Value of a second clerkship? Forum

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Chicaaa

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Value of a second clerkship?

Post by Chicaaa » Mon Jun 10, 2024 11:55 am

Hi, I have one COA clerkship lined up (9th/DC/2nd). I would like to possibly do a district court or a state supreme court clerkship. I am not sure what I want to do in the long term, but I am interested in litigation (I don't really know much about appellate litigation and trial lit sounds interesting). I think it would be helpful to have a second clerkship so that I can further polish my legal research and writing skills. I come from the bottom, so the law school experience was a steep learning curve in many ways, and I think I would appreciate additional training. However, I worry that there may be limited benefits to having a second clerkship. I am also older (woman in my mid-30s), so I am concerned about not starting to practice sooner. If I were 25 I would certainly clerk a second year. Any thoughts on this? I have heard that district court clerkships are especially valuable for trial practice.

I don't have much education debt since I got a full ride during law school, so I am not concerned about getting on the job market and paying off student loans asap.
Last edited by Chicaaa on Mon Jun 10, 2024 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Value of a second clerkship?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 10, 2024 11:59 am

Seconding this, except I do have debt.

FWIW, litigation parters I've spoken to at my V10 who have done two clerkships say you should also do two. (And in particular one COA, one DCt.) The ones who haven't done two (or any), say you needn't clerk twice and that you'll learn on the job.

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Re: Value of a second clerkship?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 10, 2024 12:08 pm

I did 3. No regrets, but I did it because I loved the job and not necessarily for career gain. It might not change your career but it also won’t hurt it.

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Re: Value of a second clerkship?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 10, 2024 12:16 pm

I parlayed a district court clerkship into a federal COA. It certainly opened many doors for me, but I cannot say that I’ve learned a tremendous amount. (Note that this is very judge dependent.) I learned far more in my district court clerkship that is useful for me in my day-to-day practice. But I am very grateful for the credential, exposure to federal appellate work, and the judge, who is a wonderful human being. Perhaps it was because I did the district court clerkship first, but there I learned a tremendous amount about how to walk a case through litigation. You learn a ton practically just from having to juggle the innumerable things that pop up during a case/through the case management process, and I don’t think you can emulate that experience as a post-clerkship associate at a law firm. And if you ever want to be an AUSA/AFPD, a district court clerkship will give you the exposure to the type of work you will do on a regular basis.

Like you, I attended law school and did not incur any significant debt. That’s why I shifted to public service post-clerkship and landed a role that I wouldn’t have been competitive for without my clerkships. Many employers see the federal trial + appellate clerkship combo as “elite,” FWIW, and I know that it helped me.

I can’t really speak to any issues you would have with being in your mid-30s by the time you finish up. I’m just a bit younger than you and had no issues with my age when I interviewed for my post-clerkship role.

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Re: Value of a second clerkship?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 10, 2024 1:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2024 12:16 pm
I can’t really speak to any issues you would have with being in your mid-30s by the time you finish up. I’m just a bit younger than you and had no issues with my age when I interviewed for my post-clerkship role.
I don’t think the concern is related to securing a post-clerkship job. I read that line in OP’s post as a concern about family planning, although I could be wrong. OP, that is a fair concern, but it’s something that only you can evaluate as far as how important it is to you and how much an extra year of clerking could negatively affect your personal goals.

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lavarman84

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Re: Value of a second clerkship?

Post by lavarman84 » Mon Jun 10, 2024 1:17 pm

I think there's value in a federal district court clerkship. I don't think there's a lot of value in a second appellate clerkship, even if it's a state supreme court clerkship. As for whether it's the right move for you given your background, you're the only one who can make that call.

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Re: Value of a second clerkship?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 10, 2024 2:20 pm

lavarman84 wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2024 1:17 pm
I think there's value in a federal district court clerkship. I don't think there's a lot of value in a second appellate clerkship, even if it's a state supreme court clerkship. As for whether it's the right move for you given your background, you're the only one who can make that call.
I mostly agree with this, unless you want to change markets. I think a SSC in your chosen new market can be really beneficial if you don’t get a federal district court clerkship.

I can’t speak to possible family planning issues, but I’m a career changer and went to law school a little older than you are now. I didn’t find doing 2 clerkships an issue for practice; to the extent that you’ve closed doors by starting law later in life, I don’t think one more year is going to make a material difference.

(What I mean by closing doors: mostly becoming a federal judge or maybe some other senior positions contingent on accumulating a certain number of years of practice. I don’t want to overstate this, I don’t think it’s a major factor for you. Or ageism. But I don’t think you’re old enough for that to be an issue either.)

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Re: Value of a second clerkship?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:20 pm

I did two. Honestly in a hindsight I really should have done one. Don't think it hurt me or anything. Caveat, though, I didn't really enjoy clerking—even for good judges—just wasn't my cup of tea. Would probably feel differently if this was the best job I ever had like it is though for some people.

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Re: Value of a second clerkship?

Post by lavarman84 » Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2024 9:20 pm
I did two. Honestly in a hindsight I really should have done one. Don't think it hurt me or anything. Caveat, though, I didn't really enjoy clerking—even for good judges—just wasn't my cup of tea. Would probably feel differently if this was the best job I ever had like it is though for some people.
I did two. I don't regret it. The district court clerkship (my first) was more practically useful, but the circuit clerkship opened a lot of doors. The gold star was worth it. I didn't love clerking, but I liked it. Both of my judges were good bosses. Do I have any desire to clerk again? No. My work now is far more interesting to me than what I did as a clerk.

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