Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next? Forum

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FirstArbiter

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Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by FirstArbiter » Sat Jul 09, 2022 4:16 pm

Hey all,

I'm in a pretty unusual position. I'm an upcoming 3L at a CCN. I transferred there from another T14 for personal reasons. I'm not on any journal because the write-on, which occurred before I got any admission decisions, conflicted with that of another school; I participated in the other write-on, then got rejected from that school. At OCI, I got a job in a market I was not all that interested in with a firm that I wasn't sure about; having spent the summer there, I can't imagine working at this firm full-time.

Since coming to my current school, my grades have been sky high (hovering around the summa range). I'm not very involved at my school, and I suspect at least one of my LORs is weak (but the one I was most concerned about was described as "very strong" in the one clerkship interview I had). I will also openly admit that my resume is not good. I applied broadly to clerkships for the 2023-24 term, hoping that my grades would land me somewhere despite my drawbacks. I did not have professors calling on my behalf, but the judge I interned for last summer did make calls to about 15 judges she is friendly with to recommend me (and she did so very unequivocally; I saw one of the follow-up emails she sent to one of her friends and it contained a glowing endorsement). I had a total of one interview, with one of that judge's friends, but I did not get the position.

At this point, I'm trying to figure out what to do next, and nothing is clearly jumping out at me. I am considering applying to some agencies' Honors Programs, but I think those are a long-shot. I do not need to pursue a big law salary, and I have a lot of flexibility geographically, but I still hope to find a career with interesting and challenging work. Any thoughts?

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 10, 2022 11:18 am

your situation isn't unusual. you have good grades, no professor support, and didn't have a good cycle. you need professors to help.

that's really all there is to say. you need to keep applying, and to ask for phone calls. I would also look for a new recommender to swap for the 'not strong' one.

re where to work - there's 3L OCI. really your call as to whether you'd rather do an agency job than this firm.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 10, 2022 12:53 pm

Honestly I don't think you have factors working against you. A glowing rec by an Article III judge you interned for + summa grades is great. You said you "just" applied to 2023-2024 judges. I would say almost half of OSCAR postings this cycle were also for 2024+; is there a reason why you didn't apply to those? If there is no reason, I would send in apps to those now (might as well try) and then as postings come in. If you can keep up the grades you'll get something. Also to clarify as "summa" I assume you mean 3.95+ right, because at least at NYU that is what summa is.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 10, 2022 3:13 pm

I think your situation is less unusual or disadvantageous than you think. For clerkships just keep applying, for jobs, well, what do you want to do with your life? Figure that out and apply accordingly, you should be competitive across the board.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by FirstArbiter » Sun Jul 10, 2022 3:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 12:53 pm
Honestly I don't think you have factors working against you. A glowing rec by an Article III judge you interned for + summa grades is great. You said you "just" applied to 2023-2024 judges. I would say almost half of OSCAR postings this cycle were also for 2024+; is there a reason why you didn't apply to those? If there is no reason, I would send in apps to those now (might as well try) and then as postings come in. If you can keep up the grades you'll get something. Also to clarify as "summa" I assume you mean 3.95+ right, because at least at NYU that is what summa is.
To clarify, I have applied to a substantial number of 2024-25 positions and am continuing to do so, but given that I think it would be a waste of a year to stay at my current firm (underwhelming exit opportunities + weak litigation practice), I'm still looking for something I can do in 2023-24, which at this point is very unlikely to be a clerkship.

And yes, my grades are right at that line/the equivalent.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 10, 2022 4:41 pm

FirstArbiter wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 3:38 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 12:53 pm
Honestly I don't think you have factors working against you. A glowing rec by an Article III judge you interned for + summa grades is great. You said you "just" applied to 2023-2024 judges. I would say almost half of OSCAR postings this cycle were also for 2024+; is there a reason why you didn't apply to those? If there is no reason, I would send in apps to those now (might as well try) and then as postings come in. If you can keep up the grades you'll get something. Also to clarify as "summa" I assume you mean 3.95+ right, because at least at NYU that is what summa is.
To clarify, I have applied to a substantial number of 2024-25 positions and am continuing to do so, but given that I think it would be a waste of a year to stay at my current firm (underwhelming exit opportunities + weak litigation practice), I'm still looking for something I can do in 2023-24, which at this point is very unlikely to be a clerkship.

And yes, my grades are right at that line/the equivalent.
Working one year at a sub-par firm than clerking really isn't that bad. It's one year for you to make some money and, even better, you'll get a slightly higher salary while clerking.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 10, 2022 4:52 pm

Two to four years in biglaw would be the expectation.

If, for some reason, you are truly desperate to clerk, you could try to climb the ladder this way: 2 years biglaw. 1 year magistrate or state supreme, 1 year district, 1 year court of appeals.

If you do state supreme as your first clerkship, you might be able to do COA immediately afterward, and then district after that.

Why not bigfed? Lack of commitment to public service? No internships or externships at agencies? I think those would doom you, but summa at a top law school should get you a closer look for Honors Programs, at least.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by FirstArbiter » Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 4:41 pm
FirstArbiter wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 3:38 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 12:53 pm
Honestly I don't think you have factors working against you. A glowing rec by an Article III judge you interned for + summa grades is great. You said you "just" applied to 2023-2024 judges. I would say almost half of OSCAR postings this cycle were also for 2024+; is there a reason why you didn't apply to those? If there is no reason, I would send in apps to those now (might as well try) and then as postings come in. If you can keep up the grades you'll get something. Also to clarify as "summa" I assume you mean 3.95+ right, because at least at NYU that is what summa is.
To clarify, I have applied to a substantial number of 2024-25 positions and am continuing to do so, but given that I think it would be a waste of a year to stay at my current firm (underwhelming exit opportunities + weak litigation practice), I'm still looking for something I can do in 2023-24, which at this point is very unlikely to be a clerkship.

And yes, my grades are right at that line/the equivalent.
Working one year at a sub-par firm than clerking really isn't that bad. It's one year for you to make some money and, even better, you'll get a slightly higher salary while clerking.
All that is true, but the salary really is a non-issue (yeah, I'm one of those people) and I'm finding the transactional work very dull. Plus, I'm concerned that spending a year here won't help out my resume situation and will leave me even more adrift if I also fail to get a 2024-25 clerkship.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:05 pm

FirstArbiter wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:00 pm

All that is true, but the salary really is a non-issue (yeah, I'm one of those people) and I'm finding the transactional work very dull. Plus, I'm concerned that spending a year here won't help out my resume situation and will leave me even more adrift if I also fail to get a 2024-25 clerkship.
This is going to sound harsh, and if I'm jumping on you for reading into this too much, I do apologize. But frankly, both my judge and I would strike anyone with an attitude of "I'm too good and rich for a BigLaw firm," and this might be coming across in your resume, letters, and interviews.

My advice would be to just do 3L OCI and try for the honors programs, but definitely don't say anything or have anything in your materials come across as though you are saying "I didn't need BigLaw money so I left my firm."

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:11 pm

I agree with the posts above. Do 3L OCI and try to land a job at Quinn or Kirkland, or whoever needs warm bodies for litigation.

All you need to say is that you're committed to litigation, but the firm where you summered is intended to place you in transactional.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by FirstArbiter » Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:05 pm
FirstArbiter wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:00 pm

All that is true, but the salary really is a non-issue (yeah, I'm one of those people) and I'm finding the transactional work very dull. Plus, I'm concerned that spending a year here won't help out my resume situation and will leave me even more adrift if I also fail to get a 2024-25 clerkship.
This is going to sound harsh, and if I'm jumping on you for reading into this too much, I do apologize. But frankly, both my judge and I would strike anyone with an attitude of "I'm too good and rich for a BigLaw firm," and this might be coming across in your resume, letters, and interviews.

My advice would be to just do 3L OCI and try for the honors programs, but definitely don't say anything or have anything in your materials come across as though you are saying "I didn't need BigLaw money so I left my firm."
No, it's a fair critique. I definitely don't think I'm better than anyone else, but I can see why it comes across that way. I certainly don't try to come off as elitist in my materials. I basically view any job as providing up to three things:

1. Financial rewards
2. Fulfilling/enjoyable work
3. Positive long-term career prospects

I'm willing to work in BigLaw if it serves points 2 and 3, but I'm not convinced my current firm will provide those.
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:11 pm
I agree with the posts above. Do 3L OCI and try to land a job at Quinn or Kirkland, or whoever needs warm bodies for litigation.

All you need to say is that you're committed to litigation, but the firm where you summered is intended to place you in transactional.
This is probably my best bet, although I've always heard not to rely on 3L OCI.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by lavarman84 » Sun Jul 10, 2022 6:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:05 pm
FirstArbiter wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 5:00 pm

All that is true, but the salary really is a non-issue (yeah, I'm one of those people) and I'm finding the transactional work very dull. Plus, I'm concerned that spending a year here won't help out my resume situation and will leave me even more adrift if I also fail to get a 2024-25 clerkship.
This is going to sound harsh, and if I'm jumping on you for reading into this too much, I do apologize. But frankly, both my judge and I would strike anyone with an attitude of "I'm too good and rich for a BigLaw firm," and this might be coming across in your resume, letters, and interviews.

My advice would be to just do 3L OCI and try for the honors programs, but definitely don't say anything or have anything in your materials come across as though you are saying "I didn't need BigLaw money so I left my firm."
That's not the impression I'm getting, personally. The impression I'm getting is OP is making the point that they don't need biglaw for the money. That's not true for a lot of folks. So OP doesn't want to grind and be miserable in biglaw if they don't have to do so. Whereas, other people might not be bothered by spending a few years in biglaw before clerking because they have to do it at one point or another to pay loans anyways.

OP, what is that you want to do? Are you interested in public interest work? Do you want government? Clerking is a means to an end. What's that end for you?

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by FirstArbiter » Sun Jul 10, 2022 6:23 pm

lavarman84 wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 6:03 pm

That's not the impression I'm getting, personally. The impression I'm getting is OP is making the point that they don't need biglaw for the money. That's not true for a lot of folks. So OP doesn't want to grind and be miserable in biglaw if they don't have to do so. Whereas, other people might not be bothered by spending a few years in biglaw before clerking because they have to do it at one point or another to pay loans anyways.

OP, what is that you want to do? Are you interested in public interest work? Do you want government? Clerking is a means to an end. What's that end for you?
Government work is what I'm most interested in, probably with an agency like OCC or Treasury, but again, I'm flexible in practice. I value public interest work as well, but I think I would have a tough time doing it as a career (combination of the emotional toll and encountering the same factual/legal issues again and again).

My hope was to use a clerkship as a pivot towards government work, probably through one of the Honors programs. Of course, I can still apply without that credential, but that seems less likely to work out.

I also feel like I'm presenting my current firm in an overly negative way. I like the people there, especially the other summers, but not many people transition from the firm to careers outside of BigLaw, and those who do mostly go to in-house work, which I'm not that interested in. Basically, I just don't see working there as much of a career asset, given what I'm interested in.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 10, 2022 7:42 pm

Per someone else in the thread. OP throw out some state supreme court applications (especially to your home state) and also to the Alaska Supreme Court OCI in Fall of your 3L spring.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 10, 2022 8:16 pm

You’re most likely going to be at a firm for a year before re-recruiting during a clerkship, and every biglaw firm has a competent litigation practice (and tbh “strength of practice” firmwide is completely irrelevant for a junior). Try your best to do something else, but you’ll be fine regardless. “I can never work at this firm full-time” is frankly a melodramatic response to, what, five subpar weeks of a meaningless SA? Plus I’m highly skeptical that your firm doesn’t send people to government—there are very few in-house jobs for litigators, and they have to go somewhere.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 10, 2022 8:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 8:16 pm
You’re most likely going to be at a firm for a year before re-recruiting during a clerkship, and every biglaw firm has a competent litigation practice (and tbh “strength of practice” firmwide is completely irrelevant for a junior). Try your best to do something else, but you’ll be fine regardless. “I can never work at this firm full-time” is frankly a melodramatic response to, what, five subpar weeks of a meaningless SA? Plus I’m highly skeptical that your firm doesn’t send people to government—there are very few in-house jobs for litigators, and they have to go somewhere.
Yeah OP isn't really in a bad position. I know it doesn't feel like it OP, but practicing a year at a biglaw firm before clerking is fine and you can get through it.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by FirstArbiter » Sun Jul 10, 2022 9:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 8:16 pm
You’re most likely going to be at a firm for a year before re-recruiting during a clerkship, and every biglaw firm has a competent litigation practice (and tbh “strength of practice” firmwide is completely irrelevant for a junior). Try your best to do something else, but you’ll be fine regardless. “I can never work at this firm full-time” is frankly a melodramatic response to, what, five subpar weeks of a meaningless SA? Plus I’m highly skeptical that your firm doesn’t send people to government—there are very few in-house jobs for litigators, and they have to go somewhere.
I would agree with this if I had actually done any lit work this summer. Instead, I'm being pushed heavily towards M&A, and I have to assume that's what they're planning to offer me. The overwhelming majority of the summer class is transactional and even the few other litigation people are being steered the same way I am (to the point where I was criticized at my mid-summer review for not networking more with the transactional partners "that you'll be working with"). While you're right that the firm obviously does have a competent litigation practice, that's definitely not its focus.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jul 11, 2022 4:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 7:42 pm
Per someone else in the thread. OP throw out some state supreme court applications (especially to your home state) and also to the Alaska Supreme Court OCI in Fall of your 3L spring.
Alaska Supreme Court is extremely competitive, because there's a large number of people who would jump for the opportunity to live in Alaska for a year (same reason Hawaii clerkships are hard to get).

If I were you, I'd go for a less popular state supreme court.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jul 11, 2022 5:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jul 11, 2022 4:40 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Jul 10, 2022 7:42 pm
Per someone else in the thread. OP throw out some state supreme court applications (especially to your home state) and also to the Alaska Supreme Court OCI in Fall of your 3L spring.
Alaska Supreme Court is extremely competitive, because there's a large number of people who would jump for the opportunity to live in Alaska for a year (same reason Hawaii clerkships are hard to get).

If I were you, I'd go for a less popular state supreme court.
Summa at CCN is more than competitive for AK Supreme - I've known folks who have worse grades at my lower T14 who get it, so I'd apply if you have any interest. Maybe it varies by school, but there weren't that many people at my school who were enthused about moving to Alaska for a year for a state clerkship (I disagree with the snobbery because Anchorage sounds like a blast, but it is definitely a thing). Just apply to SSCs where you have ties or would like to practice.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jul 11, 2022 5:40 pm

OP seems somewhat snobbish, which like hey so are a lot of law students. The only like "top" SSC that still will be hiring is Alaska. California is definitely done for 2023. New Jersey I know is done for 2023. No idea what the hell is happening with NY COA these days. Massachusetts is probably done. Texas is almost certainly done. No idea how Delaware works, but I assume it would not appeal to OP since he seems to want litigation. Thus, the only "elite" SSC left is Alaska which OP should go for. Personally, I think if OP really wants to clerk they should apply more broadly to SSCs, but the above is my logic for why OP should give Alaska a shot.

Also my intention is not to start a sub thread argument on SSC prestige and why X is actually a better state court than Y. I don't think I missed any "top" SSCs in my list, but feel free to add any more in especially if they're still hiring for 2023 for OP. Maybe Colorado and Utah?

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by FirstArbiter » Mon Jul 11, 2022 6:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jul 11, 2022 5:40 pm
The only like "top" SSC that still will be hiring is Alaska.
I'm definitely willing to apply beyond "top" courts--I certainly didn't limit myself to those for my federal court applications. But I am looking to substantially improve my job prospects via a clerkship, which is why I haven't applied to magistrate judges. I'm not trying to be elitist in my approach, but BigLaw is not my goal or an essential part of my career path, which I know is not the case for many law students.

I have applied to some state supreme courts; no luck so far, but not entirely surprising, since the only state I have meaningful ties to looks for applicants with big conservative bona fides.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jul 11, 2022 6:55 pm

FirstArbiter wrote:
Mon Jul 11, 2022 6:31 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jul 11, 2022 5:40 pm
The only like "top" SSC that still will be hiring is Alaska.
I'm definitely willing to apply beyond "top" courts--I certainly didn't limit myself to those for my federal court applications. But I am looking to substantially improve my job prospects via a clerkship, which is why I haven't applied to magistrate judges. I'm not trying to be elitist in my approach, but BigLaw is not my goal or an essential part of my career path, which I know is not the case for many law students.

I have applied to some state supreme courts; no luck so far, but not entirely surprising, since the only state I have meaningful ties to looks for applicants with big conservative bona fides.
I think all of this is a huge nothing burger. You’ve got a year at law school—finish strong and graduate with Summa. Then worry about clerkships next summer when you’ll be a far more attractive candidate with a year or two of experience before you start clerking. Try out for Quinn for 3L OCI — I know they’re pretty active in hiring 3Ls and they’re obviously a litigation firm.

You’re so eager to rush that you’re missing out on the big picture.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by nixy » Mon Jul 11, 2022 7:03 pm

FirstArbiter wrote:
Mon Jul 11, 2022 6:31 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jul 11, 2022 5:40 pm
The only like "top" SSC that still will be hiring is Alaska.
I'm definitely willing to apply beyond "top" courts--I certainly didn't limit myself to those for my federal court applications. But I am looking to substantially improve my job prospects via a clerkship, which is why I haven't applied to magistrate judges. I'm not trying to be elitist in my approach, but BigLaw is not my goal or an essential part of my career path, which I know is not the case for many law students.

I have applied to some state supreme courts; no luck so far, but not entirely surprising, since the only state I have meaningful ties to looks for applicants with big conservative bona fides.
I guess then I'm confused about what would be an essential part of your career path? You've referenced specific government stuff - how do you intend to get into those jobs? You mentioned the honors programs too, and wanting a clerkship to get into honors. I do think a clerkship often helps for honors programs, but if you do something that's not a clerkship (or some kind of academic fellowship) for 2023-24, you won't be eligible for honors even if you clerk in 2024-25, but you probably wouldn't be in a great position to get a government job at that point outside of the honors programs b/c you wouldn't have enough years of experience. So what's a path to OCC or Treasury that doesn't involve working biglaw for a while first?

Conversely, if you did a SSC clerkship in 2023-24, you'd retain eligibility to apply for honors programs (though I agree you'd need to jump quick on positions that hire in the fall), even if you then clerked in 2024-25.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by FirstArbiter » Mon Jul 11, 2022 7:14 pm

nixy wrote:
Mon Jul 11, 2022 7:03 pm
So what's a path to OCC or Treasury that doesn't involve working biglaw for a while first?
Probably none, but that's what I'm here to ask about.
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jul 11, 2022 6:55 pm
Try out for Quinn for 3L OCI — I know they’re pretty active in hiring 3Ls and they’re obviously a litigation firm.
That (and equivalent firms) is probably what I'll end up doing, based on the consensus here.

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Re: Borderline Summa at CCN with lots of factors working against me. Struck out on clerkships; where can I go next?

Post by DougEvans789 » Mon Jul 11, 2022 8:50 pm

I’m in the total opposite position (already clerked, worse school, and did need the biglaw money), so this is pure grass-is-greener-ism and probably not at all up your alley. But: why not hang a shingle in a place you like and try to go out on your own? You’re smart, seem from this post atypically self-aware, and are probably good at hustling. Could be fun and the people who make it the hugest often do something totally original.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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