Clerkship Timing (or should I clerk at all?)

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Clerkship Timing (or should I clerk at all?)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:20 am

I am a 2L at a T14, we're not ranked or anything but I'm guessing I'm probably in the top 20% at least. On LR, and currently have a job lined up for next summer at a V30. Very interested in patent law (particularly patent litigation), and that's what I would be doing at my SA (and I did last summer at my 1L SA).

I am currently waiting on recommenders to finish letters so that I can begin applying for clerkships, but am having second thoughts. My girlfriend and I have been together 7 years now. She started at a Ph.D program at my school the same year I started law school, but her program is 6 years long. By the time she finishes, I'll likely be 3 years out of law school. However, after that she has to complete a post-doc, which is a few more years and will likely be in another city. In that case, we would move.

My thought process is that I can clerk right away (in 2019, when I graduate), but that would mean I would only work for 2 years at my firm before potentially having to lateral. Alternatively, I could work for 3 years at the firm then clerk if/when we move before lateraling. The third alternative is that I don't clerk at all; I still don't fully understand what the benefits are of clerking and how useful it is once I've already started working.

Any thoughts? When's the best time to clerk? Should I clerk at all?

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Re: Clerkship Timing (or should I clerk at all?)

Postby lolwat » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:32 am

Since there's no info about location, for patent lit all I can really say is it would be useful if you can get a fed cir clerkship or maybe cdcal with the patent pilot program. D del maybe too. If any of those happen to coincide with where you are at, great. Otherwise, might not be really worthwhile.

Best time to clerk is within the first few years of your career. Clerk -> 2 years -> lateral is fine. So is 3 year --> clerk -> lateral

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Re: Clerkship Timing (or should I clerk at all?)

Postby Rowinguy2009 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:37 am

Yea I think this mostly comes down to personal preference. I clerked after working at a firm for two years, with the goal of switching to fed gov after. My personal opinion is that if you actually want to stay/be in private practice, mid-career clerking is less beneficial than if you plan to transition to government or something like that. Nonetheless, clerking will always be (1) a cool, learning experience, and (2) a "prestigious" bullet point on your resume that you can talk about for pretty much your entire career.

Because clerking midcareer is a relatively newish phenomenon, I think a small number of boomer partners kind of look skeptically at those who do it, and question if they're really devoted to private practice (I had one or two partners pretty much ask if I was trying to position myself to become a career clerk when I told then I was leaving the firm to do the one year clerkship). However, if you clerk midcareer in conjunction with your move to another city, I think that makes the decision to clerk all the more explainable.

TLDR - I think clerking is great, but more suitable with some goals than others. It sounds like whichever way you go you'll be good.

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