Clerkship Time

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CS1775
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Clerkship Time

Post by CS1775 » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:58 am

I'm starting to get my clerkship application process rolling. Two state courts that I'm interested in have posted their application requirements and a third will open up soon.

I'm going to need help with... everything... but it would be great if someone could look over my intended writing sample. Happy to PM.

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Nony
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Re: Clerkship Time

Post by Nony » Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:59 am

A lot of judges want a sample that hasn’t been edited by anyone else, so I don’t know if you really want people to look at your writing sample. If you’re trying to decide what kind of sample to use, people can help with that without reading the actual piece.

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CS1775
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Re: Clerkship Time

Post by CS1775 » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:04 am

Nony wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:59 am
A lot of judges want a sample that hasn’t been edited by anyone else, so I don’t know if you really want people to look at your writing sample. If you’re trying to decide what kind of sample to use, people can help with that without reading the actual piece.
Yeah mostly the second option. I want to know if I what I have now is a good sample.

I currently have a memo I completed as part of my internship with a public defender this semester. It's a basic research question + application to facts re: criminal trespass on government property. The attorney I wrote it for has not given me any edits so its entirely my own work.

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MJB
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Re: Clerkship Time

Post by MJB » Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm

It sounds alright to me. A few random thoughts on writing samples:

(1) Something prepared in litigation is usually better than something academic, as it's closer to what the court actually does. You've got that.

(2) Relatedly, something taking a definite position is better than a "survey of the law" type sample. Again, at the end of the day the court has to actually decide who wins, so it's best to have something ultimately recommending a disposition or strategy. It sounds like you've got that too, assuming that your application section ends up taking a clear position. (Similarly, I'd probably use an "objective" sample over something more argumentative if you have the choice, since the court writes impartially.)

(3) It's often better to pick something clear than something complicated. Roughly ten pages isn't really that much space, especially if you use any of it to discuss background facts or the parties' arguments and you're making a real effort to discuss cases in conversation with each other. I've seen quite a few writing samples bite off more than they can chew in that regard.

As with all things clerkship related, individual judges may have preferences varying quite a bit from this - obviously, if you have any information about a particular judge's preferences, go with those.

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CS1775
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Re: Clerkship Time

Post by CS1775 » Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:59 pm

MJB wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:02 pm
It sounds alright to me. A few random thoughts on writing samples:

(1) Something prepared in litigation is usually better than something academic, as it's closer to what the court actually does. You've got that.

(2) Relatedly, something taking a definite position is better than a "survey of the law" type sample. Again, at the end of the day the court has to actually decide who wins, so it's best to have something ultimately recommending a disposition or strategy. It sounds like you've got that too, assuming that your application section ends up taking a clear position. (Similarly, I'd probably use an "objective" sample over something more argumentative if you have the choice, since the court writes impartially.)

(3) It's often better to pick something clear than something complicated. Roughly ten pages isn't really that much space, especially if you use any of it to discuss background facts or the parties' arguments and you're making a real effort to discuss cases in conversation with each other. I've seen quite a few writing samples bite off more than they can chew in that regard.

As with all things clerkship related, individual judges may have preferences varying quite a bit from this - obviously, if you have any information about a particular judge's preferences, go with those.
Thanks for the tip! Got all those boxes checked. My research had a clear conclusion that one or two of the elements of trespass were unsatisfied by the prosecution.

Former clerk

Re: Clerkship Time

Post by Former clerk » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:43 am

Some of this may go without saying, but just a few wuick points—for you and other readers—that were especially important for judges I worked for.

Remember to ask for permission from your employer if you use a work-related memo. My judge would specifically ask every interviewee whether she got express permission from an employer.

Check every letter and every word for typos.

I echo what was said before: the writing sample should be your own, if possible. My judge will ask you if anyone helped you. If someone did help you, just say so. And tell the judge which specific parts you received help on. Consider putting in your cover letter whether and to what extent a supervisor edited your writing sample.

Don’t pick anything too controversial, if you can.

Henrybax
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Clerkship Time

Post by Henrybax » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:35 pm

Wow, thank you for that response.

Top 5 at school ranked in the 60s. I would love an Fed. COA clerkship, but if unable to do so, a Fed. Dist. Ct. clerkship. Is that possible? Maybe look to transfer?

lolwat
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Re: Clerkship Time

Post by lolwat » Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:07 am

I'm slow at responding these days but feel free to PM me if you've got any questions, etc...

Henrybax -- I'd say it's tough but not impossible from your school if you're top 5 in your class. Top 1 would probably look infinitely better than top 5 (it gives you that extra push to say you're literally the top student in your class) but only so much you can do. Transferring would probably be better though others on this forum can give a better sense of whether it helps and how much.

Schools ranked outside the top 20 or so typically are geographically limited but, at the same time, still fairly strong in that limited geographical region. (E.g., Loyola probably places a few clerks here and there in CDCA; Missouri probably places a few clerks in ED/WD Mo, Denver probably places a few clerks there, and so on... and perhaps a couple at the COA level.) You'll need to look at where alums from your school clerked and focus on those judges, and go find and talk to your professors or law school dean to figure out where they can help try to get you interviews as well.

Applicant Anon

Re: Clerkship Time

Post by Applicant Anon » Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:18 pm

lolwat wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:07 am
I'm slow at responding these days but feel free to PM me if you've got any questions, etc...

Henrybax -- I'd say it's tough but not impossible from your school if you're top 5 in your class. Top 1 would probably look infinitely better than top 5 (it gives you that extra push to say you're literally the top student in your class) but only so much you can do. Transferring would probably be better though others on this forum can give a better sense of whether it helps and how much.

Schools ranked outside the top 20 or so typically are geographically limited but, at the same time, still fairly strong in that limited geographical region. (E.g., Loyola probably places a few clerks here and there in CDCA; Missouri probably places a few clerks in ED/WD Mo, Denver probably places a few clerks there, and so on... and perhaps a couple at the COA level.) You'll need to look at where alums from your school clerked and focus on those judges, and go find and talk to your professors or law school dean to figure out where they can help try to get you interviews as well.
Can any clerks confirm that the bolded is true in their chambers as well? Is this a common rule? I finished 1L #1 but coasted and graduated at #10, I'm going to be v sad if there is a substantial difference between #10 and, say, #3.

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Nony
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Re: Clerkship Time

Post by Nony » Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:38 pm

It’s going to depend on your school (assuming you’re not Henrybax) - some judges won’t care, especially for some schools, but there is a certain zing to being able to say “I hire the top student from school X.” Being the literal top student is a big achievement at almost any school, and can help especially if you don’t have other hooks (connections/professors making calls). It’s a little thing that makes you stand out from the crowd a little.

(But of course being in the top 10 students is also very impressive and #1 isn’t required.)

Henrybax, I was at a school ranked a little higher than yours and it’s a crap shoot. I think COA is going to be very hard, given that the top student at my school didn’t get any D Ct interviews, but you miss all the shots you don’t take.

I’m not sure transferring would help a lot - it depends on where you could get into (not something I know a lot about), but being median at higher-ranked school isn’t going to put you in a much better position than where you are now. You may well keep your position in the class, it’s just hard to know that ahead of time. And transferring disrupts your relationships with profs and can make it tougher to get the application together - people sometimes end up looking for clerkships a bit later because of that.

Primarily, I wouldn’t transfer for the increase in clerkship opportunities so much as for all the other reasons to transfer.

lolwat
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Re: Clerkship Time

Post by lolwat » Sat Apr 20, 2019 3:19 pm

Applicant Anon wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:18 pm
lolwat wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:07 am
I'm slow at responding these days but feel free to PM me if you've got any questions, etc...

Henrybax -- I'd say it's tough but not impossible from your school if you're top 5 in your class. Top 1 would probably look infinitely better than top 5 (it gives you that extra push to say you're literally the top student in your class) but only so much you can do. Transferring would probably be better though others on this forum can give a better sense of whether it helps and how much.

Schools ranked outside the top 20 or so typically are geographically limited but, at the same time, still fairly strong in that limited geographical region. (E.g., Loyola probably places a few clerks here and there in CDCA; Missouri probably places a few clerks in ED/WD Mo, Denver probably places a few clerks there, and so on... and perhaps a couple at the COA level.) You'll need to look at where alums from your school clerked and focus on those judges, and go find and talk to your professors or law school dean to figure out where they can help try to get you interviews as well.
Can any clerks confirm that the bolded is true in their chambers as well? Is this a common rule? I finished 1L #1 but coasted and graduated at #10, I'm going to be v sad if there is a substantial difference between #10 and, say, #3.
I agree with Nony it's going to depend on your school, but I think when you're talking about clerkships any marginal benefit with your class ranking helps. #1 always has an advantage over top 1% (which is probably the top 3-5 students), and top 1% has an advantage over #10 (which for most classes probably is more like top 5%). At higher ranked schools you'd be competitive for a clerkship whether you're #1 or #10 so the marginal benefit we're talking about there is probably the type of clerkship you're competitive for (feeder, etc). For lower ranked schools it could mean the difference between getting a clerkship and not--although I'd probably stress the difference outside of being #1 is likely marginal (i.e., the difference between being #3 and being #10 is not as great).

lawman85
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Re: Clerkship Time

Post by lawman85 » Fri May 03, 2019 10:07 pm

Applicant Anon wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:18 pm
lolwat wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 11:07 am
I'm slow at responding these days but feel free to PM me if you've got any questions, etc...

Henrybax -- I'd say it's tough but not impossible from your school if you're top 5 in your class. Top 1 would probably look infinitely better than top 5 (it gives you that extra push to say you're literally the top student in your class) but only so much you can do. Transferring would probably be better though others on this forum can give a better sense of whether it helps and how much.

Schools ranked outside the top 20 or so typically are geographically limited but, at the same time, still fairly strong in that limited geographical region. (E.g., Loyola probably places a few clerks here and there in CDCA; Missouri probably places a few clerks in ED/WD Mo, Denver probably places a few clerks there, and so on... and perhaps a couple at the COA level.) You'll need to look at where alums from your school clerked and focus on those judges, and go find and talk to your professors or law school dean to figure out where they can help try to get you interviews as well.
Can any clerks confirm that the bolded is true in their chambers as well? Is this a common rule? I finished 1L #1 but coasted and graduated at #10, I'm going to be v sad if there is a substantial difference between #10 and, say, #3.
It depends on your school's ranking. But yes, there is a meaningful difference between #10 and #3 for COA courts if you're from a school that isn't in the upper tier (t14 or reasonably close to that), unfortunately.
Henrybax wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:35 pm
Wow, thank you for that response.

Top 5 at school ranked in the 60s. I would love an Fed. COA clerkship, but if unable to do so, a Fed. Dist. Ct. clerkship. Is that possible? Maybe look to transfer?
I was similarly ranked from a school a little higher than yours. I landed a D. Ct. clerkship. You should be able to do that if you apply widely and work any connections you/your school/your professors have. A COA is tougher. You're going to need to apply to basically everybody and hope you get a bite.

It took a year of applying for COA clerkships with a D. Ct. clerkship on my resume and a strong LOR from my judge to finally land one. If I had one regret looking back, I should have made better use of paper applications. Basically, COA is possible, but it's not going to be easy. You'll have to lean even harder on your network and hope something on your resume jumps out to some judges.

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