The New OSCAR Clerkship Season Begins on June 28, 2013?!

April 11th, 2013

Wow! Up from August 19, 2013. This will be madness.

David Lat adds:

Also note that the Plan provides for “a single date to receive applications, schedule and conduct interviews, and make clerkship offers.” This could be a recipe for an utterly shambolic process, a mad scramble for talent on June 28, full of hastily conducted interviews, exploding offers, and questionable behavior by both judges and applicants. (Of course, defenders of the new Plan might say that the current process is no model of decorum and deliberation.)

There are going to be a lot of collateral consequences. A lot of schools don’t even release all grades that early. Now, professors will have to get together letters of recommendations much earlier. Although moving the season up does have the effect of allowing students to travel for interviews *before* classes start.

And holy crap, OSCAR now limits applicants to 100 judges?!

 While 71 percent of applicants created fewer than 25 applications in Fiscal Year 2012, there are some outliers who invest the time and effort to create hundreds of clerkship applications in OSCAR.

To address judge concerns, Version 7 introduces a 100-application limit per applicant for clerkship applications. OSCAR will not limit the number of applications for staff attorney positions and pro se, death penalty, and bankruptcy appellate panel law clerk positions.

Yeah that was me. LOL, I am *the* outlier. Malcolm Gladwell should write a chapter about me.

I applied to all 1,200 of them. Yes all of them. For my (comical) take on the clerkship hiring market, see From Being One L To Teach One L.

At the beginning of my 3L year, I was standing at somewhat of a legal crossroads. Only two years earlier, I had no idea what a federal clerkship was. Yet, for some reason, my mind was set on obtaining one! My odds were slim. Mason sends very few students to federal district courts, and even fewer (maybe one or two a year) to the courts of appeals. My grades were good, but probably not good enough. Fueled in part by my burgeoning Article III obsession and my desire to gain personal and first-hand insights into how judges decide cases, I decided to take a guerilla approach to applying to federal clerkships—apply to them all. All 1,198 active and senior Article III judges—from Acker to Zouhary. Insane! Nuts! Waste of time and money! These were only some of the comments I heard at the time. They were right, but I was not deterred (I seldom am).

Fortunately, 422 of those judges accepted electronic applications through the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review, affectionately known as OSCAR among clerkship aficionados. This made applying to a judge as simple as the click of a button. Unfortunately, 776 other judges only accepted paper applications through the mail. Let’s just say I became an outstanding customer at FedEx-Kinkos and the local Arlington post office. I spent more time than I would ever care to count printing, stuffing, and stamping envelopes. Prior to Labor Day, 2008, I mailed out over 776 packages, each including a customized cover letter, resume, transcript, sealed letters of recommendation, and writing samples. A career advisor at GMU later told me that I set the record for clerkship applications—a record I relish with nerdy pride.

I was determined. I was also fortunate. I received one interview with a court of appeals judge, six district court judges, and two non-Article III judges. I did receive this odd quiz from Sixth Circuit Judge Danny J. Boggs in Louisville, which asked questions like “What is a Plutoid?” and “Within a factor of 3, how many motor vehicles (4 or more wheels) have been manufactured in history?” I promptly filled it out, but I did not hear back from him. Nine interviews from 1,198 applications was roughly a 1% success rate. Not too bad, I thought.

A clerkship advisor at GMU, told me that at an OSCAR conference they talked about me (not by name, but it was obviously me), and that I sent more clerkship applications than anyone, ever. With this new policy, it looks like my record will remain intact.