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Author Topic: Clerking??  (Read 1708 times)

Kirk Lazarus

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Clerking??
« on: April 04, 2009, 11:28:01 AM »
The current plan is to go to a firm next year for one year and then participate in a clerkship. My grades are pretty good, but I have no law journal experience. Also, my course work is not diverse. I've completed some of the traditional transactions courses such as: Commercial Transactions, Bankruptcy, Business Organizations and Antitrust, but most of my course work focuses on criminal law and writing about the death penalty. I've worked at the U.S. Attorney's Office, but in a small market. I've taken virtually no advanced courses on the law and history or advanced Constitutional law or things like that. I also have not published any articles while in law school. If I were to do a clerkship, I'd want to do either a federal appellate or federal district court clerkship, but I'm unsure if my qualifications make me a likely candidate to receive an offer.

Does anyone have any idea what the qualifications are to get an appellate clerkship? Will working a year augment my ability to receive a clerkship or hinder my chances? My main reason for wanting an appellate clerkship is to augment my research and writing skills, but I'm also looking to build a relationship with my judge who can serve as sort of a mentor. Is this sort of relationship commonly built among clerks? I also have a list of judges I would like to clerk for, but the list is pretty small. Should I cast a wider net? I would preferably like to clerk for a Black member of the judiciary. It isn't I have anything against white members of the judiciary, but after having a vast majority of my teachers in law school be white, I'm looking for something a bit different.

Finally, while my focus is appellate...I wouldn't mind a district court clerkship perhaps. Does anyone know the main differences between the two experiences?

Thanks.



YLS c/o 2009

Matthies

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Re: Clerking??
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2009, 12:29:42 PM »
To be completely honest, your schools name is going to mean more than anything you actually did while there for clerkships. I donít think working for a year or two will hurt you either, and may give you the opportunity to ďwait outĒ for your chance to work with a specific judge because youíre more flexible. You can also publish during this time, even if its just stuff for the local bar association newsletter, they are always looking for articles or comment pieces or case reviews. I also know a few attorneys who worked then clerked so itís not uncommon.

Iím assuming from your desire to find a mentor that you have not had the chance in law schools to form many relationships with lawyers/judges. Change that as soon as you get to wherever youíre working. You donít need to clerk for a judge to get a good judge mentor. Iím white but one of my closest friends and my personal mentor is an African American judge I met through the Inns of Court.

The American Inns of Court are specifically set up to foster mentoring and friendship between new lawyers or law students and lawyers with more experience and judges. My inn has about 100 active members, several federal judges including the chief judge in our circuit, and many lawyers with 30 years or more of experience. Its been a great learning opportunity and fantastic mentoring over the past three years, if youíre looking for a mentor I canít recommend this path enough. It also wonít hurt when youíre looking for a clerkship to already know several judges who intern know more judges etc.

Check out http://www.innsofcourt.org/Content/Default.aspx?Id=2 and look for chapters in the city where you will be working.

Good luck on your search!
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Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Clerking??
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2009, 12:56:20 PM »
Hmmm...Thank you, Matthies, for your reply. I will definitely check out the American Inns of Court. Great suggestion!
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A.

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Re: Clerking??
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2009, 08:43:37 AM »
I think you should be able to get something, although having a short list certainly decreases your odds.  Not being on a journal isn't that much of a hindrance coming from YLS, esp. for district court clerkships, although I will admit that it's kind of odd given how many journals we have and the fact that most people did at least one first semester.  Working a year or two won't really matter one way or the other, since it's so common, although it might be useful to the extent that you develop a relationship with someone that knows a judge personally.  I would suggest applying for clerkships in the early summer and really tailoring your cover letters to the judges that you're considering.  Highlight your strengths and connect them to something about the judge.  You would also increase your chances by saying that you'd be willing to clerk for either the 2010 or 2011 clerkship year.  For instance, my judge has already finished hiring for 2010, so if you said that that was all you wanted, then the clerks would probably screen you out.

As for district v. appellate, both have their advantages.  District is great if you want to get a good feel for motions practice and see a trial in action.  Appellate is great for learning how to comb through a record and assess (and develop) points of law...it's much more academic (but with real-world impact).  Some district court judges will "ride circuit" and sit on an appellate panel once a year or so, in which case you can also get a taste of what an appellate clerkship is like.  Having made it through 8 mos of my appellate clerkship, I can say that the experience is awesome.  I was indifferent between appellate and district coming in...and honestly, I still am.  That said, when I was applying, I went back and forth between doing 1 or 2 years of clerking (i.e., district then appellate), and now I'm absolutely sure that I'd want to do only one year.  Lol I'm tired of being poor.

Kirk Lazarus

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Re: Clerking??
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2009, 10:05:50 PM »
I think you should be able to get something, although having a short list certainly decreases your odds.  Not being on a journal isn't that much of a hindrance coming from YLS, esp. for district court clerkships, although I will admit that it's kind of odd given how many journals we have and the fact that most people did at least one first semester.  Working a year or two won't really matter one way or the other, since it's so common, although it might be useful to the extent that you develop a relationship with someone that knows a judge personally.  I would suggest applying for clerkships in the early summer and really tailoring your cover letters to the judges that you're considering.  Highlight your strengths and connect them to something about the judge.  You would also increase your chances by saying that you'd be willing to clerk for either the 2010 or 2011 clerkship year.  For instance, my judge has already finished hiring for 2010, so if you said that that was all you wanted, then the clerks would probably screen you out.

As for district v. appellate, both have their advantages.  District is great if you want to get a good feel for motions practice and see a trial in action.  Appellate is great for learning how to comb through a record and assess (and develop) points of law...it's much more academic (but with real-world impact).  Some district court judges will "ride circuit" and sit on an appellate panel once a year or so, in which case you can also get a taste of what an appellate clerkship is like.  Having made it through 8 mos of my appellate clerkship, I can say that the experience is awesome.  I was indifferent between appellate and district coming in...and honestly, I still am.  That said, when I was applying, I went back and forth between doing 1 or 2 years of clerking (i.e., district then appellate), and now I'm absolutely sure that I'd want to do only one year.  Lol I'm tired of being poor.

Thanks Alci.  ;D

Being poor is not so bad ITE. Everyone is :)

In all seriousness, your reply is very helpful. I know I've talked with you about this in the past and your answers have always been very illuminating.
YLS c/o 2009

greenplaid

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Re: Clerking??
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2009, 11:07:25 AM »
I think you should be able to get something, although having a short list certainly decreases your odds.  Not being on a journal isn't that much of a hindrance coming from YLS, esp. for district court clerkships, although I will admit that it's kind of odd given how many journals we have and the fact that most people did at least one first semester.  Working a year or two won't really matter one way or the other, since it's so common, although it might be useful to the extent that you develop a relationship with someone that knows a judge personally.  I would suggest applying for clerkships in the early summer and really tailoring your cover letters to the judges that you're considering.  Highlight your strengths and connect them to something about the judge.  You would also increase your chances by saying that you'd be willing to clerk for either the 2010 or 2011 clerkship year.  For instance, my judge has already finished hiring for 2010, so if you said that that was all you wanted, then the clerks would probably screen you out.

As for district v. appellate, both have their advantages.  District is great if you want to get a good feel for motions practice and see a trial in action.  Appellate is great for learning how to comb through a record and assess (and develop) points of law...it's much more academic (but with real-world impact).  Some district court judges will "ride circuit" and sit on an appellate panel once a year or so, in which case you can also get a taste of what an appellate clerkship is like.  Having made it through 8 mos of my appellate clerkship, I can say that the experience is awesome.  I was indifferent between appellate and district coming in...and honestly, I still am.  That said, when I was applying, I went back and forth between doing 1 or 2 years of clerking (i.e., district then appellate), and now I'm absolutely sure that I'd want to do only one year.  Lol I'm tired of being poor.

Thanks Alci.  ;D

Being poor is not so bad ITE. Everyone is :)

In all seriousness, your reply is very helpful. I know I've talked with you about this in the past and your answers have always been very illuminating.

Glad you clarified that you've spoken to Alci in the past. He was the first person who came to mind when you posted your issue.
Is it correct to assume that you would now recommend some journal involvement for most law students? (Or just for those who might later consider clerking?)
Also, congrats and good luck.