Oh, I get it now. It seemed that people in this thread were reporting that there were judges who considered it inappropriate for applicants to even send in materials, so I conflated what you were saying with that. But you yourself said she disapproved of people sending apps pre-confirmation (if I have the anons straight).
Nony - no, you have the anons mixed (btw to those of you saying I am abusing anon, I am using it because I am drawing from my experiences with my judge and other judges with whom I interviewed. I cannot speak to their habits/preferences if there is a risk of outing them). What I am saying is the judges that have reservations about hiring early, in my experience, are concerned about acting improperly themselves. Generally they are concerned that 1) they might give someone an offer and then the confirmation will not materialize, and that 2) it is presumptuous for them to assume they will be confirmed.
My point is that that is very different than the judges thinking the applicant is being presumptuous. The applicant is not making any presumptions. They are just saying, "If you get confirmed, I would like to work for you." In fact, I often put in my cover letters to nominees "Pending your confirmation to [COURT], I am applying to serve as your law clerk during [TERM]." I would also sometimes put things like "I realize you may not be hiring at this point, but I wanted to express my interest in working for you, etc.."
But yes, I concede there is possibility that some judge out there will think the applicant is acting improperly. But I would strongly encourage any potential clerkship applicants to disregard that possibility entirely. I know that sounds like srtong language but you have to weigh the possibility of their disapproval against the very real advantage you acquire by putting your materials in front of them before they post on OSCAR and receive as many as one thousand additional applications.
As to this point:
In what world outside of judicial clerkships is it normal to ask someone for a job at a place where that person doesn't even work yet?
I don't understand why, in evaluating clerkship hiring trends and preferences, we would look to hiring outside of clerkships. Clerkship hiring is incredibly unique and idiosyncratic. In what other profession do people regularly hire 2 - 3 years in advance? New judges usually have about a month to get their chambers up and running. There is a tremendous amount of work they have to do during that time. One of the last things they want to be doing is wondering whether they will have reliable clerks.
I am simply speaking from my experience applying to multiple nominees and getting very positive feedback from several of them (including the one that hired me) for having done so.
By the way, there is a spectrum here. I don't recommend applying the second the White House makes an announcement. I do think, though, that once a nominee is our of committee, it is fair game. As I said, in my experience, the worst that happens is they thank you for your interest and say they will consider your application if they are confirmed (one of the judges with whom I got an interview, by the way, said just that to me).