Clerkship App Post-Mortem Forum

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getthisbread

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Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by getthisbread » Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:07 pm

Y/S rising 3L. LR (though not e-board), published, 75-80% Hs (including a couple of prizes). Worked for a few years between undergrad and law school in an unrelated field. Not FedSoc but not especially liberal and not opposed to clerking for a conservative. More interested in corporate than litigation but hoped for a clerkship in a bankruptcy/securities/antitrust-heavy court (ideally SDNY/2d Cir/9th Cir) to build up my credentials for a possible switch to academia. Recommenders don’t have personal ties to the courts I’m interested in but know me very well. I’m confident that their recommendations were solid.

Applied fairly broadly within SDNY and 2d Cir. (~50 apps) and sent a handful of apps to EDNY and 9th Cir. Received one interview on EDNY but didn’t wind up getting the position. Radio silence from the rest.

Obviously, I was rather ambitious with the courts that I targeted. However, I hadn’t anticipated being all but shut out as I have been. I’m headed to a V5 firm to do transactional work next year, so not getting a clerkship altogether wouldn’t be the end of the world for me. However, I’d certainly enjoy the experience and thought that my stats put me in the running.

I didn’t overtly state in my cover letters that I’m planning to do transactional work, and my resume contains enough litigation-esque experience to make me look agnostic (or so I thought). Any idea what might’ve gone wrong? Anything I can do to boost my odds next cycle? Or should I get over my dreams of seeing the inside of a court for a year and just dive into transactional work?

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:44 pm

(Assuming you're at S.) Did your recommenders make any calls? Without personal outreach, it's completely plausible that your application didn't have any glaring deficiencies but just wasn't picked out of the pile

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:51 pm

Putting aside the selectivity if where you applied (and the fact that clerkship applications in general can be very unpredictable), how was your writing sample? I won't speak for most chambers, but in mine, if the applicantion seems good enough for a closer look (and I imagine yours would be based on what you've said), it all becomes about the writing. If the writing sample isn't stellar, an otherwise perfect applicant may be out. A great writing sample beats a few additional Hs any day. We've had applicants we were amazed by, until we read their writing sample.

Also, I second the comment about calls.

If you really want to clerk, keep trying. I struck out the first time I applied, but my second round I scored a district and a circuit court. Good luck.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by getthisbread » Tue Sep 14, 2021 9:03 pm

Thank you both for your replies!

I know at least one of my recommenders made calls for me. He even shared that two judges on Second told him they’d be on the lookout for my application, though I never heard from either of them. One recommender sent emails but didn’t call, and the other mostly emailed but made a couple of calls as well.

What concerns me most are the judges who responded to my recommender’s calls but didn’t give me an interview. Both are highly competitive, so I understand striking out with them. But I can’t help but worry that something took me out of the running entirely.

At Stanford (you were correct), I’ve taken ~2 doctrinals a quarter, along with a couple of seminars. I haven’t taken fed courts/evidence yet, though. Could that have been a problem?

As for my writing sample, it was an excerpt from a note I’d written. I thought it was polished, but it’s on a topic that’s unlikely to come across these judges’ dockets. For judges who required two writing samples, I also used a mock motion I’d written for a legal writing course.

I have more trial-oriented materials I wrote for clinic but ultimately decided against using them, since my prof would’ve had me strip them down to practically nothing given confidentiality concerns. I know it’s hard to say in a vacuum, but would you recommend a different writing sample going forward?

Thank you again!

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 14, 2021 9:46 pm

getthisbread wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 9:03 pm
snip
Different anon, but here are my views from reviewing apps in CA9 chambers:
At Stanford (you were correct), I’ve taken ~2 doctrinals a quarter, along with a couple of seminars. I haven’t taken fed courts/evidence yet, though. Could that have been a problem?
This can honestly be a tiebreaker for otherwise strong applications, which your packet would have been. Definitely possible you'll do better next year once you have these, particularly fed courts. We didn't really care about evidence, but I've heard it's much more important for trial court clerkships. If you are more targeting COAs, I'd encourage taking admin if you haven't.
As for my writing sample, it was an excerpt from a note I’d written. I thought it was polished, but it’s on a topic that’s unlikely to come across these judges’ dockets. For judges who required two writing samples, I also used a mock motion I’d written for a legal writing course.

I have more trial-oriented materials I wrote for clinic but ultimately decided against using them, since my prof would’ve had me strip them down to practically nothing given confidentiality concerns. I know it’s hard to say in a vacuum, but would you recommend a different writing sample going forward?
I would use practical writing samples whenever possible. We generally discounted notes because they are so heavily edited by others and aren't generally aren't written very well (or, at least, are in a more academic style than a practical one). Whatever you can do to keep a practical sample readable (i.e.: use pseudonyms rather than redactions), do that. But we also never read samples unless someone was already in the running. That said, between your paper record and your recommenders making calls, I am pretty sure you would have been in the running in our chambers. You at least would have been in the group we pulled out of OSCAR to look more closely at.
More interested in corporate than litigation but hoped for a clerkship in a bankruptcy/securities/antitrust-heavy court (ideally SDNY/2d Cir/9th Cir) to build up my credentials for a possible switch to academia.
Speaking frankly, this isn't a great reason to clerk and we might have passed just for this reason unless you really impressed in an interview. Clerkships are very helpful for litigators. You get to see how the sausage is made, what separates effective advocacy from ineffective, and how to evaluate cases -- and lots of time to really hone the craft of what you'll be practicing throughout your career. I see pretty much no value in them for corporate attorneys, and I know my judge felt similarly because we turned down someone with a great resume going into corporate work in large part for that reason. Clerkships probably are valuable for law profs, but that's such a far-off and competitive goal. And while clerking is (usually) better hours than biglaw, it is the kind of job that requires, or is at least made more easy by having, at least some passion for litigation. Especially if your resume/transcript has a corporate tint, I'd probably think more about what you want to get out of clerking (and try to explain that in your cover letter if you do have a good reason other than a resume gold star). Also even if your resume is pretty clean on this front, your recommenders could have spilled the beans.

Also, I can't speak to CA2/SDNY/EDNY, but CA9 really doesn't have much antitrust, bankruptcy, securities, etc. We got some. During my term, I think my judge had maybe two antitrust cases and a single bankruptcy case. But that (a) was across all four clerks, and (b) was a vanishingly small percentage of the total. If you really do want to clerk and want a clerkship that will hear more of that kind of thing, consider CA3. CA3 probably doesn't hear quite the same volume of sophisticated corporate-adjacent disputes as CA2, but it has developed somewhat of a reputation for putting out a lot of bankruptcy and similarly sophisticated corporate-esque opinions over the last decade or so. There is also always chancery.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Sep 14, 2021 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by SamuelDanforth » Tue Sep 14, 2021 9:59 pm

Seconding the comment that you could easily clerk on CA9 for a year and never have the chance to work on an antitrust, bankruptcy, or securities case.

Also seconding that calls are important.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 14, 2021 10:22 pm

It's the poster that mentioned the writing sample above.

Based on my (very limited) experience, academic writing probably isn't the best choice for a (non-SCOTUS) clerkship application. It's not necessarily a good representation of the type of writing law clerks do (especially at the district court, where we need to work through motions relatively quickly). Plus, notes tend to be heavily edited by others, so it might not be the best reflection of the applicant's style. Briefs tend to be useful samples because they are practice-oriented and show the candidate's persuasiveness.

When I was applying, I had a note as a second sample if requested. I had a few circuit court judges ask for a more academic piece once they offered me an interview invitations. That was also useful because then the note came up in the interview.

(Again, this is based on my own experience and your milage may vary.)

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by getthisbread » Tue Sep 14, 2021 11:35 pm

Thank you all for your insightful messages!

For this next go-around, I’ll see if I can repurpose a piece from clinic that’s a bit less fact-specific. While the persuasive writing sample I used felt polished, I’d imagine something from an actual case is preferable to a fictionalized 1L assignment.

As for clerking as a transactional lawyer, the comment that wanting to be a law professor is too far-off and competitive to really work with resonates. Unfortunately, my profile screams transactional even without recommenders letting the cat out of the bag (e.g., two corporate SAs). Hence, I struggle with how to address what might come off as a mismatch between my professional and clerkship ambitions.

If I’m primarily applying to federal courts in New York, would it be useful to talk about my desire to study the liabilities that can emerge from a securities offering in order to better advise clients in the future? Or to see how the district/circuit courts evaluate the decisions of the bankruptcy courts in the primary bankruptcy forum in the United States? Relatedly, how much color would be too much for a cover letter?

Thank you again for your feedback. I’ve already gained more from this conversation that from several chats with the clerkship office.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:25 am

I think the top districts for the things you’re interested in are probably SDNY, D Del (though it also has a heavy patent focus), NDCA, and NDIL. For COAs 2 sees a lot more of that stuff than other courts and I would also apply to 7. There are also business law-specialist judges on other circuits like Ambro, who does hire transactional people. And you should also consider applying to Delaware Chancery and its Supreme Court.

As an SDNY clerk we don’t really see *that* much BK stuff, obviously way less than an SDNY/DE BK judge.

In general though if you really want to clerk you should apply super broadly.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 15, 2021 12:31 pm

I think the top districts for the things you’re interested in are probably SDNY, D Del (though it also has a heavy patent focus), NDCA, and NDIL.
I clerked in D Del, fwiw, and while the judge did handle a decent number of bankruptcy appeals, the court had a career bankruptcy clerk who worked on most of those cases for all the judges. For the regular term clerks, we mostly worked on patent cases (but there was a mix of other cases too).

My credentials weren't quite as good as OP's, but I had wondered if I could have gotten a more "prestigious" clerkship. But as a clerk, I saw how the hiring actually worked. We had hundreds of applications, nearly all from qualified students. So it really is a crapshoot to some extent. And I know a lot of people who struck out in their first round of applications and got good clerkships for a year or two after graduation. Some judges give a significant edge to applicants with (post-law school) work experience.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:41 pm

Also maybe consider judges that have somewhat of a more corporate background (e.g., were GCs or something): Judge Richard Sullivan, Judge Komitee, etc.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:11 pm

The net you've cast is far too narrow. Your credentials are very solid, but not so astronomical that you can afford to be so selective in where you want to clerk. Also, clerking COA for the practical experience is a meme. Less so with the district court, but SDNY is a hard nut to crack, especially given that many former COA clerks apply there. I know a few of them personally.

Also, Fed Soc matters a lot to many conservative judges, especially the new Trump appointees, in my experience as a COA clerk.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 15, 2021 5:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:41 pm
Also maybe consider judges that have somewhat of a more corporate background (e.g., were GCs or something): Judge Richard Sullivan, Judge Komitee, etc.
OP is around top 10% in his/her class, maybe a hair lower. These judges are simply too competitive. OP should apply more broadly if he/she wants a federal clerkship. And for a corporate lawyer, that's a big "if".

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by getthisbread » Wed Sep 15, 2021 6:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 5:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:41 pm
Also maybe consider judges that have somewhat of a more corporate background (e.g., were GCs or something): Judge Richard Sullivan, Judge Komitee, etc.
OP is around top 10% in his/her class, maybe a hair lower. These judges are simply too competitive. OP should apply more broadly if he/she wants a federal clerkship. And for a corporate lawyer, that's a big "if".
Roughly top 10% seems right, judging from conversations I've had with faculty. Agreed that Judge Sullivan is probably out of reach. However, classmates with comparable (if not lower) performance have done fine on EDNY, and my one interview was there as well.

Thus far, what I've taken away from this extremely helpful conversation is the following:
  • Cast a broader net. Would expanding my search into NDCA, CDCA, NDIL, and CA3 likely net some success?
  • Use a practical writing sample. Will attempt to repurpose a brief from clinic to that end.
  • Include more material in my cover letter regarding why I think a clerkship and that particular court would be useful given my interests.
  • Look for judges who might be more receptive to someone with a transactional background, namely former GCs. Given my interest in bankruptcy, would it also make sense to look for district court judges who are former bankruptcy judges, such as Judge Vyskocil?
  • Press my recommenders to make calls, at least to judges who are likely to be more open to my applicants with my background and interests.
Doing all of the above and being in the top 10% at SLS, I'd like to believe I'd get something. But am I off base in that respect?

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:57 pm

getthisbread wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 6:13 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 5:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:41 pm
Also maybe consider judges that have somewhat of a more corporate background (e.g., were GCs or something): Judge Richard Sullivan, Judge Komitee, etc.
OP is around top 10% in his/her class, maybe a hair lower. These judges are simply too competitive. OP should apply more broadly if he/she wants a federal clerkship. And for a corporate lawyer, that's a big "if".
Roughly top 10% seems right, judging from conversations I've had with faculty. Agreed that Judge Sullivan is probably out of reach. However, classmates with comparable (if not lower) performance have done fine on EDNY, and my one interview was there as well.

Thus far, what I've taken away from this extremely helpful conversation is the following:
  • Cast a broader net. Would expanding my search into NDCA, CDCA, NDIL, and CA3 likely net some success?
  • Use a practical writing sample. Will attempt to repurpose a brief from clinic to that end.
  • Include more material in my cover letter regarding why I think a clerkship and that particular court would be useful given my interests.
  • Look for judges who might be more receptive to someone with a transactional background, namely former GCs. Given my interest in bankruptcy, would it also make sense to look for district court judges who are former bankruptcy judges, such as Judge Vyskocil?
  • Press my recommenders to make calls, at least to judges who are likely to be more open to my applicants with my background and interests.
Doing all of the above and being in the top 10% at SLS, I'd like to believe I'd get something. But am I off base in that respect?
NDCA has very few slots, so it’s insanely competitive (especially if you want something in the next couple of years rather than many years out). I would not count on it for current judges, but you might monitor Biden’s nominations and see whether you can get in before they are confirmed. Good luck!

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 16, 2021 9:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:57 pm
getthisbread wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 6:13 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 5:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:41 pm
Also maybe consider judges that have somewhat of a more corporate background (e.g., were GCs or something): Judge Richard Sullivan, Judge Komitee, etc.
OP is around top 10% in his/her class, maybe a hair lower. These judges are simply too competitive. OP should apply more broadly if he/she wants a federal clerkship. And for a corporate lawyer, that's a big "if".
Roughly top 10% seems right, judging from conversations I've had with faculty. Agreed that Judge Sullivan is probably out of reach. However, classmates with comparable (if not lower) performance have done fine on EDNY, and my one interview was there as well.

Thus far, what I've taken away from this extremely helpful conversation is the following:
  • Cast a broader net. Would expanding my search into NDCA, CDCA, NDIL, and CA3 likely net some success?
  • Use a practical writing sample. Will attempt to repurpose a brief from clinic to that end.
  • Include more material in my cover letter regarding why I think a clerkship and that particular court would be useful given my interests.
  • Look for judges who might be more receptive to someone with a transactional background, namely former GCs. Given my interest in bankruptcy, would it also make sense to look for district court judges who are former bankruptcy judges, such as Judge Vyskocil?
  • Press my recommenders to make calls, at least to judges who are likely to be more open to my applicants with my background and interests.
Doing all of the above and being in the top 10% at SLS, I'd like to believe I'd get something. But am I off base in that respect?
NDCA has very few slots, so it’s insanely competitive (especially if you want something in the next couple of years rather than many years out). I would not count on it for current judges, but you might monitor Biden’s nominations and see whether you can get in before they are confirmed. Good luck!
I'll add that some of the judges on NDCA are not particularly grade-snobbish (top 10% at SLS would be sufficient), but they do care deeply about demonstrable PI experience and interest - Edward Chen is an example.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:06 pm

getthisbread wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:07 pm
Y/S rising 3L. LR (though not e-board), published, 75-80% Hs (including a couple of prizes). Worked for a few years between undergrad and law school in an unrelated field. Not FedSoc but not especially liberal and not opposed to clerking for a conservative. More interested in corporate than litigation but hoped for a clerkship in a bankruptcy/securities/antitrust-heavy court (ideally SDNY/2d Cir/9th Cir) to build up my credentials for a possible switch to academia. Recommenders don’t have personal ties to the courts I’m interested in but know me very well. I’m confident that their recommendations were solid.

Applied fairly broadly within SDNY and 2d Cir. (~50 apps) and sent a handful of apps to EDNY and 9th Cir. Received one interview on EDNY but didn’t wind up getting the position. Radio silence from the rest.

Obviously, I was rather ambitious with the courts that I targeted. However, I hadn’t anticipated being all but shut out as I have been. I’m headed to a V5 firm to do transactional work next year, so not getting a clerkship altogether wouldn’t be the end of the world for me. However, I’d certainly enjoy the experience and thought that my stats put me in the running.

I didn’t overtly state in my cover letters that I’m planning to do transactional work, and my resume contains enough litigation-esque experience to make me look agnostic (or so I thought). Any idea what might’ve gone wrong? Anything I can do to boost my odds next cycle? Or should I get over my dreams of seeing the inside of a court for a year and just dive into transactional work?
Former S COA clerk here.

Others are right that you just didn’t cast a wide enough net. No one should only be applying to CA2 and CA9. Judges only get 4 clerks a year. The only way you can be so selective is if you were a Kirkland Ellis Scholar and have Pam Karlan going to bat for you.

Apply widely and you’ll get something.

Also, don’t bother applying to most conservative judges. You will likely get weeded out for not being conservative. There are moderates like Eric Miller on CA9 that don’t really care as much about your judicial philosophy, but for the most part it will be a dealbreaker. Talk to people at the fed soc chapter and ask them about which Republican appointees are worth applying to if you’re not a conservative.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:30 am

getthisbread wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 6:13 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 5:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:41 pm
Also maybe consider judges that have somewhat of a more corporate background (e.g., were GCs or something): Judge Richard Sullivan, Judge Komitee, etc.
OP is around top 10% in his/her class, maybe a hair lower. These judges are simply too competitive. OP should apply more broadly if he/she wants a federal clerkship. And for a corporate lawyer, that's a big "if".
Roughly top 10% seems right, judging from conversations I've had with faculty. Agreed that Judge Sullivan is probably out of reach. However, classmates with comparable (if not lower) performance have done fine on EDNY, and my one interview was there as well.

Thus far, what I've taken away from this extremely helpful conversation is the following:
  • Cast a broader net. Would expanding my search into NDCA, CDCA, NDIL, and CA3 likely net some success?
  • Use a practical writing sample. Will attempt to repurpose a brief from clinic to that end.
  • Include more material in my cover letter regarding why I think a clerkship and that particular court would be useful given my interests.
  • Look for judges who might be more receptive to someone with a transactional background, namely former GCs. Given my interest in bankruptcy, would it also make sense to look for district court judges who are former bankruptcy judges, such as Judge Vyskocil?
  • Press my recommenders to make calls, at least to judges who are likely to be more open to my applicants with my background and interests.
Doing all of the above and being in the top 10% at SLS, I'd like to believe I'd get something. But am I off base in that respect?
Yes, adding those districts and CA3 would help. You should think about Delaware Chancery too. It's arguably the more useful credential for transactional lawyers. For instance, many Chancery clerks get offers at Wachtell.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Sep 18, 2021 1:21 pm

Current CA2 clerk here, taking a break from reviewing clerkship applications for next term.

It could be one of your recommendations is tepid or worse. Hard to find out. Maybe ask the Prof who made calls for you to broach it with your other recommenders as gingerly as possible.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2021 2:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:06 pm
Also, don’t bother applying to most conservative judges. You will likely get weeded out for not being conservative.
This is terrible advice. (1) Never hurts to try, and (2) many of the top conservative judges, particularly on CA2, regularly hire liberals. Of the active conservative CA2 judges, some are almost completely ideology-agnostic (Livingston, Cabranes), and others seem perfectly happy to hire qualified liberal clerks (Sullivan, Park, Nardini). Assuming you're OK clerking for a conservative, Menashi is the only one on CA2 who's probably not worth an app.

(With all that said, your paper profile isn't especially strong for CA2. Livingston is out of reach, and the remaining very selective judges -- Lohier, Sullivan, Park, etc. -- probably are as well.)

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2021 7:46 pm

Concur. That is terrible advice both in the Second Circuit and outside the Second Circuit. The number of CoA judges who do not hire qualified liberals is rather small. You might as well apply to everyone you would work for and let them figure out whether they want to hire you.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 19, 2021 8:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Sep 19, 2021 2:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:06 pm
Also, don’t bother applying to most conservative judges. You will likely get weeded out for not being conservative.
This is terrible advice. (1) Never hurts to try, and (2) many of the top conservative judges, particularly on CA2, regularly hire liberals. Of the active conservative CA2 judges, some are almost completely ideology-agnostic (Livingston, Cabranes), and others seem perfectly happy to hire qualified liberal clerks (Sullivan, Park, Nardini). Assuming you're OK clerking for a conservative, Menashi is the only one on CA2 who's probably not worth an app.

(With all that said, your paper profile isn't especially strong for CA2. Livingston is out of reach, and the remaining very selective judges -- Lohier, Sullivan, Park, etc. -- probably are as well.)
Agreed that Livingston and the others that you mentioned are likely out of reach. However, what about senior judges on CA2 (e.g., Leval, Walker, Sack)? What kind of profile is necessary to have a decent chance with a judge on Second?

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 20, 2021 6:07 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 16, 2021 7:06 pm
getthisbread wrote:
Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:07 pm
Y/S rising 3L. LR (though not e-board), published, 75-80% Hs (including a couple of prizes). Worked for a few years between undergrad and law school in an unrelated field. Not FedSoc but not especially liberal and not opposed to clerking for a conservative. More interested in corporate than litigation but hoped for a clerkship in a bankruptcy/securities/antitrust-heavy court (ideally SDNY/2d Cir/9th Cir) to build up my credentials for a possible switch to academia. Recommenders don’t have personal ties to the courts I’m interested in but know me very well. I’m confident that their recommendations were solid.

Applied fairly broadly within SDNY and 2d Cir. (~50 apps) and sent a handful of apps to EDNY and 9th Cir. Received one interview on EDNY but didn’t wind up getting the position. Radio silence from the rest.

Obviously, I was rather ambitious with the courts that I targeted. However, I hadn’t anticipated being all but shut out as I have been. I’m headed to a V5 firm to do transactional work next year, so not getting a clerkship altogether wouldn’t be the end of the world for me. However, I’d certainly enjoy the experience and thought that my stats put me in the running.

I didn’t overtly state in my cover letters that I’m planning to do transactional work, and my resume contains enough litigation-esque experience to make me look agnostic (or so I thought). Any idea what might’ve gone wrong? Anything I can do to boost my odds next cycle? Or should I get over my dreams of seeing the inside of a court for a year and just dive into transactional work?
Former S COA clerk here.

Others are right that you just didn’t cast a wide enough net. No one should only be applying to CA2 and CA9. Judges only get 4 clerks a year. The only way you can be so selective is if you were a Kirkland Ellis Scholar and have Pam Karlan going to bat for you.

Apply widely and you’ll get something.

Also, don’t bother applying to most conservative judges. You will likely get weeded out for not being conservative. There are moderates like Eric Miller on CA9 that don’t really care as much about your judicial philosophy, but for the most part it will be a dealbreaker. Talk to people at the fed soc chapter and ask them about which Republican appointees are worth applying to if you’re not a conservative.
Another former Stanford COA clerk: The NYC clerkships are an unusually tough nut to crack from Stanford in a way that is almost disproportionate to their actual selectivity. Many of the more selective judges have particular ties to Columbia/NYU and well-established links to H/Y professors. Not a ton of SLS professors have clerked for CA2 judges who are still on the bench, and I think many of the professors who are landing their students fancy COA interview with calls (and every NYC CA2 judge is a fancy COA interview) are usually doing so to CA9/CADC/specific fedsoc/PI judges elsewhere. Similarly, we had very few people land SDNY/EDNY clerkships out of law school.

The good news is that 1) your grades are still great, and you'll probably have plenty of options widening your net; and 2) at least on the litigation side, SDNY/EDNY judges hire a lot of people out of V5s only after they've graduated and gotten some firm time in - that may be trickier for you as a corporate person, but it might also be an avenue that's open.

lost3039

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by lost3039 » Mon Sep 20, 2021 8:59 am

Pardon my idiocy, but I am just a 2L and I feel like I am missing something. This guy is from Stanford and is just outside the top 10%. Isn't that incredibly competitive for all positions minus the major feeders? Or maybe I have a naive view on how competitive clerkship positions really are.

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Re: Clerkship App Post-Mortem

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:12 am

lost3039 wrote:
Mon Sep 20, 2021 8:59 am
Pardon my idiocy, but I am just a 2L and I feel like I am missing something. This guy is from Stanford and is just outside the top 10%. Isn't that incredibly competitive for all positions minus the major feeders? Or maybe I have a naive view on how competitive clerkship positions really are.
It is fantastic, but if you take the top 10% at HYS plus the top 5% at CCN, you end up with like ~140 people. That is way more than the feeders could ever hire, and that is just from six schools.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

Now there's a charge.
Just kidding ... it's still FREE!


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