New District Court Clerk—When Does It Get Easier?

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New District Court Clerk—When Does It Get Easier?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:22 am

One week down in my district court clerkship in flyover country. I'm feeling a little shell-shocked, and a bit like a chimpanzee with a machine gun.

When did people figure out what the hell was going on in their clerkships? The other clerk in chambers has been fairly helpful, but everyone keep asking if I have questions, and I don't even know what I'm supposed to be asking about. I've been working about 8 to 8 and I'm just barely keeping my head above water. I'm sure I'm inefficient as hell right now, but off the top of my head, I have 5 memos or opinions to be submitted by mid-week.

Also, the editing process with the judge is ... less than robust. There is very little back-and-forth unless there are major disagreements in the application of the law. My legal writing is fine, and I am at least decent at self-editing but its still pretty scary. I'm not sure there's much that can we done w/r/t this but it just adds to the stress.

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Re: New District Court Clerk—When Does It Get Easier?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:53 pm

Just finished my first week as well, and I can really relate to your experience. I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing most of the time. And, as you said, I don't know what I should be asking.

I'm mostly fine when told "write a memo/opinion on X," although I'm still not really confident with it. But the day to day stuff I really am confused and feel way in over my head (when to issue orders and what orders, for example).

Sorry I don't have any advice to help you, but just letting you know you're not alone feeling lost.

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mjb447
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Re: New District Court Clerk—When Does It Get Easier?

Postby mjb447 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:One week down in my district court clerkship in flyover country. I'm feeling a little shell-shocked, and a bit like a chimpanzee with a machine gun.

When did people figure out what the hell was going on in their clerkships? The other clerk in chambers has been fairly helpful, but everyone keep asking if I have questions, and I don't even know what I'm supposed to be asking about. I've been working about 8 to 8 and I'm just barely keeping my head above water. I'm sure I'm inefficient as hell right now, but off the top of my head, I have 5 memos or opinions to be submitted by mid-week.

Also, the editing process with the judge is ... less than robust. There is very little back-and-forth unless there are major disagreements in the application of the law. My legal writing is fine, and I am at least decent at self-editing but its still pretty scary. I'm not sure there's much that can we done w/r/t this but it just adds to the stress.

The bolded is extremely common: lots of judges manage their clerks this way regardless of how experienced they are. Just a function of how much work there is to get done and what your role is. Like you said, there's not much to be done about it, but I understand why it's a little anxiety inducing.

Anecdotally, a lot of people I've talked to didn't really feel comfortable until several months in.

jd20132013
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Re: New District Court Clerk—When Does It Get Easier?

Postby jd20132013 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:14 pm

6-8 months

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Re: New District Court Clerk—When Does It Get Easier?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:30 pm

When I started as a district court clerk in fIyover country, I overlapped with one of the smartest people I know. He told me he had no idea what he was doing when he started and that it took him four months to figure things out. I drew comfort from that comment in the months ahead. I don't remember when I started to feel on top of things but I think four months is about right.

All that to say, what you're feeling is normal. It's not you; it's the job. Work hard, try your best, ask questions, correct mistakes, and know that you'll come out the other side having experienced enormous growth. Good luck.




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