Besides "extremely," how hard is to land a federal district court clerkship? I am around top 10% (my school doesn't tell you exactly where you stand) and on law review at one of the 3 schools in the Philadelphia area which are ranked between 65-75 in USNews. What kind of chance would I have at landing one of these gigs (for either D.N.J or E.D.PA) with these credentials?
Also, what else should I be doing/joining to improve my chances? I guess the number one thing would be to try to get my LR article published? Should I try to get a research position with a professor or would that be considered only marginally if at all? Teaching assistant?
Any help or inside knowledge greatly appreciated.
As someone who just landed a federal district court clerkship, I will give you want I learned from the whole process. It all has to do with where you went to law school, and where the judge went. Apply to judges that went to your law school. You didn't go to UPenn, judging by your post -- so I imagine you are either at Villanova, Temple or Rutgers. So, you have one (if you are at 'Nova) that I know off the top of my head on the COA, Judge Rendell. Apply to her. Seek out and find the other judges that graduated from your law school, and apply to all of them. Get recommendations from two profs, and one boss. Most profs will write you great references. If you can, work for a professor as a research assistant -- most judges like this. I can almost guarantee you that unless you are number 1 in your class or the judge went to your law school, there is little point in applying outside of PA or Jersey. Most judges in other states will hire from their own law school or the T14 schools. These people get hundreds of apps from students who did just as well as you and went to better known, not necessarily better, law school. So, you can imagine how this plays out. If Judge A has 100 apps, and he plans on interviewing 10. You went to Temple, 'Nova or Rutgers. He went to Virginia. Why would he interview you when he has apps from students with the same grades but went to Virginia, Penn, Georgetown, Yale, Stanford etc... Exactly, he wouldn't. That is my advice. I hope it doesn't crush your dreams. You have the grades. I am sure you will get a shot at a few, and if you do remember to go all out in the interview. It may be your only shot. Good luck!