Should I be gunning for COA after D. Ct.?

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Should I be gunning for COA after D. Ct.?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:55 pm

Hi all,

I’ll try to keep things brief. I’m a top 25%ish student at a HYS, and I have a D.Ct. clerkship lined up for a few years after I graduate. I’m wondering whether I should be planning to apply to COAs for either before or after my D.Ct. clerkship. I know I don’t want to do appellate law. Long term, the things I’d be interested in doing are: DOJ Main, USAO, maybe trying to become a partner at a firm (or a combination of the above). I could also see myself wanting to do some legal teaching, although I know that tenure track positions are out of the question for me.

The cons of applying/doing a COA clerkship for me is that I’m a bit older than the average law student, and delaying the start of my career/uprooting my family to move to some random location for another year would be tough. I’m happy with the firm I’m at this summer, so I wouldn’t need a COA to try and get a “better” firm or anything like that.

One last consideration is that due to my spouse’s career, I may need to be geographically flexible and be able to move around throughout my career (maybe that weighs in favor of doing a COA?).

What do you all think? I know that generally people say that you should always want to try and do a COA clerkship, but I’m wondering if a COA clerkship would give me a better chance of achieving any of my goals.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts. And sorry for anon; I’m just worried there are enough details here to figure out who I am.

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Re: Should I be gunning for COA after D. Ct.?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 20, 2021 2:59 pm

Go talk to a professor at your school about long term career outcomes and your geographic flexibility (or lack of in the application process). Also reach out to people in the position of careers you would like to see yourself in long term and ask them about what it takes to get their job (you also potentially build a connection).

On this site, filled with a ton of people approximately as knowledgeable as yourself (((at best you have a few people who have clerked and know their judge's hiring idiosyncrasies or can share the unique information their school has told them, but its not as if employees at the DOJ are sitting on the TLS judicial clerkship forum))), everyone is going to tell you to go for the COA as if its the end all be all of every career. Professors, mentors, and people in those fields will have a way better idea.

lavarman84

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Re: Should I be gunning for COA after D. Ct.?

Post by lavarman84 » Tue Jul 20, 2021 3:28 pm

If you're not looking to do appellate work, I'm not sure it's worth it for you.

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Re: Should I be gunning for COA after D. Ct.?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 20, 2021 4:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:55 pm
Hi all,

I’ll try to keep things brief. I’m a top 25%ish student at a HYS, and I have a D.Ct. clerkship lined up for a few years after I graduate. I’m wondering whether I should be planning to apply to COAs for either before or after my D.Ct. clerkship. I know I don’t want to do appellate law. Long term, the things I’d be interested in doing are: DOJ Main, USAO, maybe trying to become a partner at a firm (or a combination of the above). I could also see myself wanting to do some legal teaching, although I know that tenure track positions are out of the question for me.

The cons of applying/doing a COA clerkship for me is that I’m a bit older than the average law student, and delaying the start of my career/uprooting my family to move to some random location for another year would be tough. I’m happy with the firm I’m at this summer, so I wouldn’t need a COA to try and get a “better” firm or anything like that.

One last consideration is that due to my spouse’s career, I may need to be geographically flexible and be able to move around throughout my career (maybe that weighs in favor of doing a COA?).

What do you all think? I know that generally people say that you should always want to try and do a COA clerkship, but I’m wondering if a COA clerkship would give me a better chance of achieving any of my goals.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts. And sorry for anon; I’m just worried there are enough details here to figure out who I am.
Similar school/age/current clerkship situation with career interests in very roughly the same ballpark (i.e., not trying to be an appellate specialist), and thinking through the same question. My current take is that going all out to clerk for any judge on any circuit doesn't seem like it would be worth the disruption to personal life and career, despite how fun it would be in the abstract to go to a place like Alaska for a year.

But it's also very low cost to throw out a few apps here and there for judges who seem like particularly good fit based on background, mentorship, network to join, or court. And the benefit/cost ratio for actually doing another one is much higher for judges based in regions that would be less disruptive, i.e., within driving distance of current home base. It's very possible that that means I won't do a second clerkship but I figure that's okay since it's more of a "nice to have, if it works out" kind of thing. Granted, it's not the most enjoyable to go through a new application cycle and not hear anything (ahem, this summer...) but I figure it's better than ending up doing a clerkship that doesn't add a ton of long-term value and leads to a bunch of awkward one-year gaps to fill and moves to make all over the country.

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Re: Should I be gunning for COA after D. Ct.?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 20, 2021 4:29 pm

You might at least consider applying to some COAs near your first clerkship even if you don’t go whole hog. Your judge may be able to help.

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Anonymous User
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Re: Should I be gunning for COA after D. Ct.?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 20, 2021 6:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jul 20, 2021 4:29 pm
You might at least consider applying to some COAs near your first clerkship even if you don’t go whole hog. Your judge may be able to help.
I managed to land district court and COA gigs in the same city. I was a slightly older candidate with a wife and baby, and it worked out great not having to relocate. I probably would not have considered a clerkship in another city because of the disruption to family.

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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Should I be gunning for COA after D. Ct.?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 20, 2021 6:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jul 20, 2021 4:29 pm
You might at least consider applying to some COAs near your first clerkship even if you don’t go whole hog. Your judge may be able to help.
I managed to land district court and COA gigs in the same city. I was a slightly older candidate with a wife and baby, and it worked out great not having to relocate. I probably would not have considered a clerkship in another city because of the disruption to family.

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