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Author Topic: Where to go for best shot at a federal clerkship?  (Read 1602 times)

NYMetsFan

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Where to go for best shot at a federal clerkship?
« on: January 31, 2011, 11:43:13 AM »
Have been admitted to Columbia, NYU and Georgetown.  I think I'm really going to want to do a clerkship after school.  Which of those 3 give me the best shot at getting one?

lawstudent2011

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Re: Where to go for best shot at a federal clerkship?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2011, 11:44:53 AM »
I think it's a bit of a myth that the school makes any difference in if you'd get it or not. Your GPA and LOR's from Prof's would make the most difference. I'd say go to whatever school appears to have the most mouthbreathers and let them raise your GPA for you.

like_lasagna

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Re: Where to go for best shot at a federal clerkship?
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2011, 03:09:29 AM »
North Dakota.

john4040

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Re: Where to go for best shot at a federal clerkship?
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2011, 10:23:50 AM »
Federal clerkships are incredibly hard to get.  Even if you have the grades, unless you're EIC of some T14 Law Review, you generally have to have that "special something" as well (whether it be a call from a professor that personally knows the judge, a particular character trait, a hobby that the judge shares, etc.).  Going to a particular law school with the expectation of becoming a federal clerk is, in my opinion, incredibly foolish.  I'm clerking for a district court and can say that I am very lucky to have this position.  On paper, several other candidates simply blew me out of the water (top grades at Harvard, Yale, and Stanford).  But, I had something that they didn't -- top grades in two classes held by a professor who personally knew my judge.  That professor called the judge on my behalf and the rest is history.

Moral of the story:  Great school + great grades clerkship

BikePilot

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Re: Where to go for best shot at a federal clerkship?
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2011, 02:12:27 PM »
Off the top of my head I can't think of anyone I knew from law school who applied for federal appellate clerkships and struck out.  I certainly know many, many who weren't on LR and probably didn't have top grades who landed awesome federal appellate clerkships though of course grades and LR don't hurt.  The big deal is which judges you can get offers from - there's a huge range in competitiveness from one individual judge to the next (and between circuits as well). 
HLS 2010

john4040

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Re: Where to go for best shot at a federal clerkship?
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2011, 03:50:32 PM »
Off the top of my head I can't think of anyone I knew from law school who applied for federal appellate clerkships and struck out.  I certainly know many, many who weren't on LR and probably didn't have top grades who landed awesome federal appellate clerkships though of course grades and LR don't hurt.  The big deal is which judges you can get offers from - there's a huge range in competitiveness from one individual judge to the next (and between circuits as well).

My point was that you're not guaranteed to get a clerkship from any school.  The clerkship hiring process is extremely random.  Although you can bolster your chances by going to top schools, getting top grades, and knowing the right people; once you've met those criteria, the clerkship hiring process is largely out of your hands.  This question is similar to the "how do I get to WLRK" question.  Going to the best schools, getting top grades, clerking for a prestigious COA or SCOTUS, and knowing the right people will help, but ultimately, it's a crapshoot, and you shouldn't go to one particular school just because you might have a slight advantage of landing WLRK from that school.  Similarly, once you get into those top schools, there is no set school that might give you a significant competitive advantage over another in terms of clerkship placement (at least, not so significant as to make a choice of school based on clerkship placement alone).  I personally know several people in the T14 that were at the top of their class, on Law Review, and still struck out on clerkships this past year.  Once again, I warn the OP not to select his school based on where he might have the best shot at a clerkship.

On a side note, I really am excited that all of your friends applied for, and received, federal appellate clerkships from HLS, however, I'm not certain that your anecdotal evidence disproves anything that I've written - especially since people don't tend to disclose the fact that they failed to get a clerkship or job to people that they don't know (or, even to their own friends, for that matter).  While we're throwing around anecdotes, let me add this:  I personally know of HUNDREDS of HLS grads that have been passed over for clerkships in my Judge's chambers.  I also know that some of those same applicants called our chambers the next year to inquire as to whether the position was open.  It, therefore, seems doubtful to me that EVERYONE who applied for a clerkship at HLS got one.