How much does district court clerkship location matter for post-clerkship hiring? Forum

(Seek and share information about clerkship applications, clerkship hiring timelines, and post-clerkship employment opportunities)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are sharing sensitive information about clerkship applications and clerkship hiring. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned."
Anonymous User
Posts: 415734
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

How much does district court clerkship location matter for post-clerkship hiring?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 19, 2023 7:01 pm

Hi all,

I will be applying for district court clerkships soon and I am curious how much the district court location (SDNY, DDC, NDIL, NDCAL) matters for post-clerkship hiring. I imagine that it is advantageous to be in the district that you plan to practice in, but how would clerking in another district, for example NDIL, affect law firm and government hiring in the target market?

I also wonder whether clerking in highly competitive districts (SDNY, DDC) is advantageous no matter what district you end up practicing in, and to what extent that broad applicability extends to other "tiers" of district courts--such as CDCAL, NDCAL, NDIL, EDNY, etc.

Thank you,

Anonymous User
Posts: 415734
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How much does district court clerkship location matter for post-clerkship hiring?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 20, 2023 8:02 am

I’m curious too, as someone with a “flyover” D. Ct. followed by a COA in a relatively major market.

Anonymous User
Posts: 415734
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How much does district court clerkship location matter for post-clerkship hiring?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 20, 2023 9:10 am

IME, I don’t think the government cares that much where you clerked, more that you did so at all. I clerked in a “flyover” district (I loved the market but that’s how it would be perceived here) and it’s never been an issue for government work.

I don’t think clerking in a different location is ever going to hurt you. Clerking in the same market where you want to work can give you a slight extra boost, whether that’s because your judge is well known/liked, your judge can advocate for you more easily, or the employer appears before that judge and so will appreciate your understanding of how the judge works. Also, being physically located in the market where you want to work makes it a lot easier to use your clerkship year making connections and networking generally (like go to local bar events, join an inn of court, meet local attorneys, that kind of thing). I have seen people use clerkship years very successfully to build a place in the market where they want to work. (This work better in slightly smaller markets but I still think it’s valuable.)

Clerking in a highly competitive market can be a bit of a boost as well, but frankly if you get hired in (say) SDNY, it’s probably because of the stellar qualifications you have which will be obvious to a prospective employer. That is, if you somehow get hired in SDNY without having the standard stellar qualifications, an employer isn’t likely to see you as a completely different candidate just because of your clerkship. Plus SDNY is so competitive due to demand for being in NYC. But I think there is also some additional respect for SDNY for having a very high volume of sophisticated cases, so your experience is slightly different than someone clerking in (say) rural Georgia. How much that matters will vary by employer, too. Along these lines, any big major metro clerkship can have a little more luster. I’d say the sort of “top” DCts nationally are SDNY, EDNY, EDVA, NDCA, and CDCA, but that isn’t remotely to suggest that clerking elsewhere isn’t valuable. These are just maybe a little extra.

The other thing is that clerking is often more about your judge than location. Being in a certain jurisdiction is often less important than which judge you clerk for.

Tl;dr - I don’t think it’s worth worrying about this too much unless you’re one of the very tip top candidates who is going to have their pick of positions (if you are, just pick where you want to be for a year, you’ll get a job after regardless). Apply broadly and see what happens, you’re rarely going to have a ton of choices because that’s not how clerkship hiring works. Although there is some nuance, you can get a biglaw/government job after clerking anywhere.

Anonymous User
Posts: 415734
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How much does district court clerkship location matter for post-clerkship hiring?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 20, 2023 10:00 am

IME as a former SDNY clerk who practices elsewhere:

SDNY/DDC> CDCA/EDNY/EDVA/NDCA/NDIL/your target jurisdiction

In other words, I think there is a bit of extra SDNY luster versus my target market, but I’m not sure that principle really extends beyond SDNY (which has a uniquely high national profile, debatably even versus DDC).

Anonymous User
Posts: 415734
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How much does district court clerkship location matter for post-clerkship hiring?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 20, 2023 10:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 10:00 am
IME as a former SDNY clerk who practices elsewhere:

SDNY/DDC> CDCA/EDNY/EDVA/NDCA/NDIL/your target jurisdiction

In other words, I think there is a bit of extra SDNY luster versus my target market, but I’m not sure that principle really extends beyond SDNY (which has a uniquely high national profile, debatably even versus DDC).
Anon from above, completely forgot DDC.

Want to continue reading?

Register now to search topics and post comments!

Absolutely FREE!


Anonymous User
Posts: 415734
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How much does district court clerkship location matter for post-clerkship hiring?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 20, 2023 3:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 9:10 am
IME, I don’t think the government cares that much where you clerked, more that you did so at all. I clerked in a “flyover” district (I loved the market but that’s how it would be perceived here) and it’s never been an issue for government work.

I don’t think clerking in a different location is ever going to hurt you. Clerking in the same market where you want to work can give you a slight extra boost, whether that’s because your judge is well known/liked, your judge can advocate for you more easily, or the employer appears before that judge and so will appreciate your understanding of how the judge works. Also, being physically located in the market where you want to work makes it a lot easier to use your clerkship year making connections and networking generally (like go to local bar events, join an inn of court, meet local attorneys, that kind of thing). I have seen people use clerkship years very successfully to build a place in the market where they want to work. (This work better in slightly smaller markets but I still think it’s valuable.)

Clerking in a highly competitive market can be a bit of a boost as well, but frankly if you get hired in (say) SDNY, it’s probably because of the stellar qualifications you have which will be obvious to a prospective employer. That is, if you somehow get hired in SDNY without having the standard stellar qualifications, an employer isn’t likely to see you as a completely different candidate just because of your clerkship. Plus SDNY is so competitive due to demand for being in NYC. But I think there is also some additional respect for SDNY for having a very high volume of sophisticated cases, so your experience is slightly different than someone clerking in (say) rural Georgia. How much that matters will vary by employer, too. Along these lines, any big major metro clerkship can have a little more luster. I’d say the sort of “top” DCts nationally are SDNY, EDNY, EDVA, NDCA, and CDCA, but that isn’t remotely to suggest that clerking elsewhere isn’t valuable. These are just maybe a little extra.

The other thing is that clerking is often more about your judge than location. Being in a certain jurisdiction is often less important than which judge you clerk for.

Tl;dr - I don’t think it’s worth worrying about this too much unless you’re one of the very tip top candidates who is going to have their pick of positions (if you are, just pick where you want to be for a year, you’ll get a job after regardless). Apply broadly and see what happens, you’re rarely going to have a ton of choices because that’s not how clerkship hiring works. Although there is some nuance, you can get a biglaw/government job after clerking anywhere.
If someone gets an SDNY clerkship and is “unimpressive” otherwise, I struggle to see how they won’t wind up with a relatively competitive job/market.

Anonymous User
Posts: 415734
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How much does district court clerkship location matter for post-clerkship hiring?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 20, 2023 4:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 10:00 am
IME as a former SDNY clerk who practices elsewhere:

SDNY/DDC> CDCA/EDNY/EDVA/NDCA/NDIL/your target jurisdiction

In other words, I think there is a bit of extra SDNY luster versus my target market, but I’m not sure that principle really extends beyond SDNY (which has a uniquely high national profile, debatably even versus DDC).
Agree with the caveat that ranking any of these at or above your target jurisdiction is presuming (as many employers will) that you'll get the benefit of "If he/she got hired on SDNY, he/she must be really, really impressive." The more locally focused your employer is, the more value a clerkship in the jurisdiction you're working is, even compared to SDNY. The more national your employer is (biglaw, Main Justice, etc.), the more boost you'll get from the prestige district.

I think TLS also sometimes overlooks the value of your judge's network (including their pre-bench network and their prior clerks). A well connected judge in the city you want to work is extremely valuable as a career resource.

Anonymous User
Posts: 415734
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How much does district court clerkship location matter for post-clerkship hiring?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 20, 2023 4:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 3:46 pm
If someone gets an SDNY clerkship and is “unimpressive” otherwise, I struggle to see how they won’t wind up with a relatively competitive job/market.
I mean, they very well might; I didn't say they wouldn't, just that they wouldn't look like a completely different candidate than they did before the clerkship. My point is that I have seen people get clerkships through connections/quirk of the judge/alignment of the stars with unimpressive to mediocre qualifications, and when they've gone on the market, they've had results that are more consistent with their starting qualifications than they expected would be the case with a clerkship. To be clear, those people have ultimately ended up employed, but they weren't transformed into top candidates, with every door previously closed to them due to their pedigree blown open by the glory of a clerkship.

But it wasn't the best example for me to use for the hypothetical b/c I doubt enough people are getting SDNY with mediocre creds for it to be an issue and there's nothing to suggest the OP is in that category anyway. I just think sometimes people think about clerking really instrumentally and assume that a clerkship is a golden ticket, without fully recognizing that the vast majority of people who clerk (and who go on to great jobs) had pretty great qualifications to begin with that probably did a lot of the heavy lifting to get those people into those great jobs (like had 9/10 of the golden ticket in hand already). I think clerking is a great thing for a litigator to do and often helps your career, but it's only part of a complete package.

Anonymous User
Posts: 415734
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How much does district court clerkship location matter for post-clerkship hiring?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 21, 2023 9:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 4:24 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jan 20, 2023 10:00 am
IME as a former SDNY clerk who practices elsewhere:

SDNY/DDC> CDCA/EDNY/EDVA/NDCA/NDIL/your target jurisdiction

In other words, I think there is a bit of extra SDNY luster versus my target market, but I’m not sure that principle really extends beyond SDNY (which has a uniquely high national profile, debatably even versus DDC).
Agree with the caveat that ranking any of these at or above your target jurisdiction is presuming (as many employers will) that you'll get the benefit of "If he/she got hired on SDNY, he/she must be really, really impressive." The more locally focused your employer is, the more value a clerkship in the jurisdiction you're working is, even compared to SDNY. The more national your employer is (biglaw, Main Justice, etc.), the more boost you'll get from the prestige district.

I think TLS also sometimes overlooks the value of your judge's network (including their pre-bench network and their prior clerks). A well connected judge in the city you want to work is extremely valuable as a career resource.
Agreed. I know this from my experience with my own judge (in a “flyover” district) who is very well-connected nationally and got me a solid job in a market where I had no connections whatsoever.

Want to continue reading?

Register for access!

Did I mention it was FREE ?


Post Reply Post Anonymous Reply  

Return to “Judicial Clerkships”