Clerkship Information Teleseminar – Audio

Many thanks to those of you who participated in yesterday’s clerkship information teleseminar!

I’m thrilled to share with you audio of the teleseminar in case you missed it yesterday. Although we stopped recording during the Q&A period at the end, I’m still happy to answer any questions that you have about judicial clerkships and the clerkship application process. Post your questions in the comments here for all to see (there are probably others who want the same information) or e-mail us separately (info@judicialclerkreview.com) if you would like a private response.

Don’t suffer through the stress of the clerkship application process by yourself. Let us walk with you. Call on Judicial Clerk Review for all of your clerkship application needs. We provide all of our clients assurances of quality and confidentiality. E-mail us (info@judicialclerkreview.com) for more information.

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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 (info@judicialclerkreview.com) for a FREE consultation.

Call to Action for Law Clerks – Federal Courts in Crisis

As a law clerk for the U.S. District Court in 2003, I saw firsthand just how taxed the federal judicial system is, and I witnessed the need then for significant additional resources. Today, in 2013, because of sequestration, the burden on the federal judiciary has grown tremendously. While the federal caseload has increased, resources available to meet the needs of such an increase have been slashed. Between this and the President’s growing list of judicial vacancies, the nation’s federal judicial system, a critical part of a healthy democracy, is crippled.

There is officially a bipartisan chorus of judges, lawyers, journalists, and others who are sounding off about the federal courts’ financial crisis that is a result of the bizarre political wrangling that brought us the sequestration cuts. It is time that former law clerks add their voices to that chorus. The new American Bar Association President, James R. Silkenat, issued a call to action yesterday for ABA lawyer members to reach out to Congress and let Members know of the devastating effects these cuts are having on the judicial process. This is my call to action for former law clerks to take a stand too. We are a privileged few who know just how heavy the caseload is for our federal trial and appellate jurists. With dwindling resources and thus fewer alternatives to trial available, law clerks will fill what gaps they can and they will watch as their judges suffer under the load, as federal public defenders limp toward an ever-elusive finish line for their clients, as criminal defendants are warehoused in detention facilities and their constitutional assurances of a speedy trial wither and die on the vine, and as parties to civil litigation wait and wait for fair adjudication of their claims.

Former law clerks from all political backgrounds can follow the lead of the 86 U.S. District Court chief judges who stood up to Congress this month and said, “Enough!” Call on your Congress Members to restore funding cuts to the judiciary, post your comments here, contact your judge to offer moral support. Let’s lend our unique experience as law clerks to the groundswell that is building to protect the integrity of the federal judiciary.

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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 (info@judicialclerkreview.com) for a FREE consultation.

FREE! Clerkship Information Teleseminar

Join us on Tuesday, August 27, at noon for a one-hour FREE! clerkship information teleseminar.
Clerkship application season is upon us. Judges have posted for the 2015-2016 term already. Get a jump on the action with this one-hour, info-packed telephone session about judicial clerkships. We’ll talk about whether and how to apply for clerkships, the most common application mistakes, preparing for the clerkship interview, and more. We’ll also answer your questions. Send us your questions beforehand at info@judicialclerkreview.com to ensure we get to yours.
E-mail us at info@judicialclerkreview.com with Clerkship Teleseminar in the subject line to register and receive the call-in information.

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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 (info@judicialclerkreview.com) for a FREE consultation.

Become a JCR Student Brand Manager!

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Be part of the incredible (and growing) Judicial Clerk Review team! Submit your resume now for a chance to be a JCR Student Brand Manager! Build your resume, host events at your law school, AND get FREE services from Judicial Clerk Review.

Submit your resume now to info@judicialclerkreview.com with Student Brand Manager in the Subject line for a chance to represent JCR on your law school campus.

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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 (info@judicialclerkreview.com) for a FREE consultation.

Incarceration, Second Chances, and Clerkships

Shon HopwoodShon Hopwood’s rebirth continues. Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the “second highest court in the land,” the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, has hired Mr. Hopwood to serve as a law clerk in her chambers beginning next term. For Mr. Hopwood, this is another in a string of victories in his legal career. Sweet victories within this story of redemption, for Mr. Hopwood is a former convict.

Because I do what I do – advising and supporting law students and lawyers through the clerkship application process, I can’t help but be curious about Mr. Hopwood’s clerkship applications. Sure, he has successful petitions for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court under his belt (and a unanimous Supreme Court win in one of those cases) and support from some of the most familiar names in the legal profession, Adam Liptak and Seth Waxman, making him an atypical and ideal clerkship candidate. I still wonder whether and how he disclosed his criminal past in his cover letter and resume. Did it come up during his clerkship interview? What other judges called him in for an interview? Will the Supreme Court entertain his clerkship application the way it entertained his petitions for cert?

Judge Brown hasn’t spoken publicly about the hire, and no one should expect her to do so, but since the announcement of her decision to hire Hopwood, Judge Richard G. Kopf, the judge who sentenced Hopwood to 147 months in prison, has blogged about his sentencing instincts, which he says must suck in light of this development. There is quite an interesting exchange between Judge Kopf and Hopwood in the comments section of the blog. Certainly, it can be useful to reflect on the past, though not to dwell, and I can’t help but wonder what this means for the future of clerkships. Will Shon Hopwood’s success mean that the doors will open a little wider for other non-traditional clerkship candidates? Will it mean that judges will take Judge Brown’s lead and allow themselves to look for clerks in the recesses of the legal playing field? Only time will tell and we’ll have to have patience to await the larger implications of this clerkship hire, probably another lesson we can take from Mr. Hopwood.

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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.

Clerical Errors – The secret handshake black lawyers don’t learn

I wrote this piece in February 2009 for The Root. It is still relevant today, not only for black lawyers, but for lawyers from many different walks of life. Read more about the new diversity in this post.

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Some have accused Attorney General Eric Holder of pointing a scolding finger at white America in his recent Black History Month speech. But that’s not what he did. The nation’s top lawyer used the collective “we” to implore all Americans to begin the “awkward and painful” process of engaging one another across racial lines. In this regard, lawyers have a heightened duty.

Because the law is how we mediate our differences in this country, and because race has been at the heart of so much of what divides us, a meaningful, “awkward and painful” discussion on race must, by necessity, involve the legal profession and the process by which we resolve our disputes.

But the lack of diversity in the nation’s judiciary makes such a conversation difficult at best and frightening at worst. Now, in a report issued last month by New York University’s Brennan Center, we have hard numbers to document the existence of whites-only benches in many states.

Still, one thing the report and the general discussion about the paucity of minority judges often overlook is the absence of color in judicial clerkships. Clerks are a quiet, hidden power in the justice system: typically recent law school graduates who work assisting judges in chambers and in the courtroom. But that year or two spent clerking is in effect the secret handshake that opens up access to the halls of judicial power for a lifetime.

The influence law clerks wield in chambers is perhaps imaginary, perhaps not. Most would never dare breach their sacred oath to let you know. In most instances, it is Supreme Court law clerks, not the justices themselves, who cull through the thousands of petitions to the court, sent by people of all ilk—from regular folks who want to be heard to corporate machines protecting their interests. Law clerks recommend that the justices grant certain petitions or deny others, dashing desperate hopes. These are the quietly powerful, seated on the justice’s shoulder whispering sweet everythings in the judge’s ear.

But like judges, law clerks are mostly white.

This is a travesty not just because clerking is a time-honored path to the halls of legal power. It’s also a missed opportunity for lawyers of color to repay the debt we owe to those on whose shoulders we stand, to heed Charles Hamilton Houston’s famous admonishment that, as lawyers, we not be parasites on society. Clerking is an important mainstream credential, a crucial start to a career of giving back.

The power of clerks has evolved over time. The first Supreme Court law clerk was hired in 1882, a mere 17 years after slavery was formally abolished, and bore the title legal secretary. Sixty-six years later, in 1948, the first black Supreme Court law clerk, William T. Coleman Jr., was hired. And nearly 20 years after that, Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the first black justice on the Supreme Court. Since then, much progress has been made in every area of the legal profession, but blacks are still only 4 percent of all judges nationwide, less than 5 percent of all law firm associates and less than 2 percent of all law firm partners in the country.

In 2005, only 6 percent of all law clerks were black. In the federal courts, only 5 percent of law clerks were black, a decrease from previous years.

Judicial clerkships are a pipeline to the elite Power Hall of the legal profession, where judges, law firm partners, general counsels, federal government attorneys and law school professors converge. The more black law clerks, the more black attorneys who will eventually be granted entree to the upper echelons of the legal profession. That in turn means more black attorneys in positions to address some of the social ills facing the black community—warehousing of black boys in special education and in disciplinary “alternative schools”; disparities in crack cocaine and powder cocaine sentencing; testing of vaccinations in low-income communities.

As a law student at Harvard, I got lucky and fell into clerking because everyone around me was doing it. I did two clerkships—one state, one federal—in Indianapolis, my hometown. I won’t pretend that as a law clerk I was a forceful orator up in chambers confidently lobbying my judges and persuading them in determining sentences in every criminal case or in meting out damages in discrimination lawsuits. The truth is that I was so completely intimidated by the process, my jurists, and the role that I was being asked to play that I was very nearly rendered silent by my fear.

But, in order to do the job, my voice as a black woman had to be heard in my written work, in all of the questions I asked on a daily basis, in my mere presence in chambers and seated at the clerk’s position in the courtroom. And now, I attribute the remarkable successes I have had in my career to my time as a law clerk, not simply for the prestige a clerkship carries and the path I have been able to take as a result, but also because of the training and mentoring I received from my judges at the time and since then.

I wish there were more minorities in the same pipeline, but I appreciate the reasons that there aren’t. For many of us, there’s that private-sector carrot dangling at the end of it all, replete with six-figure salary (in order to repay exorbitant law school loans) and perks galore—finally, the good life we’ve been striving for. Why put that off another year to … clerk? Compared to what law firms are paying these days, the law clerk’s salary amounts to free labor.

But making the investment could yield big dividends professionally and for the integrity of the justice system as well. It could mean more black judges deciding the fates of those of us entangled in the system. It means more black law professors sitting on admissions committees in law school. It means more black general counsels determining legal strategy for Fortune 500 companies.

And, at a time when black power is more visible than ever, it could represent yet another step to power.

Allison Brown, a former law clerk, is a practicing attorney and the founder and principal of Judicial Clerk Review, LLC.

http://www.theroot.com/views/clerical-errors

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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.

Independence Day Clerkship Special!!

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Judicial Clerk Review is thrilled to announce our first Clerkship Special in honor of the United States’ 237th Day of Independence.

The legal profession, especially these days, can feel like a series of ancient gladiator contests as attorneys fight to the near-death within law firms and elsewhere just to remain on the payroll. There is a sanctuary – judicial clerkships.

Don’t think you have what it takes to be a law clerk? If you made it through law school, you are capable. If you have studied or are studying for the Bar, you are driven. If you decided to be a lawyer despite all of the unsolicited advice from your loved ones and random strangers, you are a maverick. You have the qualities that judges want to see. You just have to show them your best self.

We can help you to avoid the discard pile by perfecting your written clerkship application materials – your cover letter, resume, and writing sample. We can help you to prevent a gaffe during interviews by walking you through a mock clerkship interview and providing concrete feedback for improvement.

Let’s work together in honor of this country’s independence to secure your independence from the drudgery. Contact me at allison@judicialclerkreview.com to learn more about our Clerkship Special. Happy 4th!

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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.

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.

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.