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Author Topic: Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs  (Read 2118 times)

clerk_ing

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Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs
« on: June 02, 2009, 07:40:03 PM »
Fire away.

bryan9584

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Re: Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2009, 08:21:09 PM »
Grades? School? Legal Experience? Connections? Did you SA with a firm 2L summer, and if so do you think you will return there after the clerkship? Best advice to make yourself more attractive to judges? What district are you in, and how competitive do you think it was for you to get a clerkship? How many did you apply to, how many interviews, and how many offers? (although I'm guessing you accepted the first one you got) What were the interviews like?

Hopefully I didn't fire away too many, but any insight would be nice.

Thanks

santropez

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Re: Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2009, 08:42:57 PM »
Wow, the poster above pretty much covered all the bases.  Answer all those questions please :P

clerk_ing

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Re: Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2009, 09:04:06 PM »
Grades? School? Legal Experience? Connections? Did you SA with a firm 2L summer, and if so do you think you will return there after the clerkship? Best advice to make yourself more attractive to judges? What district are you in, and how competitive do you think it was for you to get a clerkship? How many did you apply to, how many interviews, and how many offers? (although I'm guessing you accepted the first one you got) What were the interviews like?

Hopefully I didn't fire away too many, but any insight would be nice.

Thanks

Obviously I will not divulge any identifying information. That being said, I'll tell you the following in the order I think is most appropriate.

1. School: Non-T14 law school.

2. Rank: Top 5%.

3. Legal Experience: I had previously worked for a law firm before entering law school. I worked as an SA with a law firm during my 2L summer. I also interned for a judge during law school. I probably will not return to my firm.

4. District: All I can say is that I am in a competitive district. It is very difficult to get a clerkship, especially now.

5. Application Process: It will not help you to know much about this in my case. I will tell you I applied to about 40 judges. I would recommend applying to more, depending on your school and class rank.

6. Interviews: These are different for every judge. Some judges will ask you substantive legal questions while others will conduct a more informal interview. You should be prepared for both. This means researching the judge with whom you have an interview. I don't think you need to perform strikingly deep research, but some research should be done. Also, note that the clerks are typically doing the first round of interviews. Some judges do more than one interview, others don't. It depends on the judge's preferences.

7. Advice: First, and most importantly, you need to have a stellar academic record. Even if you went to a top school, it helps to show that you outperformed everyone else. It's more impressive to me to see a person who went to a T50 school and placed in the top 1% than to see a person from a T6 in the top 30%. Second, it helps to show that you are a good writer. Often a student note or article can show this. Most judges view law review membership as a plus; some judges require law review membership. Other than that, I typically look for someone with interesting work experience, a solid writing sample, and meaningful letters of recommendation.


santropez

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Re: Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2009, 09:19:14 PM »
Comment on my chances at a competitive district (SDNY, DDC, EDVA, etc.):

Top 1-3% (3.99)
T20
Law Review (no ed board)
Note might get published... don't know yet.
EDIT: I also am getting a recommendation from a prof who was a former clerk of a judge I'm applying to.

On the downside, I have a really awful undergrad GPA.  I just noticed that some judges request undergrad transcripts (hope that doesn't screw me). 

Also, do you think a 35 page Note is too long for a writing sample?  How long is too long?  How long was yours?

bryan9584

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Re: Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2009, 09:22:57 PM »
when you say non-T14, can you get any more specific? I ask because I am at a school 80-100

clerk_ing

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Re: Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2009, 09:41:08 PM »
Comment on my chances at a competitive district (SDNY, DDC, EDVA, etc.):

Top 1-3% (3.99)
T20
Law Review (no ed board)
Note might get published... don't know yet.
EDIT: I also am getting a recommendation from a prof who was a former clerk of a judge I'm applying to.

On the downside, I have a really awful undergrad GPA.  I just noticed that some judges request undergrad transcripts (hope that doesn't screw me). 

Also, do you think a 35 page Note is too long for a writing sample?  How long is too long?  How long was yours?


Your law school credentials are certainly good enough to get you a clerkship in a competitive district, though I would probably expand my range a little. You should be competitive. Your undergrad GPA may hurt you with some judges, but it won't kill your chances. If anything, it may raise an eyebrow or two. How much it affects you depends, of course, on how badly you performed.

A 35-page writing sample is too long. I certainly would not read the whole thing. It's best to have a sample somewhere between 8-15 pages. You need to show your ability while not boring me to death. I would take an excerpt of your sample that shows your analytical ability. My writing sample was around 10-15 pages. Some judges like to see more than one writing sample.

Your recommendation from the prof will help; but what the recommender says is more important than who wrote it (save a select few individuals). EDIT: let me add that, if your recommender clerked for the judge, (s)he may also call the judge. That call is extremely important--more important, most likely, than a glowing rec from a well-known prof.


clerk_ing

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Re: Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2009, 09:43:55 PM »
when you say non-T14, can you get any more specific? I ask because I am at a school 80-100

If you have a specific question in mind, perhaps I can answer it. If you're asking whether you can still get a clerkship coming from a school ranked 80-100, I think the answer is yes. In my opinion, and this is just my opinion, the schools ranked outside of the top 25 or so are all pretty similar.

vap

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Re: Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2009, 11:46:56 PM »
Do you think it matters whether the writing sample is academic vs. practical (for example, a law review note vs. draft order from judicial internship)?  Or should the guiding factors be length and interest?  The academic paper is more interesting, IMO, but I would have to submit an excerpt that isn't a full analysis.  The draft order has both the law and analysis and is short enough to submit the whole thing.

For judges that are currently hiring, would you recommend waiting to apply until we get last semester's grades, or go ahead and apply now and update with new transcripts later (if still in the running)?  I have the rec letters, but after getting a few grades, I think I have a good chance at increasing class rank.  My guess is that I should just apply now because the difference in rank will probably not be the difference between interview vs. waste basket.

Do most judges expect you to interview in person if you are coming from a far away?

Thanks!

clerk_ing

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Re: Dist. Court Law Clerk Taking Qs
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2009, 08:56:03 PM »
Do you think it matters whether the writing sample is academic vs. practical (for example, a law review note vs. draft order from judicial internship)?  Or should the guiding factors be length and interest?  The academic paper is more interesting, IMO, but I would have to submit an excerpt that isn't a full analysis.  The draft order has both the law and analysis and is short enough to submit the whole thing.

For judges that are currently hiring, would you recommend waiting to apply until we get last semester's grades, or go ahead and apply now and update with new transcripts later (if still in the running)?  I have the rec letters, but after getting a few grades, I think I have a good chance at increasing class rank.  My guess is that I should just apply now because the difference in rank will probably not be the difference between interview vs. waste basket.

Do most judges expect you to interview in person if you are coming from a far away?

Thanks!

The "interesting" nature of a paper is irrelevant. They are all fairly boring in my opinion. You want to showcase your writing ability--that is extremely important to a judge. Unless a judge asks for something "practical," then it really makes no difference what you submit. That being said, a draft order might not be the best sample to submit. First, you must get permission from the judge for whom you wrote it. Second, many judges, especially at the appellate level, frown upon these. Since it wasn't used by the judge, however, it might be acceptable.

Before addressing the hiring question, you should know there is a federal law clerk "hiring plan" that applies only to law students. Many judges follow this plan. Applying to judges before the date listed in the hiring plan is not only unhelpful, it is improper.

As far as interviewing goes, you will be expected to travel to most places. Some judges in remote locations conduct phone interviews, and others schedule their interview in a more convenient city.