"Less prestigious" clerkship in a new market

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"Less prestigious" clerkship in a new market

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:58 pm

I have a 2021-2022 district court clerkship lined up with a judge in a major east-coast city that isn't SDNY/DDC. After this clerkship, I plan on relocating to be with my significant other in CA in a secondary market that is reputed to be very insular (think OC/SD). I'm worried about finding a job (biglaw, boutique, or mid) in a potentially slow market due to Covid that is already insular, without having any strong ties other than my significant other. So I'm considering applying for a clerkship in this city as a way to pivot into the market.

Beyond the additional year of lower pay, what are the possible detrimental effects on my career of taking a magistrate judge, state court of appeal, or superior court clerkship in this new city? And would firms refuse to pay a clerkship bonus for the district court clerkship if I'm coming in after a subsequent non-qualifying clerkship?

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Re: "Less prestigious" clerkship in a new market

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Aug 12, 2020 2:04 pm

Usually, firms will only pay a clerkship bonus if you're immediately coming off of a qualifying clerkship. If you have a subsequent position that is not also a qualifying clerkship (for example, d.ct clerkship followed by COA clerkship) you'll be treated as a lateral hire and you won't get the bonus. Clerkship hiring is particularly rough right now because firms don't want to pay out $50k clerkship bonuses. Ideally, by the time you finish your clerkship in 2022, things will have stabilized again and you should be able to find a job without having to do a second clerkship in your new market. If you were able to get a clerkship in a major city on the east coast, you clearly have strong credentials and shouldn't have an issue getting a position with a boutique or midsize firm, if not a satellite office of a larger firm. But in the event that you can't, then a second clerkship isn't a terrible idea. You should still try to get the "best" clerkship possible. If another district court clerkship doesn't seem appealing to you, look into state supreme court or a federal magistrate clerkship before looking at state trial clerkships.


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Re: "Less prestigious" clerkship in a new market

Post by nixy » Wed Aug 12, 2020 2:56 pm

I think local magistrate or SSC or state COA can all be really helpful for establishing yourself in a new market and getting a job, but mostly because they give you the opportunity to network on the ground. If you’re willing to make the effort to go out and connect with people (go to Inns of Court, CLEs, reach out for informational interviews) you can get a lot out of that time. If you want to be able to just send out resumes cold and get hired, those clerkships may not do as much. (My experience pertinent to this is also in a smaller and more insular, through very popular market.)


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Re: "Less prestigious" clerkship in a new market

Post by burritotaco » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:56 pm

CA state courts almost exclusively hire career attorneys, not term clerks, so I wouldn't expect to clerk for a CA state court judge.

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