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clerky123

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Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by clerky123 » Tue May 03, 2022 7:10 pm

Just got a clerkship interview for a district court judge and wondering how I should be thinking about this. I know they're incredibly competitive so I don't want to sound ungrateful but now I'm panicking a little because I haven't heard back from other judges that I am more interested in. There is a specific location I would like to be in for the year after law school and the interview is in a city 1.5 hours away which is great, but I also want to apply to judges in that city itself. I also am worried about ideological mismatch, which maybe isn't a huge concern for DC?

Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down an interview?

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 03, 2022 7:24 pm

clerky123 wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 7:10 pm
Just got a clerkship interview for a district court judge and wondering how I should be thinking about this. I know they're incredibly competitive so I don't want to sound ungrateful but now I'm panicking a little because I haven't heard back from other judges that I am more interested in. There is a specific location I would like to be in for the year after law school and the interview is in a city 1.5 hours away which is great, but I also want to apply to judges in that city itself. I also am worried about ideological mismatch, which maybe isn't a huge concern for DC?

Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down an interview?
You should probably do the interview and if you get an offer, you should accept the clerkship. It would be one thing if you had already had interviews with judges in your preferred city and you were waiting on hearing back from those judges, but the judges in your preferred city haven't expressed any interest in you at all yet.

According to the Career Services people at any law school, you should only turn down an interview if you've already made a professional commitment during the term of the clerkship for which you received the interview and you weren't able to withdraw the clerkship application before you received the interview invitation. In truth, however, you can turn down an interview for any reason you want (e.g., you called former clerks after receiving the interview request and they all told you the judge is a horrible person to clerk for).

So could you back out of the clerkship interview? Yes. But then the opportunity to clerk for that judge would probably be gone forever. At that point, it would probably be unlikely that you'd get a clerkship interview with the judges in the city you prefer, only because it's unlikely that any given applicant will get a clerkship interview for a judge in the city they prefer. There are so many more qualified candidates than there are positions available.

clerky123

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by clerky123 » Tue May 03, 2022 7:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 7:24 pm
clerky123 wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 7:10 pm
Just got a clerkship interview for a district court judge and wondering how I should be thinking about this. I know they're incredibly competitive so I don't want to sound ungrateful but now I'm panicking a little because I haven't heard back from other judges that I am more interested in. There is a specific location I would like to be in for the year after law school and the interview is in a city 1.5 hours away which is great, but I also want to apply to judges in that city itself. I also am worried about ideological mismatch, which maybe isn't a huge concern for DC?

Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down an interview?
You should probably do the interview and if you get an offer, you should accept the clerkship. It would be one thing if you had already had interviews with judges in your preferred city and you were waiting on hearing back from those judges, but the judges in your preferred city haven't expressed any interest in you at all yet.

According to the Career Services people at any law school, you should only turn down an interview if you've already made a professional commitment during the term of the clerkship for which you received the interview and you weren't able to withdraw the clerkship application before you received the interview invitation. In truth, however, you can turn down an interview for any reason you want (e.g., you called former clerks after receiving the interview request and they all told you the judge is a horrible person to clerk for).

So could you back out of the clerkship interview? Yes. But then the opportunity to clerk for that judge would probably be gone forever. At that point, it would probably be unlikely that you'd get a clerkship interview with the judges in the city you prefer, only because it's unlikely that any given applicant will get a clerkship interview for a judge in the city they prefer. There are so many more qualified candidates than there are positions available.
This is what I needed to hear. Thank you.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 03, 2022 8:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 7:24 pm
clerky123 wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 7:10 pm
Just got a clerkship interview for a district court judge and wondering how I should be thinking about this. I know they're incredibly competitive so I don't want to sound ungrateful but now I'm panicking a little because I haven't heard back from other judges that I am more interested in. There is a specific location I would like to be in for the year after law school and the interview is in a city 1.5 hours away which is great, but I also want to apply to judges in that city itself. I also am worried about ideological mismatch, which maybe isn't a huge concern for DC?

Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down an interview?
You should probably do the interview and if you get an offer, you should accept the clerkship. It would be one thing if you had already had interviews with judges in your preferred city and you were waiting on hearing back from those judges, but the judges in your preferred city haven't expressed any interest in you at all yet.

According to the Career Services people at any law school, you should only turn down an interview if you've already made a professional commitment during the term of the clerkship for which you received the interview and you weren't able to withdraw the clerkship application before you received the interview invitation. In truth, however, you can turn down an interview for any reason you want (e.g., you called former clerks after receiving the interview request and they all told you the judge is a horrible person to clerk for).

So could you back out of the clerkship interview? Yes. But then the opportunity to clerk for that judge would probably be gone forever. At that point, it would probably be unlikely that you'd get a clerkship interview with the judges in the city you prefer, only because it's unlikely that any given applicant will get a clerkship interview for a judge in the city they prefer. There are so many more qualified candidates than there are positions available.
Agreed with all this. There's always that emotional reaction of "but I'd rather be in location X" if you hear back first from judges not in your preferred location, but you have very very little control over that unless you're willing to *seriously* reduce your chances of clerking at all by applying only to one location. Most people can't limit their options so drastically and have a realistic chance of getting anything (they still might get hired through luck or connections, or if they're in that very very small pool of candidates who can genuinely pick and choose, but most won't).

In any case, if you've now genuinely realized that it's more important to you to be in your preferred city than to clerk, you can totally back out. That's totally fair and your call. But otherwise I would absolutely not back out in the hope that a judge in your preferred city will want to interview you. They might! But the odds are absolutely not in your favor.

Almost forgot to address the ideological mismatch question. My DCt judge and I were fairly ideological opposites, but it was never a problem. Very few cases at the DCt level really actively implicate politics. Honestly, conversations at lunch were more of an issue than the actual work, in that my judge's permanent staff tended to agree with the judge, but they were also really nice people so we all just acted like grownups (well okay the judge's career clerk was... interesting, but that wasn't really ideological). The most obvious/thorny thing is the death penalty, but death penalty cases are *rare* and I've heard that a lot of judges will let clerks who are opposed not work on a DP case. I think whether a judge is a good boss is a bigger deal than whether you agree with them politically (going on the principle that if they're going to treat you badly for your politics, they're not a good boss).

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by clerky123 » Wed May 04, 2022 7:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 8:57 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 7:24 pm
clerky123 wrote:
Tue May 03, 2022 7:10 pm
Just got a clerkship interview for a district court judge and wondering how I should be thinking about this. I know they're incredibly competitive so I don't want to sound ungrateful but now I'm panicking a little because I haven't heard back from other judges that I am more interested in. There is a specific location I would like to be in for the year after law school and the interview is in a city 1.5 hours away which is great, but I also want to apply to judges in that city itself. I also am worried about ideological mismatch, which maybe isn't a huge concern for DC?

Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down an interview?
You should probably do the interview and if you get an offer, you should accept the clerkship. It would be one thing if you had already had interviews with judges in your preferred city and you were waiting on hearing back from those judges, but the judges in your preferred city haven't expressed any interest in you at all yet.

According to the Career Services people at any law school, you should only turn down an interview if you've already made a professional commitment during the term of the clerkship for which you received the interview and you weren't able to withdraw the clerkship application before you received the interview invitation. In truth, however, you can turn down an interview for any reason you want (e.g., you called former clerks after receiving the interview request and they all told you the judge is a horrible person to clerk for).

So could you back out of the clerkship interview? Yes. But then the opportunity to clerk for that judge would probably be gone forever. At that point, it would probably be unlikely that you'd get a clerkship interview with the judges in the city you prefer, only because it's unlikely that any given applicant will get a clerkship interview for a judge in the city they prefer. There are so many more qualified candidates than there are positions available.
Agreed with all this. There's always that emotional reaction of "but I'd rather be in location X" if you hear back first from judges not in your preferred location, but you have very very little control over that unless you're willing to *seriously* reduce your chances of clerking at all by applying only to one location. Most people can't limit their options so drastically and have a realistic chance of getting anything (they still might get hired through luck or connections, or if they're in that very very small pool of candidates who can genuinely pick and choose, but most won't).

In any case, if you've now genuinely realized that it's more important to you to be in your preferred city than to clerk, you can totally back out. That's totally fair and your call. But otherwise I would absolutely not back out in the hope that a judge in your preferred city will want to interview you. They might! But the odds are absolutely not in your favor.

Almost forgot to address the ideological mismatch question. My DCt judge and I were fairly ideological opposites, but it was never a problem. Very few cases at the DCt level really actively implicate politics. Honestly, conversations at lunch were more of an issue than the actual work, in that my judge's permanent staff tended to agree with the judge, but they were also really nice people so we all just acted like grownups (well okay the judge's career clerk was... interesting, but that wasn't really ideological). The most obvious/thorny thing is the death penalty, but death penalty cases are *rare* and I've heard that a lot of judges will let clerks who are opposed not work on a DP case. I think whether a judge is a good boss is a bigger deal than whether you agree with them politically (going on the principle that if they're going to treat you badly for your politics, they're not a good boss).
Thank you so much for this response!! It's very helpful.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 04, 2022 11:50 am

Agreed that ideology is basically irrelevant to district courts unless you’re in a major impact litigation venue, such as NDCA, DDC, or one of the injunction judges in Texas.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 04, 2022 12:40 pm

As far as ideological match, I clerk for a Republican appointee (though not trump appointee) who follows the law every single time. I think especially on the district court level it isn’t an issue. I’d suggest googling the Judge because oftentimes if they were involved in any cases that could be perceived as political, there may be news stories on it. This should give you a good idea of whether the decide things based on othe law or based on ideology. You can also search westlaw filtering by a specific judge.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 04, 2022 1:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 04, 2022 11:50 am
Agreed that ideology is basically irrelevant to district courts unless you’re in a major impact litigation venue, such as NDCA, DDC, or one of the injunction judges in Texas.
I agree with this. Even if it is relevant, you can view it as being a lawyer for the judge. Being an actual lawyer involves taking positions you don't personally agree with in order to advance your client's interests. Just wear that same hat and don't view it as reflective on your own values.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 09, 2022 10:35 am

Sorry to take over this thread a bit, but I need to vent.

I just had to turn down an interview for a DDC clerkship because I'd accepted last month a flyover district court clerkship for the same term. I'm really pissed not only because DDC is such a desired district, but because the judge would have been a much better match too. And I do NOT have the grades for DDC by any traditional means (3.5-ish GPA at CCN), so getting offered this interview was so unexpected.

I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big deal. Still stung to turn down the interview, though.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 09, 2022 10:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 10:35 am
Sorry to take over this thread a bit, but I need to vent.

I just had to turn down an interview for a DDC clerkship because I'd accepted last month a flyover district court clerkship for the same term. I'm really pissed not only because DDC is such a desired district, but because the judge would have been a much better match too. And I do NOT have the grades for DDC by any traditional means (3.5-ish GPA at CCN), so getting offered this interview was so unexpected.

I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big deal. Still stung to turn down the interview, though.
Most judges interview three times as many people as they will ultimately give offers to, so odds are you wouldn't have gotten the DDC clerkship anyway. But that still sucks, I'm sorry. I wish that this whole process could be subject to universal double-blind matching like medical residency programs. That would make it so much fairer for all involved. But all efforts to universally standardize such a process haven't endured in the long run.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 09, 2022 11:54 am

+1 regarding the ideological mismatch to be irrelevant in the District Court context. I clerked for a district court judge who was pretty conservative. I'm a person of color who grew up in CA and am extremely liberal. My Judge didn't care whatsoever, it never really came up for any work related reasons, and my Judge became someone that I really love and respect, regardless of politics.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by lavarman84 » Mon May 09, 2022 9:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 10:35 am
Sorry to take over this thread a bit, but I need to vent.

I just had to turn down an interview for a DDC clerkship because I'd accepted last month a flyover district court clerkship for the same term. I'm really pissed not only because DDC is such a desired district, but because the judge would have been a much better match too. And I do NOT have the grades for DDC by any traditional means (3.5-ish GPA at CCN), so getting offered this interview was so unexpected.

I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big deal. Still stung to turn down the interview, though.
Might be a blessing in disguise.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 09, 2022 10:05 pm

lavarman84 wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 9:13 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 10:35 am
Sorry to take over this thread a bit, but I need to vent.

I just had to turn down an interview for a DDC clerkship because I'd accepted last month a flyover district court clerkship for the same term. I'm really pissed not only because DDC is such a desired district, but because the judge would have been a much better match too. And I do NOT have the grades for DDC by any traditional means (3.5-ish GPA at CCN), so getting offered this interview was so unexpected.

I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big deal. Still stung to turn down the interview, though.
Might be a blessing in disguise.
Curious: How so? I will say I'm not unhappy with my current clerkship I'll be doing. It's in my hometown area and both my wife's parents and my parents are located there, so the free babysitting will be awesome. But, the judge is just kinda meh and the district isn't anything impressive.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 09, 2022 11:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 10:05 pm
lavarman84 wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 9:13 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 10:35 am
Sorry to take over this thread a bit, but I need to vent.

I just had to turn down an interview for a DDC clerkship because I'd accepted last month a flyover district court clerkship for the same term. I'm really pissed not only because DDC is such a desired district, but because the judge would have been a much better match too. And I do NOT have the grades for DDC by any traditional means (3.5-ish GPA at CCN), so getting offered this interview was so unexpected.

I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big deal. Still stung to turn down the interview, though.
Might be a blessing in disguise.
Curious: How so? I will say I'm not unhappy with my current clerkship I'll be doing. It's in my hometown area and both my wife's parents and my parents are located there, so the free babysitting will be awesome. But, the judge is just kinda meh and the district isn't anything impressive.
Clerking with kids is hard and the DDC docket is boring af unless you want to be an admin specialist, that actually sounds like a really good gig. And if you have any long-term interest in moving home, which I'm guessing you do, connections in flyover markets matter a ton.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by lavarman84 » Tue May 10, 2022 12:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 10:05 pm
lavarman84 wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 9:13 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 10:35 am
Sorry to take over this thread a bit, but I need to vent.

I just had to turn down an interview for a DDC clerkship because I'd accepted last month a flyover district court clerkship for the same term. I'm really pissed not only because DDC is such a desired district, but because the judge would have been a much better match too. And I do NOT have the grades for DDC by any traditional means (3.5-ish GPA at CCN), so getting offered this interview was so unexpected.

I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big deal. Still stung to turn down the interview, though.
Might be a blessing in disguise.
Curious: How so? I will say I'm not unhappy with my current clerkship I'll be doing. It's in my hometown area and both my wife's parents and my parents are located there, so the free babysitting will be awesome. But, the judge is just kinda meh and the district isn't anything impressive.
1. It's an Article III clerkship. Be proud of yourself.
2. People get caught up in prestige that really doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things. You might find that you end up having a good quality of life during that year and a fantastic boss/mentor who is willing to go to bat for you. And maybe the other job wouldn't have been so good.

Speaking for myself, when I was clerkship hunting, I had interviewed with a judge. It was in a good location, and the judge seemed like a good person. I was told by some reliable contacts that I was basically assured an offer. The judge didn't end up offering me. I was very disappointed. I started applying again, interviewed with another judge in a location I wasn't as keen on, and landed the job.

That location I wasn't so keen on ended up being a great experience. I got to live in a new place, experience a very different culture, and learn a lot about myself. And the judge who hired me? Unbelievable person. He treated me like I was his family, and still does. I'm glad things with the first judge went the way they did. It probably would have been a fine or good clerkship, but I doubt it would have been nearly as great as the clerkship I took.

Maybe your clerkship ends up sucking. I certainly can't predict the future. But there's also a chance that it ends up being a great one. And that's why I say it might prove to be a blessing in disguise.

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Re: Are there only specific circumstances under which you would turn down clerkship interview?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 10, 2022 8:59 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 09, 2022 11:47 pm
Clerking with kids is hard and the DDC docket is boring af unless you want to be an admin specialist, that actually sounds like a really good gig. And if you have any long-term interest in moving home, which I'm guessing you do, connections in flyover markets matter a ton.
I actually focus on campaign finance, so DDC's docket could have been cool for me. But, long-term goal is actually academia, and I'm clerking mainly to bolster my credibility when I put "Civil Procedure" as one of my teaching interests, so I suppose where I clerk doesn't really matter in that regard.
lavarman84 wrote:
Tue May 10, 2022 12:21 am
1. It's an Article III clerkship. Be proud of yourself.
2. People get caught up in prestige that really doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things. You might find that you end up having a good quality of life during that year and a fantastic boss/mentor who is willing to go to bat for you. And maybe the other job wouldn't have been so good.

Speaking for myself, when I was clerkship hunting, I had interviewed with a judge. It was in a good location, and the judge seemed like a good person. I was told by some reliable contacts that I was basically assured an offer. The judge didn't end up offering me. I was very disappointed. I started applying again, interviewed with another judge in a location I wasn't as keen on, and landed the job.

That location I wasn't so keen on ended up being a great experience. I got to live in a new place, experience a very different culture, and learn a lot about myself. And the judge who hired me? Unbelievable person. He treated me like I was his family, and still does. I'm glad things with the first judge went the way they did. It probably would have been a fine or good clerkship, but I doubt it would have been nearly as great as the clerkship I took.

Maybe your clerkship ends up sucking. I certainly can't predict the future. But there's also a chance that it ends up being a great one. And that's why I say it might prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Very good point. I know one former clerk of this judge, and she only had great things to say about him. So, I suppose I should be happy knowing that I'll be clerking for a good judge.

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