Of Law Firm Layoffs and Supreme Court Clerkships

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Last week was chock full of legal news. From the layoffs at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, to the monumental Supreme Court decisions, to the full line-up of Supreme Court clerks for the upcoming term, my head has been on a swivel and my heart feels like it’s in overdrive. So much drama.

Times they are a-changing, and change ain’t easy. As a country, we’ll weather this storm, these flurries of activity, and the law will be a critical guide for us along the way. As huge law school enrollments face an uncertain future, the professional opportunities for lawyers are changing to reflect societal need for more and more qualified attorneys. To interpret hefty court decisions such as those we saw last week. To develop policy and legislation that responds to those court decisions. To support community interests in contributing to public policy. Et cetera and so on.

Novice lawyers with no experience are struggling to find somewhere to get relevant experience. The Weil Gotshal layoffs and any future layoffs from other Biglaw firms will help contribute to the growing trend of judges hiring attorneys with experience, rather than law students straight out of law school, as temporary and permanent law clerks. The list of next year’s Supreme Court clerks reflects that trend too.

A word of advice to those who have been set adrift from their firms and those who have finished law school: find your voice, find your purpose. Lawyers with expertise are lawyers who are still coveted in the legal profession. That hasn’t changed. While the areas of sought-after expertise are constantly changing, it has always been true that lawyers who are experts in a particular area will get more attention than those who cannot.

Judicial clerkships are ideal positions for those folks who don’t quite know what they want to do as an attorney and for those who don’t quite have the necessary experience to hold themselves out as experts. Among the lawyers who argued the cases that the Supreme Court decided last week and the lawyers who still have a job at Weil, I’d venture a guess that ‘former law clerk’ is a title many of them share.

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At Judicial Clerk Review (JCR), we provide tailored support to law students and lawyers in applying for judicial clerkships. JCR offers a multi-level review and revision of written application materials and mock interviews. E-mail us today (allison@judicialclerkreview.com) for a FREE consultation.

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New Federal Clerkship Positions

I just got my regular e-mail update from OSCAR (the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review). It looks as though there are at least five federal judges in different parts of the country who are seeking law clerks to start this year, 2013. If you are a law student or lawyer looking for a clerkship and haven’t yet registered for OSCAR, make sure you do so right away. There’s no harm in registering. Even with the viability of the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan up in the air right now, OSCAR is still a valuable tool to familiarize yourself with judges in all of the federal courts, except the U.S. Supreme Court. Registering also allows you to monitor new clerkship positions that are posted and to see what application materials judges are requesting.

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At Judicial Clerk Review (JCR), we provide tailored guidance and support to law students and lawyers who are interested in applying for judicial clerkships. JCR offers a multi-level review and revision of written application materials. We also conduct mock interviews, assessing clients’ performance during the mock interview and giving feedback for improvement. We assign all of our clients an attorney reviewer who provides one-on-one assistance throughout the application process, and our senior editing team makes sure that clients’ applications are ready for submission. Prevent your application from being overlooked or discarded. E-mail us today (allison@judicialclerkreview.com) for a FREE consultation.

Supreme Court Law Clerk Certainty Amid Rampant Public Speculation

So, here we are… with one more day left for the Supreme Court to hand down any decisions remaining from this term (unless the justices extend the decision date) and arguably the four most-anticipated cases still pending a decision from the Court. And, while those of us on the outside wait and wonder, law clerks not only have a front row seat to the action, they are likely sharing the director’s chair – making last-minute tweaks and mulling over last-minute compromises. Most of the clerks will probably get no sleep this weekend, nor, if it were me, in the days following the decisions’ release as they track the news coverage and discuss the fallout among themselves.

In those four cases that already have caused so much buzz, the Supreme Court will decide the fates of affirmative action in higher education, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Defense of Marriage Act, and California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage. It is the kind of high drama that is exciting to watch and yet will have very real impacts on how many of us will go about our daily lives. There have been lively protests on both sides of the issues at hand. Articles and commentary about the cases abound, with pundits and scholars rehashing the oral arguments and dissecting every raised eyebrow and vocal intonation from the Justices. Many have quietly ruminated over how their own lives will change with a Supreme Court decision that upholds current law or invalidates it. And now there is nothing left for us but to wait, saving our energy for the frenzy of the week ahead…once we know. Other than the Justices themselves, and perhaps their spouses and significant others, there are only 36 people right now who know – the Supreme Court law clerks who have at least some degree of certainty what Monday holds.

And so for now, I’m happy just to speculate as to how exactly the law clerks are spending their time while the rest of us sit and wait.

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At Judicial Clerk Review (JCR), we assist law students and lawyers in applying for judicial clerkships. Don’t be overlooked or discarded. E-mail us today (allison@judicialclerkreview.com) for a FREE consultation.

Fifth Circuit Judge Accused of Racial Bias – Let’s Talk ‘Diversity’

Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones

The New York Times reported last week that civil rights organizations and legal ethicists have filed an ethics complaint against Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones for remarks she made to the University of Pennsylvania Law School Federalist Society in February. According to affidavits filed in support of the complaint, Judge Jones was speaking about the death penalty and said or implied that black and Latino people are predisposed to commit criminal acts and that defense arguments of racial bias in the criminal justice system are a “red herring.” The event was not recorded or transcribed so we cannot be certain what Judge Jones actually said to her audience.

This certainly provides another opportunity to consider fully the need for diversity on the bench and in the clerkship ranks – so that healthy conversations about viewpoints such as those allegedly expressed by Judge Jones can be had among those deciding the fates of individuals and entities.

ID-10088206And, as we continue to await the Supreme Court’s decision in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case about diversity in higher education, lawyers in particular should be prepared to embrace a more robust definition of diversity, beyond some charitable exercise that will be of benefit only to minority groups. A diverse environment is one that is inclusive… of all races and ethnicities, of all opinions and religious beliefs, of all ability levels and gender identities. When we recognize that every one of us can reap benefits from true diversity, then we can put our differences on the table for acknowledgement and celebration. Then, we can make decisions together that will be for the greater good. Lawyers from all political stripes can and should help shape that conversation.

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At Judicial Clerk Review (JCR), we provide tailored guidance and support to law students and lawyers who are interested in applying for judicial clerkships and legal fellowships. JCR offers a multi-level review and revision of written application materials. We also conduct mock interviews, assessing clients’ performance during the mock interview and giving feedback for improvement. We assign all of our clients an attorney reviewer who provides one-on-one assistance throughout the application process, and our senior editing team makes sure that clients’ applications are ready for submission. E-mail us today (allison@judicialclerkreview.com) for a FREE consultation.