Clerkships

There have been some rumblings on this blog of a slowdown in judicial clerk hiring, even as firms raise clerkship bonuses to $50K.
Today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey digs a little deeper into who is (or isn’t) hiring judicial clerks, and what their bonuses look like.
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here or here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

Gibson Dunn Crutcher LLP GDC gdclaw Above the Law blog.JPGWe have confirmed, with a reliable source at the firm, the rumor that Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher now pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus, as of January 1 of this year. We don’t know the firm’s policy for multiple clerkships of years of clerking; if you happen to know, email us, and we’ll update this post with the information once it’s confirmed.
Over the weekend, there was some discussion about a possible slowdown in terms of law firms hiring law clerks. Could sizable clerkship bonuses be contributing to this, by making law clerks more expensive for firms to hire?
Update: Two pieces of additional information. First, the $50,000 bonus is “flat”; it does not increase for multiple clerkships or years of clerking. Second:

I love Gibson Dunn, but don’t be fooled. They just eliminated the bar stipend amount ($15,000), and then tell you that you are getting a $50,000 bonus for clerking. You can get $15,000 in the summer before you start your clerkship (like all of the other new associates) to help pay for the bar, but then your bonus really is only $35,000. So, they didn’t really up their bonus, they just called your bar stipend something different.

Palau American Samoa Above the Law blog.jpgSome people clerk for the experience. And some people clerk for the experience. From an interesting article entitled “Clerks in Paradise,” which appeared in last month’s American Lawyer:

[Some go clerk for feeder judges, and some go clerk for] courts in the Northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and other tropical locales in the Pacific Ocean. These former United Nations trust territories have legal systems similar to those of the United States, and appeals from their courts traditionally lie with U.S. courts. Many of these territories invite American law graduates to spend a year or two working in their courts as clerks and counsel.

The pull of the Pacific can be powerful.

When Timothy Schimpf accepted a position as court counsel in Palau, a nation of more than 300 islands that became independent in 1994, he turned down a permanent job as a trademark attorney with the federal government. “It’s absolutely worth it to take a chance and go do something outlandish,” he says.

The $40,000 salary he earned in Palau wouldn’t go far in America, but life in the Pacific Islands had its perks. From Schimpf’s government-provided beachfront housing, after-work swims and kayak sessions were easy.

Sounds like a pretty sweet gig. Read more — about clerking in paradise, and about the current job market for law clerks applying to large law firms — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clerks in Paradise? Maybe Not When It Comes To Hiring”

Brianne Gorod Justice Stephen Breyer Above the Law blog.jpgWe bring you an addendum to Monday’s post about the latest in Supreme Court clerk hiring. And we’re pleasantly surprised to see that we have this news before Wikipedia.
Recently hired to clerk for Justice Stephen G. Breyer in October Term 2008: Brianne Gorod, currently in the D.C. office of O’Melveny & Myers. Gorod is a 2005 Yale Law grad and a former clerk to the judicial tag team of Jed S. Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) and Robert A. Katzmann (2d Cir.).
Those who obsessively follows SCOTUS clerk hiring know that Judges Rakoff and Katzmann have jointly sent clerks to the Court before. But contrary to some rumors, they’re not always a “package deal” when it comes to hiring (although there is a significant degree of overlap among their current and former clerks).
Judge Katzmann prefers to hire individuals who have clerked on the district court (or have some other kind of post-law school work experience), so he regularly turns to Judge Rakoff, for whom he has a great deal of respect, as a source of clerkly talent. Judge Katzmann sometimes also helps promising applicants to his own chambers to secure interviews with Judge Rakoff. Conversely, Judge Rakoff also refers and sends clerks to Judge Katzmann, as well as to other Second Circuit judges, and he has also hired some clerks after Second Circuit clerkships. In short, both judges think it’s valuable for people to have both district and circuit clerkship experiences, and they try to help make that happen for their clerks. But they don’t hire 100 percent of their clerks jointly.
The current tally of OT 2008 SCOTUS clerks, with Brianne Gorod added, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Justice Breyer’s Final Hire
(And a Digression on Judges Katzmann and Rakoff)”

law clerk judicial clerkship Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThe topic for today’s open thread: law firm recruiting of law clerks. From an exchange last week in the comments:

“The law firm clerkship recruiting season is picking up, with a lot of clerks’ cocktail parties scheduled in the next few weeks in NY. How about an open thread for clerks to discuss firms?”

“[H]ow about a thread with a list of shame for firms, big and small, that haven’t stepped up and offered clerkship bonuses to make up for the salary hit you take to clerk for a year?”

“Don’t be upset because you realize your clerkship experience is devoid of any value, as evidenced by the nominal clerkship bonuses. You would have been better off working for a large firm straight out of law school, but I understand that mediocre people need all the experience they can get before applying to a prestigious job, much like my own. P.S.: I didn’t apply to any clerkships because I knew (unlike yourself) that I would never recoup the time invested. I am sorry you wasted your time on a clerkship, but don’t be upset simply because firms place little-to-no value on your clerkship experience (and I use the term “experience” loosely).”

So here’s an open thread on Biglaw law clerk hiring. In the comments, feel free to trade notes on which law firms are especially welcoming of clerks, who’s leading (and lagging) on the clerkship bonus front, and whether the clerkship experience is worth it — which we expect to bring out the usual trash talking, from both the pro- and anti-clerking camps. Thanks.

supreme court small with heart above the law atl.JPGTo San Francisco, apparently, to clerk on the Ninth Circuit.
We hope that the author of this email is clerking for one of court’s slave-driver judges. He needs to be kept busy, so he won’t have time for any more literary endeavors.
“Pleaded” or “pled” may be a matter of personal preference. But turns of phrase like “I had to have breakfast with my unit” and “the inadequate salve of an orgasm” ought to be criminalized — even in the Ninth Circuit.
Correction: We’ve heard from the woman who received the email. As it turns out, she works for the Ninth Circuit; the sender does not (although he is an attorney, in southern California). She construes the references to the Ninth Circuit to mean “that the job he currently has is *his version* of the Ninth Circuit — that is, his dream job.”
“It Was A Risk — Dating You. Risking My Reputation. Where Was Respect For That?” [Jezebel]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGNot too long ago, we reported the move of Williams & Connolly to a pay scale with a starting salary of $180,000. Today we bring you more happy compensation news from W&C.
First, the firm just raised its clerkship bonus from $35,000 to $45,000. This is a welcome development, although not super-exciting; $45K is slightly below the $50K that is the market clerkship bonus, at least for the top firms.
The second piece of news is more interesting. If you have two clerkships under your belt — e.g., a federal district court clerkship and a federal circuit court clerkship — Williams & Connolly may be the place to be (assuming you’re interested in working on sexy, high-profile litigation matters). For people with two clerkships, the firm pays a total clerkship bonus of $90,000.
Most of the firms that pay a $50,000 bonus for one clerkship pay a $70,000 clerkship bonus for two clerkships and/or two years of clerking experience. So $90,000 would appear to be a new high in terms of clerkship bonuses.
Sorry, we don’t know the fine print on this offer (e.g., whether two years of clerking for the same judge will get you the $90K, what clerkships will qualify towards the two-clerkship bonus, etc.). But if you’re in the small class of people who might be affected by this, and if you secure an offer from Williams & Connolly, you may wish to make a polite inquiry into the precise contours of the policy.
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Williams & Connolly to $180K

aileen mcgrath aileen marie mcgrath jason gillenwater jason e gillenwater.jpgIn October 2006, when LEWW reviewed her wedding, we wrote of Aileen McGrath (at right, with handsome hubby Jason Gillenwater):

Aileen is the President of the Harvard Law Review. HELLO!!! And this isn’t mentioned in the announcement, but we’ve learned that she’ll be clerking next year for Chief Judge Michael Boudin, of the First Circuit — feeder judge extraordinaire.

So, Aileen, have you picked which Supreme Court justice you’d like to clerk for?

She has. We’ve learned that Aileen McGrath (Harvard 2007 / Boudin) has accepted an offer to clerk for Justice Stephen G. Breyer in October Term 2008. One source tells us: “[S]he’s universally recognized as brilliant. She was president of the law review and a Sears Prize winner.”
We also hear that the fourth clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas for OT 2008 is a D.C. Circuit clerk (believed to be clerking for Judge David Sentelle). Will someone please give up the name?
Update: Her name is Claire Evans. She’s a 2002 graduate of Rutgers School of Law – Camden, and she’s the first alum of the school to score a SCOTUS clerkship. She clerked for Judge Jerome Simandle (D.N.J.) in 2003, and then for Michael Chertoff, back when he was still on the Third Circuit. Reports our source:

“Chertoff liked Claire so much that he took her to the Department of Homeland Security when he left the bench for Washington. Apparently, Claire continues to amaze and has now secured the most coveted of credentials — a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship.”

“[S]he holds the highest cumulative grade point average in the history of Rutgers School of Law – Camden. And, because of a grading change implemented the year after Claire graduated, it is now mathematically impossible for Claire’s epic GPA to ever be topped.”

Finally, expect more SCOTUS clerk hires in the near future. From an in-the-know tipster:

There’s movement among the justices now. At least Alito, Roberts, Kennedy & Breyer have scheduled interviews in the last few days. Kennedy has scheduled pre-screen interviews, at least some of which are with Judge Kozinski.

The current tally of OT 2008 Supreme Court clerks, with Aileen McGrath and Claire Evans added, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: OT 2008 (Update #7)”

law clerk judicial clerkship Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgFederal judicial clerkships are coveted positions — and for good reason. They burnish your resume, enhance your connections, and give you a view of litigation from the other side of the bench.
So we’d like to bring you news of a very special clerkship position. Please keep in mind, however, that it’s not for everyone. The ideal candidate will have no student loans and no kids to support. A trust fund and/or a well-to-do family are helpful.
An ATL tipster was recently offered this clerkship position:

Dear [redacted]:

Although Judge [redacted] has hired a clerk for his 2008-09 funded position, he still has an opening for his unfunded position. The unfunded position carries all of the responsibilities, prestige, and future opportunities of the funded position; the only difference is the salary.

Please let me know if you are interested in being considered for this position or if you would like more information about this position.

Thank you,
[redacted]
United States District Court, [redacted] District of Texas

Pretty insane, right? We expect many offerees tell the judge to take his clerkship and shove it.
But on the other hand, if you can afford to live without a salary for a year, it might not be a bad gig. You can get all the prestige and experience of a clerkship with a federal judge — then make it up on the back end, by going to a law firm that pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus (roughly equal to or even more than what you would have earned in a year of clerking anyway, assuming you go straight into the clerkship from law school).

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgJudicial clerkships. Year-end bonuses. Two great tastes that go great together.
We received some inquiries about whether clerks who leave law firms to go off and clerk might receive some kind of partial or prorated year-end bonus. It struck us as a rather obscure topic, of interest to only a small group of people.
But then the subject came up repeatedly in the comments to yesterday’s Debevoise bonus news. A reader pointed out that “with the end of salary match, this could be a question that could somewhat influence the choices of potential experienced clerks.”
So we’ve decided to write about it. From a tipster:

I am a federal clerk and my co-clerk, who worked at Kirkland & Ellis in NY for a year prior to his clerkship, was recently told that he will be paid the bonus he would have received had he not left to clerk. In other words, he will receive the pro-rated amount from Jan. 2007 to Sep. 2007 (8 months worth of 35K) even though he no longer works at K&E. This payment is NOT contingent on him returning to the firm after his clerkship.

This strikes us as highly unusual — and quite generous on Kirkland’s part. We don’t know about the mechanics or the exact timing of this payment, but we’d suggest to the lucky clerk that he talk to his judge to make sure this doesn’t raise any issues.
A little more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clerkship Bonus Watch: Year-End Bonuses for Clerks Who Left Biglaw?”

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