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Ask the Experts

Q: I am currently doing a one-year clerkship and hope to get a job at a firm starting next fall. I'm wondering if I should be applying to firms now, or should I wait until the economy picks up (hopefully before my clerkship ends) to apply.

A: Typically, firms start accepting resumes from clerks in January (for a Fall start date), although in this market, some firms have indicated that they may be delaying considering clerk applications until the spring. Clerks may wish to contact the lateral recruiting person in the early winter at specific firms to inquire as to the firm's timetable. In past years, many firms have also held receptions for federal clerks between November and March, although in this market, it is not clear whether many firms will hold these receptions. In addition, there are specific ethical rules on applying for positions while serving as a clerk (when to apply, speaking with the judge beforehand, etc.) that you should look into. A law clerk is bound by the ethical standards established by the judge and the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees. The Federal Judicial Center published a pamphlet, Maintaining the Public Trust: Ethics for Federal Judicial Law Clerks, which discusses ethical issues and has a specific section on dealing with prospective employers. The relevant website is:$file/ethics01.pdf