What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying? Forum

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What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 21, 2024 10:37 pm

Hello, kind of a dumb question but clerkship apps are going out in like 20 days and while trying to read tea leaves and figure out where I stand in terms of competitiveness as an applicant, I stumbled here and found a few threads talking about how certain applicants will sometimes receive explicit support from their school in securing competitive outcomes. I think generally I might be one of these types of applicants but am honestly not sure, and I guess I wanted to ask what exactly receiving that support looks like. Is it something where the school explicitly sits down students they think are fit for feeders/SCOTUS and tells them "ok we're gonna try and get you there," or is it more of a behinds the scene thing with the school arranging outreach and a student just sort of existing/doing their thing unknowing?

My experience of my school's clerkship office is that they've given me standard advice and said that students should figure out having their recommenders reach out to judges for them (they might arrange a small amount of outreach, but not much). When I sat down to ask where I could realistically apply, they said I was probably in the running for more competitive districts and should apply but not really anything more.

Some quick stats about me:
Ranked one of top 10 students at one of Columbia/NYU
No biglaw on my resume, all public interest w/ national impact lit both summers
No law review, but secondary journal
Non-racial diversity characteristics
idk what else is important to list but can clarify

So I guess dual question- 1) what does it look like when a school goes to bat for a student? And 2) am I that kind of student? (I assume probably no because I'm not on Law Review?) In the case I was, is that something I'm supposed to slyly communicate to the school, or do they just kind of pick chosen ones and if you're it then cool, if you aren't then bummer?

Sorry for what are potentially very dumb questions. Clerkship stuff is sort of a black box and the only thing I know is that my grades are really good and would like to shoot seriously for something competitive if I can.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 22, 2024 8:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue May 21, 2024 10:37 pm
Hello, kind of a dumb question but clerkship apps are going out in like 20 days and while trying to read tea leaves and figure out where I stand in terms of competitiveness as an applicant, I stumbled here and found a few threads talking about how certain applicants will sometimes receive explicit support from their school in securing competitive outcomes. I think generally I might be one of these types of applicants but am honestly not sure, and I guess I wanted to ask what exactly receiving that support looks like. Is it something where the school explicitly sits down students they think are fit for feeders/SCOTUS and tells them "ok we're gonna try and get you there," or is it more of a behinds the scene thing with the school arranging outreach and a student just sort of existing/doing their thing unknowing?

My experience of my school's clerkship office is that they've given me standard advice and said that students should figure out having their recommenders reach out to judges for them (they might arrange a small amount of outreach, but not much). When I sat down to ask where I could realistically apply, they said I was probably in the running for more competitive districts and should apply but not really anything more.

Some quick stats about me:
Ranked one of top 10 students at one of Columbia/NYU
No biglaw on my resume, all public interest w/ national impact lit both summers
No law review, but secondary journal
Non-racial diversity characteristics
idk what else is important to list but can clarify

So I guess dual question- 1) what does it look like when a school goes to bat for a student? And 2) am I that kind of student? (I assume probably no because I'm not on Law Review?) In the case I was, is that something I'm supposed to slyly communicate to the school, or do they just kind of pick chosen ones and if you're it then cool, if you aren't then bummer?

Sorry for what are potentially very dumb questions. Clerkship stuff is sort of a black box and the only thing I know is that my grades are really good and would like to shoot seriously for something competitive if I can.
Because you go to Columbia or NYU, you, by definition, do not have institutional support.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 22, 2024 9:11 am

Since you're ranked top 10 and say Columbia/NYU this means you go to NYU I think. You won't get institutional support; we don't really do that here. Closest thing is people in the Furman scholars program. You're still competitive for a clerkship though. Advice as always is apply as broadly as possible.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 22, 2024 10:48 am

A more serious answer to your question for what institutional support means.

Institutional support involves the clerkship office or influential professors engaging with you about your career plans very early on, sometimes as early as your first year of law school. They help secure placements in prestigious summer programs and ensure you work with top partners at law firms. They also facilitate research assistant positions and offer guidance on topics for law review notes or articles. Additionally, they proactively contact judges to advocate for you and ensure that letters of recommendation are detailed and personal, reflecting the deep connection and knowledge they have gained through this extensive support.

Your judge list will be tailored specifically for you and kept concise. You will not be advised to send out applications indiscriminately to judges.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 22, 2024 11:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 9:11 am
Since you're ranked top 10 and say Columbia/NYU this means you go to NYU I think. You won't get institutional support; we don't really do that here. Closest thing is people in the Furman scholars program. You're still competitive for a clerkship though. Advice as always is apply as broadly as possible.
This is OP. Interesting and thank you to you/others who have provided input. Gotta admit I'm a little frustrated that I've applied to the few things that provide institutional support/tried to build connections with faculty at many points after doing well and consistently been turned down. But oh well onto the application cycle lol.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 22, 2024 12:10 pm

This thread answers your question 1: viewtopic.php?f=34&t=314498

For question 2, you're on the borderline. The school wants to see you 'prove' yourself first before they will step in and tilt the scales for you. Get a strong semi-feeder clerkship and if you have higher ambitions, let your school's office know and you'll see the attitude change fast. How to do that? Find a 3L or alum in your school that you respect and have them mentor you through the process. Even if you don't know them that well, this process is so opaque most decent people who have been through it will step in and help.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by lavarman84 » Wed May 22, 2024 4:03 pm

You are the type of student who should get institutional support. But it sounds like you're at a law school that doesn't really do that. I can speak to what institutional support I got from a law school outside the t14 (ranked in the 20s):
1. One of my 1L professors sought me out early in 2L and strongly encouraged me to pursue a federal clerkship.
2. The clerkship committee knew which judges were looking for clerks and were open to hiring from my school and informed me of those opportunities. (They also did some back-channeling to help me get an interview.)
3. Professor mentors were willing to reach out to judges they knew well and put in a good word for me.
4. The clerkship advisor shared an Excel file of judges who had hired from our law school and the people who clerked for them (as well as those people's contact info).

That's what institutional support meant at my law school. At law schools that are even more gung ho on clerkships, I imagine they provide even stronger support.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 22, 2024 6:44 pm

I went to NYU and one of my profs called a judge she was friends with to go to bat for me.

That's the most help I got.

I guess institutional support means that all your profs and the clerkship office staff actually get together and come up with a highly coordinated strategy to help you succeed.

That posisbly happens at NYU for a handful of people lol ....

But I guess if you have to ask, you haven't been and won't be getting it.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 22, 2024 6:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 11:15 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 9:11 am
Since you're ranked top 10 and say Columbia/NYU this means you go to NYU I think. You won't get institutional support; we don't really do that here. Closest thing is people in the Furman scholars program. You're still competitive for a clerkship though. Advice as always is apply as broadly as possible.
This is OP. Interesting and thank you to you/others who have provided input. Gotta admit I'm a little frustrated that I've applied to the few things that provide institutional support/tried to build connections with faculty at many points after doing well and consistently been turned down. But oh well onto the application cycle lol.
OP, What do you mean by professors turned you down? How did you ask them?

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 22, 2024 8:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 6:52 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 11:15 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 9:11 am
Since you're ranked top 10 and say Columbia/NYU this means you go to NYU I think. You won't get institutional support; we don't really do that here. Closest thing is people in the Furman scholars program. You're still competitive for a clerkship though. Advice as always is apply as broadly as possible.
This is OP. Interesting and thank you to you/others who have provided input. Gotta admit I'm a little frustrated that I've applied to the few things that provide institutional support/tried to build connections with faculty at many points after doing well and consistently been turned down. But oh well onto the application cycle lol.
OP, What do you mean by professors turned you down? How did you ask them?
I'm not referring to explicit turn-downs in terms of clerkship outreach- that isn't something I've emailed professors about yet and am in the process of figuring out how to do. I'm not sure how to specify without doxxing myself too hard, but have had a couple faculty consistently miss/endlessly reschedule offers to meet with me throughout 1L, and one professor who despite getting top grade in the class and being very engaged in it throughout declined to offer me a TA position after meeting with me to discuss it. A couple peers have speculated that may be related to my non-racial diversity characteristics, but I don't feel comfortable saying that without utter certainty.

I don't say this to sound whiny or anything; really the 'consistently turned down' refers primarily to a lot of applications I've put in (Furman, clinics, Hayes) that have universally not panned out for me. Which fair, they're all competitive and it's not like I'm inherently deserving of any gold stars for getting good grades. But definitely there have been some points during my time that it has felt a little hard to get anything from faculty even when putting in the work to make the connections.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 22, 2024 10:54 pm

IME on the hiring side for minor feeders, there are some very strong candidates who do not get evident institutional support. I don't recall any candidates from CLS or NYU having unusually strong faculty outreach, even for students in the top ten we ended up hiring. (My judge did have good relationships with a couple of CLS profs though.) Chicago and Yale had the most aggressive faculties, but nothing crazy, just seemingly coordinated outreach to chambers with profs who tried to develop a relationship with the judge over time. As an applicant I wasn't aware of anything beyond profs making calls for me without me asking, and coordinating with the clerkship office, and I think that's pretty typical "institutional support."

I agree that you're probably borderline; frankly the current clerkship market's pretty hard for liberal white men, and you're not at a school that tends to put a lot of effort into clerkships. Being LGB wouldn't meaningfully help ime but regional, economic, or experiential diversity might. Impact lit will help, more interesting than biglaw. Generally a headwind CLS and NYU applicants face is that they're big schools and their applicants often have very similar resumes.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed May 22, 2024 11:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 10:54 pm
IME on the hiring side for minor feeders, there are some very strong candidates who do not get evident institutional support. I don't recall any candidates from CLS or NYU having unusually strong faculty outreach, even for students in the top ten we ended up hiring. (My judge did have good relationships with a couple of CLS profs though.) Chicago and Yale had the most aggressive faculties, but nothing crazy, just seemingly coordinated outreach to chambers with profs who tried to develop a relationship with the judge over time. As an applicant I wasn't aware of anything beyond profs making calls for me without me asking, and coordinating with the clerkship office, and I think that's pretty typical "institutional support."

I agree that you're probably borderline; frankly the current clerkship market's pretty hard for liberal white men, and you're not at a school that tends to put a lot of effort into clerkships. Being LGB wouldn't meaningfully help ime but regional, economic, or experiential diversity might. Impact lit will help, more interesting than biglaw. Generally a headwind CLS and NYU applicants face is that they're big schools and their applicants often have very similar resumes.
Is labeling only LGB intentional; do you think any boost is given to trans/queer applicants that aren't just gay/bi?

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 23, 2024 3:19 pm

Just want to say I'm so grateful for Michigan's clerkship process. Great profs, great clerkship advisor.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu May 23, 2024 4:02 pm

Ditto for Virginia's.

In a nutshell, most clerkship applicants identify judges they want to apply to and that their resume might qualify them for, and then ask their school (profs, clerkship office) to help them. If your school instead identifies the judge for you and puts your application strategy together that's institutional support.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 24, 2024 3:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 11:53 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 10:54 pm
IME on the hiring side for minor feeders, there are some very strong candidates who do not get evident institutional support. I don't recall any candidates from CLS or NYU having unusually strong faculty outreach, even for students in the top ten we ended up hiring. (My judge did have good relationships with a couple of CLS profs though.) Chicago and Yale had the most aggressive faculties, but nothing crazy, just seemingly coordinated outreach to chambers with profs who tried to develop a relationship with the judge over time. As an applicant I wasn't aware of anything beyond profs making calls for me without me asking, and coordinating with the clerkship office, and I think that's pretty typical "institutional support."

I agree that you're probably borderline; frankly the current clerkship market's pretty hard for liberal white men, and you're not at a school that tends to put a lot of effort into clerkships. Being LGB wouldn't meaningfully help ime but regional, economic, or experiential diversity might. Impact lit will help, more interesting than biglaw. Generally a headwind CLS and NYU applicants face is that they're big schools and their applicants often have very similar resumes.
Is labeling only LGB intentional; do you think any boost is given to trans/queer applicants that aren't just gay/bi?
I think that being trans may have a different effect, which is why I left it off. I’ve seen trans applicants seemingly overperform with Biden judges but that’s a tiny sample size I’m not confident in at all. Writ large Biden appointees are generally seen as placing a higher priority on clerk diversity than Obama or Clinton ones.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 24, 2024 5:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 24, 2024 3:11 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 11:53 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 10:54 pm
IME on the hiring side for minor feeders, there are some very strong candidates who do not get evident institutional support. I don't recall any candidates from CLS or NYU having unusually strong faculty outreach, even for students in the top ten we ended up hiring. (My judge did have good relationships with a couple of CLS profs though.) Chicago and Yale had the most aggressive faculties, but nothing crazy, just seemingly coordinated outreach to chambers with profs who tried to develop a relationship with the judge over time. As an applicant I wasn't aware of anything beyond profs making calls for me without me asking, and coordinating with the clerkship office, and I think that's pretty typical "institutional support."

I agree that you're probably borderline; frankly the current clerkship market's pretty hard for liberal white men, and you're not at a school that tends to put a lot of effort into clerkships. Being LGB wouldn't meaningfully help ime but regional, economic, or experiential diversity might. Impact lit will help, more interesting than biglaw. Generally a headwind CLS and NYU applicants face is that they're big schools and their applicants often have very similar resumes.
Is labeling only LGB intentional; do you think any boost is given to trans/queer applicants that aren't just gay/bi?
I think that being trans may have a different effect, which is why I left it off. I’ve seen trans applicants seemingly overperform with Biden judges but that’s a tiny sample size I’m not confident in at all. Writ large Biden appointees are generally seen as placing a higher priority on clerk diversity than Obama or Clinton ones.
Different poster - I clerked for a non-Biden Dem appointee (and a straight, white male at that) in a big city, and honestly we got so many LGBT applicants/folks who had the LGBT law students’ group on their resume that it seemed almost normal/ordinary. In contrast, we just got far fewer applicants listing the Black/Latino/Native American students’ associations on their resumes (and thus I assume fewer Black/Latino/Native applicants), to be honest. Also, most applicants didn’t identify their sexuality beyond putting the lgbt group on their resume, so it’s not like we knew whether we were declining to interview gay applicants more than trans ones (I guess you could put your pronouns on your cover letter, but I didn’t see any of that).

Also, I’ve gone to talks by the few lesbian/gay judges on the bench &talked to their clerks, and they are definitely inundated with LGBT applicants. Maybe a hot take, but I actually think that Asians/LGBT applicants will have a harder time getting hired Asian/LGBT judges just because (1) there will be so many other applicants who want to clerk for those judges on the basis of their shared identity, and (2) those judges aren’t going to hire an all-Asian/all-LGBT set of clerks.

But back on topic, it seems from talking to other clerks I know that “institutional support” is mostly limited to the folks at the tippy top of the class for a lot of schools. Most people get clerkships without it (maybe not feeders/SCOTUS), so just focus on getting recommenders who are willing to call judges (though not every judge is receptive to such calls, so be careful and check before you call)!

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat May 25, 2024 3:50 pm

I would guess that LGBT lawyers are pretty overrepresented among federal clerk applicant pools, and not just on the left. Even Thomas and Alito hire a good number of gay clerks.

Black clerks, in contrast, are very hard for federal judges to hire. If you read that big qualitative study of federal clerk hiring that came out recently that’s one of the big takeaways—demand outstrips supply.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by mrpotatoe3045 » Sat May 25, 2024 4:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 10:54 pm
IME on the hiring side for minor feeders, there are some very strong candidates who do not get evident institutional support. I don't recall any candidates from CLS or NYU having unusually strong faculty outreach, even for students in the top ten we ended up hiring. (My judge did have good relationships with a couple of CLS profs though.) Chicago and Yale had the most aggressive faculties, but nothing crazy, just seemingly coordinated outreach to chambers with profs who tried to develop a relationship with the judge over time. As an applicant I wasn't aware of anything beyond profs making calls for me without me asking, and coordinating with the clerkship office, and I think that's pretty typical "institutional support."

I agree that you're probably borderline; frankly the current clerkship market's pretty hard for liberal white men, and you're not at a school that tends to put a lot of effort into clerkships. Being LGB wouldn't meaningfully help ime but regional, economic, or experiential diversity might. Impact lit will help, more interesting than biglaw. Generally a headwind CLS and NYU applicants face is that they're big schools and their applicants often have very similar resumes.
What would you classify as economic/experiential diversity, and how would you best recommend signaling that? Would veteran status constitute experiential diversity? I grew up rural/low-income but that was a while ago and I'm struggling trying to effectively portray that. The "First-Gen" group at my school doesn't do much because MANY people there are "first-gen lawyers".

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 27, 2024 11:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 24, 2024 5:40 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 24, 2024 3:11 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 11:53 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 10:54 pm
IME on the hiring side for minor feeders, there are some very strong candidates who do not get evident institutional support. I don't recall any candidates from CLS or NYU having unusually strong faculty outreach, even for students in the top ten we ended up hiring. (My judge did have good relationships with a couple of CLS profs though.) Chicago and Yale had the most aggressive faculties, but nothing crazy, just seemingly coordinated outreach to chambers with profs who tried to develop a relationship with the judge over time. As an applicant I wasn't aware of anything beyond profs making calls for me without me asking, and coordinating with the clerkship office, and I think that's pretty typical "institutional support."

I agree that you're probably borderline; frankly the current clerkship market's pretty hard for liberal white men, and you're not at a school that tends to put a lot of effort into clerkships. Being LGB wouldn't meaningfully help ime but regional, economic, or experiential diversity might. Impact lit will help, more interesting than biglaw. Generally a headwind CLS and NYU applicants face is that they're big schools and their applicants often have very similar resumes.
Is labeling only LGB intentional; do you think any boost is given to trans/queer applicants that aren't just gay/bi?
I think that being trans may have a different effect, which is why I left it off. I’ve seen trans applicants seemingly overperform with Biden judges but that’s a tiny sample size I’m not confident in at all. Writ large Biden appointees are generally seen as placing a higher priority on clerk diversity than Obama or Clinton ones.
Different poster - I clerked for a non-Biden Dem appointee (and a straight, white male at that) in a big city, and honestly we got so many LGBT applicants/folks who had the LGBT law students’ group on their resume that it seemed almost normal/ordinary. In contrast, we just got far fewer applicants listing the Black/Latino/Native American students’ associations on their resumes (and thus I assume fewer Black/Latino/Native applicants), to be honest. Also, most applicants didn’t identify their sexuality beyond putting the lgbt group on their resume, so it’s not like we knew whether we were declining to interview gay applicants more than trans ones (I guess you could put your pronouns on your cover letter, but I didn’t see any of that).

Also, I’ve gone to talks by the few lesbian/gay judges on the bench &talked to their clerks, and they are definitely inundated with LGBT applicants. Maybe a hot take, but I actually think that Asians/LGBT applicants will have a harder time getting hired Asian/LGBT judges just because (1) there will be so many other applicants who want to clerk for those judges on the basis of their shared identity, and (2) those judges aren’t going to hire an all-Asian/all-LGBT set of clerks.

But back on topic, it seems from talking to other clerks I know that “institutional support” is mostly limited to the folks at the tippy top of the class for a lot of schools. Most people get clerkships without it (maybe not feeders/SCOTUS), so just focus on getting recommenders who are willing to call judges (though not every judge is receptive to such calls, so be careful and check before you call)!
Every applicant seems to be LGBT and/or first-generation American of some sort, fwiw.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 27, 2024 11:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 27, 2024 11:47 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 24, 2024 5:40 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri May 24, 2024 3:11 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 11:53 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 10:54 pm
IME on the hiring side for minor feeders, there are some very strong candidates who do not get evident institutional support. I don't recall any candidates from CLS or NYU having unusually strong faculty outreach, even for students in the top ten we ended up hiring. (My judge did have good relationships with a couple of CLS profs though.) Chicago and Yale had the most aggressive faculties, but nothing crazy, just seemingly coordinated outreach to chambers with profs who tried to develop a relationship with the judge over time. As an applicant I wasn't aware of anything beyond profs making calls for me without me asking, and coordinating with the clerkship office, and I think that's pretty typical "institutional support."

I agree that you're probably borderline; frankly the current clerkship market's pretty hard for liberal white men, and you're not at a school that tends to put a lot of effort into clerkships. Being LGB wouldn't meaningfully help ime but regional, economic, or experiential diversity might. Impact lit will help, more interesting than biglaw. Generally a headwind CLS and NYU applicants face is that they're big schools and their applicants often have very similar resumes.
Is labeling only LGB intentional; do you think any boost is given to trans/queer applicants that aren't just gay/bi?
I think that being trans may have a different effect, which is why I left it off. I’ve seen trans applicants seemingly overperform with Biden judges but that’s a tiny sample size I’m not confident in at all. Writ large Biden appointees are generally seen as placing a higher priority on clerk diversity than Obama or Clinton ones.
Different poster - I clerked for a non-Biden Dem appointee (and a straight, white male at that) in a big city, and honestly we got so many LGBT applicants/folks who had the LGBT law students’ group on their resume that it seemed almost normal/ordinary. In contrast, we just got far fewer applicants listing the Black/Latino/Native American students’ associations on their resumes (and thus I assume fewer Black/Latino/Native applicants), to be honest. Also, most applicants didn’t identify their sexuality beyond putting the lgbt group on their resume, so it’s not like we knew whether we were declining to interview gay applicants more than trans ones (I guess you could put your pronouns on your cover letter, but I didn’t see any of that).

Also, I’ve gone to talks by the few lesbian/gay judges on the bench &talked to their clerks, and they are definitely inundated with LGBT applicants. Maybe a hot take, but I actually think that Asians/LGBT applicants will have a harder time getting hired Asian/LGBT judges just because (1) there will be so many other applicants who want to clerk for those judges on the basis of their shared identity, and (2) those judges aren’t going to hire an all-Asian/all-LGBT set of clerks.

But back on topic, it seems from talking to other clerks I know that “institutional support” is mostly limited to the folks at the tippy top of the class for a lot of schools. Most people get clerkships without it (maybe not feeders/SCOTUS), so just focus on getting recommenders who are willing to call judges (though not every judge is receptive to such calls, so be careful and check before you call)!
Every applicant seems to be LGBT and/or first-generation American of some sort, fwiw.
I've seen a few resumes and cover letter that says they're the son/daughter of a first-generation professional, which is so bizarre to me

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 27, 2024 12:59 pm

I went to a first-gen mixer where someone's parents were both doctors lol.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 27, 2024 3:26 pm

mrpotatoe3045 wrote:
Sat May 25, 2024 4:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 10:54 pm
IME on the hiring side for minor feeders, there are some very strong candidates who do not get evident institutional support. I don't recall any candidates from CLS or NYU having unusually strong faculty outreach, even for students in the top ten we ended up hiring. (My judge did have good relationships with a couple of CLS profs though.) Chicago and Yale had the most aggressive faculties, but nothing crazy, just seemingly coordinated outreach to chambers with profs who tried to develop a relationship with the judge over time. As an applicant I wasn't aware of anything beyond profs making calls for me without me asking, and coordinating with the clerkship office, and I think that's pretty typical "institutional support."

I agree that you're probably borderline; frankly the current clerkship market's pretty hard for liberal white men, and you're not at a school that tends to put a lot of effort into clerkships. Being LGB wouldn't meaningfully help ime but regional, economic, or experiential diversity might. Impact lit will help, more interesting than biglaw. Generally a headwind CLS and NYU applicants face is that they're big schools and their applicants often have very similar resumes.
What would you classify as economic/experiential diversity, and how would you best recommend signaling that? Would veteran status constitute experiential diversity? I grew up rural/low-income but that was a while ago and I'm struggling trying to effectively portray that. The "First-Gen" group at my school doesn't do much because MANY people there are "first-gen lawyers".
Rec letters on rural/low-income background. Funny that your school's First-Gen group are First-Gen lawyers--I'd put it on anyway. Military service is a very big plus for most judges that should be highlighted.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 27, 2024 3:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon May 27, 2024 3:26 pm
mrpotatoe3045 wrote:
Sat May 25, 2024 4:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Wed May 22, 2024 10:54 pm
IME on the hiring side for minor feeders, there are some very strong candidates who do not get evident institutional support. I don't recall any candidates from CLS or NYU having unusually strong faculty outreach, even for students in the top ten we ended up hiring. (My judge did have good relationships with a couple of CLS profs though.) Chicago and Yale had the most aggressive faculties, but nothing crazy, just seemingly coordinated outreach to chambers with profs who tried to develop a relationship with the judge over time. As an applicant I wasn't aware of anything beyond profs making calls for me without me asking, and coordinating with the clerkship office, and I think that's pretty typical "institutional support."

I agree that you're probably borderline; frankly the current clerkship market's pretty hard for liberal white men, and you're not at a school that tends to put a lot of effort into clerkships. Being LGB wouldn't meaningfully help ime but regional, economic, or experiential diversity might. Impact lit will help, more interesting than biglaw. Generally a headwind CLS and NYU applicants face is that they're big schools and their applicants often have very similar resumes.
What would you classify as economic/experiential diversity, and how would you best recommend signaling that? Would veteran status constitute experiential diversity? I grew up rural/low-income but that was a while ago and I'm struggling trying to effectively portray that. The "First-Gen" group at my school doesn't do much because MANY people there are "first-gen lawyers".
Rec letters on rural/low-income background. Funny that your school's First-Gen group are First-Gen lawyers--I'd put it on anyway. Military service is a very big plus for most judges that should be highlighted.
Your cover letter should be very normal and just a walkthrough of your accomplishments. BUT, one way you can convey low income backgrounds and your story is for your professors to convey that in their letter of rec. Obviously, it should be one who you are close with, etc.

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Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon May 27, 2024 11:54 pm

Among the most bizarre cover letters I've seen -- describing oneself as "descendant of human chattel". Another bizarre one -- talking about the "struggle" with your "sexual identity" whilst growing up in a small, rural town.

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

Re: What Does it Mean to Have "Institutional Support" While Applying?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue May 28, 2024 12:21 am

Yeah I also remember cringing at some of the awkward ways folks tried to seem diverse / underrepresented / etc. in their cover letters - you're applying for a job, not telling us the sob story of your life (and this is coming from someone who is a big believer in hiring more diverse/underrepresented applicants).

I agree that this kind of stuff is a little less awkward when it's coming from a prof, who can say something like "I was so impressed by X's accomplishments, especially because of the challenges she had to overcome because of Y." Similarly, it was a bit better when someone mentioned their leadership in the Black/Latino/Veteran/etc. group during law school (or talked about the volunteering they've done with Black/Latino/Veteran/etc. populations, which was particularly meaningful because of their shared identity).

However, I disagree with the poster who said that a cover letter should just be talking about all your accomplishments - some of those definitely came across a bit arrogant/obnoxious, and my eyes usually glazed over when the cover letter was just pointing out things that I can easily see on a resume.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

Now there's a charge.
Just kidding ... it's still FREE!


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