Judicial Clerkships: What You Need to Know About Scheduling Clerkship Interviews

Do NOT Answer the Phone

ArrowsThe most critical piece of advice for managing your interview schedule is simple: do not answer the phone!

Let all of your calls go to voicemail, at least temporarily. If you are a competitive candidate and have applied to fast-moving locations, it would not be uncommon to receive between five and ten calls in the first few minutes judges are allowed to schedule interviews under the Guidelines.

Don’t Despair if Your Phone Doesn’t Immediately Ring

On the other hand, in some more relaxed areas of the country, judges might not even review applications until after their individual scheduling deadline has come and gone, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t receive any immediate phone calls.

Like so much about the clerkship process, the timing of calls is highly variable and idiosyncratic.

Getting Reliable Information is Critical

Information about which judges have made calls is incredibly helpful, and you might be able to find it online or from your classmates. Various message boards and blogs try to post information about which judges have made phone calls, with varying degrees of reliability. These are constantly in flux, so just Google to see what’s most active.

A more reliable option, but one fraught with problems of its own, is for your school, or a group within the school, to set up a way for students to list the calls they personally have gotten. Some people may feel self-conscious about revealing this information, given that people are competing for the same slots, but the value to all participants tends to outweigh the modesty of any individual.

There are ways to handle the “reveal” so that it’s not linked to an individual, which can assuage fears. For example, a group could set up a “wiki,” an online page that can be easily edited by multiple individuals, and allow people to pick an anonymous login.

Rather than writing “Jane Doe got a call from Judge Awesome” Jane Doe would simply log in under her ID of “14876” and list “Judge Awesome – call at 1:25 today; interview scheduled for 9:00 Monday morning.” If Jane Doe is particularly paranoid, she might have a second ID to list a different judge, so it’s not clear that the same person has both interviews.

That’s fine – the point isn’t to figure out which of your classmates have more, or better, options that you do. The point is to get the information you need to schedule your own interviews in a thoughtful way.

How to Schedule Strategically

Assuming you do receive some phone calls, you need to quickly rank your preferences, and start returning calls.

Ideally you will schedule your interviews in order of preference, so that you interview with your favorite judges first. If your most highly ranked judges haven’t gotten in touch with you, you have to decide whether to leave space in your interview schedule, just in case one eventually calls.

Although you should ask when you call, most judges schedule half hour interviews, and you need to leave time for getting between the chambers and for unavoidable overruns, so it’s likely not realistic to schedule more than one interview an hour.

You Can’t Be in Two Places At Once

If all of your interviews are in one area, scheduling isn’t that challenging. You might not get the exact order you want, but you should be able to get fairly close.

The real problems arise when you’ve applied in different geographic areas, and have to decide where to interview first. The problem is particularly pronounced when a very fast-moving area such as the Southern District of New York is your second choice.

If you opt to interview in your first-choice city on the first day of interviewing and strike out, you may have lost the opportunity to interview in New York, even if you’ve scheduled interviews.

Decisions Are Made At Warp Speed

Many judges hire before finishing their interview lists, and you might be left out in the cold. If, on the other hand, you interview in New York on the first day, you might be faced with an exploding offer, one that you’re expected to reject or accept on the spot, before you even interview in your first choice city. And, of course, if you wait until day two to interview in your first choice location, someone else might have taken your ideal job!

The Bottom Line

The situation is complicated when you have a lot of interview offers, and, in the end, you have to make a judgment call about what to do.

Just make a decision, hope for the best, and try not to worry about it too much.

Recognize that you’re in an enviable position, and rest assured that any job you take will probably be fantastic, even if it’s not exactly what you envisioned.

Read On:

Learn more about judicial clerkship interviews:

Return to Judicial Clerkships 101.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article on clerkship interviewing in the SDNY.

Have questions on scheduling, or want advice on setting up a clerkship wiki? Leave them in the comments!

Image by rore_d via stock.xchng.


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