What Districts and Circuits Should I Target?

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What Districts and Circuits Should I Target?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:40 am

At MVP with a 3.6 GPA which is probably somewhere around the top third of the class. I'm on law review (no e-board) and my note will be published soon. Though I don't know if that matters, I'm on a full-ride to the law school and have a prestigious outside graduate school scholarship that I was awarded in undergrad. My goal is to work for a litigation boutique and I had a paid 1L SA at a boutique and have another one at a different boutique this summer. I have a great relationship with one professor but the others are more average.

How should I target my clerkship applications? I think I'm competitive for most districts and maybe a few circuits? No real clue where I'll end up practicing since I'm going the boutique route and am willing to clerk anywhere (though I'd prefer a major metropolitan area). I'd be grateful for any advice or guidance. Right now I feel like I've got nothing to narrow down where I'll apply.

Fireworks2016

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Re: What Districts and Circuits Should I Target?

Postby Fireworks2016 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:At MVP with a 3.6 GPA which is probably somewhere around the top third of the class. I'm on law review (no e-board) and my note will be published soon. Though I don't know if that matters, I'm on a full-ride to the law school and have a prestigious outside graduate school scholarship that I was awarded in undergrad. My goal is to work for a litigation boutique and I had a paid 1L SA at a boutique and have another one at a different boutique this summer. I have a great relationship with one professor but the others are more average.

How should I target my clerkship applications? I think I'm competitive for most districts and maybe a few circuits? No real clue where I'll end up practicing since I'm going the boutique route and am willing to clerk anywhere (though I'd prefer a major metropolitan area). I'd be grateful for any advice or guidance. Right now I feel like I've got nothing to narrow down where I'll apply.


I mean, this isn't rocket science. Ties and geography are still big factors even with your (pretty solid) resume -- so you should devote the most energy to judges within your home state, the state where your law school is, and the state where you want to practice. Your case really isn't different than anyone else who applies for clerkships, so I'm not sure what kind of answer you're expecting.

Clerkship offices are notoriously not very helpful on the margins, but they should be able to use past data to broadly point you to the judges where you stand the best odds.

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Re: What Districts and Circuits Should I Target?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 09, 2019 2:28 pm

OP here -- the/a reason I'm struggling is because I don't have a job lined up post-grad. It's possible, but unlikely, that I'll get a full-time offer from the boutique where I'm summering. It's just not standard practice in the industry. And because I'm interested in such specialized work, I can't limit my job search geographically. That makes it harder for me to figure out what location is a good one for me. Obviously I can apply where I grew up. But, given my niche litigation interests, should I focus on a district/circuit that tends to get a disproportionate amount of multi district litigation, for example? If so, are there any judges/districts/circuits in particular that would be good? Would this approach be more useful than targeting a random city where I maybe might hopefully get a job post-grad?

LBJ's Hair

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Re: What Districts and Circuits Should I Target?

Postby LBJ's Hair » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here -- the/a reason I'm struggling is because I don't have a job lined up post-grad. It's possible, but unlikely, that I'll get a full-time offer from the boutique where I'm summering. It's just not standard practice in the industry. And because I'm interested in such specialized work, I can't limit my job search geographically. That makes it harder for me to figure out what location is a good one for me. Obviously I can apply where I grew up. But, given my niche litigation interests, should I focus on a district/circuit that tends to get a disproportionate amount of multi district litigation, for example? If so, are there any judges/districts/circuits in particular that would be good? Would this approach be more useful than targeting a random city where I maybe might hopefully get a job post-grad?


I don't think I understand why your interest in litigation boutiques would impact the clerkship calculus. It's not like HH only hires clerks from the southern district of XYZ or court of appeals of ABC or whatever. You have a good-not-great resume and apparently aren't limited geographically, so IDK why you'd be choosy---apply everywhere you have a connection and places you don't where you'd wanna work. This is a numbers game. So if you're at UVA, that'd be all the Virginia districts, DDC , Maryland, etc. If a professor has a connection to an SDNY judge, apply to him/her and mention the connection in a cover letter, that sort of thing.

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Re: What Districts and Circuits Should I Target?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:32 pm

I’ve clerked for two federal judges—one in “the most well regarded district/circuit” and the other in a more normal place. I’m both chambers, your grades would be too low to garner an interview on the basis of a “strong resume” alone.

Each judge was idiosyncratic, but both judges (and I suspect MOST judges) choose clerks who aren’t not “can’t misses” the same way: through some combination of the clerk having a geographical tie to the area, undergrad/pre-law experience the judge likes or finds interesting, an interest, hobby, or skill that stands out to the judge, your ethnic/racial/religious/political background (to the extent that’s discernible), the recommendation letters/phone calls (if they’re outstanding or if they come from a person the judge knows/respects), and whether you’ve actually met the judge before.

If you spent your first summer at Wachtell and second summer at Kellogg Hansen, maybe a litigation-focused judge would bite on that alone. Who knows?

My suggestion: apply to the areas you want to be. Target the judges in the major metropolitan areas you’d like to work. Start there. Your resume is strong enough to start there, and there should be at least 50 judges that make that cut. Second, when crafting your application package, try and find the judges on that list who have a connection to someone on the faculty/grew up in your state, went to your UG, etc, and particularly target those people.

Good luck!

These people are human and receive so, so, so, so, many apps.



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