Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

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Sloth Hero

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Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by Sloth Hero » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:07 pm

I finish a two-year district court clerkship at the end of this month. Due to personal reasons, compounded by COVID-19, I have delayed applying for post-clerkship employment until recently. I am applying to D.C. biglaw and am requesting a start date no sooner than January 1. I get married soon after my clerkship and I want a solid chunk of time off with my future wife before beginning work.

Might any of the above jeopardize a clerkship signing bonus to which I might otherwise be entitled?

Thanks.

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beepboopbeep

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Re: Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by beepboopbeep » Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:03 pm

Clerks got their clerkship bonus regardless of starting date at my prior firm.

I would be more worried that your conditions will hurt your ability to get a postclerkship gig, depending on how good your clerkship and credentials are; it's a rough market out there right now with covid. I wouldn't mention these conditions until I had an offer in hand.

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Re: Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:01 pm

beepboopbeep wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:03 pm
Clerks got their clerkship bonus regardless of starting date at my prior firm.

I would be more worried that your conditions will hurt your ability to get a postclerkship gig, depending on how good your clerkship and credentials are; it's a rough market out there right now with covid. I wouldn't mention these conditions until I had an offer in hand.
I think your real issue is that you've missed the wave of post-clerk hiring, which for DC firms (at least biglaw and high-end boutiques) occurs in the winter and spring. And with COVID, I imagine firms are pretty reluctant to hire around now.

Once you have an offer, though, I don't think it's a big deal to start in January. Weddings/honeymoons are one of the few things lawyers tend to respect.

yankees12345!

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Re: Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by yankees12345! » Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:29 am

Related question: let’s say, purely hypothetically, I wanted to take six month off between the end of a clerkship and returning to big law.

Anyone have experience with trying to negotiate something like that?

Sloth Hero

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Re: Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by Sloth Hero » Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:32 am

beepboopbeep wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:03 pm
Clerks got their clerkship bonus regardless of starting date at my prior firm.

I would be more worried that your conditions will hurt your ability to get a postclerkship gig, depending on how good your clerkship and credentials are; it's a rough market out there right now with covid. I wouldn't mention these conditions until I had an offer in hand.
Good idea. I'm magna from a T14 and worked for one year at a V5 firm before clerking. Clerkship is for the best district judge in his district, but my fiancee and I do not intend to remain here. After much deliberation we've decided that D.C. is the best balance for our respective careers and ambitions.
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:01 pm
beepboopbeep wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:03 pm
Clerks got their clerkship bonus regardless of starting date at my prior firm.

I would be more worried that your conditions will hurt your ability to get a postclerkship gig, depending on how good your clerkship and credentials are; it's a rough market out there right now with covid. I wouldn't mention these conditions until I had an offer in hand.
I think your real issue is that you've missed the wave of post-clerk hiring, which for DC firms (at least biglaw and high-end boutiques) occurs in the winter and spring. And with COVID, I imagine firms are pretty reluctant to hire around now.

Once you have an offer, though, I don't think it's a big deal to start in January. Weddings/honeymoons are one of the few things lawyers tend to respect.
Missing the wave scares me. But my financial condition is solid and I don't mind being patient for an offer. Even if I don't get an offer soon, I'll just use that as an excuse to keep camping, visiting national parks, and skiing with my fiancee (who, conveniently, is also between jobs at the moment). I just don't want to start too far into 2021. Maybe I'm being too cavalier about what my credentials merit in the present market.

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bob311

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Re: Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by bob311 » Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:47 am

I think you are being way too cavalier. the legal market is in its worst form since 2008, a good slice of the v100 has laid off (either officially or stealthed) associates and more have cut salaries. If you think because you did well in law school and had a district court clerkship that you are just going to walk into a dc firm right now, you are mistaken. Hiring is extremely down except for bankruptcy. I honestly think your attitude is completely wrong for the current times. Not only are you competing with other clerks coming off clerkships and the usual lateral market, dc has been hit pretty hard by associate layoffs. Now you are competing against those folks as well.

Source - worked in dc biglaw, now at a dc lit boutique. For example, my lit boutique is hiring for an associate right now. In the past few weeks, we have had over 500% more applicants than our last 3 openings pre covid. Just FYI.

Sloth Hero

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Re: Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by Sloth Hero » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:20 am

bob311 wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:47 am
I think you are being way too cavalier. the legal market is in its worst form since 2008, a good slice of the v100 has laid off (either officially or stealthed) associates and more have cut salaries. If you think because you did well in law school and had a district court clerkship that you are just going to walk into a dc firm right now, you are mistaken. Hiring is extremely down except for bankruptcy. I honestly think your attitude is completely wrong for the current times. Not only are you competing with other clerks coming off clerkships and the usual lateral market, dc has been hit pretty hard by associate layoffs. Now you are competing against those folks as well.

Source - worked in dc biglaw, now at a dc lit boutique. For example, my lit boutique is hiring for an associate right now. In the past few weeks, we have had over 500% more applicants than our last 3 openings pre covid. Just FYI.
You are correct, I'm sure. Because I planned to take at least four months off after my clerkship ended (ya know, see the world with my future wife during the only time in our life, pre-retirement, that our careers would permit), I delayed applying pre-COVID. Unfortunately, with COVID-19, this delay has created a possible nightmare for my future hiring.

nixy

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Re: Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by nixy » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:23 am

I’m not trying to diss the OP, but if they’re happy to take some more time camping, visiting national parks, and skiing with their fiancée who’s also not working right now, it sounds like they’re not really worried about money.

(I agree that even though the OP has excellent credentials I’d be much more worried about getting something At all right now, but maybe I don’t have a big enough safety net.)

nixy

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Re: Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by nixy » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:28 am

yankees12345! wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:29 am
Related question: let’s say, purely hypothetically, I wanted to take six month off between the end of a clerkship and returning to big law.

Anyone have experience with trying to negotiate something like that?
The issue is what the OP presents here. You could absolutely take that time off, you’d just likely need to do so by delaying applying for jobs. It seems pretty unlikely that you can apply to jobs on the normal clerk timeline and then say “okay, so can I start 6 months later?” (You can certainly try it once you have an offer, but you’d have to be prepared to hear no, because firms tend to hire for needs they know they have.) I think it will be very hard to line up something certain for 6 months after you finish while you’re still clerking, so you know you have something waiting for you in 6 months.

Again, you can try - maybe you’ll find an especially accommodating firm. But I think you’d need to just apply sometime during the 6 months off.

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yankees12345!

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Re: Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by yankees12345! » Fri Aug 07, 2020 12:56 pm

nixy wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:28 am
yankees12345! wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:29 am
Related question: let’s say, purely hypothetically, I wanted to take six month off between the end of a clerkship and returning to big law.

Anyone have experience with trying to negotiate something like that?
The issue is what the OP presents here. You could absolutely take that time off, you’d just likely need to do so by delaying applying for jobs. It seems pretty unlikely that you can apply to jobs on the normal clerk timeline and then say “okay, so can I start 6 months later?” (You can certainly try it once you have an offer, but you’d have to be prepared to hear no, because firms tend to hire for needs they know they have.) I think it will be very hard to line up something certain for 6 months after you finish while you’re still clerking, so you know you have something waiting for you in 6 months.

Again, you can try - maybe you’ll find an especially accommodating firm. But I think you’d need to just apply sometime during the 6 months off.
I think I would just say in my cover letters that I'll be available to start on [xx] date, see whether anyone bites, and be transparent in interviews about my plans for that interval. I had a long trip planned for before the clerkship, but covid blew it up. It's much less convenient to do it afterwards, but still a personal priority, hopefully it'll happen.

Anon-non-anon

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Re: Am I jeopardizing my clerkship bonus?

Post by Anon-non-anon » Fri Aug 07, 2020 3:10 pm

Echo others here. I would just apply w/o saying anything and get your work sorted first, given the times. Many firms are delaying start dates into 2021 anyway, so it may be that they ask you if it'll be okay to wait to start, and then it's more you doing them a favor than the other way around. Idk if the firms delaying until 2021 are going to hire anyone else right now, but shoot your shot. I can't imagine it coming off well to read in a cover letter that "I don't want to start for 6 months" when you're getting tons of other apps, even if the firm would like new associates to defer their start dates.

Similar thing happened on my first interview. I was a few minutes late (was in the neighboring building by accident) but the partner was stuck on a call when I got there so before I could apologize he did so profusely. Saved my butt and (mostly) happily worked there for two years.

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