Justice Clarence Thomas — who tends to hire clerks from a wide range of law schools, including some schools far outside the so-called “T14″ — has had to defend himself against (unfounded) allegations that his clerks are “TTT” (an epithet so ridiculous it always makes us laugh). At the same time, because he’s the justice tasked with going to Capitol Hill to beg for money to testify in support of the SCOTUS budget request, he also has to defend the Court against charges of elitism in law clerk hiring, leveled by grandstanding lawmakers.
Hiring law clerks from Ivy League law schools: damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
For this coming Term, October Term 2010, Justice Thomas has steered his chambers back in the direction of elitism. All of his clerks for OT 2010 hail from top schools.
Our recent Career Center survey asked about whether the recession has affected clerkship bonuses and law firm hiring of clerks. Of respondents at law firms, a slight majority — 57% — indicated that their firms are not interviewing judicial clerks for Fall 2010 positions. Of respondents who are currently clerking, only 30% indicated that they have a position for Fall 2010 or have even been able to get interviews for such positions. Despite these depressing statistics for post-clerkship employment, a majority of law student respondents indicated that they are planning on clerking after law school.
Check out the full survey results after the jump — and visit the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link, for more on clerkship bonuses and hiring trends at firms across the country.
We recently wrote about the subject of clerkship bonuses (which generated some very helpful comments). Now we’re going to gather some additional data on the subject of law clerk hiring and clerkship bonuses.
This week, our ATL / Lateral Link survey asks about how clerks are faring in the marketplace. We’ll use the information obtained from the survey to update the ATL Career Center (and we’ll bring you the results in a subsequent post, too).
Historically, clerks have had a pretty sweet deal. A year spent with a judge increases their attractiveness to law firms; in the past, this translated to big bonuses for going into Biglaw. During the recession, the deal got slightly less sweet, as firms went a little sour on clerks.
Over the last month, a number of readers have anxiously emailed us about clerkship bonuses. One example:
Have you heard anything about whether firms are lowering or maintaining their clerkship bonuses? My firm said although they gave $50k last year, they are “waiting to see what other firms do first.”
In 2008, our then-survey-guru Justin Bernold created this handy guide to clerkship bonuses, laying out the going rates — ranging from $10,000 to $70,000 — for these attractive recruits. (Of course, the most attractive recruits — Supreme Court clerks, aka the Elect — command six-figure signing fees.)
So what’s happening with clerkship bonuses in 2010? We’ve talked to a few experts and a few tipsters. There’s been some scaling back already. Experts say the market rate for clerkship bonuses may come down, but in their usual fashion, firms appear to be waiting for a big dog to take the lead on that. Could Cravath be that dog?
If you are a federal law clerk, now is the time to start thinking about your next career move. Law firm positions for clerks finishing up in fall 2010 are filling up fast, and if you are among this group, this Job of the Week is for you. Position: Litigation Associate Location: New York, DC, LA or Chicago Bonus: These positions qualify for Lateral Link’s $10,000 placement bonus. Description: Several top firms (including prominent national firms and several NY boutiques) have engaged Lateral Link to identify judicial clerks to join their associate ranks. Clerks should have previous big firm experience and be coming from a federal clerkship. Outstanding academic credentials.
If you are currently clerking, please sign up for Lateral Link at www.laterallink.com, and a Lateral Link search consultant will contact you about these positions. If you are currently a Lateral Link member, please view Position #5808 and request to be contacted by your personal search consultant. Earlier:Prior Job of the Week listings
The most recent New Yorker features a profile of the newest resident of the High Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Given the tone of the piece, you might think One First Street is turning into Melrose Place. Journalist Lauren Collins describes Sotomayor as “the first celebrity Justice”: a “diabetic, a divorcée, a dental-bill debtor, a person who, the night before her investiture ceremony, belted out “We Are Family” in a karaoke bar at a Red Roof Inn.”
The profile covers some familiar territory, highlighting attacks on Sotomayor’s intellect during the confirmation process and indignation over her aggressive questioning during oral arguments since taking a seat on the High bench.
Overall, though, it’s more favorable in tone than the profile of John Roberts in the magazine last year. As the WSJ Law Blog notes, Sotomayor comes across as “eminently personable” and as a “stickler for preparation.”
Tina Brown of the Daily Beast, a former editor of the New Yorker, is a bit more graphic in her reaction to the piece for NPR:
Brown says the justice comes across as an “up-from-the-bootstraps woman who loves to bust out a poker game and knock back a scotch.” But, Brown adds, she also comes across as meticulous, rigorous and heavily influenced by her mother, a nurse, who emphasized education above all else…
“Sotomayor is not a great prose styler, not a fancy-flourish merchant,” says Brown. “She’s not a person who’s going to reinvent the philosophical approach to law, but she does believe that the law is to be understood by the common man in the street. And I think that there’s a lot to be said for that, actually.”
We concur with Brown’s ruling on the piece. We’ve excerpted our favorite anecdote from the profile after the jump. Clerking for Sotomayor sounds fun….
Our obsession with Supreme Court clerks is longstanding, dating back to our blogging for Underneath Their Robes (where we used to profile SCOTUS clerks). And it seems we’re not alone in lusting after the Elect.
Apparently oral argument makes people think of other oral activities. Check out this “Missed Connection” from Craigslist:
Law clerk at SCOTUS honest services argument – w4m (Supreme Court Building)
We were both there to hear the honest services arguments, which were fascinating. You were siting with the law clerks, I think, so I’m wondering if you’re one of them. You looked slightly older and more mature than the rest of the people you were sitting with. You’re quite handsome and I enjoyed watching you as you followed the arguments. Too bad you left at the case break–I’d been trying to catch your eye. (I was sitting in the front row of reserved seating.) I promise that if you agree to meet me for dinner that I won’t mention Black or Weyhrauch. What say you?
If you’ll forgive the quibbling, this posting is subpar; it’s missing some information. First, the poster has omitted her age (which typically goes after the “w4m”). Second, she offers little identifying information about herself (e.g., “I was wearing a red scarf”).
Third, she offers little identifying information about the clerk, other than that he’s “more mature” and “quite handsome.” We suspect that every male Supreme Court clerk fancies himself “more mature” and “quite handsome.”
Typically a missed connection involves, well, a “connection.” The lack of identifying information suggests that no such connection was forged here. But we admire the poster’s effort.
This is not, by the way, the first time a CL “Missed Connection” has arisen out of a Supreme Court argument.
If you are a Biglaw associate and are lucky enough to score a federal clerkship, congratulations. It is a nice feather in your cap.
But in this job market, are you wise to actually accept your clerkship offer?
As many of you know, clerks have to formally resign from their firms while clerking. In the before times, in the long, long ago, this was no big deal. You resign, clerk for a year or two, and then get “re-hired” by your firm when you are ready to return to private practice.
As the legal recession took hold last year, some associates who received clerkship offers worried that their firms wouldn’t hire them back. But for the most part, people decided to take a clerkship instead of staying at the firm and risk getting laid off.
At Above the Law, we’ve heard a lot of talk about these clerks trying to come back to work now, only to find the door back into Biglaw closed.
At Cahill Gordon, we’re hearing that clerks were not re-hired despite promises to do so.
Details after the jump.
On Monday, November 16, we attended an interesting talk by Judge Gerard Lynch, formerly of the Southern District of New York and now on the Second Circuit. He spoke before the Regis Bar Association, a group of lawyers and law students who are graduates of our shared alma matter — Regis High School, an all-boys Catholic school run by the Jesuits, located here in New York.
As one would expect from a federal judge, especially one in a high-powered city like NYC, Judge Lynch has an amazing résumé. He graduated first in his class from Regis, first in his class from Columbia College (1972), and first in his class from Columbia Law School (1975). He clerked for Judge Wilfred Feinberg on the Second Circuit, followed by Justice William Brennan on the Supreme Court. Prior to his appointment to the district court in 2000, Judge Lynch was a law professor at Columbia, worked in private practice (at a firm that would later become part of Covington & Burling), and served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the legendary U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District.
In September, Judge Lynch was confirmed to the Second Circuit by a vote of 94-3. He was the first Obama appointee to be confirmed to a circuit court.
Judge Lynch began his remarks to the RBA by discussing his background. He explained that he came from working-class roots and was the first in his family to graduate from college. He also noted that government lawyers and judges don’t make very much money: “As a public servant, first-year associates at large law firms have generally made more than I have,” he observed, before adding: “Thanks to the recession, that’s changed.”
(A federal district judge, which Judge Lynch was until his recent elevation, earns $169,300 a year — a bit above the New York starting salary of $160,000. As a circuit judge, he now earns $179,500. If Judge Lynch were to become Justice Lynch — he is sometimes mentioned on Supreme Court shortlists, although being a 58-year-old white male doesn’t help — he would earn $208,100, as an associate justice. Despite many years earning a government salary, Judge Lynch has done well for himself; his financial disclosures reveal a net worth of $1.6 million, with zero debt.)
Judge Lynch described being a trial judge as “the greatest job you can have.” Find out why, after the jump.
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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