Can or should a judge be blind to what he or she knows from simply being an intelligent person who lived through the times, has read newspapers and books and has engaged in social discussion? As Justice Felix Frankfurter put it, "there comes a point where this Court should not be ignorant as judges of what we know as men." Watts v. Indiana, 338 U.S. 49, 52 (1949).
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"Clerkship" always struck me as both archaic and vaguely insulting. It is a little of both. No, it doesn't refer to the office equivalent of burger-ipping (depending upon the boss). Rather, it refers to an honored position as research assistant and confidant to a judge.
If you're still in school, and have anything close to the necessary credentials, you must seek a judicial clerkship. If not appellate, trial. If not federal, state. If not state, local. If not judicial, administrative. If not easily obtained, hard.
It may seem, in your youthful haste, like a waste of a year or two. It is not. It is, instead, a finishing school for young lawyers. You will learn things about which your non-clerkship brethren will be clueless.
It provides invaluable exposure to the legal system--especially for future litigators--from a vantage inaccessible even for senior practitioners (except that many Seniors were, themselves, judicial clerks). More cynically, it often means the difference between a high-powered job and an ordinary one, or, in quite a few markets today, a law job or none at all.
If you want to teach law, a clerkship is almost mandatory. (Indeed, just any clerkship won't do... it must be a prestigious one.)
If you think you'd like to be a judge, a clerkship is a wise move.
If your tendency is intellectual, it is downright fun. It's like law school... on steroids (... but more legal).
You'll almost certainly get credit for the time, and, not least, it is yet another effective delaying tactic from the cold, cruel real world.
Excerpted from The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book, by Thane Josef Messinger, a graduate of the U. of Texas Law School, where he was an editor of the Texas Law Review.
Copyright 1996, The Fine Print Press
* Important Message From the Library Staff To the Library's Beloved Patrons * A lawyer/editor/psychotic friend raved about this book and insisted we'd love it, so we read it and liked it so much we bought the company -- opps, wrong commercial... Let's try again... After reading this new [11/96] book, we liked it so much we contacted the author and coerced him into giving a Special Deal to Library visitors who order it.
So, while we hesitate to do anything that might encourage further spread of The Lawyer Plague, if you already made up your mind, we strongly encourage you to find out more about The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book, and to order and read it immediately.