Clerkships

Please hire us! We're Americans! Want to see our passports and birth certificates?

It’s that time of the year again: clerkship application season. Here is the requisite open thread for discussion, where you can trade news and gossip about which courts and judges are hiring, which ones are done, which clerkships are great, and which clerkships you’ll hate.

Pursuant to the 2010 Law Clerk Hiring Plan for federal judges, applications could be received last Tuesday, September 7. Today, September 13, is the first day when judges can contact applicants to schedule interviews. The calls were allowed to go out at 10 a.m. Eastern time (sorry, Californians). Interviews can be held and offers can be made starting on Thursday, September 16, at 8 a.m. Eastern time (again, our sympathies to Californians; but think of it like Christmas morning, when waking up early brings joyful news of a gift).

Word on the street is that the Plan is starting to break down, with an increasing number of judges, including some of the most prestigious and popular ones, hiring ahead of the deadlines. Getting federal judges to follow rules isn’t easy; they’re used to making the rules, not obeying them.

Furthermore, the Plan by its terms “does not cover applicants who have graduated from law school”; these applicants may be interviewed and hired by judges at any time. More and more judges are going down this path and hiring law school graduates rather than 3Ls, which (1) gives them clerks with more experience, either in practice or in another clerkship, and (2) allows the judges to avoid the mad scramble for talent under the Plan.

How competitive will the hunt for federal judicial clerkships be this year? Let’s discuss….

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(And a tricky issue re: non-citizen law clerks.)”

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com

ATL,

I was wondering if you could do a post about when/how we should tell our firms that we have accepted a clerkship offer — particularly if the clerkship is not a super prestigious one (i.e., fed magistrate), and if we have not yet started at the firm (in my case, because I chose to defer for a year).

I am nervous about telling my firm, before I start, that I plan to leave to clerk less than one year after starting.  Even after starting, I have heard stories of people who tell their firm they are clerking getting taken off of all interesting work (the explanation being that they may not be there by the time the matter goes to trial).  Please advise!

– My Baby’s Got a Secret

Dear My Baby’s Got a Secret,

Today is Day Two of Rosh Hashana — an especially bad day to tempt fate. You see, on RH, God tentatively pencils you into either the Book of Life or the Book of Death. Not that I’m accusing God of stealing the whole concept from One-Minute Mysteries and Brain Teasers, but  honestly it DOES sound suspiciously like the riddle on page 43 with the doors to heaven and hell and one of the guards is a liar and you can only ask one question…

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As of yesterday, Justice Elena Kagan had not hired her four law clerks for October Term 2010, as reported by Tony Mauro in the National Law Journal. But that was then, and this is now.

Justice Kagan, who was sworn in on Saturday, isn’t wasting any time in getting her chambers up and running. Lady Kaga has hired her four little monsters for OT 2010.

Just as Justice Sonia Sotomayor did last year, Justice Kagan is hiring outgoing Supreme Court clerks — i.e., clerks who just finished up with their justices — to ease her transition. Out of her four clerks for the upcoming Term, three also clerked on the Court in the Term just ended (October Term 2009).

Not surprisingly, the former dean of Harvard Law School bleeds Crimson. At least two of Justice Kagan’s four clerks are HLS graduates. One is a graduate of Yale Law School (the alma mater of Justice Kagan’s late father). (We’re still waiting for the name and law school of the fourth clerk.)

UPDATE: We’ve learned the name of the fourth Kagan clerk. She’s also a Harvard Law grad, leaving Justice Kagan with three out of four clerks from HLS. More details after the jump.

So who will be joining the Divine Miss K in the heavenly confines of One First Street?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Justice Kagan’s Clerks!”

Apologies for the tardiness. We’re a little late on this; we promised you a Supreme Court clerk hiring update last week. But we suspect that Above the Law readers, unlike the Clerk of Court at One First Street, are willing to accept a late filing.

In an earlier post, we also asked for information about what Supreme Court clerk bonuses are at these days. We now have news to pass along to you.

Check out the list of SCOTUS clerks hired thus far for October Term 2011, and ogle the signing bonuses for outgoing clerks heading to private law firms, after the jump….

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(Plus information about SCOTUS clerk signing bonuses.)”

Barack Obama's purported birth certificate - click to enlarge.

Orly Taitz and the Birthers aren’t the only people obsessed with Hawaiian birth certificates. A young lawyer by the name of Adam Gustafson — a 2009 graduate of the Yale Law School and former vice president of the Yale Federalist Society, who’s currently clerking in Hawaii for Judge Richard Clifton (9th Cir.) — is making a federal case over them.

And Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway, the district court judge who wound up with the case, is not impressed. She recently dismissed Gustafson’s complaint — in forceful fashion:

This case is an example of why people who overreact to situations are accused of “making a federal case out of nothing.”

Plaintiff Adam Gustafson and his wife… proceed pro se against various state officials. The Gustafsons complain about having been asked to state their race and any Spanish origin on a birth certificate registration form submitted in October 2009 for their Hawaii-born daughter. The Gustafsons articulated to the State their objection to a birth certificate identifying their races.

The court has no quarrel with the Gustafsons’ wish for a birth certificate devoid of such information. What follows, though, shows questionable judgment.

Ouch — quite the benchslap. Gustafson’s boss, Judge Clifton, should keep Gustafson far away from any appeals of decisions by Judge Mollway.

Filing a federal lawsuit in Hawaii, while clerking in Hawaii for a federal judge? It’s gutsy of Gustafson. At least he won’t have to travel far for any appearances.

So what about Gustafson’s case reflects “questionable judgment”?

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If he doesn't get you in court, he'll get you in the ring.

Have you ever clerked and wanted to beat the stuffing out of your judge? In Texas, you might just get that opportunity. But be careful — some Texas judges have skills.

The Supreme Court of Texas Blog has the story of one of them: Texas State Supreme Court Justice, David Medina:

Justice David Medina’s biography notes that “in college he competed on the university’s karate . . . team.”…

Turns out, he recently participated in a match — with a law clerk. Thanks to the power of YouTube, you can watch from the comfort and relative safety of your office.

Does the opportunity to beat up a state supreme court justice outweigh the possibility of getting your ass handed to you on a plate by a 51-year-old man?

Let’s get ready to rumble…

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Earlier this month, we provided you with a fairly complete listing of Supreme Court law clerks for October Term 2010. The OT 2010 clerks are starting up at the Court this month, staggered over a few weeks. To get a sense of what they’ll be working on this summer, see this SCOTUSblog post, by Lisa McElroy.

If you had any doubts about the accuracy of our list of OT 2010 clerks, consider them dispelled. The Public Information Office of the Supreme Court has kindly provided Above the Law with the official list of incoming law clerks, and the list is consistent with what we’ve previously reported. There’s just one name that we didn’t previously have: the law clerk to retired Justice David H. Souter.

Find out who he is, and check out the official list — we know you’re dying to learn the middle initials of the newest members of “The Elect” — after the jump.

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Earlier this week, the New York Daily News reported that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy has no plans of stepping down from the Supreme Court anytime soon. This wasn’t terribly exciting, since there haven’t been any rumblings of an AMK departure. In addition, Justice Kennedy has already hired at least two law clerks for October Term 2011.

And so have several of his colleagues, including Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who are said to be done with their OT 2011 hiring). Some have wondered whether Justice Ginsburg might be leaving the Court, given her health issues. But RBG’s commitment to the Court appears strong — she took the bench the day after the deeply sad passing of her husband, Marty Ginsburg — and her hiring a full clerk complement for 2011-2012 suggests she isn’t going anywhere.

A full list of the October Term 2010 law clerks, who are starting at One First Street this month, plus news (and rumor) of OT 2011 hires — after the jump.

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Plus several hires for October Term 2011.

Yesterday we broke the story of a strange situation concerning a Minnesota judicial race. Judge Thomas G. Armstrong (10th District Court 3), a 30-year veteran of the bench, filed to run for reelection last month. Unsurprisingly, the longtime judge was initially unopposed.

Hours before the filing deadline — which fell on Tuesday, June 1, at 5 p.m. — his law clerk, Dawn Hennessy, jumped into the race. Shortly thereafter, Judge Armstrong withdrew. This left his clerk running unopposed, with the filing deadline for other challengers elapsed.

Whispering in Minnesota legal circles ensued. Observers wondered: Did Judge Armstrong and Dawn Hennessy collude to place her on the bench? We started investigating the story yesterday, with phone calls and emails to both Judge Armstrong and Hennessy. A few hours after we started poking around, Hennessy withdrew from the race — leaving no contenders for the seat.

Since yesterday, there have been some developments — including the reopening of the race….

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Some updates in the bizarre MN judgeship situation.

Something odd is going on in the great state of Minnesota. The deadline for filing to run for judicial office in the North Star State was this past Tuesday, June 1, at 5 PM. Incumbent judges usually face no challengers, since it’s practically impossible to unseat an even marginally competent incumbent.

One such incumbent was Judge Thomas G. Armstrong (10th District Court 3), a 30-year veteran of the bench who first became a judge back in 1980. As of Tuesday morning, Judge Armstrong was running unopposed. No surprise there.

But then something strange occurred. Shortly before the deadline, Judge Armstrong’s law clerk, Dawn Hennessy, filed to run against her boss. Meanwhile, before anyone realized what was going on, Judge Armstrong withdrew from the race — leaving his law clerk, Dawn Hennessy, running unopposed for a Minnesota district court judgeship. Who says chivalry is dead?

And then things got even more strange….

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