[T]hat’s how law clerks are hired. That’s how baristas at Starbucks are hired. You have to ask these open-ended questions because as an employer, you don’t really know… where the pressure points or danger spots in an individual application are.
– Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, comparing hiring law clerks to hiring Starbucks baristas, during oral argument in NASA v. Nelson.
In yesterday’s discussion of federal law clerk hiring, a process that is currently in full swing, we flagged an interesting issue regarding clerks who are not U.S. citizens. A recent change in the law appears to bar paying federal government salaries to non-U.S. citizens (subject to some narrow exceptions, such as holders of refugee or asylum status). This legal change would appear to create problems for (1) non-citizens already hired for clerkships that have not yet started and (2) non-citizens applying for clerkships at the current time.
When asked about this issue earlier this month, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts declined comment to the Blog of the Legal Times. But we now have an idea of what the Administrative Office thinks about this subject, based on a guidance memorandum that James Duff, the director of the AO, issued to federal judges last month.
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….
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…
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?
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….
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”?
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.
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.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.