Regretting Clerkship Forum

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Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 11, 2022 11:34 am

Anon for obvious reasons. I started a 2-year district court clerkship in the Midwest, and I absolutely hate it. I don’t find the work exciting at all, and I wish I were making a lot more money. The worst part is that I don’t even want to work in litigation. I think I just took the clerkship because of a prestige boost.

Could somebody please help me find a silver lining? It would be one thing if it were one year, but thinking about it being two years makes me sick.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 11, 2022 11:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Sep 11, 2022 11:34 am
Anon for obvious reasons. I started a 2-year district court clerkship in the Midwest, and I absolutely hate it. I don’t find the work exciting at all, and I wish I were making a lot more money. The worst part is that I don’t even want to work in litigation. I think I just took the clerkship because of a prestige boost.

Could somebody please help me find a silver lining? It would be one thing if it were one year, but thinking about it being two years makes me sick.
Do you want to work in transactional? I know a few transactional folks who started in litigation and/or did a clerkship that say the experience made them better at their transactional job.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 11, 2022 11:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Sep 11, 2022 11:44 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Sep 11, 2022 11:34 am
Anon for obvious reasons. I started a 2-year district court clerkship in the Midwest, and I absolutely hate it. I don’t find the work exciting at all, and I wish I were making a lot more money. The worst part is that I don’t even want to work in litigation. I think I just took the clerkship because of a prestige boost.

Could somebody please help me find a silver lining? It would be one thing if it were one year, but thinking about it being two years makes me sick.
Do you want to work in transactional? I know a few transactional folks who started in litigation and/or did a clerkship that say the experience made them better at their transactional job.
Yeah, end goal is major market big law transactional.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 11, 2022 11:49 am

I was in the same boat, but thankfully only 1 year clerkship. If you have a good relationship with your judge or even if you don't talk to your judge about turning it into a one year. Your judge will have plenty of time to find a replacement. But wait 6 weeks. Reflect on this. At least the judge will know how you feel and try hopefully, to help.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 11, 2022 11:53 am

Silver lining: most clerkships are less work than most big law transactional jobs? So you could use the time to focus on other things in your life and explore where you're living?

But also, given that it's early September, I agree to give it a little more time - not saying you'll ever love it, but some of what you hate could be newness/unfamiliarity/learning curve, that kind of thing.

And I agree you could talk to your judge about making it one year, though obviously that's not the easiest conversation in the world.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 11, 2022 1:44 pm

Just do your best to suck it up and get through the two years. Also, try to reflect on what exactly you dislike about the clerkship. Transactional practice in biglaw pays more, but it also can be extremely rote and tedious, especially at the junior associate level. Plus, you'll be working worse hours and you'll likely be at the beck and call of partners 24/7. It's quite possible that any legal job you ever have will be sufficiently similar to the clerkship and that you'll hate that too. Most lawyers don't actually like their jobs. In which case, it doesn't really make sense to burn bridges and make a premature exit from the clerkship (which you hate) to go to another job (which you will probably also hate).

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by lavarman84 » Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:09 pm

Did you accept the clerkship before you knew you didn't want to do litigation? If not, I'm not sure why you accepted it in the first place. I don't want to kick you while you're down, but I'm not a fan of people who know they want to do transactional work taking Art. III clerkships away from people who actually want to do litigation.

That all said, give it a bit more time. If you're miserable and want out, talk to your judge about seeing if you can leave after a year.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:13 pm

lavarman84 wrote:
Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:09 pm
Did you accept the clerkship before you knew you didn't want to do litigation? If not, I'm not sure why you accepted it in the first place. I don't want to kick you while you're down, but I'm not a fan of people who know they want to do transactional work taking Art. III clerkships away from people who actually want to do litigation.

That all said, give it a bit more time. If you're miserable and want out, talk to your judge about seeing if you can leave after a year.
Blame top law schools. They push every student who is competitive for Article III clerkships to pursue those clerkships, regardless of what the ultimate return on investment is for the student.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:15 am

lavarman84 wrote:
Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:09 pm
Did you accept the clerkship before you knew you didn't want to do litigation? If not, I'm not sure why you accepted it in the first place. I don't want to kick you while you're down, but I'm not a fan of people who know they want to do transactional work taking Art. III clerkships away from people who actually want to do litigation.

That all said, give it a bit more time. If you're miserable and want out, talk to your judge about seeing if you can leave after a year.
If the future litigators wanted the clerkship they should’ve got better grades or applied to flyover judges. Besides, people change their minds about what they want all the time.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by nixy » Mon Sep 12, 2022 8:10 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:15 am
lavarman84 wrote:
Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:09 pm
Did you accept the clerkship before you knew you didn't want to do litigation? If not, I'm not sure why you accepted it in the first place. I don't want to kick you while you're down, but I'm not a fan of people who know they want to do transactional work taking Art. III clerkships away from people who actually want to do litigation.

That all said, give it a bit more time. If you're miserable and want out, talk to your judge about seeing if you can leave after a year.
If the future litigators wanted the clerkship they should’ve got better grades or applied to flyover judges. Besides, people change their minds about what they want all the time.
The first sentence of the above post is silly given the massive oversupply of potential clerks and randomness of who actually gets clerkships (I personally don't think transactional people clerking is really an issue, but it's still a silly statement).

As for the second sentence, sure, but this thread is another piece of evidence as to why clerking isn't useful to someone who wants transactional - and if they're in the OP's shoes, who doesn't appear to have ever wanted lit, including at the time they applied for the clerkship. I know there are some transactional people out there (it feels like mostly partners so maybe having done this is less recently?) who claim that clerking was great for their career, but they seem like outliers, and the reasons why someone would not be interested in lit and wants to do transactional are generally reasons why they'll be unhappy clerking. If you're genuinely torn and don't know what you want, that's one thing - clerking can help you decide. But if you've decided on transactional, clerking because you might change your mind someday would also be silly.

(The above is barring maybe Delaware Chancery or similar. Clerking for the prestige boost is also kind of a bad idea since it's prestige directly relevant to a field you don't want, but I get that chasing brass rings is endemic to law school.)

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by lavarman84 » Mon Sep 12, 2022 9:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:15 am
lavarman84 wrote:
Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:09 pm
Did you accept the clerkship before you knew you didn't want to do litigation? If not, I'm not sure why you accepted it in the first place. I don't want to kick you while you're down, but I'm not a fan of people who know they want to do transactional work taking Art. III clerkships away from people who actually want to do litigation.

That all said, give it a bit more time. If you're miserable and want out, talk to your judge about seeing if you can leave after a year.
If the future litigators wanted the clerkship they should’ve got better grades or applied to flyover judges. Besides, people change their minds about what they want all the time.
With this sort of stupid comment, it's no surprise you posted anon. My post isn't criticizing people who change their minds.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by kolio6 » Mon Sep 12, 2022 10:22 am

lavarman84 wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 9:18 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:15 am
lavarman84 wrote:
Sun Sep 11, 2022 6:09 pm
Did you accept the clerkship before you knew you didn't want to do litigation? If not, I'm not sure why you accepted it in the first place. I don't want to kick you while you're down, but I'm not a fan of people who know they want to do transactional work taking Art. III clerkships away from people who actually want to do litigation.

That all said, give it a bit more time. If you're miserable and want out, talk to your judge about seeing if you can leave after a year.
If the future litigators wanted the clerkship they should’ve got better grades or applied to flyover judges. Besides, people change their minds about what they want all the time.
With this sort of stupid comment, it's no surprise you posted anon. My post isn't criticizing people who change their minds.
It's also absurd because the whole idea that "flyover judges" aren't competitive and anyone with mediocre grades can waltz in is flat out false. All Art. III clerkships are a big deal and difficult to land, no matter where they are.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 11:02 am

No advice, but I also have doubts about my clerkship pretty often. The cases I’ve had so far are not very engaging, my boss is not particularly a pleasure to work with/for, and I feel pretty alone in this town.

We just need to suck it up and stick it out. There’s only one path, and that’s forward.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:07 pm

It's remarkable how many people regret their clerkships on here. Maybe it's selection bias (happy people don't post), but it's sold to students as the absolutely best first job that you can't go wrong with. Which is probably selection bias the other way tbh (professors doing the encouraging all clerked and loved it).

I applied to clerkships and I'm thankful in retrospect I didn't get one. Felt like a huge rejection at the time. But I'm glad I'm making money and establishing myself in a firm.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 1:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:07 pm
It's remarkable how many people regret their clerkships on here. Maybe it's selection bias (happy people don't post), but it's sold to students as the absolutely best first job that you can't go wrong with. Which is probably selection bias the other way tbh (professors doing the encouraging all clerked and loved it).

I applied to clerkships and I'm thankful in retrospect I didn't get one. Felt like a huge rejection at the time. But I'm glad I'm making money and establishing myself in a firm.
Not saying there aren't some people who don't end up hating their clerkships, but the vast, vast majority of posts on here are from people who are saying this was the best legal job they ever had.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:37 pm

I regretted my one year district court clerkship and realized I'd need something else in my life to keep me going. I learned an instrument and got into really good shape. In the end, you're going to learn something by virtue of doing the job. Help administer justice fairly, count on learning stuff by doing a 9 to 5, and become a more well rounded person without feeling any obligation to slaving away at your clerkship. I agree that a district court clerkship can be tremendously boring when the cases you're working on fail to capture your attention.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 1:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:07 pm
It's remarkable how many people regret their clerkships on here. Maybe it's selection bias (happy people don't post), but it's sold to students as the absolutely best first job that you can't go wrong with. Which is probably selection bias the other way tbh (professors doing the encouraging all clerked and loved it).

I applied to clerkships and I'm thankful in retrospect I didn't get one. Felt like a huge rejection at the time. But I'm glad I'm making money and establishing myself in a firm.
Not saying there aren't some people who don't end up hating their clerkships, but the vast, vast majority of posts on here are from people who are saying this was the best legal job they ever had.
Huge difference between circuit and district court clerkships.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:41 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 1:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:07 pm
It's remarkable how many people regret their clerkships on here. Maybe it's selection bias (happy people don't post), but it's sold to students as the absolutely best first job that you can't go wrong with. Which is probably selection bias the other way tbh (professors doing the encouraging all clerked and loved it).

I applied to clerkships and I'm thankful in retrospect I didn't get one. Felt like a huge rejection at the time. But I'm glad I'm making money and establishing myself in a firm.
Not saying there aren't some people who don't end up hating their clerkships, but the vast, vast majority of posts on here are from people who are saying this was the best legal job they ever had.
Huge difference between circuit and district court clerkships.
Which is better? (I haven't noticed this difference, personally, but could have just missed it.)

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by lavarman84 » Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:29 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:41 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 1:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:07 pm
It's remarkable how many people regret their clerkships on here. Maybe it's selection bias (happy people don't post), but it's sold to students as the absolutely best first job that you can't go wrong with. Which is probably selection bias the other way tbh (professors doing the encouraging all clerked and loved it).

I applied to clerkships and I'm thankful in retrospect I didn't get one. Felt like a huge rejection at the time. But I'm glad I'm making money and establishing myself in a firm.
Not saying there aren't some people who don't end up hating their clerkships, but the vast, vast majority of posts on here are from people who are saying this was the best legal job they ever had.
Huge difference between circuit and district court clerkships.
Which is better? (I haven't noticed this difference, personally, but could have just missed it.)
Depends on your personality and your judge. In terms of overall experience, I liked my D. Ct. clerkship slightly more, but that's because my D. Ct. judge was amazing. My COA judge was also great, but he was more formal. In terms of the clerkship work, I preferred the COA because I had more time to dig into a case and think about it. Plus, the briefing was generally better.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:48 pm

lavarman84 wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:38 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:29 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:41 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 1:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:07 pm
It's remarkable how many people regret their clerkships on here. Maybe it's selection bias (happy people don't post), but it's sold to students as the absolutely best first job that you can't go wrong with. Which is probably selection bias the other way tbh (professors doing the encouraging all clerked and loved it).

I applied to clerkships and I'm thankful in retrospect I didn't get one. Felt like a huge rejection at the time. But I'm glad I'm making money and establishing myself in a firm.
Not saying there aren't some people who don't end up hating their clerkships, but the vast, vast majority of posts on here are from people who are saying this was the best legal job they ever had.
Huge difference between circuit and district court clerkships.
Which is better? (I haven't noticed this difference, personally, but could have just missed it.)
Depends on your personality and your judge. In terms of overall experience, I liked my D. Ct. clerkship slightly more, but that's because my D. Ct. judge was amazing. My COA judge was also great, but he was more formal. In terms of the clerkship work, I preferred the COA because I had more time to dig into a case and think about it. Plus, the briefing was generally better.
Oh, to be clear, I agree that DCt and COA are very different, and that it's going to depend on personal experience. The person saying "huge difference between circuit and district court clerkships" seemed to be implying that people who called clerking the best legal job they ever had came overwhelmingly from one or the other kind of clerkship, and I couldn't figure out which. (For instance, people could hate circuit clerkships because it's so research/writing heavy and potentially more isolating; others could hate DCt clerkships for being faster-paced and the learning curve is arguably tougher; and really so much depends on your judge, as well. So I have a hard time dividing them up categorically.)

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 8:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:29 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:41 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 1:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:07 pm
It's remarkable how many people regret their clerkships on here. Maybe it's selection bias (happy people don't post), but it's sold to students as the absolutely best first job that you can't go wrong with. Which is probably selection bias the other way tbh (professors doing the encouraging all clerked and loved it).

I applied to clerkships and I'm thankful in retrospect I didn't get one. Felt like a huge rejection at the time. But I'm glad I'm making money and establishing myself in a firm.
Not saying there aren't some people who don't end up hating their clerkships, but the vast, vast majority of posts on here are from people who are saying this was the best legal job they ever had.
Huge difference between circuit and district court clerkships.
Which is better? (I haven't noticed this difference, personally, but could have just missed it.)
I haven't experienced either but it seems like most of the "regrets" are from district. Maybe it can just vary more? Or maybe I just don't have a good sample size.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 8:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 8:11 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:29 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:41 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 1:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:07 pm
It's remarkable how many people regret their clerkships on here. Maybe it's selection bias (happy people don't post), but it's sold to students as the absolutely best first job that you can't go wrong with. Which is probably selection bias the other way tbh (professors doing the encouraging all clerked and loved it).

I applied to clerkships and I'm thankful in retrospect I didn't get one. Felt like a huge rejection at the time. But I'm glad I'm making money and establishing myself in a firm.
Not saying there aren't some people who don't end up hating their clerkships, but the vast, vast majority of posts on here are from people who are saying this was the best legal job they ever had.
Huge difference between circuit and district court clerkships.
Which is better? (I haven't noticed this difference, personally, but could have just missed it.)
I haven't experienced either but it seems like most of the "regrets" are from district. Maybe it can just vary more? Or maybe I just don't have a good sample size.
District courts deal with a lot of bullshit. Petty disputes, plainly meritless motions (that still require an opinion), and generally boring, technical stuff (a motion to transfer venue isnt riveting). Plus there's a lot of it so district court must move fast.

COA deals with more interesting issues and gives you more time to think about them.

I learned more in my district court clerkship than my COA clerkship, but the latter was far more enjoyable.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 9:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 8:48 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 8:11 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 7:29 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:41 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 1:35 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 12:07 pm
It's remarkable how many people regret their clerkships on here. Maybe it's selection bias (happy people don't post), but it's sold to students as the absolutely best first job that you can't go wrong with. Which is probably selection bias the other way tbh (professors doing the encouraging all clerked and loved it).

I applied to clerkships and I'm thankful in retrospect I didn't get one. Felt like a huge rejection at the time. But I'm glad I'm making money and establishing myself in a firm.
Not saying there aren't some people who don't end up hating their clerkships, but the vast, vast majority of posts on here are from people who are saying this was the best legal job they ever had.
Huge difference between circuit and district court clerkships.
Which is better? (I haven't noticed this difference, personally, but could have just missed it.)
I haven't experienced either but it seems like most of the "regrets" are from district. Maybe it can just vary more? Or maybe I just don't have a good sample size.
District courts deal with a lot of bullshit. Petty disputes, plainly meritless motions (that still require an opinion), and generally boring, technical stuff (a motion to transfer venue isnt riveting). Plus there's a lot of it so district court must move fast.

COA deals with more interesting issues and gives you more time to think about them.

I learned more in my district court clerkship than my COA clerkship, but the latter was far more enjoyable.
Plus COA work in panels mostly at a central courthouse. They live in a society. All decisions are written. Higher qualifications for the judges. Less potential for the horror stories of a cranky autocratic sleazebag running his court like a fiefdom. (this is entirely conjecture, and there's plenty of COA horror stories too)

lavarman84

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by lavarman84 » Mon Sep 12, 2022 9:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 8:11 pm
I haven't experienced either but it seems like most of the "regrets" are from district. Maybe it can just vary more? Or maybe I just don't have a good sample size.
From what I've noticed, most of the regrets are from people who had a judge who was either a bad boss or an indifferent boss. But there are certainly people who clerk for great judges who find the experience boring and unenjoyable.

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Re: Regretting Clerkship

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2022 9:55 pm

lavarman84 wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 9:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Sep 12, 2022 8:11 pm
I haven't experienced either but it seems like most of the "regrets" are from district. Maybe it can just vary more? Or maybe I just don't have a good sample size.
From what I've noticed, most of the regrets are from people who had a judge who was either a bad boss or an indifferent boss. But there are certainly people who clerk for great judges who find the experience boring and unenjoyable.
Yeah I've seen that too. And it makes sense when you think about it! Judges are full of themselves. Lawyers in general are bad managers but it's gotta be worse for judges. And it's only a year so they have no motivation to train you in.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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