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Baron7

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Some AIII Clerkship Questions

Post by Baron7 » Sat Apr 02, 2022 11:12 pm

Hey all. Please feel free to answer as few or as many of these questions as you'd like.

1. Can local ties help a clerkship applicant with decent grades secure a position over an outside candidate with great grades? How often does this happen? How would you rate the chances of someone slightly above median at a lower t14, with ties?

2. How much easier does it become to get a federal clerkship after a few years in biglaw, if at all? To use the same scenario—would someone slightly above median at a lower t14, with ties, have a shot?

3. What effect does it have on the clerkship calculus if an applicant has spent a few years doing transactional work, rather than litigation?

Hope my questions aren't ridiculous or annoying. Thank you :)

nixy

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Re: Some AIII Clerkship Questions

Post by nixy » Sun Apr 03, 2022 8:40 am

1. Ties can help, but a judge who values local ties would probably hire someone who has both ties and excellent grades. There are definitely judges who strongly favor local candidates, but it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily compromise on grades; such judges will often happily hire the #1-5 student from the local law school over an average T14 student (though hiring is so competitive they’ll probably have T14 students with great grades and local ties to choose from).

Slightly above median isn’t a great position - ties are good, but what you’d really need is a connection to vouch for you (prof, work supervisor, ideally someone who knows the judge). You’re not doomed - hiring is unpredictable - but without the connection it will be hard to make your application stand out.

On the hypo you’ve given (though I think it’s unrealistic), it will depend on the judge - some may prefer local over higher grades, others will prefer higher grades, it just depends (keep in mind that while judges are always local to the jurisdiction where they’re appointed, they may not have been born & raised local - lots are, but lots are also transplants from somewhere else, and even the born & raised local ones may value pedigree over ties).

2. Clerking after working for a few years is often a much better option for someone with ordinary grades. There are judges who really favor work experience and those who do will focus more on that experience than on your grades. So yes, you’d definitely have a shot at that point, depending on what your experience was, which leads to…

3. I think transactional work makes this much harder. I’ll admit though I’m speculating here a bit, as I haven’t been in/seen this situation. There have definitely been people on this site who’ve referenced using a clerkship to pivot to litigation from transactional work, so it doesn’t seem impossible. I suspect that if you want to use the work experience to make yourself more marketable to judges, though, litigation is going to be much more helpful, because the point is that you will understand the litigation process enough to hit the ground running (handling a summary judgment motion as a clerk is very different if you’ve worked on one before or not). I suspect people who pivoted after transactional work are people who already had excellent credentials for clerking at graduation. I could be wrong about this - I’ll happily defer to others with actual experience - but if one of your goals in working after graduation is to make yourself a stronger candidate for clerking, then I think litigation is a much better option.

(Possible exceptions are for something like clerking in Delaware Chancery, or a bankruptcy clerkship. Also, if you’ve been reading threads about not going all in on litigation at OCI to maximize job chances, saying you want to try corporate in OCI interviews doesn’t preclude you from moving to lit later.)

crazywafflez

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Re: Some AIII Clerkship Questions

Post by crazywafflez » Sun Apr 03, 2022 10:44 am

1. Can local ties help a clerkship applicant with decent grades secure a position over an outside candidate with great grades? How often does this happen? How would you rate the chances of someone slightly above median at a lower t14, with ties?

Local ties certainly help. And for some more remote locales, are needed. My judge (who I interned for but did not take me as a clerk, RIP), only hired from the top 10% or so from the local school. He would dip further into the class for a good story, but he only took clerks from that school and his alma mater (not a T20, and a really random school for where we are, so he never really had apps from them as far as I'm aware). There were plenty of judges though who took UVA grads with median grades that were on the bench here though who had ties.

2. How much easier does it become to get a federal clerkship after a few years in biglaw, if at all? To use the same scenario—would someone slightly above median at a lower t14, with ties, have a shot?

Easier. There are some judges who only want recent grads so they can "mold them", but I actually think the majority don't care at all, and in some instances it may actually help to have xp.
I missed the clerkship train while in school (i.e. I struck out everywhere I applied), but have talked with some local judges who were more than happy to have me apply; and I didn't think it would be a disadvantage.

3. What effect does it have on the clerkship calculus if an applicant has spent a few years doing transactional work, rather than litigation?

I've heard of some folks using clerkships to switch to Lit. It might be slightly harder to swap, and depends on what a few years means. If it means 2 or 3, I don't think it is a life sentence; if you've been doing corporate work for 6 or 7 years and thne try, might not go as well. Not impossible, I'm sure, but harder.

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Baron7

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Re: Some AIII Clerkship Questions

Post by Baron7 » Wed Apr 20, 2022 2:49 am

crazywafflez wrote:
Sun Apr 03, 2022 10:44 am
1. Can local ties help a clerkship applicant with decent grades secure a position over an outside candidate with great grades? How often does this happen? How would you rate the chances of someone slightly above median at a lower t14, with ties?

Local ties certainly help. And for some more remote locales, are needed. My judge (who I interned for but did not take me as a clerk, RIP), only hired from the top 10% or so from the local school. He would dip further into the class for a good story, but he only took clerks from that school and his alma mater (not a T20, and a really random school for where we are, so he never really had apps from them as far as I'm aware). There were plenty of judges though who took UVA grads with median grades that were on the bench here though who had ties.

2. How much easier does it become to get a federal clerkship after a few years in biglaw, if at all? To use the same scenario—would someone slightly above median at a lower t14, with ties, have a shot?

Easier. There are some judges who only want recent grads so they can "mold them", but I actually think the majority don't care at all, and in some instances it may actually help to have xp.
I missed the clerkship train while in school (i.e. I struck out everywhere I applied), but have talked with some local judges who were more than happy to have me apply; and I didn't think it would be a disadvantage.

3. What effect does it have on the clerkship calculus if an applicant has spent a few years doing transactional work, rather than litigation?

I've heard of some folks using clerkships to switch to Lit. It might be slightly harder to swap, and depends on what a few years means. If it means 2 or 3, I don't think it is a life sentence; if you've been doing corporate work for 6 or 7 years and thne try, might not go as well. Not impossible, I'm sure, but harder.
nixy wrote:
Sun Apr 03, 2022 8:40 am
1. Ties can help, but a judge who values local ties would probably hire someone who has both ties and excellent grades. There are definitely judges who strongly favor local candidates, but it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily compromise on grades; such judges will often happily hire the #1-5 student from the local law school over an average T14 student (though hiring is so competitive they’ll probably have T14 students with great grades and local ties to choose from).

Slightly above median isn’t a great position - ties are good, but what you’d really need is a connection to vouch for you (prof, work supervisor, ideally someone who knows the judge). You’re not doomed - hiring is unpredictable - but without the connection it will be hard to make your application stand out.

On the hypo you’ve given (though I think it’s unrealistic), it will depend on the judge - some may prefer local over higher grades, others will prefer higher grades, it just depends (keep in mind that while judges are always local to the jurisdiction where they’re appointed, they may not have been born & raised local - lots are, but lots are also transplants from somewhere else, and even the born & raised local ones may value pedigree over ties).

2. Clerking after working for a few years is often a much better option for someone with ordinary grades. There are judges who really favor work experience and those who do will focus more on that experience than on your grades. So yes, you’d definitely have a shot at that point, depending on what your experience was, which leads to…

3. I think transactional work makes this much harder. I’ll admit though I’m speculating here a bit, as I haven’t been in/seen this situation. There have definitely been people on this site who’ve referenced using a clerkship to pivot to litigation from transactional work, so it doesn’t seem impossible. I suspect that if you want to use the work experience to make yourself more marketable to judges, though, litigation is going to be much more helpful, because the point is that you will understand the litigation process enough to hit the ground running (handling a summary judgment motion as a clerk is very different if you’ve worked on one before or not). I suspect people who pivoted after transactional work are people who already had excellent credentials for clerking at graduation. I could be wrong about this - I’ll happily defer to others with actual experience - but if one of your goals in working after graduation is to make yourself a stronger candidate for clerking, then I think litigation is a much better option.

(Possible exceptions are for something like clerking in Delaware Chancery, or a bankruptcy clerkship. Also, if you’ve been reading threads about not going all in on litigation at OCI to maximize job chances, saying you want to try corporate in OCI interviews doesn’t preclude you from moving to lit later.)
Belated, but I very much appreciate you both replying. I read what each of you wrote and find it very helpful. Thanks so much!

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