Clerks Taking Questions

lawman84
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by lawman84 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:37 pm

black_mirror wrote:
Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:18 pm
Is being on law review an absolute must if you want to get a clerkship with a feeder/DC/2nd/9th circuit judge? Do those kind of judges even care about secondary journals (non LW)? Thanks!
The reality with feeder judges is that they have enough applicants who check all of the boxes that it's going to be difficult without one of those boxes checked. That all said, you might be able to overcome it if somebody the judge trusts goes to bat for you. Frankly, if you're aiming for feeders, you need either amazing credentials or a person the judge knows and trusts fighting for you (if not both). As far as secondary journals go, it might help you depending on the journal. Clerkship hiring is very idiosyncratic, and there aren't a lot of feeder judges, so it's hard to give you specific advice here.

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MJB
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by MJB » Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:33 pm

I guess it depends what you’re using DC/2nd/9th as a shorthand for. If you’re willing to apply broadly within those circuits, they’re certainly not all feeder-level picky, but then I don’t know if a spot in Idaho, Montana, upstate New York, Vermont, etc. meet whatever criteria you’re trying to satisfy. If you’re limiting to feeders and (say) NYC/DC/SF/LA, yeah, it’s probably going to be even tougher without an ‘in’ (not to undersell how hard any circuit clerkship is to land).

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AT9
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by AT9 » Sat Aug 25, 2018 8:22 pm

When is the best time to begin applying for post-clerkship jobs at law firms? I've heard around January-March but wasn't sure. Looking at secondary markets in case that matters.

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quiver
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by quiver » Sat Aug 25, 2018 11:29 pm

AT9 wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 8:22 pm
When is the best time to begin applying for post-clerkship jobs at law firms? I've heard around January-March but wasn't sure. Looking at secondary markets in case that matters.
I think conventional wisdom in major markets is now closer to Dec-Feb. Probably a little later in secondary markets (like you said, Jan-March).

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Nony
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Nony » Sun Aug 26, 2018 1:03 am

I think the above is probably correct, but having read a ton of the clerk-hiring threads, I would add that every year there are lots of people who don't get anything until way later (doesn't go strictly to when you should *start* applying, just something to keep in mind).

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AT9
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by AT9 » Sun Aug 26, 2018 7:36 am

quiver wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 11:29 pm
AT9 wrote:
Sat Aug 25, 2018 8:22 pm
When is the best time to begin applying for post-clerkship jobs at law firms? I've heard around January-March but wasn't sure. Looking at secondary markets in case that matters.
I think conventional wisdom in major markets is now closer to Dec-Feb. Probably a little later in secondary markets (like you said, Jan-March).
Nony wrote:
Sun Aug 26, 2018 1:03 am
I think the above is probably correct, but having read a ton of the clerk-hiring threads, I would add that every year there are lots of people who don't get anything until way later (doesn't go strictly to when you should *start* applying, just something to keep in mind).
Thanks!

lolwat
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by lolwat » Sun Aug 26, 2018 3:30 pm

I agree with the above, but will I guess note that I had some luck just asking when they'd like to get applications for post-clerkship positions.

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21157015576609
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by 21157015576609 » 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?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Saami » Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:42 am

Which classes should I be taking beyond my required 1L courses if I'm interested in federal clerkships? I only ask because I have to choose an elective for next semester (I'm currently a 1L), and I'm struggling with choosing between ones I'm genuinely interested in taking (e.g. International Law, The U.S. and the International Legal System, Ideas of the First Amendment, Lawyering for Change) and ones that I imagine would look good on a clerkship application (e.g. Leg/Reg, Corporations, Federal Income Taxation, perhaps Transnational Litigation).

Do judges look down on the "bullshit-y" classes?

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Nony
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Nony » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:12 am

It is almost impossible to generalize about what judges do/don't do; some will care about your courses, some won't. (Though even the ones that do are unlikely to care about whether you take Tax or Transnational Litigation - the big ones to take are likely Evidence, Federal Courts, Admin [so Leg/Reg maybe?] and then core black-letter courses rather than "Law and..." type seminars. I'd say First Amendment is actually an unobjectionable core class, despite the commentary on forums about whether you can actually get a job practicing it.) So it is up to you how much you want to tailor your courses for the hypothetical judge who might look for something or look down on something else.

I also don't think one "squishier" kind of class is going to stand out on a transcript otherwise consisting of the usual required 1L curriculum; it's more when judges are looking at all 3 years, or at least the first 2, and they see all required 1L courses and then almost everything else is a seminar/"Law and..." kind of class, then the judges who care might take note.

Keep in mind 2 things that I, personally, believe (but reasonable minds can differ): 1) you will be trying to get a job after your clerkship as well, and courses may be (at least somewhat) relevant to that. To the extent a class fits your longterm goals (i.e. do you actually want to try to do international law as a career?), I would argue that those plans should trump catering to hypothetical judge preferences. 2) when you interview with judges they tend to ask you about yourself and what you want to do, and personally, I think having a goal for your career and having taken courses that support that goal is helpful for interviewing well.

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.

But yes, it is probably somewhat safer to take "classic," core black-letter courses - bar type courses - if you are going to take the most risk averse clerkship path possible. I think that clerkship hiring is idiosyncratic enough, it's not worth being that risk averse (but then, I never even took Fed Courts and lucked into a clerkship, so that's my bias).

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Nony
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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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21157015576609
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

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

Thanks! This was very helpful, as always.

Anon Clerk

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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. :)

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jean_nicot
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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.)

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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.

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RoyalHollow
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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.

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Nony
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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.)

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Nony
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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.

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Nony
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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.

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RoyalHollow
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post 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.

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Nony
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Nony » Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:11 am

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

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