Once everyone gets back from Labor Day weekend, the craziness known as the clerkship application process will begin. This coming Tuesday is the first date when applications may be received, according to the 2009 Law Clerk Hiring Plan (followed by many but not all federal judges).
It’s become pretty standard to advise law students and lawyers dealing with the awful legal job market to consider clerking. As Harvard Law School told its students, earlier this year:
One option we would like to highlight is a judicial clerkship, which conveniently tends to be for one year, is valued by the full spectrum of legal employers, and is a fantastic job in itself…. Be sure to consider all types of clerkship opportunities, including those at state and specialty courts, because the competition is likely to be fierce this season.
Indeed. This will probably be the most competitive clerkship season in a decade (or longer). Landing a clerkship is easier said than done.
Update: As reported by U.S. News & World Report (via the ABA Journal), some law schools are better than others at sending their graduates into clerkships. The top three: (1) Yale, (2) the University of North Dakota, and (3) Stanford. Check out the full list over here.
Correction: Whoops. It seems that some of that clerkship info is wrong.
It’s not just feeder judge clerkships, or circuit court clerkships, or district court clerkships in hot districts that are tough to land. These days, even district clerkships in so-called “flyover country” require great credentials.
Discussion of hiring standards and timetables, after the jump.
One law clerk, perhaps hoping not to be inundated with applications to review for his judge, shared the following thoughts with us:
I just started clerking at a federal district court in the middle of nowhere, and although applications cover the spectrum of applicants, two big groups stand out:
1) People who are obviously qualified (or even overqualified): people at the top of their classes at good law schools, V5 associates (probably being secretly laid off), associate professors, people with PhDs, etc.
2) People who are very obviously unqualified: people with anything below a 3.5 (even from a top 5 school, and even with a judge in the middle of nowhere, you don’t stand a chance at getting an interview in this economy), people who aren’t in the top 5 or so students at schools outside the top 50, etc.
Since I’m certain I’m going to get a pile of several thousand applications in a bit over a week, and most of them probably won’t be close to qualified, I think we need a thread to frighten off the shitty applicants.
Here you go. HTH.
As for the matter of when to apply, the timetable and restrictions of the Law Clerk Hiring Plan are once again stressing students out. This happens to a certain extent every year, but this year desperation and fear are making matters more intense. [FN1]
One student, at Georgetown Law, alerted us to clerkship controversy going on at one of our Douchiest Law School final four contenders, UVA Law School:
[T]here’s a storm brewing over there about clerkships and 3Ls getting them early. [The issue was discussed] at the always-whiny UVA Law Blog.
[Ed. note: "Always-whiny" is our tipster's characterization; here at ATL, we are fans of the UVA Law Blog, one of the finest law school blogs out there.]
I’m sure the same thing is happening at Georgetown, but apparently what’s irking students at UVA is that their OCS is cheerily informing them of the success of their colleagues when they call to ask for advice on clerkship applications. Asked how they can get in on the action, OCS responds that UVA obeys by the hiring guidelines. I think if a career counselor at Georgetown pulled that trick I’d flip out.
Is it a “trick”? Or is it just law school career services personnel trying their best to navigate a difficult situation?
Read more over at the UVA Law Blog.
Follow the latest news in clerkship hiring at Law Clerk Addict or the Clerkship Notification Blog.
[FN1] Remember, of course, that “[t]he Plan does not cover applicants who have graduated from law school.” Judges can interview and hire law school graduates at any time — which is exactly what many of them have been doing. This makes it even harder to land a clerkship as a 3L, since so many spots have already been taken by either experienced lawyers or law clerks doing multiple clerkships.
Law Clerk Addict
Clerkship Notification Blog: 2010-11 Clerkship Season
Getting Your Clerkship Before Labor Day? It’s Not Just for Graduates Anymore [UVA Law Blog]
THE LAW CLERK HIRING PLAN FOR 2009 [Federal Judges Law Clerk Hiring Plan]
About OSCAR [Online System for Clerkship Application & Review]