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Author Topic: what does it take to get a fed. circuit judicial clerkship?  (Read 5172 times)

superfanny77

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Just curious as I'm a rising 2L. Does it help that you did a judicial externship with a Fed Dist. Court judge? Is it pretty much just being on law review and having a high enough GPA (top 25%?) by the end of your 2nd year? Should you contact prospective judges early on? Any candid advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

CamelMan

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Re: what does it take to get a fed. circuit judicial clerkship?
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2008, 12:33:06 AM »
baff
This post will self-destruct in five, four, three, two....

Jhuen_the_bird

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Re: what does it take to get a fed. circuit judicial clerkship?
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2008, 01:06:20 AM »
tag

jacy85

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Re: what does it take to get a fed. circuit judicial clerkship?
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2008, 07:20:17 AM »
It takes being a student at a T1 (or better yet, T-14) school (this is an "almost always" rule; there are exceptions, but not very many from year to year);

it takes being published, most likely on your law review;

it takes being a member of law review; often, it requires being an executive board member on your law review (again, very, very common amongst fed judicial clerks, but not absolutely required)

it takes very, very good grades (for many districts and circuits, top 25% probably won't be good enough, IMO; but that doesn't mean you shouldn't apply anyway);

and it is very helpful to have excellent recommendations from excellent professors, and perhaps judges.  So if you've interned before, and your judge gives you a glowing recommendation, that may help you (and definitely can't hurt you).

As for whether you can contact judges early, you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT, unless that judge does not hire on the federal timeline.  You can start researching judges now (you CAN call chambers and ask if the judge hires on the federal schedule or if he or she will be reviewing 3L applications early; and you can do some research online to try to figure out what schools the judge often hires from, where the current clerks are from, if there are any alum who have clerked or are clerking now (which are GREAT references, since the clerks essentially are the gate-keepers for interviews).  You can also start getting your application together - you need steller recs from professors, etc.  And you definitely need to get your writing sample in order - it needs to be PERFECT.  Clerks are the ones who read it, and they have hunderds of resumes, cover letters and writing samples, and I know many clerks I've talked to use typos as an initial screening tool - if they see one, your app never even gets to the judge, and ends up in the trash, no questions asked.

You really need to find out if your school has an information packet on clerkship applications.  The process can be overwhelming, and is unlike any application process you've gone through before in terms of timing requriements and restrictions, as well as the logistics of putting everythign together for EVERY judge you apply to.  My school had a big meeting for us, an email list-serv, and a huge packet of info to walk us through the entire process.  I would've been lost without it.


dukedogalley

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Re: what does it take to get a fed. circuit judicial clerkship?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2008, 08:49:58 AM »
do you know of a database showing former clerks and what schools they came from?

vap

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Re: what does it take to get a fed. circuit judicial clerkship?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2008, 09:42:01 AM »
do you know of a database showing former clerks and what schools they came from?

Wikipedia for supreme court
http://lawclerkaddict.blogspot.com/ for U.S. Courts of Appeals
Call the schools you are considering - they will usually provide you with a list.

Lampshade Punk

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Re: what does it take to get a fed. circuit judicial clerkship?
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2008, 10:23:37 AM »
It takes being a student at a T1 (or better yet, T-14) school (this is an "almost always" rule; there are exceptions, but not very many from year to year);

it takes being published, most likely on your law review;

it takes being a member of law review; often, it requires being an executive board member on your law review (again, very, very common amongst fed judicial clerks, but not absolutely required)

it takes very, very good grades (for many districts and circuits, top 25% probably won't be good enough, IMO; but that doesn't mean you shouldn't apply anyway);

and it is very helpful to have excellent recommendations from excellent professors, and perhaps judges.  So if you've interned before, and your judge gives you a glowing recommendation, that may help you (and definitely can't hurt you).

As for whether you can contact judges early, you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT, unless that judge does not hire on the federal timeline.  You can start researching judges now (you CAN call chambers and ask if the judge hires on the federal schedule or if he or she will be reviewing 3L applications early; and you can do some research online to try to figure out what schools the judge often hires from, where the current clerks are from, if there are any alum who have clerked or are clerking now (which are GREAT references, since the clerks essentially are the gate-keepers for interviews).  You can also start getting your application together - you need steller recs from professors, etc.  And you definitely need to get your writing sample in order - it needs to be PERFECT.  Clerks are the ones who read it, and they have hunderds of resumes, cover letters and writing samples, and I know many clerks I've talked to use typos as an initial screening tool - if they see one, your app never even gets to the judge, and ends up in the trash, no questions asked.

You really need to find out if your school has an information packet on clerkship applications.  The process can be overwhelming, and is unlike any application process you've gone through before in terms of timing requriements and restrictions, as well as the logistics of putting everythign together for EVERY judge you apply to.  My school had a big meeting for us, an email list-serv, and a huge packet of info to walk us through the entire process.  I would've been lost without it.



you seem like a really nice person who is very informative and is always offering a helping hand.  I'm being sincere.  But, I just have to ask, how do you know all of this? Half the people in my ls class think they know everything and talk about everything like they do.  I would be crushed to find out you are just like one of those people. 

superfanny77

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Re: what does it take to get a fed. circuit judicial clerkship?
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2008, 10:50:36 AM »
Thanks for the info.

So these are based on grades at the end of 2L year? If so, is there a process for people who apply right after 3L year (graduation) as well? Is it any different (i.e. are they looking to see you have a job/doing something after you graduate?).

In general what's the timeline for application?

289kr

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Re: what does it take to get a fed. circuit judicial clerkship?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2008, 03:15:29 PM »
Quote
Does it help that you did a judicial externship with a Fed Dist. Court judge?

Almost never, unless you have a truly stellar letter of recommendation from that externship.  Federal appellate judges know that an externship is a pretty insignificant achievement--you're a clerk to the clerks, you rarely engage in substantive legal analysis, you didn't get paid for it, you probably got credit for it, you likely obtained it through a connection and not through merit, and you were a 1L at the time.  Unless it's an elite district court judge (Rakoff SDNY, Pollak EDPa, etc.), it's essentially insignificant.

Quote
Is it pretty much just being on law review and having a high enough GPA (top 25%?) by the end of your 2nd year?

No.  It's pretty much being on law review and having a high enough GPA (top 10%).  Making it top 25% (unless it's HYS) would more than double the pool of potential applicants.

Quote
Should you contact prospective judges early on?

What does this even mean?  Should you bug their chambers, asking them if they're willing to look at your application yet?  Beg them to let you apply early?  Harass their clerks to give you hints?

289kr

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Re: what does it take to get a fed. circuit judicial clerkship?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2008, 03:17:08 PM »
I was wondering this as well, I am a 0L but I have a family friend that is a federal judge in the 9th circuit.  I would assume that the judges can make their own decision as to who they hire, but is this incorrect?  Also, I am going to school in Arizona, which is in the 9th circuit, but his offices are mainly in California.  Do you have to be a resident of the same state you clerk in?  Do you have to pass the bar before you can clerk?  I really don't want to take the California bar, I would just want to clerk for a few years and then return to Arizona to practice law.  Thanks!

Judges make their own decisions.  You need not be a resident of the same state in which you clerk.  You generally need not pass the bar before you clerk, but your judge may require it.

If you're a 0L, I would downplay the hopes that your family-friend-judge will connect you with a clerkship, given that rarely do Arizona law schools sent appellate clerks to anyone outside of the state.