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.

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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.