Advice on District Court Clerkship Benefit

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Advice on District Court Clerkship Benefit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 06, 2018 4:58 pm

Looking for some thoughts on a Federal District Court clerkship and how it would fit in with my particular situation. I am also asking advice from mentors, but want to get some thoughts from the esteemed community here. :-)

I was recently picked up as an Honors attorney for a non-DOJ federal agency and will start after my state court clerkship this fall. The agency's work in actual litigation is limited, but there are some opportunities. This agency was my first choice for career, so I am looking to stay here long term (no desire to try for AUSA or litigation-based agencies in the future). I was also hired in the office location where I currently reside and own a home, so no moving was a big plus.

I met with a District Court judge in a secondary market a few months ago based on a recommendation from a professor. My stats alone, while decent(top 15%, EIC of secondary journal, strong pre-law background, but a TTT law school), would probably not have gotten me an interview for a federal clerkship. The judge apparently liked me and asked me to keep in touch and let him know if I am available for later terms (clerks for this upcoming term are already selected). This judge is highly experienced and apparently well regarded, and the short time I talked with him we seemed to get along. Talking to his clerks was also enlightening, and I think I would work well with the judge.

I don't have an offer, but it seems like I am on the short list, if I want it. I need to write to the judge in the near future to let him know if I am available for a clerkship, thus need to decide if this clerkship is something I want to shoot for. I definitely would love to clerk at the federal level, know it would be a great learning experience, and that I would enjoy the work. Concerns would be picking up and moving my family for a year (to a high COL area), potentially leaving the honors program for a year and having to reapply to the agency, and convincing my wife that all this would be worth being a clerk for another year. :lol: If it wasn't for the family, then I would go for this in a heartbeat.

Looking for some thoughts from people who have had a federal clerkship and gone into non-litigation focused agencies. What are the benefits this could bring (besides looking good for my career)? Any change I could convince the agency to let me take the clerkship and pay for the relocation (they have offices all over and pay moving expenses when transferring offices on a regular basis)? Thanks in advance for the thoughts.

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Re: Advice on District Court Clerkship Benefit

Postby Barrred » Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:13 pm

There is definite resume-value to having done a federal clerkship, but if you have already been hired by the agency that you want to work for long-term, its not clear that having a more "competitive" resume moves the ball forward at all with respect to your particular career goals.

I'm sure that you would learn things clerking that would benefit your non-litigation agency work, but my guess is that you would learn more actually working at the agency.

Its flattering that your professor is recommending you, and that the judge likes you, but don't let the ego-boost of those things (as well as a natural desire for prestige) override a rational assessment of your options.

Clerking on the district court is great, and it was the best job I ever had, hands down. But it doesn't make sense for everyone. Based on your situation (already have non-lit-focused dream job, in dream city where your family is located, and no desire to change jobs do lit-focused federal agency work), I'd say clerking wouldn't make a lot of sense for you.

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Re: Advice on District Court Clerkship Benefit

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 06, 2018 8:15 pm

I absolutely agree with all of the above.

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Re: Advice on District Court Clerkship Benefit

Postby anon sequitur » Sat Jul 07, 2018 6:28 pm

youre kind of nuts to be seriously considering this at all. You can’t guarantee your old job will be there for you when you get back. Clerking can be great, but it’s ultimately a means to an end, not an end in itself.

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Re: Advice on District Court Clerkship Benefit

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:52 am

Barrred wrote:
Its flattering that your professor is recommending you, and that the judge likes you, but don't let the ego-boost of those things (as well as a natural desire for prestige) override a rational assessment of your options.

Clerking on the district court is great, and it was the best job I ever had, hands down. But it doesn't make sense for everyone. Based on your situation (already have non-lit-focused dream job, in dream city where your family is located, and no desire to change jobs do lit-focused federal agency work), I'd say clerking wouldn't make a lot of sense for you.


Good advice, and along the lines of what I have been thinking myself. Exactly why I posted this question, to see if I was crazy for thinking of turning down a fed clerkship. Funny to see people saying the opposite, but makes sense based on my situation.



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