Clerkships

law clerk judicial clerkship Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgComing into this week, Harvard Law School had placed 58 federal clerks, leading all law schools. That is not altogether surprising, given the Cretaceous size of HLS classes. Yale is only clocking in with 14 (9th place) clerks. But it’s early yet. It’s just important that Eli-the-bulldog doesn’t drop his bone in the river trying to grab another one.

The real news from the Federal Appellate Judicial Clerks 2009 blog is that the University of Michigan Law School is currently tied for second (with Stanford).

Way to go, wolverines. We told you that stealing cell phones and sandwiches wasn’t going to adversely affect the school’s reputation when it came to anything important.

But look at how difficult it is to get a clerkship coming from a school outside of the top 14:

* T14: 71.3%

* Others: 28.7%

Those numbers are worst than last year for those outside the top 14.

At least if you are still in the top tier you have a fighting chance to get a clerkship. The path to clerking is all but blocked for those outside tier 1:

* T1: 94.2%

* T2: 3.6%

* T3: 1.4%

* T4: 0.8%

The lesson, as always, get into the best school you can and don’t look back.

Federal Appellate Judicial Clerks 2009

law clerk judicial clerkship Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgSome of you might remember that there is a presidential election going on. Turnout is expected to be high and many voters will be participating for the first time.

However, if you are a federal clerk you had better keep your political opinions to yourself. Free speech does not exist for you. One of our readers pointed out:

I just accepted a position as a federal law clerk for the 2009-10 term. I also have an Obama sticker on my bumper and an Obama sign in my yard. According to Ethics for Federal Judicial Law Clerks (p.20), I would be violating Canon 5 of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees if I were currently clerking.

Pretty much. The scope of political activity is curtailed not just by the canons of judicial ethics, but also by the Hatch Act. As a clerk, you are discouraged from giving money, attending events, you’re not even allowed to wear a campaign button to work.

We’re all for judicial impartiality, but making clerks say “I don’t know nothin about birthin’ no babies” seems a bit undemocratic (small “d”) to us. Federal clerks participate in some of the most important decisions about how we live, and we expect them to be able to weigh both sides without passion or prejudice. But a bumper sticker removes the veil of ignorance and reduces clerks to partisan hacks? A legal fiction is one thing, this is a legal farce.

Luckily for new clerks like our reader, this is not a problem for 2009-2010 clerks. They can go nuts until they are “official” federal employees. But current clerks can attest to the exact moment where free speech falls to the illusion of impartiality.

Update: If you’re interested in learning more about clerkships, and if you’ll be in Washington on Saturday, October, 4, this free event may be of interest to you.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of clerkships

law clerk judicial clerkship Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLet us turn our attention to judges and the law students who do all their work. Monday marks the first day where judges can schedule interviews with clerkship applicants. ATL will be right there with the applicants, poring over the Clerkship Notification Blog.

The plan is simple, according to the 2008 Law Clerk Hiring Plan.

But just like last year the best laid plans sometimes go awry. According to a tipster:

The hiring plan seems to be falling apart. I knew it was already unraveling in ‘flyover country’ because judges there thought it worked to their disadvantage, but people here are talking about judges even in major markets (DC, NY, CA) who purport to follow the plan are at least calling early, if not offering early too.

How are applicants coping with the last weekend before the official hiring season? And who is already sitting on secret offers? Discuss, vent, or gloat below.

Earlier: Clerkship Hiring: Today’s the Day

Jones Day Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe probably won’t cover judicial clerkship bonuses quite as closely as we used to, now that Justin Bernold has put together this handy table of clerkship bonus info. But we did want to bring your attention to one development, since several of you emailed us about it. This message is representative:

Just to let you know, JD has just changed their website to reflect a $50K clerkship bonus. Despite all the bad things said about JD on ATL, they are at least keeping pace with clerkship bonuses. Hope this spurs some positive commentary….

Thanks for providing a great service to lawyers everywhere!

For ATL’s table of clerkship bonuses, which has been corrected to reflect the JD information, click here.
P.S. For the record, we don’t think the Jones Day buzz here has been that bad. Sure, there have been some negative comments, but that’s true of almost every firm under the sun. And we’ve heard from Jones Day defenders as well.
Jones Day – Careers – Compensation [Jones Day]

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]

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