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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….
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.
The current New Yorker has an interesting piece by Jeffrey Toobin on President Obama’s judicial picks. Toobin took part in a live chat about the piece at NewYorker.com right nowearlier todayif you’re interested. (Try not to crash their website.). UPDATE: The chat’s quite interesting. Toobin reveals why he likes Justice Souter best and answers this young wannabe judge’s question:
11:31 Guest: I’m a 25 year old law student, I want to be a judge, and my roommate smokes pot. How worried should I be? Do you think people will still care when I’m older?
11:32 Jeffrey Toobin: Don’t inhale! I’m kidding. I don’t think it will make a bit of difference. Our president has more or less admitted he was a pretty big pothead in his day, and it’s been a non-issue. Certainly the fact that your roommate smokes — not you — is irrelevant.
Toobin’s piece is available online to non-subscribers here. If you don’t feel like clicking through seven pages, here’s the ATL reader’s digest version:
Aging liberal judges hung on through the Bush era, but once a Dem took over, they were ready to hang up their robes. Additionally, since 2006, Senator Patrick Leahy has prevented Bush’s nominees from getting through the Judiciary Committee. Now vacancies abound in the federal judiciary.
Bush kicked ass in choosing judges; Obama is taking his sweet time. In the first eight months of their respective terms, Bush nominated 52 judges while Obama has chosen 17.
Obama says he’s looking for “experiential diversity” in his judicial nominations: “not just judges and prosecutors but public defenders and lawyers in private practice.” But his first batch of nominees are mainly former judges, like SCOTUS justice Sonia Sotomayor and Indianapolis federal district judge David Hamilton, nominated by Obama to the Seventh Circuit.
More bullets, after the jump.
A couple of days ago, we heralded the start of clerkship application season. Given the weakness in the legal economy, there should be a lot of people trying to snag a clerkship offer this year.
Today is the day that judges can start calling around and setting up interviews. A tipster reports:
Per the hiring plan, judges can start calling to extend interviews at 10 a.m. today. Thousands of 3Ls across the country are doubtless waiting anxiously by their phones. The whole process obviously will be agonizing …
Once everyone gets back from Labor Day weekend, the craziness known as the clerkship application process will begin. This coming Tuesday is the first date when applications may be received, according to the 2009 Law Clerk Hiring Plan (followed by many but not all federal judges).
It’s become pretty standard to advise law students and lawyers dealing with the awful legal job market to consider clerking. As Harvard Law School told its students, earlier this year:
One option we would like to highlight is a judicial clerkship, which conveniently tends to be for one year, is valued by the full spectrum of legal employers, and is a fantastic job in itself…. Be sure to consider all types of clerkship opportunities, including those at state and specialty courts, because the competition is likely to be fierce this season.
Indeed. This will probably be the most competitive clerkship season in a decade (or longer). Landing a clerkship is easier said than done. Update: As reported by U.S. News & World Report (via the ABA Journal), some law schools are better than others at sending their graduates into clerkships. The top three: (1) Yale, (2) the University of North Dakota, and (3) Stanford. Check out the full list over here. Correction: Whoops. It seems that some of that clerkship info is wrong.
It’s not just feeder judge clerkships, or circuit court clerkships, or district court clerkships in hot districts that are tough to land. These days, even district clerkships in so-called “flyover country” require great credentials.
Discussion of hiring standards and timetables, after the jump.
Our last round-up of Supreme Court clerk hiring was published back in August, before the start of October Term 2008. Now that the justices are back in the country and back on the bench, they’re back to interviewing clerkship applicants.
Over at the Clerkship Notification Blog, there was buzz about Justice Stephen Breyer interviewing and hiring clerks for October Term 2009. That intelligence was correct. Here are his hires:
1. Christopher Fonzone (Harvard 2007 / Wilkinson)
2. Jennifer Nou (Yale 2008 / Posner)
Fonzone appears to be the “2007 Harvard grad” referenced in the comments. With Chris Fonzone and Jen Nou on board, Justice Breyer is all done for OT 2009. (We also hear that he’s started to hire for October Term 2010, but we have no details.)
Update (3:40 PM): We now know one of SGB’s hires for OT 2010:
Erika Myers (Stanford 2008 / Kozinski)
Interesting — although Chief Judge Kozinski is a big-time feeder, he tends to feed more to the right side of the Court. So he may be expanding his range as a feeder judge.
The updated list of Supreme Court clerks, with Fonzone and Nou and Myers added, appears after the jump.
A photo op with two of the nation’s most distinguished jurists: Ninth Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Alex Kozinski!
(Judge Reinhardt seemed a bit skittish about the taking of this picture, but Judge Kozinski’s enthuasism was infectious. Or maybe it was just hard for Judge Reinhardt to say no to the incoming Chief Judge of the court.)
Many judges are done hiring their law clerks for next year. We’re happy to report that several of our friends, whom we were informally advising on the process, landed clerkships with their top picks.
For those of you who are still going through the process, this gossip might be of interest:
Rumor check: word on the street is that a raft judges have made a decision to only hire graduates for clerkships. One person told me that means there are about 60% less positions open for 3L applicants. The end result is that a number of schools are having their worst clerkship hiring year in memory (at least for their 3L’s). Have you heard the same?
We haven’t heard this specific rumor until now. But we do know that some judges have started hiring more graduates simply because the hiring of grads — e.g., junior associates at firms — isn’t controlled by the elaborate timetable of the law clerk hiring plan. With the possible exception of feeder judges, who have no choice but to try and snag top recruits early, most judges probably think it’s less viciously competitive — or at least less of a hassle — to hire recent law school graduates (who come with the added benefit of practical experience).
So, readers, any thoughts? Earlier: Clerkship Hiring: Today’s the Day
We’ve always admired Harvard Law School. It struck us as a place of high seriousness. It didn’t succumb to the latest trends in legal education. It didn’t train philsopher-kings; it trained LAWYERS, dammit.
So what if its students were kinda miserable? They got the best, most rigorous legal education money could buy. In short, HLS was bad-ass.
But recent events call into question our veneration for Harvard Law School. The Law School seems to be getting squishy on us. They have revamped their 1L curriculum, to place greater emphasis on touchy-feely topics like “international law.” And now we learn this (from an HLS tipster):
HLS is considering renaming the sections, previously assigned numbers (Sections 1 through 7), with actual names. Just when I think people can’t get more ridiculous…
See attached PDF for a Student Government survey. I like how they would consider naming sections after prominent donors!
Here’s our favorite question from the survey:
Our tipster suggested “porn stars, Care-Bears, and favorite sections of the MPC.”
Not bad; but we have two more ideas. Section names should facilitate healthy inter-section rivalry, as well as “trash talking.” Here are our suggestions:
1. Feeder Judges: You might as well name the sections after things HLS students actually care about. That’s why naming them after random dead alumni (see option F) is so stupid. Who wants to be in the “Jonathan Witherspoon IV Section”?
Naming sections after feeder judges makes much more sense. It lends itself well to assertions of team spirit:
“I’m in the Boudin section. Judge Boudin sent all of his clerks to the Court this Term. He rules!!!”
“I’m in the Kozinski section. He sent all his clerks to the Court too. And the Ninth Circuit is way cooler than the First Circuit — what a backwater!”
2. Celebrities With Legal Problems: The beauty of this section-naming scheme is that the category is continually expanding. The well never runs dry. And it’s terribly fun. Who wouldn’t want to be in the “O.J. Simpson Section” or the “Winona Ryder Section”?
Once again, there’s excellent trash-talking potential:
“We’re in the Michael Jackson Section. We’re the Kings of Pop — and of Torts!”
“Too bad you can’t keep your hands off teenage boys. We’re the Anna Nicole Smith section. Sure, we sleep around. But at least the people we sleep with have undergone puberty!”
If you’d like to see the HLS Student Government survey, we reprint it in full after the jump.
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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 six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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