Too late to clerk?

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Potential clerk

Too late to clerk?

Post by Potential clerk » Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:49 am

I’m an attorney with about 5-8 years of experience. I’ve spent most of my career in public interest, but I’m looking to make a pretty big career change.

I thought that it might be helpful to do a federal judicial clerkship as a way to “reset” my career a la a no-offered 3L getting a post-grad fed clerkship.

First, would doing a federal clerkship actually accomplish the “reset” I’m looking for? Second, if it would, am I too late in my career to convince most judges to hire me as a clerk? And last, would it be too honest to tell a judge during an interview or in a cover letter that I want to clerk for her because I want to use the clerkship as a vehicle to get to a different career path.

Much thanks!

lolwat
Posts: 679
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:06 am

Re: Too late to clerk?

Post by lolwat » Mon Nov 04, 2019 10:36 am

1. I think it can, but it's probably not quite as easy as you're probably hoping for. I don't have enough insight into this though and especially without knowing the details. I'm not sure you'd necessarily have much luck going from PI to Biglaw for example, but I'm also sure somebody along the way has done just that.

2. Yes and no. Many judges still seem to hire directly out of law school so you're generally out of luck with those (some change it up a little bit, have a couple clerks out of law school and have a couple with experience). But it seemed to me that a growing number of judges really like hiring people with experience, and that's where I'd put my focus. 5-8 years is probably on the high end of what I generally hear about but I can't say for sure.

3. I'd probably phrase it differently. I think "good" judges care about their clerks and will be interested in why you want to clerk and what you'd get out of the clerkship--especially when you're 5-8 years out already. I'd focus on the clerkship experience and why you want to do it even though you already have 5-8 years' experience practicing law. But you could definitely work in that you're also looking to transition to career path X and think that the experience you get from a federal clerkship will help you achieve that goal.

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