Year-long gap between clerkships

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Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 11, 2020 5:50 pm

I've already accepted a federal appellate clerkship for 2023-2024 and just accepted an invitation to interview for a state supreme clerkship for 2021-2022. I'm a little on the fence about whether I still want the state supreme clerkship because of the awkward gap it would create between clerkships. I've also already committed to return to my summer firm, although they didn't give me a start date, so I don't know if it would technically be reneging if I told them I'm going to clerk for 2021. My other concern, although this is slightly less pressing I guess since I don't have any district court offers in hand, is that I'd still like to clerk for a federal district court, but don't want to do a third clerkship.

Mainly because of the weird timing, I'm wondering if I made a mistake in accepting this interview invitation. I was caught off guard on the phone and just said yes to an interview kind of instinctively. Would it be unacceptably awkward of me to just withdraw my application right after my interview so I don't put myself in a position where I have to turn down an offer (if I get it)? Or am I overplaying these concerns about timing?

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:04 pm

First off, it would not be inappropriate to renege on the interview and withdraw your application. It happens all the time, and the judge is probably interviewing a few other candidates and will not have an issue picking one more to fill your interview "spot." All you would need to do is call or email the judge's contact (most likely the judge's career clerk or judicial assistant) and say that you're no longer available for a clerkship in 2021-2022 and that you'd like to withdraw your application. It happens all the time, and you don't need to justify why you're withdrawing the application.

To answer your other question, having to fill a one year "gap" in between clerkships is not unheard of, but it can be awkward, and not all firms are receptive to that. I've heard of people who have made it work, and others who have had to re-interview at their old firms to get their spot back. There are also people who use that one-year gap to do a fellowship or some other temporary position where it would not be as disruptive to leave, but if you do that, it'll probably be difficult to make it back to your firm.

From what you've said, I'm not sure how much you'd gain from doing a state supreme court clerkship, since you'll already get appellate experience during your COA clerkship. I agree with you that it makes much more sense to try and get a federal district court clerkship, which won't be hard since you clearly have excellent credentials. Hiring for federal district court clerkships is also a little slower than COA hiring, so you should expect to see more positions open up for 2022-2023 term district court clerkships in late 2020-early 2021. And although you won't be bound to the hiring plan anymore, some judges will still interview everyone on the hiring plan schedule (so, June 2021 for you).

Having back-to-back clerkships would also be much less disruptive for you if you want to go back to your firm. It's pretty common to work for a year at a firm, leave for one or two years to do clerkships, and then come back (or go to another firm depending on what you want to do).

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Wild Card

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by Wild Card » Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:18 pm

why would it be a gap year?
just apply for jobs with the state supreme on your resume, and omit the CoA clerkship.

cheaptilts

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by cheaptilts » Tue Aug 11, 2020 6:40 pm

Just renege if you have no strong reason to do a state appellate clerkship.

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by Libya » Tue Aug 11, 2020 7:58 pm

Unless it is some SSC judge that it would be amazing to clerk for (e.g. Liu) I'd renege on the interview; and even if it was an amazing SSC judge I'd thing long and hard since the value add seems minimal. I think you have a good shot a D. Ct. before/after your COA considering you got the appellate gig already, and that is probably more valuable if you want to practice in the federal system.

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nixy

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by nixy » Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:44 pm

I think if you've decided you wouldn't want the clerkship even if offered (which is fine), then just cancel the interview, as people have said. It's much better not to waste people's time, and just to say your plans have changed and you need to withdraw. (Also, if you withdraw right after the interview, that could imply that you found the interview a bad experience, and that's probably not a good impression to leave.)

I think SSCs can be great experiences, but given your federal COA, the biggest value-add of a SSC would be, I think, if you wanted to change markets and network/target employers in the SSC state, which it doesn't sound like is the case.

You also probably have plenty of time to apply for DCts for '22-'23 (or even '24-25, although that probably doesn't make much financial sense unless you really want to use that time to pivot to government or something. But still, you have options pending).

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Mar 05, 2021 12:14 pm

I just went through the hiring process for a "gap year" between a district court and COA clerkship and wanted to share my experience in this somewhat relevant thread, since I didn't see too much on point, recent info on TLS when I was looking for insight myself. For context, I was ~top 20% at HYS and my clerkships are in fairly desirable, but not the *most* competitive, areas.

I took the approach of trying my luck at boutiques first with the notion that if that didn't work out I would shift to applying to more traditional biglaw. I ended up applying to roughly 20 boutiques in NY, DC, LA, and SF. For each application, I mentioned my upcoming COA clerkship and said that I understood it was a significant investment for the firm/that I would join with an eye towards returning following my clerkship if given the opportunity. I ultimately received two interview invites. I didn't hear back from 10ish other firms (though I guess they might still respond eventually). A handful of others, including KVN, Kellogg Hansen, McKool Smith, and Bird Marella, responded that they would not consider me for just one year, but that I should apply after my COA clerkship.

Both interview processes were heavily focused on my gap year circumstance, generally trying to suss out if I was serious about planning to come back afterwards. I'll be starting with one of those two firms in the Fall. The one significant caveat: the second half of my clerkship bonus is contingent on returning to the firm following my COA clerkship. I am very excited about the firm and do genuinely hope to return so this wasn't a huge deal to me, but it's something to consider if you're in that position.

My conclusion for future people considering gap years: though there are clearly firms who won't consider you for just one year, it's possible to get a boutique job for a gap year assuming fairly strong stats/profile. But you need to apply broadly, have a coherent and well thought-out answer to what your plans are post-second clerkship, and be ready to potentially make concessions on things like your bonus.

Ultimately I'm not sure how valuable the second, COA clerkship really was in actually getting me this job, too. It didn't really come up in interviews, outside of people trying to figure out if I'd come back after. And I have several friends with comparable profiles to me at HYS who are going to peer boutiques with only district court clerkships. My personal and somewhat speculative takeaway is that I would probably only go the gap year route if I was really stoked about the second clerkship, not just because I wanted the additional gold star on my resume.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

clerk2020

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by clerk2020 » Fri Mar 05, 2021 1:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Mar 05, 2021 12:14 pm
I just went through the hiring process for a "gap year" between a district court and COA clerkship and wanted to share my experience in this somewhat relevant thread, since I didn't see too much on point, recent info on TLS when I was looking for insight myself. For context, I was ~top 20% at HYS and my clerkships are in fairly desirable, but not the *most* competitive, areas.

I took the approach of trying my luck at boutiques first with the notion that if that didn't work out I would shift to applying to more traditional biglaw. I ended up applying to roughly 20 boutiques in NY, DC, LA, and SF. For each application, I mentioned my upcoming COA clerkship and said that I understood it was a significant investment for the firm/that I would join with an eye towards returning following my clerkship if given the opportunity. I ultimately received two interview invites -- one in LA, one in NY. I didn't hear back from 10ish other firms (though I guess they might still respond eventually). A handful of others, including KVN, Kellogg Hansen, McKool Smith, and Bird Marella, responded that they would not consider me for just one year, but that I should apply after my COA clerkship.

Both interview processes were heavily focused on my gap year circumstance, generally trying to suss out if I was serious about planning to come back afterwards. I'll be starting with one of those two firms in the Fall. The one significant caveat: the second half of my clerkship bonus is contingent on returning to the firm following my COA clerkship. I am very excited about the firm and do genuinely hope to return so this wasn't a huge deal to me, but it's something to consider if you're in that position.

My conclusion for future people considering gap years: though there are clearly firms who won't consider you for just one year, it's possible to get a boutique job for a gap year assuming fairly strong stats/profile. But you need to apply broadly, have a coherent and well thought-out answer to what your plans are post-second clerkship, and be ready to potentially make concessions on things like your bonus.

Ultimately I'm not sure how valuable the second, COA clerkship really was in actually getting me this job, too. It didn't really come up in interviews, outside of people trying to figure out if I'd come back after. And I have several friends with comparable profiles to me at HYS who are going to peer boutiques with only district court clerkships. My personal and somewhat speculative takeaway is that I would probably only go the gap year route if I was really stoked about the second clerkship, not just because I wanted the additional gold star on my resume.
would you be willing to PM the full list of firms that weren't willing to hire during a gap year? no worries if not

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Mar 05, 2021 2:15 pm

clerk2020 wrote:
Fri Mar 05, 2021 1:51 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Mar 05, 2021 12:14 pm
I just went through the hiring process for a "gap year" between a district court and COA clerkship and wanted to share my experience in this somewhat relevant thread, since I didn't see too much on point, recent info on TLS when I was looking for insight myself. For context, I was ~top 20% at HYS and my clerkships are in fairly desirable, but not the *most* competitive, areas.

I took the approach of trying my luck at boutiques first with the notion that if that didn't work out I would shift to applying to more traditional biglaw. I ended up applying to roughly 20 boutiques in NY, DC, LA, and SF. For each application, I mentioned my upcoming COA clerkship and said that I understood it was a significant investment for the firm/that I would join with an eye towards returning following my clerkship if given the opportunity. I ultimately received two interview invites -- one in LA, one in NY. I didn't hear back from 10ish other firms (though I guess they might still respond eventually). A handful of others, including KVN, Kellogg Hansen, McKool Smith, and Bird Marella, responded that they would not consider me for just one year, but that I should apply after my COA clerkship.

Both interview processes were heavily focused on my gap year circumstance, generally trying to suss out if I was serious about planning to come back afterwards. I'll be starting with one of those two firms in the Fall. The one significant caveat: the second half of my clerkship bonus is contingent on returning to the firm following my COA clerkship. I am very excited about the firm and do genuinely hope to return so this wasn't a huge deal to me, but it's something to consider if you're in that position.

My conclusion for future people considering gap years: though there are clearly firms who won't consider you for just one year, it's possible to get a boutique job for a gap year assuming fairly strong stats/profile. But you need to apply broadly, have a coherent and well thought-out answer to what your plans are post-second clerkship, and be ready to potentially make concessions on things like your bonus.

Ultimately I'm not sure how valuable the second, COA clerkship really was in actually getting me this job, too. It didn't really come up in interviews, outside of people trying to figure out if I'd come back after. And I have several friends with comparable profiles to me at HYS who are going to peer boutiques with only district court clerkships. My personal and somewhat speculative takeaway is that I would probably only go the gap year route if I was really stoked about the second clerkship, not just because I wanted the additional gold star on my resume.
would you be willing to PM the full list of firms that weren't willing to hire during a gap year? no worries if not
I realize my use of "including" was not helpful, my bad! The firms I listed were the only ones to tell me they wouldn't consider me for a gap year. Also, I figure it's worth mentioning that it's very possible those firms would consider a gap year for the right candidate. KVN for example said they don't "typically" hire for single years between clerkships, so perhaps I just wasn't a strong enough candidate for that sort of consideration? Who knows. I wouldn't let my experience stop you from shooting your shot if there's a place you're really excited about.

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 03, 2021 10:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Mar 05, 2021 12:14 pm
I just went through the hiring process for a "gap year" between a district court and COA clerkship and wanted to share my experience in this somewhat relevant thread, since I didn't see too much on point, recent info on TLS when I was looking for insight myself. For context, I was ~top 20% at HYS and my clerkships are in fairly desirable, but not the *most* competitive, areas.

I took the approach of trying my luck at boutiques first with the notion that if that didn't work out I would shift to applying to more traditional biglaw. I ended up applying to roughly 20 boutiques in NY, DC, LA, and SF. For each application, I mentioned my upcoming COA clerkship and said that I understood it was a significant investment for the firm/that I would join with an eye towards returning following my clerkship if given the opportunity. I ultimately received two interview invites. I didn't hear back from 10ish other firms (though I guess they might still respond eventually). A handful of others, including KVN, Kellogg Hansen, McKool Smith, and Bird Marella, responded that they would not consider me for just one year, but that I should apply after my COA clerkship.

Both interview processes were heavily focused on my gap year circumstance, generally trying to suss out if I was serious about planning to come back afterwards. I'll be starting with one of those two firms in the Fall. The one significant caveat: the second half of my clerkship bonus is contingent on returning to the firm following my COA clerkship. I am very excited about the firm and do genuinely hope to return so this wasn't a huge deal to me, but it's something to consider if you're in that position.

My conclusion for future people considering gap years: though there are clearly firms who won't consider you for just one year, it's possible to get a boutique job for a gap year assuming fairly strong stats/profile. But you need to apply broadly, have a coherent and well thought-out answer to what your plans are post-second clerkship, and be ready to potentially make concessions on things like your bonus.

Ultimately I'm not sure how valuable the second, COA clerkship really was in actually getting me this job, too. It didn't really come up in interviews, outside of people trying to figure out if I'd come back after. And I have several friends with comparable profiles to me at HYS who are going to peer boutiques with only district court clerkships. My personal and somewhat speculative takeaway is that I would probably only go the gap year route if I was really stoked about the second clerkship, not just because I wanted the additional gold star on my resume.
Did you do a summer at a traditional biglaw firm? Was going there not an option because of the gap?

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Apr 05, 2021 2:54 pm

Yes, I did summer at a more traditional firm and had an offer to return in spite of the gap year. My guess is that going to/returning to traditional big law for a gap year is easier than going the boutique route, simply because their size makes it easier to put a gap year associate on discreet projects (e.g. doc review) and get value out of them without losing a whole lot when they leave.

Also, as an unrelated update to my original comment, I recently received another (rather delayed) interview offer. So that brings the total up to 3 boutique interviews out of ~20 applications. Doesn't really change my thoughts on gap years one way or the other, but it's another data point!

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Re: Year-long gap between clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:14 pm

To add another anecdotal data point, I have a gap year and was able to land 3-4 offers from boutiques, but there were a few others that rejected on the papers and made it clear that they weren't willing to consider me until after my COA. There didn't seem to be any pattern I could discern between the firms who didn't care about the gap and the ones who did.

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