC, DC, or LA and remain there, the MJ clerkship becomes more defensible. But I don't think a D. Ct. clerkship from Dallas or Miami is going to hurt you. As for whether a MJ clerkship in SDNY or the others can land you a D. Ct. clerkship there, I'll leave that to others who are more familiar with those districts.

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:51 pm

As a general career move, I'd clerk for a district court elsewhere. I think there are a lot of wonderful mag clerkships out there and that they can be a great option for students who want to clerk but lack geographic flexibility. But while mag clerkships have practical value, they just don't carry the same resume value as a district court clerkship, regardless of the city.

I wouldn't plan on the mag >> district pipeline. District judges usually hire early, so if you pulled this off, you'd probably still need a job between the clerkships. I don't think the resume line of being a future mag clerk would hold as much weight in the application process as, say, the way being an incoming district court clerk can help with COA applications. It is true that a great mag clerk could build a good relationship with their judge or the district judges they work with and get a clerkship that way. But again, timing makes this a harder plan (unless you are happy to do mag clerk --> other job --> district clerk), and it's not a surefire path to the district court gig.

I could see a mag clerkship in the city you want to be in being useful for AUSA/FPD gigs, especially if the judge came from that office (and because mags often do initial appearances/bond/pleas, there is useful exposure to pretrial criminal work). But the tough thing here is that those offices in, say, SDNY or CDCA are already really competitive.

If you're going to a law firm, the mag clerkship usually won't count for bonus/class credit purposes, so that's something to keep in mind.

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:23 pm

As others have indicated, the real question is "worth considering for what purpose?" If you're out to collect gold stars, you should probably clerk for a district judge. If you are interested in a specific market, you should clerk in that market. If you just want practical experience, then clerk where you can, because the MJs in those districts generally do all the things the DJs do except felony trials (as opposed to other districts where MJs might focus on SSA appeals or habeas petitions, for example).

If your goal is to clerk for a DJ, then you should clerk for a DJ (although I'd caution against clerking for clerking's sake). I clerked for a MJ in one of these courts and double clerking was fairly rare. That said, it could also be because most of the MJ clerks ended up where they wanted anyway. Most also stayed in the same market. Even if there is a leg up with the DJs, I'm not sure it's worth the opportunity cost of an additional year. I also agree with the other anon that there was an appreciable bump for USAO gigs where the judge came from that office (and there are a lot of MJs that held previously held senior USAO positions), but I think the competitiveness cuts in favor of clerking--you'll need every inch you can get.

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:23 pm
I also agree with the other anon that there was an appreciable bump for USAO gigs where the judge came from that office (and there are a lot of MJs that held previously held senior USAO positions), but I think the competitiveness cuts in favor of clerking--you'll need every inch you can get.
Anon from above. This is totally fair. My point on USAO competitiveness was not that it necessarily cuts *against* clerking for a mag judge, but that I really don't know if it cuts in more favor of clerking for a mag judge there than for a district judge elsewhere. In, say, SDNY, I don't know if an SDNY mag clerkship--and in particular, one for an office alum--or a SDFL district court clerkship would be more useful. (I'm guessing the former would be a more useful personal connection, but the latter would be a better springboard to a biglaw firm's white collar group, which might be a necessary intermediate step, but this is all speculation: I've clerked twice, but I haven't worked at a USAO). I just don't know enough about USAO hiring in the most competitive, gold-star-type districts to know which credential would be more useful.

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:27 pm

My 2 cents: I'm currently wrapping up a clerkship with an SDNY mag judge and think it's definitely a valuable experience to have. Also, from what I've seen, former SDNY mag clerks who want to clerk for a DJ in SDNY, EDNY, and DCC have no issues getting clerkships in those districts following their mag clerkship. I didn't pursue the DJ route because it didn't really make sense for me career-wise. However, if you want to do criminal work, you should definitely strive to clerk for a DJ because mag judges (at least in SDNY), handle minimal criminal matters (think bail hearings, guilty pleas on consent, etc.). If you want to see criminal trials, you should aim to clerk for a DJ off the bat. If that doesn't work out, shoot for a mag in a prestigious district, get a solid letter of of rec from your judge as soon as possible, and then apply to DJs again as far in advance as possible to better your chances.

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:14 pm

Sorry to hijack the thread, but does anyone have input into how magistrates judges in these districts are utilized (specifically DDC)? I know it's different in every district.

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:14 pm
Sorry to hijack the thread, but does anyone have input into how magistrates judges in these districts are utilized (specifically DDC)? I know it's different in every district.
Same anon from above. What's people's take on doing a magistrate clerkship after an Art. III clerkship. Presumably, you've already checked the prestige box with the first clerkship, so the mag clerkship shouldn't hurt, right?

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by lavarman84 » Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:38 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:14 pm
Sorry to hijack the thread, but does anyone have input into how magistrates judges in these districts are utilized (specifically DDC)? I know it's different in every district.
Same anon from above. What's people's take on doing a magistrate clerkship after an Art. III clerkship. Presumably, you've already checked the prestige box with the first clerkship, so the mag clerkship shouldn't hurt, right?
What's your motivation for doing the MJ clerkship?

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by nixy » Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:01 pm

I don’t think it would hurt, but it would look a little unusual. Doing a DCt after a COA is fairly common but I don’t think you see people doing a mag clerkship after DCt much. I think a mag clerkship is definitely valuable experience, but I’m not sure how much it adds after you’ve done other levels.

That said, I think it could be a good way to transition to a new market, if that’s what you’re looking to do. Otherwise I don’t know that I’d do it.

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:06 pm

nixy wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:01 pm
I don’t think it would hurt, but it would look a little unusual. Doing a DCt after a COA is fairly common but I don’t think you see people doing a mag clerkship after DCt much. I think a mag clerkship is definitely valuable experience, but I’m not sure how much it adds after you’ve done other levels.

That said, I think it could be a good way to transition to a new market, if that’s what you’re looking to do. Otherwise I don’t know that I’d do it.
Thanks for the response. The main reason is just to buy myself an additional year until the legal market starts recovering - I'm not hearing great things about post-clerkship hiring at the moment.

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by nixy » Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:06 pm
nixy wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:01 pm
I don’t think it would hurt, but it would look a little unusual. Doing a DCt after a COA is fairly common but I don’t think you see people doing a mag clerkship after DCt much. I think a mag clerkship is definitely valuable experience, but I’m not sure how much it adds after you’ve done other levels.

That said, I think it could be a good way to transition to a new market, if that’s what you’re looking to do. Otherwise I don’t know that I’d do it.
Thanks for the response. The main reason is just to buy myself an additional year until the legal market starts recovering - I'm not hearing great things about post-clerkship hiring at the moment.
Ohhhhhhhhh yeah, I get it. Yeah, no one’s going to hold anything like that against you right now. There are also some really great magistrates out there.

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:14 pm
Sorry to hijack the thread, but does anyone have input into how magistrates judges in these districts are utilized (specifically DDC)? I know it's different in every district.
Idk about CDCA, but in DDC and SDNY the magistrate judges see pretty much the full range of referrals (consent cases, R&Rs on dispositive motions, discovery referrals, mediation) across all types of cases. I think consent is still rarer in DDC than SDNY though. Also DDC has like 3 magistrate judges, whereas SDNY has 15 (I have no idea why that is). Neither court will offer much criminal experience.

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Re: Magistrate (SDNY/DDC/CDCA) vs Dist ct

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:55 pm

Anyone know about the reputation of Mag. Judge Robin Meriweather (DDC)? She recently posted in OSCAR.

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