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.

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