Kinch08 wrote: tomwatts wrote:
Dcc617 wrote:The real question is what do you hope to get from being at the top of your class? Do you want one of the handful of jobs that require it from Harvard (arguably just academia or super competitive clerkships)?
Well, people find competitive clerkships useful for lots of kinds of jobs. Basically any kind of appellate work, AUSA in some locations, and various other jobs are easier to get from competitive clerkships (or, lacking a clerkship, just with good grades) than not. So it's not just one or two things; good grades open up a lot of doors.
That being said, the overwhelming majority of jobs are fine with middle-of-the-road grades at HLS. There may some other reason you don't get the job, but it's not your grades.
Can you (or anyone) tell me anything about the different levels of "competitiveness" and what they mean? Obviously being a Supreme Court clerk is incredibly prestigious and opens up all kinds of opportunities, and then I've come to understand that clerking on the district level often isn't good for your career if you do it for too long. What does it look like in between those two relative extremes? How "good" is a clerkship with a mid-level federal judge, and how hard is it to go from H to one of those? Circuit court clerkships are probably really competitive, but does it depend on the Circuit just how competitive they are?
OCS actually has a handout they distribute at their clerkship events breaking clerkship down into different "competitiveness" categories, and what grades are generally needed to acquire one. I don't think they make it available online though. I would ask for a copy, but I'll try to break it down from what I remember, and from my experience clerking.
In general, SCOTUS is the most competitive, followed by COA, District Court, Magistrate Judge/State Courts. But, as with most things, there are exceptions. Clerkships in major legal markets (NY, DC, Chicago, etc) are often considered more selective. So a District Court clerkship in one of those markets could be considered more competitive than a COA clerkship in a rural area. (This is not addressing any personal reasons one might want a particular clerkship, and also disregarding the "experience" you would gain. Often a clerkship with magistrate judge would give you the best experience, but for whatever reasons, employers consider them less competitive than other federal clerkship).
As for your comment about clerking for too long, I think the usual rule is that 2 years of clerking is the most you would typically want to do. An exception would be if the third year is SCOTUS, or perhaps if you did a two-year district court clerkship followed by a year on the COA. It's not that employers don't like clerkship, its that by the time you finish three years, the firm is hiring you as a fourth year, and that's expensive for someone who doesn't have much/any experience in actual practice. I'm not sure how non-firm employers think on this issue.