Least Competitive Clerkships?

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Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:04 pm

I am preparing clerkship applications, and I am willing to go anywhere for an Article III clerkship. I go to a TT in the top 5%, so I know my chances aren't great, but where do you think my best shots are? I already applied to local judges and ones with connections. So really, just my best odds with cold apps.

Similarly, what circuits are usually the least competitive?

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:04 pm
I am preparing clerkship applications, and I am willing to go anywhere for an Article III clerkship. I go to a TT in the top 5%, so I know my chances aren't great, but where do you think my best shots are? I already applied to local judges and ones with connections. So really, just my best odds with cold apps.

Similarly, what circuits are usually the least competitive?
I have heard that the territorial district courts (Guam, PR, Virgin Islands, NMI) are not very competitive. Honestly though, its pretty easy to tell which districts are less desirable just based on general knowledge. Like I don't have any specific knowledge, but I bet AK, MT, ID, NV, AZ, OR, and WDWA are the less competitive districts in the CA9 just from what I know about how those areas are regarded by law students.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:40 pm

Small desert towns, like McAllen, Texas.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:19 pm
Honestly though, its pretty easy to tell which districts are less desirable just based on general knowledge. Like I don't have any specific knowledge, but I bet AK, MT, ID, NV, AZ, OR, and WDWA are the less competitive districts in the CA9 just from what I know about how those areas are regarded by law students.
I assume you meant EDWA. WDWA has Seattle and while the district courts there are insanely busy, it's a competitive jurisdiction.

Also assuming you don't mean CA9, since Graber (OR), O'Scannlain (OR), Thomas (MT), Kleinfeld (AK), Hurwitz (AZ) and to an arguably lesser degree Tallman (technically still listed as WA, but his chambers are now in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) and Christen (AK - one of the most underrated clerkships on CA9, IMO) are all competitive clerkships.

And for district courts, I wouldn't really put OR, AZ, and NV in the same territory as ID, MT, and AK. There are big desirable cities in each of the first three. No shade on Billings or Anchorage, but they aren't Portland, Vegas, or Phoenix.

It's also not obvious to me that a place like Montana is actually a less competitive clerkship without connections just in terms of pure percentage chance of snagging a spot. Sure, fewer law students want to clerk there. There are also fewer spots available and I'd guess more filtering for the local kids, if you're an out-of-state applicant with no connections.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:48 pm

You'll do better in your law school's region than elsewhere. E.g. if you go to Arkansas, make sure you at least hit all districts in Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, etc. Also make sure to apply to senior judges and, to the extent you can find details, judges who are not on OSCAR.

I also wouldn't rule out SSC clerkships, which you should be competitive for, a lot of them are great experiences that can help with federal clerkship apps and your later career.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:48 pm
You'll do better in your law school's region than elsewhere. E.g. if you go to Arkansas, make sure you at least hit all districts in Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, etc. Also make sure to apply to senior judges and, to the extent you can find details, judges who are not on OSCAR.

I also wouldn't rule out SSC clerkships, which you should be competitive for, a lot of them are great experiences that can help with federal clerkship apps and your later career.
+1 to this approach. Even in my Midwestern flyover district court clerkship, we got tons of applications from in-state law students who were top of their class at local schools. Those people got interviews; T2 randoms with no pitch for why they applied specifically to my judge did not -- even if they had terrific grades.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by legalnovice » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:54 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:48 pm
You'll do better in your law school's region than elsewhere. E.g. if you go to Arkansas, make sure you at least hit all districts in Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, etc. Also make sure to apply to senior judges and, to the extent you can find details, judges who are not on OSCAR.

I also wouldn't rule out SSC clerkships, which you should be competitive for, a lot of them are great experiences that can help with federal clerkship apps and your later career.
+1 to this approach. Even in my Midwestern flyover district court clerkship, we got tons of applications from in-state law students who were top of their class at local schools. Those people got interviews; T2 randoms with no pitch for why they applied specifically to my judge did not -- even if they had terrific grades.
Yeah I'm not really sure if there's a district that's significantly less competitive because of where it's located. You'd be surprised that even in the "flyover" districts, a random top 30-20% t14 guy will still most likely have a steep hill to climb given that so many regional people apply as well as the t14 people with ties who do want to be in that flyover district.

I would, however, suggest looking at senior judges and those who don't post on OSCAR. During my application process, I proactively reached out to those judges and snagged a few interviews.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:11 am

legalnovice wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:04 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:54 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:48 pm
You'll do better in your law school's region than elsewhere. E.g. if you go to Arkansas, make sure you at least hit all districts in Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, etc. Also make sure to apply to senior judges and, to the extent you can find details, judges who are not on OSCAR.

I also wouldn't rule out SSC clerkships, which you should be competitive for, a lot of them are great experiences that can help with federal clerkship apps and your later career.
+1 to this approach. Even in my Midwestern flyover district court clerkship, we got tons of applications from in-state law students who were top of their class at local schools. Those people got interviews; T2 randoms with no pitch for why they applied specifically to my judge did not -- even if they had terrific grades.
Yeah I'm not really sure if there's a district that's significantly less competitive because of where it's located. You'd be surprised that even in the "flyover" districts, a random top 30-20% t14 guy will still most likely have a steep hill to climb given that so many regional people apply as well as the t14 people with ties who do want to be in that flyover district.

I would, however, suggest looking at senior judges and those who don't post on OSCAR. During my application process, I proactively reached out to those judges and snagged a few interviews.
Also apply to newly appointed/nominated judges, especially those in your area. They get far fewer apps, and though they often hire via connections for their first couple of classes, it's worth a shot.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:12 am

legalnovice wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:04 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:54 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:48 pm
You'll do better in your law school's region than elsewhere. E.g. if you go to Arkansas, make sure you at least hit all districts in Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, etc. Also make sure to apply to senior judges and, to the extent you can find details, judges who are not on OSCAR.

I also wouldn't rule out SSC clerkships, which you should be competitive for, a lot of them are great experiences that can help with federal clerkship apps and your later career.
+1 to this approach. Even in my Midwestern flyover district court clerkship, we got tons of applications from in-state law students who were top of their class at local schools. Those people got interviews; T2 randoms with no pitch for why they applied specifically to my judge did not -- even if they had terrific grades.
Yeah I'm not really sure if there's a district that's significantly less competitive because of where it's located. You'd be surprised that even in the "flyover" districts, a random top 30-20% t14 guy will still most likely have a steep hill to climb given that so many regional people apply as well as the t14 people with ties who do want to be in that flyover district.

I would, however, suggest looking at senior judges and those who don't post on OSCAR. During my application process, I proactively reached out to those judges and snagged a few interviews.
OP here. Thanks! I’ve thought about targeting senior judges too. Did you call chambers first or just send out a bunch of mail apps?

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legalnovice

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by legalnovice » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:33 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:12 am
legalnovice wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:04 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:54 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:48 pm
You'll do better in your law school's region than elsewhere. E.g. if you go to Arkansas, make sure you at least hit all districts in Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, etc. Also make sure to apply to senior judges and, to the extent you can find details, judges who are not on OSCAR.

I also wouldn't rule out SSC clerkships, which you should be competitive for, a lot of them are great experiences that can help with federal clerkship apps and your later career.
+1 to this approach. Even in my Midwestern flyover district court clerkship, we got tons of applications from in-state law students who were top of their class at local schools. Those people got interviews; T2 randoms with no pitch for why they applied specifically to my judge did not -- even if they had terrific grades.
Yeah I'm not really sure if there's a district that's significantly less competitive because of where it's located. You'd be surprised that even in the "flyover" districts, a random top 30-20% t14 guy will still most likely have a steep hill to climb given that so many regional people apply as well as the t14 people with ties who do want to be in that flyover district.

I would, however, suggest looking at senior judges and those who don't post on OSCAR. During my application process, I proactively reached out to those judges and snagged a few interviews.
OP here. Thanks! I’ve thought about targeting senior judges too. Did you call chambers first or just send out a bunch of mail apps?
I called first just to ask if they were accepting apps. Initially, I was mostly successful in finding an e-mail associated to the senior judge/chambers and I e-mailed my complete application to them (cover letter, resume, the whole shebang). But then some of the senior judges responded and told me that (a) they were either filled-out or (b) they weren't accepting any apps. So I figured calling before drafting my cover letters and going about finalizing an app would be more efficient.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by legalnovice » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:11 am
legalnovice wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:04 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:54 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:48 pm
You'll do better in your law school's region than elsewhere. E.g. if you go to Arkansas, make sure you at least hit all districts in Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, etc. Also make sure to apply to senior judges and, to the extent you can find details, judges who are not on OSCAR.

I also wouldn't rule out SSC clerkships, which you should be competitive for, a lot of them are great experiences that can help with federal clerkship apps and your later career.
+1 to this approach. Even in my Midwestern flyover district court clerkship, we got tons of applications from in-state law students who were top of their class at local schools. Those people got interviews; T2 randoms with no pitch for why they applied specifically to my judge did not -- even if they had terrific grades.
Yeah I'm not really sure if there's a district that's significantly less competitive because of where it's located. You'd be surprised that even in the "flyover" districts, a random top 30-20% t14 guy will still most likely have a steep hill to climb given that so many regional people apply as well as the t14 people with ties who do want to be in that flyover district.

I would, however, suggest looking at senior judges and those who don't post on OSCAR. During my application process, I proactively reached out to those judges and snagged a few interviews.
Also apply to newly appointed/nominated judges, especially those in your area. They get far fewer apps, and though they often hire via connections for their first couple of classes, it's worth a shot.
Oh yes, OP, totally agree with this. I actually got one of my clerkships this way. I'd also like to add that it's true these judges often hire via connections. During the last administration, if you were active--or even at least part of--fed soc and you had the qualifications for a random D.Ct., I'm sure you'd have gotten an interview at least. That may still be true for those judges today and for the new ones that Biden will be nominating (maybe ACS or another organization close to the judge may be the connection you need?).

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:45 am

Got it. Thanks all so much!

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 29, 2021 2:47 pm

I haven't been able to locate more up to date numbers, but this at least gives the aggregate numbers through OSCAR in 2017: https://oscar.uscourts.gov/law_clerk_hiring_statistics

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:29 am

legalnovice wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:37 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:11 am
legalnovice wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:04 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:54 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:48 pm
You'll do better in your law school's region than elsewhere. E.g. if you go to Arkansas, make sure you at least hit all districts in Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, etc. Also make sure to apply to senior judges and, to the extent you can find details, judges who are not on OSCAR.

I also wouldn't rule out SSC clerkships, which you should be competitive for, a lot of them are great experiences that can help with federal clerkship apps and your later career.
+1 to this approach. Even in my Midwestern flyover district court clerkship, we got tons of applications from in-state law students who were top of their class at local schools. Those people got interviews; T2 randoms with no pitch for why they applied specifically to my judge did not -- even if they had terrific grades.
Yeah I'm not really sure if there's a district that's significantly less competitive because of where it's located. You'd be surprised that even in the "flyover" districts, a random top 30-20% t14 guy will still most likely have a steep hill to climb given that so many regional people apply as well as the t14 people with ties who do want to be in that flyover district.

I would, however, suggest looking at senior judges and those who don't post on OSCAR. During my application process, I proactively reached out to those judges and snagged a few interviews.
Also apply to newly appointed/nominated judges, especially those in your area. They get far fewer apps, and though they often hire via connections for their first couple of classes, it's worth a shot.
Oh yes, OP, totally agree with this. I actually got one of my clerkships this way. I'd also like to add that it's true these judges often hire via connections. During the last administration, if you were active--or even at least part of--fed soc and you had the qualifications for a random D.Ct., I'm sure you'd have gotten an interview at least. That may still be true for those judges today and for the new ones that Biden will be nominating (maybe ACS or another organization close to the judge may be the connection you need?).
If you're counting on ACS to be helpful at all in getting a clerkship, you're going to be disappointed. There's nowhere near the clout of FedSoc, probably because the org has no say on the nominating process, so liberal judges for the most part could not care less about it. You'll have much better success targeting judges with experience aligned with specific issues you can point to on your resume, i.e. immigration organizations, repro rights advocacy, public defender experience.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by replevin123 » Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:29 am
If you're counting on ACS to be helpful at all in getting a clerkship, you're going to be disappointed. There's nowhere near the clout of FedSoc, probably because the org has no say on the nominating process, so liberal judges for the most part could not care less about it. You'll have much better success targeting judges with experience aligned with specific issues you can point to on your resume, i.e. immigration organizations, repro rights advocacy, public defender experience.
Agree with the strategic advice. Target judges where you share some common niche or interest (in your cover letter/talking points for professor calls/recommenders). And apply everywhere you can. For the most part, you can send off applications quickly and daily as new openings come up once your materials are together.

On the FedSoc point, I think the more correct reason is that FedSoc is a minority organization, and minority organizations (as opposed to the diffuse majority) are generally much more spirited/focused/effective in their missions because they have to be to survive and grow. The 5-10% (or whatever) conservatives and libertarians in (top) law schools, will be naturally drawn to and help each other. FedSoc probably also benefits from being an organization with general theoretical goals (and members, ime, have mostly principled views of the role of government and the structure of government, though they may differ from each other). There is an emphasis on judicial philosophy, legal systems, "how do we set the rules?", "who decides?" rather than particular political outcomes. This "theory" is more conducive to cohesion and rallying people together. Certainly there are groups of such people on the left too. But ACS is not that. Compare the aims of the two orgs. ACS aims to advance "democracy, justice, equality, and liberty; to secur[e] a government that serves the public interest." That's super broad. In contrast, FedSoc "is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution ..."

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2021 1:28 pm

OP here. I’m our Fed Soc president. What’s a good way to push that? It’s in my resume, but should I say something in my cover letter?

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Apr 30, 2021 1:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 1:28 pm
OP here. I’m our Fed Soc president. What’s a good way to push that? It’s in my resume, but should I say something in my cover letter?
You shouldn't need to say anything in the cover letter - usually, the benefit of being Fedsoc president is that judges come to you, nationals will pass opportunities along, and you have a lot of opportunities to network with judges.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by lavarman84 » Sat May 01, 2021 12:52 am

replevin123 wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:15 pm
Compare the aims of the two orgs. ACS aims to advance "democracy, justice, equality, and liberty; to secur[e] a government that serves the public interest." That's super broad. In contrast, FedSoc "is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution ..."
Both of the aims you quoted are broad.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by replevin123 » Sat May 01, 2021 1:00 am

lavarman84 wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 12:52 am
replevin123 wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:15 pm
Compare the aims of the two orgs. ACS aims to advance "democracy, justice, equality, and liberty; to secur[e] a government that serves the public interest." That's super broad. In contrast, FedSoc "is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution ..."
Both of the aims you quoted are broad.
Of course. But my point was one of degree and comparison.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by lavarman84 » Sat May 01, 2021 3:08 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 1:28 pm
OP here. I’m our Fed Soc president. What’s a good way to push that? It’s in my resume, but should I say something in my cover letter?
I wouldn't. They'll see it on the resume. As another poster pointed out, the biggest benefit should come from the connections you have.
replevin123 wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 1:00 am
Of course. But my point was one of degree and comparison.
I think your point about being an organization for a group of people who are a minority in the law was right. But I simply don't agree with the latter point. It's all about particular political outcomes for both groups. The FedSoc has simply been able to gain a foothold with the Republican Party and Republican Presidents that ACS has not yet been able to do with Democrats, likely because there are so many liberals in law and so many ways to signal that you believe the right things.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 01, 2021 9:44 am

But where do these connections come from? I don’t understand where I’m supposed to make these connections just by being Fed Soc President. Maybe it’s just a T14 thing?

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 01, 2021 10:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 9:44 am
But where do these connections come from? I don’t understand where I’m supposed to make these connections just by being Fed Soc President. Maybe it’s just a T14 thing?
Maybe it is different at T14s, but getting on a first name basis with Leo never hurts, or any number of the judges that you might come into contact with for speaking events or at the national events.

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Re: Least Competitive Clerkships?

Post by lavarman84 » Sat May 01, 2021 7:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 9:44 am
But where do these connections come from? I don’t understand where I’m supposed to make these connections just by being Fed Soc President. Maybe it’s just a T14 thing?
A friend of mine was a FedSoc President at his T1 law school and still had a lot of connections through being involved with national, getting speakers to come out to his law school, and networking with other FedSoc members at events. I don't know how active your law school's chapter is or how active you are beyond just your law school itself. I wasn't in FedSoc, so I don't know the specifics of how to get more involved.

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