Clerkships

In her bestselling memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link), Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounts her journey from the projects of the South Bronx to the bench of the United States Supreme Court. Given that background, one would expect Justice Sotomayor to have a weak spot for young women who make it to One First Street from improbable places.

So it makes perfect sense that Justice Sotomayor has hired the first-ever Brooklyn Law School graduate to serve as a Supreme Court law clerk: Sparkle Sooknanan, a 2010 graduate of BLS who is currently an appellate attorney at the Justice Department. We’ve heard Sooknanan described as “an awesome human being” and “brilliant” — and with a name like “Sparkle,” the brilliance must be literal.

Sparkle isn’t the only bright young lawyer to claim a shiny new credential for the résumé. Read on for additional news of Supreme Court clerk hiring….

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I kicked a hornet’s nest last week by bloviating about an anonymous someone else’s contrary opinion to mine regarding clerking. I banged out a column that I thought was interesting, and furthered my argument that taking a clerkship in this economy is better than being unemployed.

However, at the same time, I unfairly attacked someone with a differing opinion, and for that I am sorry. I have apologized to this person over email, and am doing so now in this column.

Foot in mouth disease seems to follow some of us like the cloud behind Pigpen. I can remember all the way back to sixth grade making fun of Mark something-or-other, for his constant coughing in class, only to be sternly told by the teacher that Mark had a serious illness. I recall making fun of the cashier in a hotel bar (whose bank count was always off) where I was employed in accounting, only to learn that he was a “Mainstreamed” employee. And then, of course there was last week’s column….

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* BREAKING: Law enforcement appears to have cornered Chris Dorner in Big Bear. Two injured in a shootout. [NBC News]

* Ranking the rankings? Who’s a bigger joke: National Jurist or Cooley? If only we had a ranking system for rankings. Hmm, that gives me an idea… [Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]

* A 2009 Harvard Law grad and Proskauer associate Megha Parekh just took over as the General Counsel of the Jacksonville Jaguars. She’s a much better hire than Blaine Gabbert. [Big Cat Country]

* Looking for a clerkship in the present state of anarchy in the post-Clerkship Scramble world? This new website can help. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Call 911 for a sexy emergency! [Legal Juice]

* Papal resignation is a little more complex than you’d think. But what’s all this stuff about Benedict XVI having to “take the Black” and move somewhere called “The Wall?” [Volokh Conspiracy]

* When is a blogger a journalist? This question becomes pretty important when a state boasts a shield law for journalists. [Simple Justice]

* The profiled study here asks whether judges prefer plain language or legalese? Unfortunately, it doesn’t consider the fact that some judges prefer neither. [Associate's Mind]

* After the jump, watch some video of what happened when hackers hit the Montana emergency alert system and said zombies were taking over….

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I am well aware of the basement-dwelling commenters who make a bloodsport of decimating each column written here at ATL. Heck, sometimes they make a good point, or more rarely, are funny. But, I admit that I was surprised upon learning that a legal recruiter out there was taking issue with my column regarding experienced lawyers taking clerkships. I looked up this person, who appears to be still in her 20s, and thought to myself, are you kidding me right now? This is 2013, not 1999.

It should have been readily apparent that I was referring to clerking as an alternative to being unemployed. If it was not clear, then mea culpa. My bad. However, I read some of this recruiter’s tweets and was curious if there wasn’t a more nefarious motive behind advising lawyers to think twice about clerking mid-career — specifically, with government positions, no recruiters need apply.

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I was fortunate enough to clerk twice. My judges, and hence my clerking experiences, could not have been more different. I am unable to give factual details, but I can certainly pass on some observations. I am also going to attempt to give you job seekers some tips.

More than any other type of correspondence to my Gmail are queries about jobs. How to get one where I work, how to go in-house, how to leave a firm, when to go back to a firm, how to obtain a clerkship, etc. I want to focus this week on clerkships because I believe they are overlooked by the vast majority of job seekers. I am not preaching here to 3Ls. Future grads have their own system set up by the career center in which blast applications are sent out, only to be thrown in the trash (sorry, I meant filed for safekeeping) by existing clerks. No, I am speaking to the experienced attorney who has found themselves in the midst of a hellish job search. Do not underestimate the clerkship….

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When it comes to the Law Clerk Hiring Plan, the voluntary set of guidelines to put federal law clerk hiring on a standard timetable, one might say, “The ship be sinking.”

Actually, scratch that. The ship be sunk, and barnacles are growing all over its hull.

We declared the Plan dead last June, when at least two top schools decided not to participate in it. But now the Plan is, well, dead and growing cold and decomposing.

Yesterday brought word that an über-prestigious court, one that gunners across the land would sacrifice body parts to clerk for (who needs a pinky finger anyway), is abandoning the Plan….

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Obviously a Norton Rose associate.

* Here’s the answer to the question everyone’s been asking since December: the Supreme Court will be hearing the gay-marriage cases on March 26 (Prop 8) and March 27 (Windsor). No extra time for args? [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Wherein Scott Greenfield responds to Mark Herrmann’s thoughts on bench memos — or, in Greenfield’s words, why our important appellate decisions shouldn’t be left “in the hands of children” (aka law clerks). [Simple Justice]

* Will the latest massive mortgage settlements lead to lawyer layoffs? [Going Concern]

* Cy Vance’s ears must’ve been ringing when this opinion came out, because the judges on this appellate panel said the prosecution’s case was based on “pure conjecture bolstered by empty rhetoric.” [WiseLawNY]

* Apparently a Santa Clara law professor is getting pummeled in the comments on various law blogs because of his thoughts on law school. As Rihanna would say, “Shine bright like Steve Diamond.” [Constitutional Daily]

* Meditation and mindfulness are more mainstream than ever in the practice of law, but given all the tales of stressed out lawyers’ alleged misconduct we hear about, you certainly wouldn’t know it. [Underdog]

* And from our friends at RollOnFriday, you can see what the folks at Norton Rose do in their spare time….

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This post is both a request for information and a cry for reform.

Here’s the backstory: Back when God was young, I clerked for a federal appellate judge. I saw how things operated in my circuit, and my friends clerking elsewhere told me how things worked in other circuits. One operating procedure differed between circuits; the procedure affected litigants (without their knowledge), and one system was plainly better than the other.

My request for information is that recent clerks update my information: Does this operating procedure still vary among circuits today?

My cry for reform is that circuit judges discuss this issue internally to decide whether they’re convinced, as I am, that some circuits are hurting both themselves and litigants in the process by which the courts use bench memos….

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Merry Christmas! Yes, “Merry Christmas,” and not “Happy Holidays,” consistent with the late Chief Justice Rehnquist’s preference.

Look at what Santa Claus left underneath the Christmas tree: news of Supreme Court clerk hiring, wrapped up in a bow! Just in time for the holiday season.

Keep reading to find out the latest law clerks bound for One First Street, as well as their law schools and feeder judges. Some of the justices are already hiring for October Term 2014….

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Even if the big lockstep New York firms are done, associate bonus news continues to roll in from around the country. For example, bonuses are out at Sidley Austin. We’re working on a story for tomorrow; feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477) with your reactions (to be used anonymously).

Today brings bonus news from Susman Godfrey. The high-powered boutique is known for high-stakes commercial litigation — and high, market-beating bonuses.

(And high-attendance holiday parties too; this year’s fête in New York drew more than 500 guests, many of them boldface names of the legal profession. As I observed on Twitter, “you could staff a great law firm with the guest list at the Susman Godfrey holiday party.”)

So how big were the Susman Godfrey bonuses this year?

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