Clerks Taking Questions

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Stranger
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Stranger » Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:03 am

This question came up in a discussion among my fellow 0Ls. Is there a way to tell if a school's clerkship placement success is primarily linked to judges of a certain ideological persuasion?

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Nony
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Nony » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:58 am

I think you’d have to get a list of prior placements at the school and check out the judges. Look at who appointed them and pull a selection of their opinions, if you can find something more revealing. You could also just google the judge and see what comes up (one judge in my law school market has spoken repeatedly about his disagreement with drug laws, which gives you some idea).

The other thing is to find out who the big profs are at your school with connections who push students to particular judges. Those profs may well share the judges’ political persuasions. And if your school has only one or two profs with this kind of influence, yeah, there may be a better track record with one party or the other, I suppose. But the more big name profs, the less likely this is to be the case.

Lastly if you talked to people on the school’s clerkship committee (schools have these), someone might just tell you.

Personally I don’t think ideological persuasion matters as much as people worry it does, at least for most clerkships. Certainly not at the district court level, because most of the time the law is pretty clear, and the major concern is getting it right rather than pushing a particular political agenda (my judge and I were not on the same political page and it was never an issue). I realize that doesn’t stop judges from selecting for ideology, but I still don’t think it’s a huge thing. COA may be different. I think it mostly matters when you’re getting into feeders, which is a small group of people, but for which there may be more of a political pipeline.

So personally I don’t think a school, generally, placing primarily with judges of one political persuasion is really a thing to worry about, but I suppose that could be naive.

(I’m also not sure this is something 0Ls should be worrying about in picking a school.)

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Stranger
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Stranger » Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:56 pm

Thank you. And yes, it's more detail than a 0L should typically be digging into, but the question came up in a discussion of how to decide between two very similar schools at equal COA, one of which has superior clerkship numbers but a political reputation contrary to the 0L trying to decide.

ndirish2010
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by ndirish2010 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:43 pm

Stranger wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:03 am
This question came up in a discussion among my fellow 0Ls. Is there a way to tell if a school's clerkship placement success is primarily linked to judges of a certain ideological persuasion?
Anecdotal (based on experience clerking on the Seventh Circuit and talking with clerks elsewhere) - I would say about half of the circuit judges screen for ideology. On CA7, Wood and Hamilton do on the left, Sykes, Manion, and Kanne on the right (and I assume Easterbrook, who is not as conservative as he once was). Ripple, Flaum, and Bauer don't. Rovner has only career clerks.

At Notre Dame it's well known we feed to mostly conservatives, but that's because our heavy hitter profs are conservative and our student body tends to be more conservative than any other T25 school.

Hstrat
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Hstrat » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:14 pm

Likely UVA matriculant here, and I'm shooting for an eventual SCOTUS clerkship - I realize it's the longest of long shots, but I figure it's a good goal. I'm nervous about getting the kind of professor connections it seems like you need - that was always a weak point for me in UG. Any suggestions?

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Nony
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Nony » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:25 pm

Caveat that I was never in the same universe as SCOTUS clerk candidates, so if there is something different about SCOTUS particularly you will have to get that from elsewhere, but: write brilliant exams. Participate intelligently in class. Go to office hours to talk about questions you have and be reasonable and personable (and brilliant of course). Work as an RA for them and do stellar work.

I am sure there are/can be political elements to the process, and that probably varies by school/prof, too. But from what I've read about this, profs who have the connections to push someone in front of SCOTUS are going to be looking for glittering candidates who will reflect well on them. There was a SCOTUS clerk who posted on TLS and he emphasized just how smart and good his colleagues were. So be really smart and go talk to your profs.

Snow
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Snow » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:36 am

Hstrat wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:14 pm
Likely UVA matriculant here, and I'm shooting for an eventual SCOTUS clerkship - I realize it's the longest of long shots, but I figure it's a good goal. I'm nervous about getting the kind of professor connections it seems like you need - that was always a weak point for me in UG. Any suggestions?
Nony's advice above is good, but just to add a bit of emphasis: Having connections absolutely matters, but having top grades matters more. And the latter can lead to the former, even for someone who isn't great at networking.

For professors who want to be influential with SCOTUS, they need to build trust with the justices by delivering top-notch clerks. They aren't going to recommend a mediocre student because they think that student is funny or charming or something, because that will break that trust. So absolutely, go to office hours, say smart stuff in class, do RA work, especially RA work that showcases your research and writing ability. But also finish at the top of your class, because doing all of that other stuff at median isn't getting you to SCOTUS.

And also be realistic. UVA does quite well at placing SCOTUS clerks, but that still means two or three students per year. Have a backup plan.

Hstrat
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Hstrat » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:21 am

Snow wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:36 am
Hstrat wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:14 pm
Likely UVA matriculant here, and I'm shooting for an eventual SCOTUS clerkship - I realize it's the longest of long shots, but I figure it's a good goal. I'm nervous about getting the kind of professor connections it seems like you need - that was always a weak point for me in UG. Any suggestions?
Nony's advice above is good, but just to add a bit of emphasis: Having connections absolutely matters, but having top grades matters more. And the latter can lead to the former, even for someone who isn't great at networking.

For professors who want to be influential with SCOTUS, they need to build trust with the justices by delivering top-notch clerks. They aren't going to recommend a mediocre student because they think that student is funny or charming or something, because that will break that trust. So absolutely, go to office hours, say smart stuff in class, do RA work, especially RA work that showcases your research and writing ability. But also finish at the top of your class, because doing all of that other stuff at median isn't getting you to SCOTUS.

And also be realistic. UVA does quite well at placing SCOTUS clerks, but that still means two or three students per year. Have a backup plan.
Thanks, you and Nony have been helpful. And yeah I realize it's a crazy goal, but it seems like every step along that path is a very useful one for other career opportunities as well, so it seems like a good goal to shoot for.

Guestclerk

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Guestclerk » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:21 pm

I just want to echo what's been said above. Having top grades > connections, mainly because top grades (with an emphasis on "top") can--and often will--lead to great faculty and administration connections. The reverse isn't true.

3LAnon

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by 3LAnon » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:58 pm

Thanks to all of the clerks who are willing to answer questions.

I understand this depends on the judge, but how much can do you think phone calls help an applicant with otherwise borderline credentials get an interview on a competitive circuit?

Say I have top 10% grades from a lower T-14 but no LR. Otherwise, a decent but not amazing resume. Have a district court clerkship in a flyover district. These credentials typically are not that strong for 2/9/DC, but I have a prof willing to call a couple judges she personally knows on one of those circuits. Do any of you know how much your judge values these types of calls? Or is it one of those things where the call won't really move the needle for someone unless they otherwise are absolutely competitive?

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Nony
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Nony » Fri Feb 16, 2018 5:16 pm

If the prof knows the judge and will speak highly of you I think that absolutely can move the needle. It will (as always) depend on the judge and probably what they think of your prof, and what the prof can say, but if they value your prof’s judgments it can absolutely help.

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by lolwat » Fri Feb 16, 2018 6:10 pm

If the judge values the professor (or a former clerk, or a friend)'s call, you'll have a great shot at getting an interview. I think that's probably generally true (except maybe with SCOTUS & feeder judges). A professor that personally knows a judge isn't going to seriously go to bat for you with that judge if they aren't confident about you. They're not going to want to ruin their relationship with the judge, and likewise, the judge will likely trust that professor especially if the prof has sent great clerks to the judge in the past. Since you're already in the realm of competitiveness, a call will make you extremely competitive.

Anecdotally, I helped my judge with two clerkship application cycles, and every applicant that came highly recommended by someone the judge knew and trusted got an interview and offer--except one, who still made it to the shortlist despite having nowhere near the credentials for a clerkship (think median from a T100).

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MJB
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by MJB » Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:12 pm

Agree with what’s been said - if it’s someone the judge trusts it can absolutely get you an interview you probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

ConflictedApplicant

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by ConflictedApplicant » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:30 am

I'm not sure this is as much a question as me trying to figure out if I'm being as crazy as I think I am. I will be interviewing with a judge in the future, and the judge expressed to me that if he does offer, he's okay with me weighing my options and going with a different clerkship if I feel it's the best opportunity for me.

I'm putting the cart before the horse here, but am I crazy to not feel comfortable with that? I feel like I am being crazy, but it doesn't make me feel good about myself to sit on an offer in order to weigh my options. I'm a very loyal person, so I feel a tremendous sense of loyalty to a judge willing to offer me a clerkship. Thus, the thought of shopping around makes me feel very guilty, but the judge is okay with it, so shouldn't I be?

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Nony » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:39 am

Yes. You absolutely should be. Both judges I clerked for gave me this opportunity; if he didn’t want to do this he doesn’t have to offer it. Basically he’s letting you know that’s he’s not one of those judges who expects candidates to accept an offer on the spot, so you don’t need to freak out about the possibility. And you don’t owe anyone loyalty for offering you a job (courtesy, politeness, sure, but not loyalty).

(Plus I’m sure there will be limits to how long you can sit on the offer - it will likely let you follow up on outstanding applications/conduct an interview that’s been in the works, but it’s not going to be a thing where you keep applying regardless and four months down the line tell him you’ve changed your mind. I mean I’m sure you know that, but wanted to say it anyway.)

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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by MJB » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:50 pm

I get where you're coming from, but you should feel absolutely no guilt about this. If it makes you feel any better, the judge probably does it in part because it's in his best interest - helps ensure that he gets more people who accept because they really want to come to his chambers and like the feel/culture and fewer people who accept because they happened to get an offer from him first.

Also, you're a professional (or will be one pretty soon) - it's in your best interest to start tempering the amount of loyalty you feel toward someone who offers you a job. Otherwise, it's easier to end up underpaid or in a position that's not the right fit for you. (And it's not like you have to leave him twisting in the wind forever or [like Nony said] that that's even an option.)

ConflictedApplicant

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by ConflictedApplicant » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:15 pm

Thank you both for the input. You're right. I'll still likely take the job because I think the fit will be right from a personality standpoint (based on what I've heard about the judge). My only hesitation in all of this is that it's a little further from home than I was hoping to be, but that's not a deal-breaker for me.

BroilersNotStewers
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by BroilersNotStewers » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:31 pm

Can anyone share info about the credentials needed for CDCA/NDCA/SDCA. I understand that NDCA/CDCA are generally going to be very competitive and even beyond that it varies a lot by individual judge. What kind of grades/credentials will I need coming out of a T6 for one of the potentially less competitive judges in CDCA/SDCA? Do ties to SoCal help? Also, any info/speculation on whether those judges will comply with the hiring plan or not would be welcome. I'm assuming pretty much anyone on the 9th Circuit will require stellar grades, correct me if I'm wrong please.

Guest

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Guest » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:14 pm

My general sense is that CDCA/NDCA roughly looks for top 15-20% from CCN, with more wiggle room at HYS, and a sliding scale below that for the rest of the T14. Outside of NY/DC it's as competitive as district courts get, but there are a bunch of judges and I get the sense a fair number are a bit idiosyncratic hiring-wise, so apply broadly and see what happens. 9th Cir. is probably 10% and LR to have a chance, and that's just a chance, since it's so competitive. Don't the judges list Judicial Hiring Plan status in their OSCAR profiles?

Actually you're a 1L so you don't have OSCAR yet- the really really early hiring is only for super-early, super-selective feeders who your school will contact you about (not speaking from direct experience, just gossip). For everyone else, make an OSCAR profile when you can and figure out who's participating in the pilot, and who isn't.

BroilersNotStewers
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by BroilersNotStewers » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:11 am

Guest wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:14 pm
My general sense is that CDCA/NDCA roughly looks for top 15-20% from CCN, with more wiggle room at HYS, and a sliding scale below that for the rest of the T14. Outside of NY/DC it's as competitive as district courts get, but there are a bunch of judges and I get the sense a fair number are a bit idiosyncratic hiring-wise, so apply broadly and see what happens. 9th Cir. is probably 10% and LR to have a chance, and that's just a chance, since it's so competitive. Don't the judges list Judicial Hiring Plan status in their OSCAR profiles?

Actually you're a 1L so you don't have OSCAR yet- the really really early hiring is only for super-early, super-selective feeders who your school will contact you about (not speaking from direct experience, just gossip). For everyone else, make an OSCAR profile when you can and figure out who's participating in the pilot, and who isn't.
Is there a way to find out how grade selective individual judges are or what they're like to work for besides info I can get from OCS?

lolwat
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by lolwat » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:13 pm

BroilersNotStewers wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:11 am
Guest wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:14 pm
My general sense is that CDCA/NDCA roughly looks for top 15-20% from CCN, with more wiggle room at HYS, and a sliding scale below that for the rest of the T14. Outside of NY/DC it's as competitive as district courts get, but there are a bunch of judges and I get the sense a fair number are a bit idiosyncratic hiring-wise, so apply broadly and see what happens. 9th Cir. is probably 10% and LR to have a chance, and that's just a chance, since it's so competitive. Don't the judges list Judicial Hiring Plan status in their OSCAR profiles?

Actually you're a 1L so you don't have OSCAR yet- the really really early hiring is only for super-early, super-selective feeders who your school will contact you about (not speaking from direct experience, just gossip). For everyone else, make an OSCAR profile when you can and figure out who's participating in the pilot, and who isn't.
Is there a way to find out how grade selective individual judges are or what they're like to work for besides info I can get from OCS?
You can talk to previous clerks (alums more likely to help you out in the pre-application stage), but beyond that you're probably going to be relying on either generalities or as much information as someone on LSL/TLS is willing to give.

necho2
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by necho2 » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:18 pm

BroilersNotStewers wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:11 am
Guest wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:14 pm
My general sense is that CDCA/NDCA roughly looks for top 15-20% from CCN, with more wiggle room at HYS, and a sliding scale below that for the rest of the T14. Outside of NY/DC it's as competitive as district courts get, but there are a bunch of judges and I get the sense a fair number are a bit idiosyncratic hiring-wise, so apply broadly and see what happens. 9th Cir. is probably 10% and LR to have a chance, and that's just a chance, since it's so competitive. Don't the judges list Judicial Hiring Plan status in their OSCAR profiles?

Actually you're a 1L so you don't have OSCAR yet- the really really early hiring is only for super-early, super-selective feeders who your school will contact you about (not speaking from direct experience, just gossip). For everyone else, make an OSCAR profile when you can and figure out who's participating in the pilot, and who isn't.
Is there a way to find out how grade selective individual judges are or what they're like to work for besides info I can get from OCS?
Honestly if you want to be in CA, and aren't immaculately credentialed, you probably just need to apply broadly and not worry about that stuff. Once you get your application materials ready, it's so low-cost to apply to each judge (and your chances are individually so low), that I would just blanket, with a few exceptions for really unpleasant judges that clerking alums from your school may be able to help you with.

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MJB
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by MJB » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:33 pm

necho2 wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:18 pm
BroilersNotStewers wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:11 am
Guest wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:14 pm
My general sense is that CDCA/NDCA roughly looks for top 15-20% from CCN, with more wiggle room at HYS, and a sliding scale below that for the rest of the T14. Outside of NY/DC it's as competitive as district courts get, but there are a bunch of judges and I get the sense a fair number are a bit idiosyncratic hiring-wise, so apply broadly and see what happens. 9th Cir. is probably 10% and LR to have a chance, and that's just a chance, since it's so competitive. Don't the judges list Judicial Hiring Plan status in their OSCAR profiles?

Actually you're a 1L so you don't have OSCAR yet- the really really early hiring is only for super-early, super-selective feeders who your school will contact you about (not speaking from direct experience, just gossip). For everyone else, make an OSCAR profile when you can and figure out who's participating in the pilot, and who isn't.
Is there a way to find out how grade selective individual judges are or what they're like to work for besides info I can get from OCS?
Honestly if you want to be in CA, and aren't immaculately credentialed, you probably just need to apply broadly and not worry about that stuff. Once you get your application materials ready, it's so low-cost to apply to each judge (and your chances are individually so low), that I would just blanket, with a few exceptions for really unpleasant judges that clerking alums from your school may be able to help you with.
+1. People also may be slightly more willing to talk to you once you have an interview in hand, at which point you can find a way to cancel if a judge sounds terrible.

Guest

Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by Guest » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:12 pm

Worth it to do a BK clerkship and then a COA clerkship?

Incoming SDNY/DE bk clerk.

Primary interest in BK, but secondary interest in appellate lit.

THade
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Re: Clerks Taking Questions

Post by THade » Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:43 pm

Any perspective on my chances or tips of where I should be applying or what I should be doing?

T20 school, Top 1/3rd, EIC of Law Review. I'm looking for 2019, or in 2020 after a year in biglaw.

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