Clerkship Advice

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Clerkship Advice

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:24 am

Hi All - Would really appreciate some advice on how to go about applying to clerkships. Ideally I'd like to a Dist Court and COA as I don't think I'm competitive for most COA straight out. Don't mind working for a few years before clerking if I need to. Stats/info listed below:

I'm a 2L at M/V/P/D/N. School doesn't rank (which may out my school not sure) but my grades (3 semesters) would allow me to graduate with honors/high honors so I assume I'm at least top 30% maybe top 20%. I'm on law review, moot court, and have a 2L SA at a firm that likely exceeds my credentials. I'm externing this semester at a USAO in a major market (same one as my 2L SA - think NY,DC,Chi,LA) so my grades will be unchanged when I apply. I have two letters of recommendation and I honestly can't see them being very strong. One recommender, I didn't do well in his class but we hit it off and he said he'd write me a letter but it would be tough because I haven't worked for him as an RA or anything. My other recommender, I booked the class but never spoke to him once so I'm not sure how good the letter could be. I don't have the grades or relationships in any other 1L classes for me to ask them.

In terms of 2L professors, my best grades were in ethics and a seminar/practical class (think motion practice, trial ad, negotiations). No relationship with my ethics professor but my practical class professor liked me. Practical class professor isn't technically a "professor". I also have a good relationship with my crim pro professor and I'm writing a law review article under her supervision but only did okay in her class (right in between median and the top grade). I also have a very strong relationship with my USAO supervsior.

TLDR:
-MVPDN
-Top 30% Maybe Top 20%
-LR, MC, 2L SA
-2 (presumably) average letters
-Not sure who to ask for 3rd letters/ letter to replace current ones.

My main quesitons:
1. Out of the four people listed above, who would be a good person to ask for a rec letter? They don't let us read our letters so I have no idea whether the four people could write stronger letters than my current recomenders.
2. I won't have 4 semesters of grades (becuase my externship is ungraded), should I wait until June to apply or get a letter of rec ASAP and apply ASAP?
3. I had a 1L judicial internship. Applied to my judge with 2 letters and never heard back. Should I update transcript/send additional letters?
4. How broadly can I apply? I don't have OSCAR access, is it worth just sending paper/email apps to the majority of judges in the districts I want?
5. Is it okay to reach out to past clerks in my market for coffee? Is this like firm hiring where they can actually refer you to their judge?

Any help or advice greatly appreciated. Sorry for the long post.

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HillandHollow

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Re: Clerkship Advice

Postby HillandHollow » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi All - Would really appreciate some advice on how to go about applying to clerkships. Ideally I'd like to a Dist Court and COA as I don't think I'm competitive for most COA straight out. Don't mind working for a few years before clerking if I need to. Stats/info listed below:

I'm a 2L at M/V/P/D/N. School doesn't rank (which may out my school not sure) but my grades (3 semesters) would allow me to graduate with honors/high honors so I assume I'm at least top 30% maybe top 20%. I'm on law review, moot court, and have a 2L SA at a firm that likely exceeds my credentials. I'm externing this semester at a USAO in a major market (same one as my 2L SA - think NY,DC,Chi,LA) so my grades will be unchanged when I apply. I have two letters of recommendation and I honestly can't see them being very strong. One recommender, I didn't do well in his class but we hit it off and he said he'd write me a letter but it would be tough because I haven't worked for him as an RA or anything. My other recommender, I booked the class but never spoke to him once so I'm not sure how good the letter could be. I don't have the grades or relationships in any other 1L classes for me to ask them.

In terms of 2L professors, my best grades were in ethics and a seminar/practical class (think motion practice, trial ad, negotiations). No relationship with my ethics professor but my practical class professor liked me. Practical class professor isn't technically a "professor". I also have a good relationship with my crim pro professor and I'm writing a law review article under her supervision but only did okay in her class (right in between median and the top grade). I also have a very strong relationship with my USAO supervsior.

TLDR:
-MVPDN
-Top 30% Maybe Top 20%
-LR, MC, 2L SA
-2 (presumably) average letters
-Not sure who to ask for 3rd letters/ letter to replace current ones.

My main quesitons:
1. Out of the four people listed above, who would be a good person to ask for a rec letter? They don't let us read our letters so I have no idea whether the four people could write stronger letters than my current recomenders.

Are any of your possible recommenders a very well known person/professor? Do any of them have connections to any of the judges you like and would make a call for you?
But to answer the question, I will say that when I reviewed clerk apps, I liked letters from someone who spoke with specificity about the applicant's intellectual ability (not just what grade they got in the class), and also knew something personal about the applicant. Every now and then we got a letter that just said something like "Student did well in my class, getting a B+. Because our school is so incredible, that grade is actually a lot more difficult to obtain than you might think" but then nothing at all about the student showing curiosity, or accessing office hours, or asking apt questions. And nothing at all about "Student is well respected at the school, and spends considerable time doing x y z thing that sets him apart from an average law student." Those kinds of rec letters were not even really worth getting. They didn't add anything at all to the application, since we could see the grade on the transcript anyway.

I suspect you want letters from the USAO supervisor, the crim pro prof, and the practical class prof, unless that class had ZERO writing/litigation stuff involved. This advice is purely my opinion and involves guesswork, so do your own calculations, too.


2. I won't have 4 semesters of grades (becuase my externship is ungraded), should I wait until June to apply or get a letter of rec ASAP and apply ASAP?
Sooner is generally better. Note that some judges are on the OSCAR hiring plan so this decision will be made for you in some cases. Even for those judges who are on the plan, you should be getting your app fully prepared so it launches immediately when OSCAR opens it up.

3. I had a 1L judicial internship. Applied to my judge with 2 letters and never heard back. Should I update transcript/send additional letters?
Do you mean you applied ONLY with 2 letters, and not the rest of the application materials? If so, you need to submit a complete packet. But otherwise, no big harm in updating an application packet. Do not update it more than once. It is pretty rare that someone really has TWO major updates.

4. How broadly can I apply? I don't have OSCAR access, is it worth just sending paper/email apps to the majority of judges in the districts I want?
Apply as broadly as you are comfortable. Can probably avoid the most exclusive/sought after feeders, but otherwise, anywhere you'd be willing to clerk, you should apply. Please read the clerkship listing announcement carefully before sending applications. Submitting a paper application when a judge indicates OSCAR or email only is a surefire way to get rejected immediately. First test: can you follow instructions?

5. Is it okay to reach out to past clerks in my market for coffee? Is this like firm hiring where they can actually refer you to their judge?
It is okay and recommended, but come prepared. Know whatever you can about the judge, and be willing to express why you would be interested in clerking for the judge. Assume that the clerk will report back to chambers whatever happens during the meeting, and interact with them accordingly.

Any help or advice greatly appreciated. Sorry for the long post.



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