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Chances of federal circuit court clerkship?

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Saami
Posts: 242
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:56 am

Chances of federal circuit court clerkship?

Post by Saami »

Hello! I'm trying to strategize applying for federal circuit court clerkships, and just wanted a bit of guidance on which circuits/judges I should realistically being looking into. Here's some background on me:

- 3.55 GPA at Columbia (and law review)
- Currently doing a public interest fellowship at a legal nonprofit
- Will be clerking in E.D. Pa. during 2022-23 term
- Local ties to both Pennsylvania and New Jersey
- Ultimate goal is legal academia; I have a few law review publications at this point

I know the obvious choice is Third Circuit, but my grades aren't amazing, so I'm really looking for insight into which judges might not be so picky when it comes to law school grades. My district court judge doesn't really know the Third Circuit judges well so I don't think he could help me get a clerkship beyond having him on the resume.

A bit unrelated, but thoughts on my chances for NYCOA or NJ Supreme Court? Would that be a good fit for me? My goal is simply to find interesting things to do for the next couple years while I write on the side and eventually apply to academic fellowships/VAPs.

Thanks all!
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BlendedUnicorn
Big Tent Energy
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Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:13 pm

Re: Chances of federal circuit court clerkship?

Post by BlendedUnicorn »

columbia will be able to give you much better information about circuit court judge selectivity than us but i feel like the obvious point here is that as a bubble candidate you're going to have to focus on judges with ideological overlap. if you're fedsoc that's easy, if not you might want to look for judges whose past life or current writings suggest they'd find your published work/fellowship/whatever especially interesting. the judges that don't prioritize grades above all else are all going to have rather idiosyncratic things they do prioritize, which would make a theoretical list of non-selective judges not all that helpful to you.
Saami
Posts: 242
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:56 am

Re: Chances of federal circuit court clerkship?

Post by Saami »

BlendedUnicorn wrote: Tue Apr 26, 2022 10:58 am columbia will be able to give you much better information about circuit court judge selectivity than us but i feel like the obvious point here is that as a bubble candidate you're going to have to focus on judges with ideological overlap. if you're fedsoc that's easy, if not you might want to look for judges whose past life or current writings suggest they'd find your published work/fellowship/whatever especially interesting. the judges that don't prioritize grades above all else are all going to have rather idiosyncratic things they do prioritize, which would make a theoretical list of non-selective judges not all that helpful to you.
I see, I see. Makes perfect sense to me. I do stay in touch with Columbia's clerkship office, though they're not super helpful, hence why I make these desperate posts on internet forums. One advisor even told me to not bother applying to clerkships, to give you a sense of the support I receive.

Hopefully others here have insight on which Third Circuit judges are more grade sensitive.
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Nony
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Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:34 am

Re: Chances of federal circuit court clerkship?

Post by Nony »

I can’t tell you anything about Third Circuit judges, but your grades will be slightly less important in light of having a previous clerkship and the fellowship. So I reiterate BU’s recommendation to look for judges who have a PI background (ideally related to your fellowship) or a demonstrated interest in the areas of your publications. And if there are any judges who like work experience, focus on them, to the extent you can tell (admittedly this may be a little more of a D Ct thing).

There was a recent thread on that other site about issues with the NYCOA not being a great experience. NJ SC is supposed to be a very good experience, but I think it’s very embedded in a particular NJ legal community. It’s great for getting into a NJ firm, and I’m sure some of the justices are great to work for, but I don’t know that it would advance your career significantly. That said, if it really is just a matter of time to publish, it might be a good option. (I think state SCs tend not to be as crazy intense, time-wise, as trial and appeal courts since they can be picky and take time to think deeply about issues.)
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