What to do after State Trial Court Clerkship?

Post Reply
User avatar
CS1775
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:17 am

What to do after State Trial Court Clerkship?

Post by CS1775 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 6:48 am

Landed a state trial court clerkship yesterday! My state doesn't have an intermediate appellate court, so there's just the (very small) SSC and then the state trial court. Think of a small New England state like RI/VT/NH/ME. The clerkship is for one year, 8/20-8/21.

Right after I sent in my acceptance, I started wondering about what to do after the clerkship. Here's how I see my options:

*Apply for a second clerkship with a SSC, intermediate appellate court in another state, or a Federal District Court clerkship. I think the "easiest" route would be an intermediate or SSC clerkship. I'm going to ask around my law school to learn if STC-->FDC is too much of a reach. The usual route for clerks AFAIK is STC-->SSC-->FDC.

*Work for a local private firm. This is the avenue that's sort of a mixed bag for me. Pros: a STC clerkship in this state is a very well-known thing and its very common for STC clerks to move into firms post-clerkship. I would also be seeing potential employers on a daily basis in court and would be in a great spot for networking. Cons: I have zero private firm experience.

*Work for a local government agency or public defender. Two out my five internship experiences occurred at the local state PD, first as a student practitioner and currently with their appellate unit. I've also taken two classes with PD staff as professors. The PD's office feels like "home." I also did another PD internship in another state.

I think the best option is to apply for another clerkship so I have a more portable, liquid resume. Currently, if I were to stop after one STC clerkship, my future is looking good but rather hemmed into this one state. What I'm confused/concerned about is going through the clerkship application grinder again during bar prep. For example, one SSC I'm interested in begins applications on 4/1. Another one allows the individual justices to hire at their leisure, meaning I could be applying and interviewing around the 4th of July (interviewed with one such judge this past year like I posted in the clerking Q&A thread) or in October.

Thoughts?

User avatar
Nony
Posts: 5961
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:34 pm

Re: What to do after State Trial Court Clerkship?

Post by Nony » Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:01 am

I think that STC --> SSC is more realistic than STC --> FDC, unless you already have a resume competitive for FDC and/or your STC judge has connections and can advocate for you. You could more likely go from SSC --> FDC after that, if you were so inclined. It doesn't mean you shouldn't apply to FDC now, but I would be realistic about your chances.

As for going through the application process during bar prep - that's just how it works. You already have all the application materials, basically, so you shouldn't need to spend much time on that. Taking a day (or maybe two if you have to fly) to interview during bar prep isn't going to put you behind or hurt your chances of passing, and no reasonable judge will make you interview right around the exam itself (by which I mean the week of or maybe the week before; around July 4 is not a problem).

As to what you should actually do after the clerkship - that's a purely personal choice. If you want to keep your options open, clerking again is probably the best option. If you want to be a PD, go be a PD. If you want to work for a local private firm, work for a local private firm (although this is the least-defined option - "local private firm" could vary wildly in terms of culture, pay, hours, and nature of the work).

User avatar
MJB
Posts: 290
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:26 pm

Re: What to do after State Trial Court Clerkship?

Post by MJB » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:04 am

I agree with Nony. If you're not quite ready to settle into a long-term job yet and you still want to see what's out there/build a "liquid" resume, applying for another clerkship is reasonable, and taking a few days during bar prep for interviews (or illness, or a friend's wedding, or whatever) isn't going to hurt you.

You can also revise later: since judges often hire earlier than other employers, you can probably still try for gov/PD/firm if you're not getting much interest re: a second clerkship, and you can always stop sending apps and turn down interviews if you're really concerned about being behind on bar prep. (Seriously, though, the latter probably shouldn't concern you.)

Congratulations on your new clerkship!

User avatar
ggocat
Posts: 1049
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2018 5:19 pm

Re: What to do after State Trial Court Clerkship?

Post by ggocat » Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:59 am

Congrats on the clerkship! It will probably be a good experience, and I hope you come back and post about it.

I also think state trial to state appellate makes more "sense" and is more likely to be obtainable than US district court. Might as well apply to both and see what happens. USDC could open more doors to higher paying jobs in biglaw and federal government, but having a mix of trial and appellate experience (particularly in the same state) will make you an attractive candidate to many firms and government organizations. The local PD may be impressed with a federal clerkship, for example, but the experience won't be worth as much in practice compared to having an appellate clerkship in that state.

I would pursue another clerkship. Since the hiring schedule is so far in advance, there's really no reason not to do it in your situation. (Unless you need more money, different location, or hate research and writing, among other personal reasons...) Don't worry about interference with bar prep. As Nony said, you have most of your materials ready already. Studying for the bar takes some time, but I bet you are prepared to manage studying with a few job applications after three years of law school. Some people even work during bar prep. Remember, it's a "minimum competency" test.

User avatar
CS1775
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:17 am

Re: What to do after State Trial Court Clerkship?

Post by CS1775 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:27 pm

Thanks all!

Good to know that clerkship apps shouldn't mess with bar prep too much. What I really want is to be able to move around and following up with a second clerkship would open that door, unlike staying local after the 20-21 term. I'm not ready for a long term job.

I interviewed for SSC/SIAC clerkships this application round, so what I think I'll do is focus on targeted SSCs and FCDs. SSC applications run from April to September/October, so if I totally strike out, I'd still have a fair amount of time before the end of the clerkship.

lolwat
Posts: 714
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:06 am

Re: What to do after State Trial Court Clerkship?

Post by lolwat » Sat Jan 25, 2020 2:22 am

Oh, looks like this got covered already. I would've responded earlier with all the same advice everyone already gave so I just send everything above. It sounds like going for the second clerkship is the right move for your goals.

Lots of trial judges where I am run in the same circles no matter STC or FDC (they often do bar stuff or presentations together), so I'd probably at least see if your judge knows any federal judges and can help you out there.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests