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Author Topic: Super Confused - Firm, Judge, etc?  (Read 2323 times)

DietMtnDew

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Super Confused - Firm, Judge, etc?
« on: August 04, 2009, 03:40:07 PM »
Hey all. I am right around the top 1/3 of my class at a T30 law school after 1L year. I am not on a journal.  I interned for a federal district judge this summer, and would like to clerk for a federal judge (district or appellate, whatever) after law school, before moving on from there to bigger things.  The judge I worked for told me that when evaluating clerkship applications, almost anything can suffice for a second-summer position...summer associate positions, federal government positions, what have you.

I am applying to firms for summer associate positions, and am exploring my options when it comes to federal appellate internships for next summer.  Question is: what do you guys think is most beneficial?  I am not on a journal, so I'm at a bit of a disadvantage against similarly qualified candidates who will be applying to federal clerkships in a year's time. My thinking is that if I can leverage my just-completed internship into an appellate level internship (which I understand is no gimme at all) that would set me up pretty nicely.  But assuming I couldn't get such a position, would it be at all worth it to intern for another district court judge? What about the same exact judge?

Just feeling a bit lost is all.  Any advice, or even just well wishes, would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

nealric

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Re: Super Confused - Firm, Judge, etc?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2009, 04:37:20 PM »
Speaking frankly:

With your stats and given the state of the legal hiring market, it's not terribly likely that you will get any federal clerkship or a summer associate position. This is not to say give up and don't try, but to have any chance you are going to need some incredibly hard work and some good luck.

Summer judicial internships are vastly less competitive than clerkships. If you got to know your judge, you probably have a good idea whether they would vouch for you. What you need is a judge, or someone who is a very good friend of one, who thinks you are hot stuff. They need to make a phone-call on your behalf. Keep in mind that top 1/3 people at Harvard will have a hard time getting a federal appellate clerkship without any journal experience (even with journal experience in this economy). District clerkships are more realistic, especially if you are willing to clerk in a more remote area. Even more realistic are the magistrate judge clerkshps, which may be translatable into a district or appellate clerkship down the line.

As far as SA spots, make sure every single Nalp-member firm you would at all consider working for gets your resume somehow. Identify regional firms in the city you want to practice and try to target them specifically in cover letters, etc.

Network your heart out with anybody who might know a judge or firm partner who could put in a good word.

Bottom line, the most beneficial position will be whatever allows you to meet the right people and gain the experience needed to be excellent at what you do. That might be a judicial internship, might be something else depending on circumstances.

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big - fat - box

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Re: Super Confused - Firm, Judge, etc?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2009, 09:18:26 PM »
Fed clerkships are highly unlikely for you. I would look into State Supreme Ct. clerkships or maybe even a State Appellate clerkship. For your second summer, your best strategy is to work somewhere, anywhere that might be able to hire you after law school. If the employer doesn't hire fresh law grads, or it's post-grad hiring is vastly more competitive than a 2L summer internship, I would seek 2L summer employment elsewhere.

SA at a big firm is also highly unlikely. The pool is just too competitive in the current economy. You should start networking with alums immediately to learn more about non-big firm jobs. Honestly, I wouldn't even waste time on big firms, because it will just take time away from finding a job at a place that will actually hire you.

DietMtnDew

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Re: Super Confused - Firm, Judge, etc?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2009, 11:19:57 AM »
Thank you both for your candid advice. I will keep on truckin'.  Best wishes go out to everyone!

vap

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Re: Super Confused - Firm, Judge, etc?
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2009, 11:12:12 AM »
For your second summer, your best strategy is to work somewhere, anywhere that might be able to hire you after law school. If the employer doesn't hire fresh law grads, or it's post-grad hiring is vastly more competitive than a 2L summer internship, I would seek 2L summer employment elsewhere.

+1 to this.  If you're set on clerking, think of your 2L summer employer as "insurance."  If your clerkship applications don't pan out, you want to have an alternative plan. 

But you could also try to spend half the summer with a firm and the other half with a circuit judge.  I think this would be a good plan.  With no journal, you really need to distinguish yourself for clerkship applications.  If that's not some bigwig making a phone call on your behalf, try to get something published, or do one or more additional judicial internships.

As for your chances, I agree with others.  But even state appellate clerkships could be difficult to get without any journal experience.

ram1

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Re: Super Confused - Firm, Judge, etc?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2009, 01:04:13 PM »
I agree that with your credentials as they stand now you are extremely unlikely to get a federal appellate clerkship.  Why is a clerkship important to you?  You said that you wanted to do a federal appellate clerkship before moving on to "bigger things".  Do the "bigger things" require a federal appellate clerkship?  A federal appellate clerkship is a great experience, but there are few positions for which that is the only route.  Law professor maybe.

As far as getting a job as a SA, I'm not sure your prospects are quite as bad as others might have suggested.  I work at a 200+ atty, mid-size city firm, and we would certainly not dismiss a candidate with your credentials without any consideration.  Not being on a journal will not hurt you as much in the law firm search as you might be led to believe by those at law school.  I would just make sure that you have something else to point to that you did productive in lieu of being on a journal.

To get back to your specific question.  The best chance you have at getting a federal appellate clerkship, like someone else said already, is going to be through connections.  I think you could make those connections either by working directly for a judge or by working at a larger law firm if you seek out attorneys at that firm that did clerkships and do really great work for them.  Maybe they will put in a good word for you with their judge.  But as I already said, I think your prospects for fed app clerkship are slim.
   

ferbear

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Re: Super Confused - Firm, Judge, etc?
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2009, 08:58:35 PM »
I agree that with your credentials as they stand now you are extremely unlikely to get a federal appellate clerkship.  Why is a clerkship important to you?  You said that you wanted to do a federal appellate clerkship before moving on to "bigger things".  Do the "bigger things" require a federal appellate clerkship?  A federal appellate clerkship is a great experience, but there are few positions for which that is the only route.  Law professor maybe.

As far as getting a job as a SA, I'm not sure your prospects are quite as bad as others might have suggested.  I work at a 200+ atty, mid-size city firm, and we would certainly not dismiss a candidate with your credentials without any consideration.  Not being on a journal will not hurt you as much in the law firm search as you might be led to believe by those at law school.  I would just make sure that you have something else to point to that you did productive in lieu of being on a journal.

To get back to your specific question.  The best chance you have at getting a federal appellate clerkship, like someone else said already, is going to be through connections.  I think you could make those connections either by working directly for a judge or by working at a larger law firm if you seek out attorneys at that firm that did clerkships and do really great work for them.  Maybe they will put in a good word for you with their judge.  But as I already said, I think your prospects for fed app clerkship are slim.
   

That was exactly my experience applying to summer associate positions without a journal. I think out of the various screeners and callbacks I did, the journal issue only came up negatively once to my knowledge. Being able to address it confidently and explain about what I'd done with my time instead and how that had impacted my skills was, I felt, a very good moment in a lot of interviews. I'll let you know how the clerkship apps go, though -- I've definitely preemptively set my sights lower because of it.
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