Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships? Forum

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beforeithaka

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Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by beforeithaka » Fri Jul 05, 2024 10:18 am

Rising 2L here interested in doing federal clerkship (either DC or COA). Have read many posts on this forum and understand that (1) GPA/rank + school are king, (2) all else equal, judges generally like to see more doctrinal classes. I have a good, comfortably above median GPA but would like to get closer to Coif-level before graduation. Open to clerking right after graduation or after a year or two of BL.

I'm on Law Review and will also be TA-ing a writing class, so those things eat up some of my time each week. The TA-ing shouldn't be too heavy in terms of workload, but I'm less sure about how much work Law Review will be (maybe someone can chime in).

1. How many doctrinal classes should I take each semester given the considerations of maximizing GPA, workload, but also not taking too many "soft" Law + [X] seminars? In terms of credits, I could in theory take up to 4-5 classes each semester, but don't think I'll reasonably be able to handle 4 or more doctrinals per semester. Would 2 doctrinal classes per semester (e.g., con law II, evidence) + 1 writing class + 1 litigation skills class + 1 seminar be seen as too "light" a workload? Should I go with 3 heavy doctrinals? Basically, after how many doctrinal classes would it be "safe" for me to just fill my schedule with classes that I just find interesting and wanna try (like a random law and philosophy class)?

2.How are writing and litigation skills classes viewed by judges/clerks in the hiring process? For example: advanced legal writing, appellate legal writing, pretrial advocacy, trial ad. I do think that these will be among the most useful classes I take, but I'm worried that they might be viewed in the same light as the Law + [X] classes.

thanks!

Connor13346

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Re: Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by Connor13346 » Sat Jul 06, 2024 9:04 am

The conventional advice is to take at least 2 doctrinals per semester. I did this and was able to get a solid clerkship on plan. I don't think judges will look down on your writing classes.

beforeithaka

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Re: Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by beforeithaka » Sat Jul 06, 2024 10:37 am

Connor13346 wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 9:04 am
The conventional advice is to take at least 2 doctrinals per semester. I did this and was able to get a solid clerkship on plan. I don't think judges will look down on your writing classes.
Thanks! So I know that the typical bar classes like evidence, CrimPro, con law II and classes like fed courts and admin (not sure if they're on the bar) count as doctrinal classes. But what about other non-seminar classes like Employment Law or Criminal Law (Federal) or Employment Law Issues –– would these count as doctrinal classes for purposes of clerkships?

Also, what kinds of classes did you fill the rest of your semesters with? Taking away the credits that I get for TA-ing and LR, I get ~15 credits each semester. I'm finding that it's pretty hard to fill 15 credits without it seeming like a heavy course load on top of everything else I'm doing.

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Re: Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 06, 2024 2:15 pm

You’re probably more than covered. I took the “soft” route to my DC and COA in two of the biggest 3 cities, not having taken fed courts, civ pro II, con law II etc. It’s so idiosyncratic. I also applied off plan in 3L and got a clerkship for immediately after graduation—I suspect applying on plan, you’ll want to hit more of the conventional wants.

Fwiw, when I’m hiring, your writing is what gets you pulled. Having worked w clerks who killed it gpa wise versus those who did fine but had great writing samples/experience… I am choosing the latter 100xs over (the caveat being gpa and good writing often correlate) So I say take all the writing classes you want. But that’s just me and my judges/chambers

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Re: Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 06, 2024 2:48 pm

beforeithaka wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 10:37 am
Connor13346 wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 9:04 am
The conventional advice is to take at least 2 doctrinals per semester. I did this and was able to get a solid clerkship on plan. I don't think judges will look down on your writing classes.
Thanks! So I know that the typical bar classes like evidence, CrimPro, con law II and classes like fed courts and admin (not sure if they're on the bar) count as doctrinal classes. But what about other non-seminar classes like Employment Law or Criminal Law (Federal) or Employment Law Issues –– would these count as doctrinal classes for purposes of clerkships?

Also, what kinds of classes did you fill the rest of your semesters with? Taking away the credits that I get for TA-ing and LR, I get ~15 credits each semester. I'm finding that it's pretty hard to fill 15 credits without it seeming like a heavy course load on top of everything else I'm doing.
2x clerk on desirable courts. Like the other poster, I took two doctrinals per semester. I generally did one "bar class" and then one other black letter/lecture/exam class--things like tax, enviro, antitrust, IP. I don't know what employment law issues is, but I think employment would be fine. I filled the rest of my time with writing classes or seminars that I found interesting.

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beforeithaka

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Re: Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by beforeithaka » Sat Jul 06, 2024 6:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 2:15 pm
You’re probably more than covered. I took the “soft” route to my DC and COA in two of the biggest 3 cities, not having taken fed courts, civ pro II, con law II etc. It’s so idiosyncratic. I also applied off plan in 3L and got a clerkship for immediately after graduation—I suspect applying on plan, you’ll want to hit more of the conventional wants.

Fwiw, when I’m hiring, your writing is what gets you pulled. Having worked w clerks who killed it gpa wise versus those who did fine but had great writing samples/experience… I am choosing the latter 100xs over (the caveat being gpa and good writing often correlate) So I say take all the writing classes you want. But that’s just me and my judges/chambers
Thanks! So what classes did you take, might I ask?

Also, do you mean that GPA/school gets your application looked at, then the writing is what gets you pulled after that? Seems unlikely that the clerk/judges will read every single writing sample. When you say writing, do you mean the writing sample or experiences that speak to your writing ability or both? What might those experiences be? Basically, how do I show signal that I am a good writer?

beforeithaka

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Re: Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by beforeithaka » Sat Jul 06, 2024 6:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 2:48 pm
beforeithaka wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 10:37 am
Connor13346 wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 9:04 am
The conventional advice is to take at least 2 doctrinals per semester. I did this and was able to get a solid clerkship on plan. I don't think judges will look down on your writing classes.
Thanks! So I know that the typical bar classes like evidence, CrimPro, con law II and classes like fed courts and admin (not sure if they're on the bar) count as doctrinal classes. But what about other non-seminar classes like Employment Law or Criminal Law (Federal) or Employment Law Issues –– would these count as doctrinal classes for purposes of clerkships?

Also, what kinds of classes did you fill the rest of your semesters with? Taking away the credits that I get for TA-ing and LR, I get ~15 credits each semester. I'm finding that it's pretty hard to fill 15 credits without it seeming like a heavy course load on top of everything else I'm doing.
2x clerk on desirable courts. Like the other poster, I took two doctrinals per semester. I generally did one "bar class" and then one other black letter/lecture/exam class--things like tax, enviro, antitrust, IP. I don't know what employment law issues is, but I think employment would be fine. I filled the rest of my time with writing classes or seminars that I found interesting.
Thanks! How many classes/units would that be per semester?

Were there classes that you felt went well together, in terms of subject matter, so that they should be taken in the same semester? Alternatively, any two doctrinal classes that you would avoid taking in the same semester? I heard avoid fed courts + admin in the same semester.

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Re: Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jul 06, 2024 11:33 pm

beforeithaka wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 6:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 2:48 pm
beforeithaka wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 10:37 am
Connor13346 wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 9:04 am
The conventional advice is to take at least 2 doctrinals per semester. I did this and was able to get a solid clerkship on plan. I don't think judges will look down on your writing classes.
Thanks! So I know that the typical bar classes like evidence, CrimPro, con law II and classes like fed courts and admin (not sure if they're on the bar) count as doctrinal classes. But what about other non-seminar classes like Employment Law or Criminal Law (Federal) or Employment Law Issues –– would these count as doctrinal classes for purposes of clerkships?

Also, what kinds of classes did you fill the rest of your semesters with? Taking away the credits that I get for TA-ing and LR, I get ~15 credits each semester. I'm finding that it's pretty hard to fill 15 credits without it seeming like a heavy course load on top of everything else I'm doing.
2x clerk on desirable courts. Like the other poster, I took two doctrinals per semester. I generally did one "bar class" and then one other black letter/lecture/exam class--things like tax, enviro, antitrust, IP. I don't know what employment law issues is, but I think employment would be fine. I filled the rest of my time with writing classes or seminars that I found interesting.
Thanks! How many classes/units would that be per semester?

Were there classes that you felt went well together, in terms of subject matter, so that they should be taken in the same semester? Alternatively, any two doctrinal classes that you would avoid taking in the same semester? I heard avoid fed courts + admin in the same semester.
I think it was usually 4 per semester, maybe 5 if I added another seminar.

No thoughts on classes that work well together. If you want to get creative copyright could be interesting alongside 1A, or maybe sec. reg. or antitrust or secured transactions along business entities/corps. But maybe that'd get confusing because of the overlap.

I didn't take admin, but generally would avoid taking two very large blackletters at the same time (which could vary based on school), or two blackletters alongside a clinic.

beforeithaka

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Re: Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by beforeithaka » Sun Jul 07, 2024 10:32 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 11:33 pm
beforeithaka wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 6:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 2:48 pm
beforeithaka wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 10:37 am
Connor13346 wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 9:04 am
The conventional advice is to take at least 2 doctrinals per semester. I did this and was able to get a solid clerkship on plan. I don't think judges will look down on your writing classes.
Thanks! So I know that the typical bar classes like evidence, CrimPro, con law II and classes like fed courts and admin (not sure if they're on the bar) count as doctrinal classes. But what about other non-seminar classes like Employment Law or Criminal Law (Federal) or Employment Law Issues –– would these count as doctrinal classes for purposes of clerkships?

Also, what kinds of classes did you fill the rest of your semesters with? Taking away the credits that I get for TA-ing and LR, I get ~15 credits each semester. I'm finding that it's pretty hard to fill 15 credits without it seeming like a heavy course load on top of everything else I'm doing.
2x clerk on desirable courts. Like the other poster, I took two doctrinals per semester. I generally did one "bar class" and then one other black letter/lecture/exam class--things like tax, enviro, antitrust, IP. I don't know what employment law issues is, but I think employment would be fine. I filled the rest of my time with writing classes or seminars that I found interesting.
Thanks! How many classes/units would that be per semester?

Were there classes that you felt went well together, in terms of subject matter, so that they should be taken in the same semester? Alternatively, any two doctrinal classes that you would avoid taking in the same semester? I heard avoid fed courts + admin in the same semester.
I think it was usually 4 per semester, maybe 5 if I added another seminar.

No thoughts on classes that work well together. If you want to get creative copyright could be interesting alongside 1A, or maybe sec. reg. or antitrust or secured transactions along business entities/corps. But maybe that'd get confusing because of the overlap.

I didn't take admin, but generally would avoid taking two very large blackletters at the same time (which could vary based on school), or two blackletters alongside a clinic.
Thanks! Would Con Law II (individual rights), 3 credits and paired with Evidence (4 credits)/Bus. Orgs (4 credits)/Crim. Pro. (3 credits) be two very large black letters you'd avoid?

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Anonymous User
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Re: Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Jul 07, 2024 11:03 am

I'm currently clerking for a district judge in NYC.

We like to see 2 doctrinals a semester. Evidence, Fed Courts, Crim Pro and Corps are musts; Antitrust, SecReg, Admin, Copyrights, Patent Law and Employment Law are important, too. It's a lot easier to help rule on motions in limine or complex summary judgment motions in a securities case when you understand the doctrinal area and lingo.

I'm a big proponent of engaging in clinics and externships in law school. They will teach you how to actually write -- far more than any class on legal writing in law school will.

I think one seminar a semester is fine, especially if it's related to federal criminal law, class actions, constitutional law, or another litigation-related topic that comes up in federal courts. "Law and Literature" is less useful.

Ultimately, clerking is a crapshoot. We get tons of top 5-10% applicants from T14s who have excellent recommenders and would all make fantastic clerks. Good luck!

not2spicy4

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Re: Courseload and writing/litigation classes for clerkships?

Post by not2spicy4 » Sun Jul 07, 2024 4:31 pm

beforeithaka wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2024 10:32 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 11:33 pm
beforeithaka wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 6:39 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 2:48 pm
beforeithaka wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 10:37 am
Connor13346 wrote:
Sat Jul 06, 2024 9:04 am
The conventional advice is to take at least 2 doctrinals per semester. I did this and was able to get a solid clerkship on plan. I don't think judges will look down on your writing classes.
Thanks! So I know that the typical bar classes like evidence, CrimPro, con law II and classes like fed courts and admin (not sure if they're on the bar) count as doctrinal classes. But what about other non-seminar classes like Employment Law or Criminal Law (Federal) or Employment Law Issues –– would these count as doctrinal classes for purposes of clerkships?

Also, what kinds of classes did you fill the rest of your semesters with? Taking away the credits that I get for TA-ing and LR, I get ~15 credits each semester. I'm finding that it's pretty hard to fill 15 credits without it seeming like a heavy course load on top of everything else I'm doing.
2x clerk on desirable courts. Like the other poster, I took two doctrinals per semester. I generally did one "bar class" and then one other black letter/lecture/exam class--things like tax, enviro, antitrust, IP. I don't know what employment law issues is, but I think employment would be fine. I filled the rest of my time with writing classes or seminars that I found interesting.
Thanks! How many classes/units would that be per semester?

Were there classes that you felt went well together, in terms of subject matter, so that they should be taken in the same semester? Alternatively, any two doctrinal classes that you would avoid taking in the same semester? I heard avoid fed courts + admin in the same semester.
I think it was usually 4 per semester, maybe 5 if I added another seminar.

No thoughts on classes that work well together. If you want to get creative copyright could be interesting alongside 1A, or maybe sec. reg. or antitrust or secured transactions along business entities/corps. But maybe that'd get confusing because of the overlap.

I didn't take admin, but generally would avoid taking two very large blackletters at the same time (which could vary based on school), or two blackletters alongside a clinic.
Thanks! Would Con Law II (individual rights), 3 credits and paired with Evidence (4 credits)/Bus. Orgs (4 credits)/Crim. Pro. (3 credits) be two very large black letters you'd avoid?
Not the same person (obviously), but I don't see any reason why those classes would be too much. When I was in law school, I followed the 2 doctrinal rule every semester after 1L, and I only tried to avoid pairing classes where the information covered exceeded the credits given—of the courses I took, that was fed courts, admin, and LegReg (each which probably should've been worth 5 or 6 credits). There were also a few courses where one professor's course was known for being more labor-intensive than the other offerings (even though the sections were worth the same # of credits), so I tried to be careful with those.

That said, tons of people don't follow these guidelines every year and are just fine. I wouldn't pay it too much thought.

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