How Attorneys Can  Get a Job During and After a Federal Clerkship

What Do I Need to Do to Get a Job After a Federal Clerkship?


Working in the confines of a judge's chambers is far, far different than working for a law firm with more aggressive people, a myriad of deadlines and the expectations of much higher work quality and hours.

A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

No law firms come out and say "Hey! We want one of 1,000+ federal district judge clerks!" Instead, they are generally looking for laterals from major law firms who have what it takes to do the work, get along with clients and fit in-in an ultra-competitive environment. This is how it works and you need to market yourself broadly.

As a preliminary matter, it is important to understand that federal law clerks also have some drawbacks. They tend-more so than attorneys that go directly to large law firms out of law school-to be less polished and not as motivated and paranoid as is required to be in a large law firm.

Also, federal judges are as a rule better than state judges (in terms of education and pedigree), but not always. They often have no law firm experience, may have been small town prosecutors, academics, or bounced around to different government jobs. Many (but not all) are not the sorts of individuals that would ever be hired by a major law firm. They could not manage clients, attract business, work 100 hour weeks, or do any of the other things that attorneys in large law firms are expected to do.