Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

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Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:02 pm

I know that there has been some discussion on these forums regarding whether volunteer law clerks are/should be treated the same as term or permanent law clerks, including whether they should be listing their official title as "law clerk" or "volunteer law clerk" on their resumes. So, I thought this might be helpful for future reference.

Our circuit received an email recently in which Judges were informed that individuals who work for chambers on a volunteer (i.e., non-paid) basis, including volunteer law clerks, are prohibited from listing their official title as "law clerk," volunteer law clerk," or any derivation thereof on resumes (or similar employment documents). The email cited to the Guide to Judiciary Policy as the basis for the rule. Judges were also instructed to warn any applicable individuals that HR has and will continue to refuse to verify the employment of someone as a law clerk who describes him or herself as having served as a volunteer law clerk, even if that individual had responsibilities co-extensive with those of permanent and/or term law clerks. The email warns that failure to abide by the Judiciary Policy constitutes a violation of the policy and misrepresentation.

Interesting.

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Re: Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:51 pm

More evidence that the idea of a volunteer law clerk is ridiculous. The only situation where it makes sense is for non-US citizens who really want to clerk.

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Re: Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 01, 2018 8:07 pm

It’s not ridiculous with the right judge, supervision, and assignments when you can’t get a paying job in your jurisdiction.

It’s kind of shitty that the judiciary is giving volunteers a hard time over a fucking title. The only thing this accomplishes is maintain the prestige of clerkships. People who land paid A3 clerkships are going to be ok even with a little credential inflation caused by “volunteers” law clerks”

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Wild Card

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Re: Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby Wild Card » Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:37 pm

Thank you for sharing this important information with us.

Some judges have insisted that "volunteer" law clerks are treated exactly the same as law clerks.

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Re: Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 01, 2018 10:25 pm

Who sent the email? That's a pretty shitty way of handling it. As an A3 law clerk, I think it's silly to try and take away the law clerk title from volunteers. For some courts, they give the paid clerks a decent QoL by helping better spread the caseload. If they're doing the same work, they deserve the title. At the end of the day, though, that's the judge's call.

If this is an HR email, I have to laugh. I can't imagine that many A3 judges give a single crap about what HR thinks on that topic. HR can refuse to verify, but I have no doubt the judge would. And the judge's opinion is the one that actually matters. I'm not the sort of person who looks down on HR or anyone else who works at the courts. I appreciate what they do. However, that is a craptastic, petty, and insulting policy. If that is an HR policy, I think they might be regretting that approach soon. I can't imagine that the judges who value their volunteer clerks took that email too well. And if there's one thing you don't want to do while working for the court, it's piss off the guys with life tenure.

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Re: Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:13 pm

Could you disclose which circuit this was?

minnbills

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Re: Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby minnbills » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:38 pm

Wow that's a really awful thing for this circuit to do.

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Re: Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby esther0123 » Thu Aug 02, 2018 2:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Who sent the email? That's a pretty shitty way of handling it. As an A3 law clerk, I think it's silly to try and take away the law clerk title from volunteers. For some courts, they give the paid clerks a decent QoL by helping better spread the caseload. If they're doing the same work, they deserve the title. At the end of the day, though, that's the judge's call.

If this is an HR email, I have to laugh. I can't imagine that many A3 judges give a single crap about what HR thinks on that topic. HR can refuse to verify, but I have no doubt the judge would. And the judge's opinion is the one that actually matters. I'm not the sort of person who looks down on HR or anyone else who works at the courts. I appreciate what they do. However, that is a craptastic, petty, and insulting policy. If that is an HR policy, I think they might be regretting that approach soon. I can't imagine that the judges who value their volunteer clerks took that email too well. And if there's one thing you don't want to do while working for the court, it's piss off the guys with life tenure.


I agree with this. I can't see a federal judge giving much thought about an administrative policy and the judge has discretion in how he/she wants to run his/her chambers. If the judge has hired the individual as a clerk, volunteer or not, and is fine with that individual representing himself/herself as a law clerk, I can't see a reason why there should be any problem.

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Re: Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby hlsperson1111 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 7:16 pm

In addition to being a shitty and unnecessary rule, it also appears to be unsupported by the Guide to Judiciary Policy, which expressly recognizes that volunteer employees are nonetheless employees subject to the same employment restrictions as compensated employees:

It is also important to stress that the application of the Employees’ Code to interns, externs, or other volunteer court employees affects other aspects of their conduct, and affects the conduct of the judges who use their services. In particular, volunteer employees are subject to the ethical rules on conflicts of interest set forth at Canon 3F of the Employees’ Code. Under those rules, for instance, these volunteers, like law clerks, may not work on cases involving future employers (Advisory Opinion No. 74), may not work on cases in which a party is represented by a volunteer court employee’s spouse’s law firm (Advisory Opinion No. 51), are bound by the prohibition against engaging in certain political activities (Advisory Opinion No. 92), and are limited in their conduct and representations on social media outlets (Advisory Opinion No. 112). Likewise, because interns, externs, or other volunteer court employees are now expressly treated the same as compensated employees, they are implicated in provisions of the Judges’ Code that address staff employment matters. For example, these volunteer employees are covered by the judges’ restraints against employing the child of another federal judge. See Advisory Opinion No. 64. This is not an exhaustive list of the application of the Employees’ Code or the Judges’ Code to interns, externs, or other volunteer court employees, but merely an illustration of the reach of those Codes to provide some guidance for the future.

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Re: Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby FeelingTerritorial » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:42 pm

hlsperson1111 wrote:In addition to being a shitty and unnecessary rule, it also appears to be unsupported by the Guide to Judiciary Policy, which expressly recognizes that volunteer employees are nonetheless employees subject to the same employment restrictions as compensated employees: . . .


It seems like this circuit is aggressively enforcing the rule, but the circuit is correct about the policy. Guide to Judiciary Policy, Volume 12: Human Resources, Chapter 5: Employment, Section 550.35(e) (1) provides that "For chambers volunteers, in addition to the policies provided above [which address volunteer employment generally] . . . Duty titles may not include any derivation of the term 'law clerk.'" The rule was adopted by the Judicial Conference in 2014.

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Re: Volunteer Law Clerks Not Law Clerks

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 05, 2018 7:53 pm

Volunteer clerks should ignore this and just put law clerk or volunteer law clerk on their resume. If they do the work and the judges hired them as a volunteer law clerk, then who cares what the judiciary says? Lol at any body having the authority to restrict what you can put on your resume if it is accurate.



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