Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge Forum

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Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 26, 2022 2:47 pm

Anon bc I am posting sensitive information:

I have recently accepted a position to clerk for a judge who was recently confirmed and appointed to the federal bench. Previously, they had been a state court judge.

I know that the judge has an excellent reputation in the legal field in their region. However, review of their state court opinions demonstrates that they (or their clerks) were not the most clear or thorough writers at the state level. I’m not uncomfortable with that, and hope to provide improved work product as part of my job. However, I have never clerked before and do worry about the heavy workload in my district affecting my own work.

I am also concerned with administrative tasks, other behind the scenes issues, and other potential concerns that nobody prepared me for as part of a brand new chambers. Has anyone else been among the first clerks to work for a judge in this situation and have any advice?

nixy

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by nixy » Tue Apr 26, 2022 2:58 pm

Honestly, while I’m sure there’s a learning curve, if they’ve been working as a judge already, they probably have a pretty good sense of how they like to operate administratively and such. And frankly the bar for state orders isn’t that high (assuming they were a trial court judge and not COA/SC), so I wouldn’t rely on those very much.

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 26, 2022 3:00 pm

I haven't been in this situation but I know people who have. It will probably be an intense and occasionally messy experience and plenty of mistakes will probably be made. If your judge has a good attitude and can roll with the punches, though, it should be fine. Many judges have very strong relationships with their very first set of clerks because of how steep the learning curve is and the shared experience of being in the trenches of a new and daunting experience.

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 26, 2022 3:32 pm

I am in this position currently for a relatively new district judge and then going to clerk for a brand new COA judge. It is definitely messy at times but also really cool because you're in the position of setting up the way chambers will be run for long after you've moved on to your next job. I think the substantive work remains the same: you work on a case, do an order, give that order to judge. Where it departs is in handling procedural and administrative tasks. How does the judge want to do hearings? Does the judge want to handle all scheduling conferences (or other minor conferences) or delegate those in some way? How does the judge want to approach trial and sentencing prep? What does the collaboration between your chambers and an MJ's chambers look like? I'm lucky that my judge understands this and always remind us to ask why we do things the way that we do. He wants us to reassess processes until they work well. The best advice I've received is to be nimble. I think it applies generally for all clerks, but even more so for clerks in our position who don't have a system for chambers that they're inheriting. Things will breakdown at a certain point and you have to have a backup for the judge, so it's good to game-plan potential solutions in case your first option doesn't work.

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 26, 2022 7:36 pm

Also clerked for a newish judge. The learning curve to be a federal DJ is hellish, especially on busy districts, so good luck if you’re with one of the new CDCA judges lol. But I agree that state court work isn’t necessarily representative, and that state court experience will help the judge adjust. Federal judges generally have significantly more administrative and clerk support than state judges.

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by rhododactylos » Wed Apr 27, 2022 12:28 pm

PM me if you'd like

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 05, 2022 10:08 am

When I was clerking, many new judges (along with their clerks) shadowed our chambers. They used my judge's individual practice rules as a template and the law clerks would regularly call our chambers with various questions. We would gladly help. I'm sure your judge will naturally find a "mentor" judge, so use that judge's current clerks as mentors. Ideally it would be those who have completed 1/2 of their clerkship and not those who started around the same time. The Clerk's Office is helpful. Also, find an experienced and friendly Court Room Deputy from another chambers to help you with the various admin tasks that arise in the criminal docket. Of course, ask your judge's permission before doing any of these things. But I'm sure they will appreciate your initiative.

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 05, 2022 2:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 10:08 am
The Clerk's Office is helpful.
Laughs in SDNY

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 06, 2022 1:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 2:25 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 10:08 am
The Clerk's Office is helpful.
Laughs in SDNY
+1 on this. If you can figure out the right person to contact, they probably won’t even help you.

I was part of a judge’s second set of clerks and it was a great experience. You just need to be somewhat proactive in terms of seeing a gap in procedure/practice and then coming up with what you’ll do to fill the gap, and then bring that to the judge, and you’ll be golden as a helpful member of chambers. Biggest help is probably JA/deputies from other chambers. If you know clerks in other chambers, use them to bridge you to their JA/deputy for help. And don’t be afraid to ask.

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 06, 2022 1:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 2:25 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 10:08 am
The Clerk's Office is helpful.
Laughs in SDNY
Not in SDNY, but I feel like the Clerk's Office can have such an impact on practicing in a particular jurisdiction and it's rarely acknowledged. When I clerked it didn't have that big an impact on me, but the clerk of court was kind of a dictator who once snarked at me on the elevator because I was coming in after 8:30 am (not that they had any control over me at all, which is what apparently pissed them off b/c they didn't like that the judicial clerks were courthouse employees but only answered to their judges. No idea what their damage was). Now I practice in a smaller district, and the clerk's office is soooo helpful and has saved my ass any number of times.

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 06, 2022 2:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 06, 2022 1:30 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 2:25 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu May 05, 2022 10:08 am
The Clerk's Office is helpful.
Laughs in SDNY
+1 on this. If you can figure out the right person to contact, they probably won’t even help you.
The SDNY Clerk’s office is a huge bureaucracy filled with ancient and obscure grievances and divisions of labor that term clerks can’t even begin to understand. You have to lean on your courtroom deputy to find the right person to ask in the right way. I’m sure it’s easier in smaller districts, and you certainly learn the importance of administrative staff to making everything run (or not).

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Quichelorraine » Sat May 07, 2022 6:32 pm

I've previously used the phrase "newly appointed" or "new" judge, but I like "freshly appointed" so much better.

Freshly appointed judges smell very nice and have that just-out-of-the-shower-and-I-kind-of-dried-it-but-not-really hair.

Freshly appointed judges are dewy.

Freshly appointed judges are like perfectly squeezed orange juice, with life tenure.

Freshly appointed judges can sass just the right amount without making anybody cross because they're just that winning.

Freshly appointed judges have the most perfectly white teeth, gleaming in the sunlight at the crest of a snow-peaked hill during a four-mile cross country ski run.

Freshly appointed judges grant motions for summery judgment and this mint.

I could really get into this, is what I'm saying.

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 10, 2022 2:19 pm

What timeline should one expect to hear back after an interview with a newly appointed judge? Any examples out there? I would expect they would move fast, but could be wrong. Thanks!

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 10, 2022 2:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 10, 2022 2:19 pm
What timeline should one expect to hear back after an interview with a newly appointed judge? Any examples out there? I would expect they would move fast, but could be wrong. Thanks!
a few weeks

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Re: Clerking for a Freshly Appointed Judge

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 10, 2022 3:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 10, 2022 2:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 10, 2022 2:19 pm
What timeline should one expect to hear back after an interview with a newly appointed judge? Any examples out there? I would expect they would move fast, but could be wrong. Thanks!
a few weeks
Anywhere between a few hours and several months. I heard back from one newly appointed judge the same week as my interview and my second clerkship's judge (also newly appointed) got back to me four months after my interview.

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