Give up?

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april_ludgate
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Give up?

Post by april_ludgate » Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:47 pm

I am a Harvard 3L. I applied right when the plan opened, and I have continued applying since then. I'm around top 10-15% grade-wise; I do multiple extracurriculars; I have had multiple research assistant positions; I have interned at an impact lit place, a top law firm, and a public defender office; my recs are from three pretty big names and I have been told that they are great; I am not on law review, but I am editor-in-chief of a secondary journal; I did our moot court; I have a pending publication with a (low tier) law review; I went to an Ivy undergrad, where I was magna/phi beta kappa. I have not heard a word from any judge. I started out applying to around 60 judges, mostly in the northeast (mistake, I know now). Since then I have branched out to applying to basically every liberal federal judge still open, for 2021-2023. Does anyone have any advice for me? What more can I do? All my clerkship advisors do is tell me to hang in there (and they have checked my apps multiple times for typos). Am I just out of luck? I feel hopeless.

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BlendedUnicorn
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Re: Give up?

Post by BlendedUnicorn » Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:03 pm

Harvard’s clerkship advisors know this shit as well as anyone, so I’d trust them. Process is probably extra weird this year, but it seems like you’re well positioned to do just fine. I assume you have a backup plan? Also, keep in mind that it’s becoming increasingly common for people to work for a year or two before clerking.


Also, and perhaps less helpfully give your circumstances, clerking is a giant flame.

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pneumonia
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Re: Give up?

Post by pneumonia » Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:25 pm

You should consider the other half of the judiciary. Even as a liberal, you can apply to most Bush/Trump appointees without applying to someone on the far end of the conservative spectrum. Most cases, and thus most of a clerk's work, don't have any left/right polarization. And working for a liberal judge won't spare you from applying distasteful precedent on issues like qualified immunity. That said, I'm surprised your credentials haven't yet produced a better result, and I would expect you to land something even if you don't expand your application pool.
Last edited by pneumonia on Sat Nov 28, 2020 6:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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april_ludgate
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Re: Give up?

Post by april_ludgate » Fri Nov 13, 2020 8:52 pm

pneumonia wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 7:25 pm
You should consider the other half of the judiciary. Even as a liberal, you can apply to most Bush/Trump appointees without applying to someone like Walker or Ho. Most cases, and thus most of a clerk's work, don't have any left/right polarization. And working for a liberal judge won't spare you from applying distasteful precedent on issues like qualified immunity. That said, I'm surprised your credentials haven't yet produced a better result, and I would expect you to land something even if you don't expand your application pool.
I guess I just feel like if I'm going to clerk, I want to get a mentor out of it, and I feel like the best way to do that is at least someone on the same side of the aisle (I am very far left lol). But I've already expanded a bit, and will probably continue

Story
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Re: Give up?

Post by Story » Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:02 pm

I would not give up. You have very good credentials on paper. I would apply more broadly.

What does “liberal” judge mean to you when you apply? How are you determining whether a judge is liberal?

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april_ludgate
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Re: Give up?

Post by april_ludgate » Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:21 pm

Story wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:02 pm
I would not give up. You have very good credentials on paper. I would apply more broadly.

What does “liberal” judge mean to you when you apply? How are you determining whether a judge is liberal?
At this point I've applied to like, 150 judges or something. But I'm trying to broaden as much as I can. And I know this is strange but I look at judicial common space scores.

ES Bubbles
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Re: Give up?

Post by ES Bubbles » Sat Nov 14, 2020 7:40 am

Gotta broaden your search if you really want to clerk. Don't get me wrong, 150 judges is quite a bit, but I'm guessing those are mostly circuit judges or "top of the pile" district judges. Consider state supreme courts and Article 1 courts. Like BU said, also consider skipping clerking and go work for a few years. Law firm experience is pretty much never going to hurt a clerkship application.

Additionally, have you gone to your career services people and asked them to review your materials? There might be some flaw that you are missing that is moving you to the discard pile. Did you apply to those 150 judges with the same generic cover letter or did you customize each one? If generic, then you will need to take the time and do some research to target and customize a few letters. Some judges don't care and I'm not saying to customize all of them, but our chambers paid a little more attention to applicants with cover letters that were at least a little targeted aka at least 1 sentence.

Story
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Re: Give up?

Post by Story » Sat Nov 14, 2020 2:21 pm

april_ludgate wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:21 pm
Story wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:02 pm
I would not give up. You have very good credentials on paper. I would apply more broadly.

What does “liberal” judge mean to you when you apply? How are you determining whether a judge is liberal?
At this point I've applied to like, 150 judges or something. But I'm trying to broaden as much as I can. And I know this is strange but I look at judicial common space scores.
As the other poster said, you need to apply to more. I applied to at least 200, all over the country. Be open to clerking for a magistrate judge first and then moving up to Article III.

I don’t know how accurate judicial common space is. I wiki’ed it, and it seemed fine. I wouldn’t rely on just that, though.

I don’t know what other people’s clerkship experiences were like, but when I clerked, politics rarely, if ever, influenced our rulings. Especially at the DJ level, you’re really just trying to follow circuit precedent and go where precedent leads you. I never felt that my judge was trying to reach a certain “conservative” or “liberal” result.

Maybe at the circuit level, things get more political.

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BlendedUnicorn
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Re: Give up?

Post by BlendedUnicorn » Sat Nov 14, 2020 2:40 pm

Frankly if you're far left you probably are less comfortable with assisting in the role all judges play in enforcing the carceral state. the difference between liberal judges and conservative judges is that liberal judges complain about mandatory minimums in the first half of their speech to the local bar association and not the second half.

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Nony
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Re: Give up?

Post by Nony » Sat Nov 14, 2020 3:27 pm

For the record, lots of judges don't give any criminal work to their clerks, so while you may have an issue with the judicial role in the carceral state, you may well not be directly involved in that.

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Stranger
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Re: Give up?

Post by Stranger » Sat Nov 14, 2020 3:38 pm

ES Bubbles wrote:
Sat Nov 14, 2020 7:40 am
Additionally, have you gone to your career services people and asked them to review your materials? There might be some flaw that you are missing that is moving you to the discard pile. Did you apply to those 150 judges with the same generic cover letter or did you customize each one? If generic, then you will need to take the time and do some research to target and customize a few letters. Some judges don't care and I'm not saying to customize all of them, but our chambers paid a little more attention to applicants with cover letters that were at least a little targeted aka at least 1 sentence.
There may be some merit to this. I've got a slightly worse class rank, a significantly less prestigious law school, no journal, no publications, and the disadvantage of being in my late 30s, and still managed to sniff a couple of interviews with Article III judges (no offers, and they were low prestige districts, but I at least made the interview). That is, of course, only anecdotal evidence, but I would think you'd get better responses than I did. I compromised more on the politics of judges I applied to, but the two who interviewed me were both appointed by Democrats.

It may also just be a brutal cycle (I've heard lots of talk of this, particularly regarding second/third year firm folks lining up clerkships because of the timing of the pandemic).

Story
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Re: Give up?

Post by Story » Sat Nov 14, 2020 11:10 pm

I’ll also add that you can have a great mentor and boss who might be more conservative than you. Especially for judges, the benefit of the mentorship relationship doesn’t really come from having similar political beliefs. Just saying.

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