Clerks Taking Questions

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by CS1775 » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:42 am

usaorbust wrote:
Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:46 pm
I know this is pretty chamber specific, I would guess, but I would love some info form clerks about judicial internships: What types of assignments do you give interns, how do I know what chambers would be best to work for, what do interns take away form the process, and how do you know which judges will or will not hire interns as clerks.
I just saw this now eleven days later, figured you warrant a response. You answered your own question: it depends on the chambers. My XP is that I did a judicial internship and worked daily with other interns, I spoke to other law students who did judicial internships, and I read. A lot. I will be applying for clerkships this cycle (2020-2021).

1) What types of assignments do interns get? This will depend on the court's level, the judge, and the clerk(s). If you're at an appellate court, you're going to be doing more research and writing, probably internal. Opinion draft writing is really fun, I did that + "hey, can you research this question for me?" during my judicial internship. If you're at a "trial" court, like a state general court of jurisdiction, a Federal district court, or a specialty court like say a state family court, you're going to do more "trial" related work like responses to motions, memos to the judge, etc.

2) How do you know what chambers to work for? TL:DR, ask questions. Except for very prominent judges like retired Judge Kozinski (and note that Kozinski had a sexual abuse scandal), you will have to PM a former clerk/intern on here, that other forum, Reddit, or over a more connection-based forum like LinkedIn, email, or a phone call (these latter three avenues are usually opened up via school connections).

3) What do interns take away from the process? This depends on the intern with one exception, writing samples. Some courts rule all intern-created content as "internal" and unable to be used by the former intern as a writing sample. But in general, what interns get out of the "job" depends on the intern. You reap what you sow.

4) How do [applicants] know which judges hire interns? This is the applicant's job to figure out. First, where do you want to be geographically? A judicial internship is a nice way to break into a market or shore up connections. Second, what level do you want to work at? Appellate or trial? Grades will be somewhat dispositive here now that 1Ls (and obviously 2Ls) have grades. Once you answer these questions, talk to your law school's career services office. They absolutely keep tabs on who goes where, especially on their "home turf", the law school's primary market. If you want to go where everyone else does (like say to the chief judge of the local Federal district court), then you need to have qualifications that put you head and shoulders above the competition, or at least makes you more compelling to hire than the rest of your 1L competition. If you want to go where no one else does, you have that advantage of not facing as much competition.

Once you do steps 1, 2, and 3, you'll have a good idea. Career services will often know of connections too, like say a judge contacts them and says "I would like an intern for Summer 2019" and does not publicly advertise.

Of course, the simplest way to find out is to call the chambers's secretary (often the default number) and ask if chambers takes interns, or send an email. Just sending a cover letter and resume works too - that's what I did after I talked to career services.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that some judges/courts will not hire former interns as clerks due to concerns about favoritism and appearances. My state's supreme court chief justice has this policy.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by usaorbust » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:46 pm

I know this is pretty chamber specific, I would guess, but I would love some info form clerks about judicial internships: What types of assignments do you give interns, how do I know what chambers would be best to work for, what do interns take away form the process, and how do you know which judges will or will not hire interns as clerks.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by MJB » Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:15 am

WorkoutTapesbyFonda wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 9:07 pm
My co-clerk and I were debating whether we should get gifts for everyone in chambers for Christmas and I was wondering if there was a general consensus on this. No one has mentioned a gift exchange and I just assumed there wouldn't be one. My co-clerk really wanted to get a something small (like candy) for everyone. I think we shouldn't because it will make everyone feel awkward when they have nothing for us.

Thoughts?
I wouldn’t, or at least I wouldn’t present it as a “gift.” I think it would be different to bring in candy (or donuts or cookies or something) and put them in the kitchen for everyone, but giving people individual gifts changes the dynamic.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by lawman84 » Sun Dec 16, 2018 3:13 am

WorkoutTapesbyFonda wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 9:07 pm
My co-clerk and I were debating whether we should get gifts for everyone in chambers for Christmas and I was wondering if there was a general consensus on this. No one has mentioned a gift exchange and I just assumed there wouldn't be one. My co-clerk really wanted to get a something small (like candy) for everyone. I think we shouldn't because it will make everyone feel awkward when they have nothing for us.

Thoughts?
I think your instincts are right.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by WorkoutTapesbyFonda » Sat Dec 15, 2018 9:07 pm

My co-clerk and I were debating whether we should get gifts for everyone in chambers for Christmas and I was wondering if there was a general consensus on this. No one has mentioned a gift exchange and I just assumed there wouldn't be one. My co-clerk really wanted to get a something small (like candy) for everyone. I think we shouldn't because it will make everyone feel awkward when they have nothing for us.

Thoughts?

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by RoyalHollow » Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:20 pm

Anonymous23423 wrote:
Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:48 pm
Thanks guys! I meant to also ask (hazards of phone typing) if you'd say I'm in range for district courts. Our clerkship counsellor is just so nice I don't think he'd say no to my face.
If you are "Anonymous6482" from above, then yes, you should be able to get *a* district court clerkship. Might be a stretch for feeders and super desirable judges and whatnot, but for the rest, you should be in consideration. You will be most competitive with judges who have a public interest background/like to see that.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by Anonymous23423 » Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:48 pm

Thanks guys! I meant to also ask (hazards of phone typing) if you'd say I'm in range for district courts. Our clerkship counsellor is just so nice I don't think he'd say no to my face.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by MJB » Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:31 pm

I'd call COA "possible," but not much about your application stands out (except maybe work experience, depending on what you were doing). I think your chances would improve significantly with good legal work experience or a district court clerkship, though.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by lolwat » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:23 am

Anonymous6482 wrote:
Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:32 pm
Wondering where I should be looking/if my clerkship office was overly enthusiastic.

Top 1/3 at a non hys t14, no LR but moot court and secondary journal board. I think I will have strong reccommendations, and I have a bunch of public interest work experience. I’m also super geographically flexible and am applying very widely. My grades this semester should also be stronger than 1L (don’t take finals with fevers!)

Also, if I can signficiantly pull up my grades and end up in the top 15% for 2L grades, would a COA app be realistic?

Thanks!
COA realistic? Yes, but also difficult.

Some non-HYS T14s place better than others.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by Anonymous6482 » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:32 pm

Wondering where I should be looking/if my clerkship office was overly enthusiastic.

Top 1/3 at a non hys t14, no LR but moot court and secondary journal board. I think I will have strong reccommendations, and I have a bunch of public interest work experience. I’m also super geographically flexible and am applying very widely. My grades this semester should also be stronger than 1L (don’t take finals with fevers!)

Also, if I can signficiantly pull up my grades and end up in the top 15% for 2L grades, would a COA app be realistic?

Thanks!

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by Nony » Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:11 am

That makes sense too. Personal circumstances definitely play a role.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by RoyalHollow » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:35 am

I'm stacking two district court clerkships, because (1) I really wanted to work with both judges, (2) the second one is in a city I might want to stay in, and (3) they pay better than most other public interest jobs I could get at the moment and still clock time towards the PSLF.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by Nony » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:18 pm

Yes, going "up" a level adds value, because appellate work is different from trial work, so you get exposed to both (I don't think it matters whether you go D Ct --> COA or vice versa though). Or state v. federal. Or specialized like BK or Tax to general jurisdiction. Or magistrate --> district court. Basically, something that will get you different experience than you've already had. That's why doing 2 of the same level clerkships isn't usually a great idea - I could see exceptions if you were trying to change markets (having done a clerkship makes you more competitive for a second one, doing a clerkship in a new market can help you find a job there) or the second judge was super amazing (like a feeder for SCOTUS). Also, a year is a really great amount of time to learn what clerking is about but 2 years doing the same kind of work can get to be too much, and doing 2 of the same kind of clerkship can look like you are trying to avoid practice in a way that doesn't apply so much if you do a different kind of clerkship.

/

by ES Bubbles » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:43 pm

.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by Nony » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:23 pm

I think it makes sense to do two clerkships if they both add value (usually I don't think it's worth doing two of the same kind of clerkship, but maybe under some circumstances), and if you are going to do them, doing them consecutively makes sense - I think it's easier than interrupting non-clerkship employment.

.

by ES Bubbles » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:19 pm

.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by Nony » Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:07 pm

RoyalHollow wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:36 pm
eta: the honest answer is often the best one: "I took this class because it seemed different and interesting" was correct and a good answer for me. As long as it isn't an obvious GPA-padding class, a non-standard class choice might show intellectual curiosity
Yeah, I think that overall, being able to talk about your genuine interest in a specific class and why you took it makes for a much better interview than talking about a class you thought you should take. (Most judges are going to be interested in what you're like as a person. Some will go all moot court and grill you on substantive legal stuff, but my impression is that most won't.)

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by stoopkid13 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:38 pm

+1 to taking Tax with Rasko. It's a great course to take and he's a great professor. I also think Tax, particularly with Rasko, is a good course to take because it's a very statute heavy course, as opposed to the rest of the 1L curriculum.

Employers will ask about the elective, but I don't think they really care. They're asking to learn more about you--not to see what you've learned as a 1L. Judges care more, and while some may not care about particular classes, I've heard of judges requiring Admin, Fed Courts, and/or Sec Reg.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by RoyalHollow » Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:36 pm

lolwat wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:29 am
Getting slightly off-topic though I suppose. For clerkships you'll likely have more classes on the transcript you submit, so in theory it could matter more. I just never found judges or their clerks cared about which classes I took; but I've only had maybe 7-8 interviews so that's a very small sample size.
+1 that in my ~20 interviews (including 5 clerkship interviews), I have only ever been asked about a particular thing on my transcript 2 or 3 times. The two I remember both involved the interviewer asking about a very specific class which happened to be a topic of personal interest for that interviewer (one was a judge, one was not). But otherwise, no one ever asked about my class selection or why i did/didn't take a class.

eta: the honest answer is often the best one: "I took this class because it seemed different and interesting" was correct and a good answer for me. As long as it isn't an obvious GPA-padding class, a non-standard class choice might show intellectual curiosity

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by lolwat » Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:29 am

jean_nicot wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:13 pm
lolwat wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:56 pm
Besides clerkships I never found employers to really care what classes I took. I can't even remember a single interviewer who had a copy of my transcript; it was always just a resume.
This is inaccurate as applied to OP here. Based on the 1L elective offerings this person lists we go to the same law school. We're required to give our transcripts to employers when we walk into the interview room during OCI, because it's the first/only time they see them. Some interviewers discussed the transcript, some did not, but they all had it in front of them.

To be clear, I have no absolutely idea whether the 1L elective matters for clerkships or employment, but to the extent it does it'll definitely be visible during employment interviews.

(The answer is Tax btw, Raskolnikov is great.)
Fair enough. Question, though: Are all the 1L classes the same (besides the elective), and does OCI happen early enough that you guys only have your 1L grades when you're interviewing?

I think I also submitted my transcript during OCI, it was just my experience that everybody just had a copy of my resume in front of them and asked about that. They occasionally raised broad questions like how I liked X class or what my favorite 1L class was, but they didn't go through my transcript and discuss any classes I took from there. (It also made no sense because, as my question above may have suggested, we all took the exact same classes during 1L--not even an elective--so there wasn't anything unique to ask about other than grades.) But this was years ago, so YMMV as well on that.

Getting slightly off-topic though I suppose. For clerkships you'll likely have more classes on the transcript you submit, so in theory it could matter more. I just never found judges or their clerks cared about which classes I took; but I've only had maybe 7-8 interviews so that's a very small sample size.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by jean_nicot » Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:13 pm

lolwat wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:56 pm
Besides clerkships I never found employers to really care what classes I took. I can't even remember a single interviewer who had a copy of my transcript; it was always just a resume.
This is inaccurate as applied to OP here. Based on the 1L elective offerings this person lists we go to the same law school. We're required to give our transcripts to employers when we walk into the interview room during OCI, because it's the first/only time they see them. Some interviewers discussed the transcript, some did not, but they all had it in front of them.

To be clear, I have no absolutely idea whether the 1L elective matters for clerkships or employment, but to the extent it does it'll definitely be visible during employment interviews.

(The answer is Tax btw, Raskolnikov is great.)

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by lolwat » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:56 pm

IMO--for your 1L elective, take something fun and focus on getting good grades in your core classes. You can take the important stuff later on. Why pile on Corporations or Evidence or whatever when you've already got your usual dense Con Law/Civ Pro/Property/etc. stuff going on?

Also, my gut feeling is that judges will care to some degree if you took at least some of the basic core classes (fed courts, evidence, admin), so you don't want 1L to be your substantive year and 2L-3L to be full of "Law and XXXXX" classes... but you've also got 4 semesters to take these classes. Besides clerkships I never found employers to really care what classes I took. I can't even remember a single interviewer who had a copy of my transcript; it was always just a resume.
Also if you are applying during your 2L year I think this is less of a concern than if you're applying later down the line (like after graduation); no one expects anyone to take Fed Courts as a 1L, for instance (hint: DON'T), and the shorter your transcript is when you apply, I think the fewer conclusions judges can draw.
I vaguely remember being asked by someone or another what classes I planned to take 3L year. That's a good time to say stuff like fed courts / evidence / etc. if you hadn't already taken them. Also, I'd imagine after graduation it matters even less (assuming you're in practice somewhere) because, sure, you didn't take fed courts, but you're gaining experience that kind of makes up for it. But who knows. Maybe all of the seminars and Law and Stuff classes on my transcript prevented me from getting COA interviews even though I had plenty of D.Ct. ones. :)

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by Anon Clerk » Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:10 pm

To the person who asked about classes, I think the general idea is to take more classes that seem rigorous and substantive than those that seem silly. I wouldn't worry about your 1L elective: any of them sound fine.

Beyond 1L year, my understanding is that judges do like to see fed courts and admin. I would recommend taking employment discrimination -- Title VII cases are pretty common in all federal courts. I also think some type of advanced civil procedure class (complex lit, class actions, conflicts of law, whatever) might be good: the exact procedural issues your class focuses on may or may not come up in your clerkship, but you are likely to see complex procedural questions in general. Taking advanced civ pro classes will only make you more comfortable with researching and answering complex procedural questions.

Beyond that, I think it is fine to take whichever substantive classes interest you. If you are interested in civil rights, or antitrust, or international law, or white collar crime, or bankruptcy, or whatever, then any of those classes are good ideas to take. They are all "real," rigorous classes. Clinics and externships are great, too!

But, if you take a bunch of classes that are only tangentially related to law (like "law and anthropology," or "law in the movies," or "comparative approaches to art law," or "cross-cultural diversity seminar" or whatever), then it may seem like you are either trying to pad your GPA or don't really enjoy the law. With that said, you get a couple free passes on less-serious classes, especially if they are things you are interested in. I was able to swing both a federal district court and a COA clerkship with 2-3 silly classes on my transcript. I think it gets tougher if these types of classes overwhelm the real classes on your transcript, though.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by 21157015576609 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:26 am

Thanks! This was very helpful, as always.

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

by Nony » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:23 am

21157015576609 wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:31 am
When do you start looking for your post-clerkship job, especially if you're looking at government where hiring timelines can be totally screwed up?
I always heard Feb-March for firms, although that may be out of date and firms may be looking earlier and earlier (reading the various post-clerkship hiring threads, I think a lot of people start looking really early and freak out when they don't get anything till much later, which might not have happened if they hadn't been looking so early; but then, there are also those gilded children who get snapped up the instant they send out resumes, so some of it may depend on the strength of your application).

WRT government jobs, frankly, I would check postings every day - get USAjobs to send you their daily digest of search for "attorney" (I found that was the key term, but you might have others) - and if you see something you like, apply. I think the big difference between firms and government is that you can usually apply to firms regardless of whether they have an actual opening posted anywhere, whereas that's not really a thing in government (that I'm aware of) (barring some major USAOs that have an open hiring call on their websites, I guess). So if you see a government opening next month that's exactly what you want to do, I would apply and then see how the timing will work out, because there's no guarantee that in April when you want to line up something, they will still have an opening, even if you're the perfect candidate.

Caveat to this is that if you're applying to an agency that appears before your judge on a regular basis, you may want to check with your judge - I don't think simply applying creates any conflicts, but if you get an interview (and definitely if you get an offer) you may need to be recused from any of those cases (i.e. my predecessor got a job with the USAO in the same district as the clerkship and had to be recused from all criminal cases for the rest of the term, which in some districts isn't a hardship for clerks but was in this particular district). If you're going to be conflicted out from like November through the end of your clerkship from a large category of cases before your judge that could be a little dicey. (This is unlikely to be a real problem, just something to be aware of.)

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