The Academy

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Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Separation from service anxiety

Yup, other former law clerks feel this way.

(Hence the desire some of us feel to run back to the womb and get... what's the opposite of "separated from service"? It sounds vaguely like an operation involving conjoined twins, but I really don't want to be conjoined with the whole federal judiciary. I don't think I could stand the mustiness accompanying some of the circuit judges who are milking every drop out of the "during good Behaviour" part of the Constitution.)

Here's the other thing about the transition from clerking -> private practice: For some, it means much, much more responsibility. For others, it means much, much less. Depends on the judge and the firm, of course.

The parts of returning to government service that I am looking forward to: the ability to call ridiculous arguments ridiculous arguments without worrying about whether they're my client's ridiculous arguments, and to use Westlaw without a client code.

All this clerky stuff is being reinforced in my head because several of the newbies here at The Firm are joining the clerkship melee, approximately one week after entering private practice -- one is interviewing with my former employer tomorrow. I'm amazed that the clerkship hiring cartel seems to have held up fairly well.

It's good to be temporarily unemployed

I have joined my fellow blogger and the thousands of others who have been "separated from service" with the federal government. I, too, am now *just* a lawyer.

It's funny, when I started law school, my ultimate goal was to become a lawyer. It seemed then that three years of classes and exams (not to mention that one big exam after graduation) were huge obstacles to overcome in order to attain my goal of becoming a lawyer. But sometime during my second year, a clever faculty committee convinced me that there was a goal even loftier than "lawyer" -- there was the goal of "law clerk." So, natch, that became my goal. Now that I have completed law clerking, though, it sure feels like being a lawyer is a step down career-wise.

It used to be that I couldn't wait for the question, "What do you do?" I could barely contain my enthusiasm when I got to say, "I'm a law clerk for a federal judge." Instant approval. Now all I can say is, "I'm a lawyer." There's nothing unique about that. I doubt it will always be met with instant approval. Five years after setting my goal, I'm finally here and I feel vaguely disappointed. Bummer, dude.

I wonder if other former law clerks feel this way about being "separated from service" and thus forced to practice law.

By the way, I can't help but agree with the Parents of Mindy that her adventures sound like the beginning of a B horror movie. It could be titled 'Swimming in Lake Mindy -- Part III -- Body on the Shore.'

I have a little less free time -- or temporary unemployment as I like to call it -- than Mindy. I start work at a big, scary law firm at the end of this month. I'll try to have some adventures, though, so I can entertain my fellow bloggers while they are hard at work!