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State & Local?

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:11 pm
by olemiss18
Hello, folks. Forgive me, I'm not much of a TLS user so I may not be familiar with the norms. I can't seem to find a subreddit suitable for this question, so here I am.

I'm going to UMN in the fall, and it is a powerhouse for state and local clerkships. They send over a quarter of their class to state, local, and federal clerkships each year. While I have a good idea that federal clerkships basically translate into biglaw if you want it, state & local is vague to me (or at least the outcomes are). Obviously a state Supreme Court clerkship is viewed as impressive - maybe as impressive as a fed? - but what is the spectrum of state & local clerkships and where do people tend to go afterward?

Also, how does a clerk pay back heavy student loans on a clerkship salary? Do they just adjust it for the year and readjust when they get their clerkship signing bonus at a firm?

I always thought the natural thing to do would be to apply to a firm straight out of law school, but only recently have I been curious about these clerkship opportunities since the school I'm attending is such a wellspring of them. But I'm still pretty clueless. Any and all info would be GREAT. Thank you all so much for your time.

Re: State & Local?

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:25 am
by Anonymous User
Generally SSC (state Supreme Court) are seen as equivalent to the lowest level of federal district (think flyover, newer judge). A couple of them (CA, NY, DE basically) are seen as equivalent to more of a generic federal district. DE Chancery are also seen as equivalent to a mediocre federal district.

In general I wouldn't expect biglaw out of a state clerkship, unless you could get it prior to the clerkship. The main hiring I would think is local law firms and trial government work (mostly DA office/Defenders). State intermediate appellate court in a bigger state is more likely to be able to get you large regional firms from what I could tell.

Be prepared that most state clerkships are not going to get you a clerkship signing bonus however (or at least not a substantial one). Some firms will give you the equivalent of bar prep costs etc. if they would normally cover it for those they hire directly out of law school.

In sum I would only do most state clerkships if (1) I really wanted to do trial work and (2) I didn't have a good firm job lined up.

For what it is worth I'm about to start a SSC (at one of the three states mentioned above) and kind of regretting accepting it instead of going straight to big law.

Re: State & Local?

Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:51 am
by Anonymous User
I think the above ^ varies a LOT by market. Where I went to law school (non-coastal major metro), SSC clerks did well/went on to biglaw (some had it lined up in advance, but some didn't). Other options were respectable local midlaw firms, but overall, SSC had decent local exit options. I'll grant that a SSC clerkship is unlikely to travel as far as a federal.

State COA was more varied - some people did very well, some struggled more (I think determined mostly by their qualifications coming in), but I did know two state COA clerks who did not have biglaw lined up who used their year to network like mad and both ended up in biglaw.

State trial level is somewhat different as you don't do the same kind of writing/research. The plus is that you get a lot of interaction with a lot of local attorneys, but (except in NJ) they don't carry the same kind of cachet/weight as other clerkships.

I think the main thing is that a SSC will be valued more by firms with practices in that state, whereas if a firm practices exclusively in federal court, it may not be as meaningful (although it's still a decent signal as to your writing/research abilities). And since your knowledge is so state-based, it doesn't travel as well (the federal law learned in a clerkship transfers more directly across jurisdictions).