Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Any insight into the NJ legal market?

Hi folks! I'm a 2017 JD, and I'll be clerking for the 2017- dharamsala06/29/17
Although some look down on it, I think workers' comp is a go youngbuck06/29/17
Do these workers comp firms care about grades/rank/prestige/ dharamsala06/29/17
No. These things don't matter outside BigLaw. If you have trickydick06/29/17
Watch out for workers' comp. On the defense side, it has one mrtor06/29/17
I'm definitely litigation-focused. I have appeared in crimi dharamsala06/29/17
Does anyone know about hiring for the NJ PD? I got a callba dharamsala06/29/17
Aiming sort of low coming out of a clerkship. lolwutjobs06/29/17
What should I be aiming for? My grades are mediocre and I w dharamsala06/29/17
What is this fellowship that dharamsala is talking about in williamdrayton06/29/17
No, I'm talking about project-based fellowships (Equal Justi dharamsala06/29/17
I just saw a NJ commercial litigation associate position off prestiiigiousone06/29/17
Thanks, but I'm looking for positions that start once my cle dharamsala06/29/17
Former nj law clerk here. You won't start interviewing with sjlawyer06/29/17
Do most NJ/PA trial court clerks find full-time, long-term l dharamsala06/29/17
I clerked with 16 other ppl in my smaller county. I think a sjlawyer06/29/17
PA attorney here. I would venture a guess and say Yes based specv31306/29/17
I'll be in a rural county. My judge says I can extend the c dharamsala06/29/17
No hinterlands for Me, lol. Rural PA. That's a mixed bad. I specv31306/29/17
It's a charming little downtown, but trust me, I'll be drivi dharamsala06/29/17
I suspect you might be lol. Central PA is pretty white, at l specv31306/29/17
leave it to dharamsala to use the generic "Montgomery County williamdrayton06/30/17
Why did you go to rural PA instead of a NJ clerkship? prestiiigiousone06/30/17
I interviewed for NJ clerkships but didn't get an offer. dharamsala06/30/17
a job is a job. Getting a job in jersey is probably easier sjlawyer06/30/17
The hiring landscape in New Jersey is awful. My advice is patenttrollnj06/30/17
credited comments by patenttroll - but as others have noted, williamdrayton06/30/17
Especially the insurance mills. They love the clerkships th patenttrollnj06/30/17
To chime in to the credited responses you have already recei wtretire07/03/17
Will clerking for a criminal court judge be a big boost for dharamsala07/03/17
It won't hurt, but I wouldn't call it a 'big boost', your ot thirdtierlaw07/03/17
Wait, does NJPD pay $35K a year? dharamsala07/03/17
No, they pay better, I was talking generally across the coun thirdtierlaw07/03/17

dharamsala (Jun 29, 2017 - 10:50 am)

Hi folks! I'm a 2017 JD, and I'll be clerking for the 2017-18 term in PA. I lined up a fellowship sponsor in South Jersey for fall 2018, and I registered for Themis for the February 2018 NJ bar. Since the fellowship process is super competitive, I'm looking at other opportunities in the state as well, in case the fellowship gods don't shine down on me.

I am fluent in Hindi and Spanish, which should help, since there are huge Indian and Latino communities in NJ. During law school, I've gained experience in family law, immigration law, criminal defense (did yearlong clinic at the PD), veterans law, disability law, employment discrimination, etc. What's the hiring landscape like for local government, public defender, legal aid, small firms, etc. in NJ? I am more interested in South Jersey.

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youngbuck (Jun 29, 2017 - 11:00 am)

Although some look down on it, I think workers' comp is a good field, and I imagine you'd be an attractive candidate on petitioner's side based upon your fluency in Spanish. A lot of firms are hiring regularly, and its a good place to start with no experience. Before your clerkship starts, I'd take a trip to some of the comp courts in south jersey (mt holly, camden, atlantic city, bridgeton), get there at 8:30 and just spend the morning there - wear a suit, look nice, and if anyone asks, just tell them you're a new graduate interested in the field and wanted to see some cases. You'll probably walk away with a few business cards if you're up for schmoozing. I'd offer to meet with you at court, but all my lists are in north jersey. Best of luck!

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dharamsala (Jun 29, 2017 - 11:21 am)

Do these workers comp firms care about grades/rank/prestige/law review/moot court etc.?

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trickydick (Jun 29, 2017 - 12:53 pm)

No. These things don't matter outside BigLaw.

If you have a pulse and a license, you're right for PI and comp.

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mrtor (Jun 29, 2017 - 11:49 am)

Watch out for workers' comp. On the defense side, it has one of the lowest billable rates which caps your earnings very quickly. On the plaintiff side, the lucrativeness will vary by state but the workers' compensation awards are generally lower than comparable personal injury awards. Workers' comp is also very easy to learn, so there is very little incentive for retaining experienced practitioners. It can also be a tough field to break out of. It is a highly specialized administrative practice and the knowledge and skills you acquire are not very transferable to other litigation practices.

First, decide whether you want to pursue a career in litigation or transactional work. They are very different fields for very different types of people. Do your research as it will be difficult to change later on. Next, apply around and see what kind of opportunities you can realistically obtain. For employer and defense-sided litigation, more corporate and more specialized practices will generally offer higher pay and a better long term outlook. For plaintiff litigation, it will be almost entirely firm dependent. Avoid firms that advertise frequently as it may be a sign of a mill which overworks and underpays its attorneys.

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dharamsala (Jun 29, 2017 - 11:51 am)

I'm definitely litigation-focused. I have appeared in criminal, family, and immigration court as a certified legal intern in law school and loved it.

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dharamsala (Jun 29, 2017 - 12:59 pm)

Does anyone know about hiring for the NJ PD? I got a callback interview this past spring, however, I had to withdraw because I accepted the clerkship.

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lolwutjobs (Jun 29, 2017 - 2:13 pm)

Aiming sort of low coming out of a clerkship.

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dharamsala (Jun 29, 2017 - 2:17 pm)

What should I be aiming for? My grades are mediocre and I wasn't on Law Review. My school is ranked in the 40s in ATL and in the 110s in US News.

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williamdrayton (Jun 29, 2017 - 3:37 pm)

What is this fellowship that dharamsala is talking about in South Jersey? those are usually academic positions and there is only one law school - so she is going to teach at Rutgers-Camden?

how do you get a fellowship anywhere given what she admits to be mediocre credentials?

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dharamsala (Jun 29, 2017 - 4:04 pm)

No, I'm talking about project-based fellowships (Equal Justice Works, Skadden, Soros, etc.).

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prestiiigiousone (Jun 29, 2017 - 4:36 pm)

I just saw a NJ commercial litigation associate position offered on Craigslist for 45K

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dharamsala (Jun 29, 2017 - 4:38 pm)

Thanks, but I'm looking for positions that start once my clerkship ends in August 2018.

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sjlawyer (Jun 29, 2017 - 4:56 pm)

Former nj law clerk here. You won't start interviewing with local-ish bigger firms until mid-year and even then, the ball won't start rolling until Feb/March. Just relax and enjoy - polish the resume, get a good writing sample, etc.

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dharamsala (Jun 29, 2017 - 5:19 pm)

Do most NJ/PA trial court clerks find full-time, long-term legal employment upon the conclusion of their clerkships?

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sjlawyer (Jun 29, 2017 - 8:48 pm)

I clerked with 16 other ppl in my smaller county. I think almost everyone did. One person went solo and it took a while, but she's doing pretty well.

Next january shoot me an email at SJLawyerjdu@gmail.com and I'll see what I know about.

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specv313 (Jun 29, 2017 - 6:18 pm)

PA attorney here. I would venture a guess and say Yes based on the 4 or 5 attorneys I know that made the transition. I'm suprised you're clerkship is only one year, however. The majority of PA clerks I know are either (a) former attorneys that took the job for better work-life balance and on a permanent basis (i.e. Moms); (b) recent law school grads that were hired as a clerk without a specific term in mind -- that is, the length of the position is indefinite; or (c) were hired for a term of at least 2 years. I've only been aware of a judge or two that "only" hires clerks for a year. Curious what county you'll be in.

Another downside to your PA clerkship is that you're going to come out of it knowing a lot more about PA law and procedure then NJ. I'm licensed in both states, and I think there's a substantial difference, particularly on the procedural side. This is in no way an insurmountable hurdle; plenty of attorneys practice in both states. You just might come across as more attractive to a PA-focused firm in light of your clerkship.

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dharamsala (Jun 29, 2017 - 6:24 pm)

I'll be in a rural county. My judge says I can extend the clerkship to two years if I want to...but I'd rather not be stuck in central PA for too long, lol (no offense if you hail from the hinterlands of the Commonwealth).

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specv313 (Jun 29, 2017 - 6:40 pm)

No hinterlands for Me, lol. Rural PA. That's a mixed bad. I feel for you. Scenery's supposed to be nice; skiing/snowboarding in the winter too. Otherwise it seems like it could get a little boring. Hopefully the county seat where you're at has a nice downtown district. Plenty of county's do. Good luck this year.

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dharamsala (Jun 29, 2017 - 6:43 pm)

It's a charming little downtown, but trust me, I'll be driving to my folks' place in Montgomery County every weekend I can, haha. I think I'll be the only Indian person in town?

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specv313 (Jun 29, 2017 - 11:25 pm)

I suspect you might be lol. Central PA is pretty white, at least that's what I thought the times I've visited. MontCo is credited though, so I wouldn't blame you for driving home every weekend. Can't say I love the KOP mall, but Conshohocken is a good time.

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williamdrayton (Jun 30, 2017 - 4:06 pm)

leave it to dharamsala to use the generic "Montgomery County" to describe where she lives - that tells you nothing; it's an extremely large county

Pottstown, Norristown and Bridgeport are straight up ghettoes.
Narberth, Ardmore and Bryn Mawr and Abington are some of the most expensive old money zip codes in the country
Red Hill, Pennsburg and East Greenville and Harleysville are straight up Pennsyltucky

there are a ton of farms and cow pastures that were converted into generic suburbs with pricy McMansions

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prestiiigiousone (Jun 30, 2017 - 2:08 pm)

Why did you go to rural PA instead of a NJ clerkship?

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dharamsala (Jun 30, 2017 - 3:23 pm)

I interviewed for NJ clerkships but didn't get an offer.

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sjlawyer (Jun 30, 2017 - 3:27 pm)

a job is a job. Getting a job in jersey is probably easier from a clerkship (anywhere) than not working, IMHO.

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patenttrollnj (Jun 30, 2017 - 3:56 pm)

The hiring landscape in New Jersey is awful.

My advice is to get into the public sector, because at least there you will have some degree of stability. I'm presuming biglaw, bigfed or a federal clerkship is out of the question--since you're asking for advice. Had this been a possibility (and you would have known by the time you graduated law school), you'd be at a whole other caliber, and your career would be heading in a different track.

Since it is not, you're looking at a small law job, or hopefully working for the state or city.

My experience working in NJ is that most local NJ firms will require you to bring in business, otherwise they'll kick you out after a few years. Either that, or they are insurance mills that will get rid of you after 3-5 years in order to make way for a cheaper, younger associate one day.

NJ sole practitioners may hire you as an associate, but don't expect them to make you a partner. Plus, a solo may view you as a potential rival one day, so don't be surprised if they don't mentor or promote you.

Therefore, try for a public sector job!

Good luck!

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williamdrayton (Jun 30, 2017 - 4:07 pm)

credited comments by patenttroll - but as others have noted, New Jersey law firms have a fetish for judicial clerks - it's usually a huge advantage

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patenttrollnj (Jun 30, 2017 - 9:36 pm)

Especially the insurance mills. They love the clerkships there, mostly because these are the types of cases NJ local courts deal with. The more complex cases go to Federal Court.

However, in my humble opinion, it's not so much the clerkship that firms like, rather clerkships are simply a way to distinguish applicants. Everyone coming out of law schools (especially the 2nd, 3rd and 4th tier schools that feed NJ firms) looks exactly alike. Thus, a clerkship helps distinguish applicants.

In my case, I never had a clerkship, yet I still got hired by an insurance mill due to my science background. That's what distinguished me.

Note: I'm talking about state clerkships. Federal clerkships are a whole other animal, and a much better one to have on your resume.

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wtretire (Jul 3, 2017 - 10:51 am)

To chime in to the credited responses you have already received, the vast majority of clerks in New Jersey (in my experience, NJ trial level) will obtain some form of employment post-clerkship. The better jobs, such as midsize firms and government mostly go to those with connections. Having the right connections in NJ, in my experience, cannot be overstated. If you know partners or a big client in these firms, you have a leg up.... Where I clerked approximately 20% end up with objectively good jobs. The vast majority end up in ID firms (or similar) with a starting salary anywhere between 55K and 70K with the typical salary being in the low 60's. I would assume that the PA clerkship would yield somewhat similar results. I will further assume that if you had the connections in NJ to get a good job, those connections would have gotten you a NJ clerkship which seems to be your preference. All told, you can realistically expect a 60K starting salary post-clerkship. Bear in mind, that many of the firms that are likely to hire you, will not begin interviewing until a month before they are ready to hire, and many NJ clerks end up finding employment during the last month or two of their clerkship.

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dharamsala (Jul 3, 2017 - 2:12 pm)

Will clerking for a criminal court judge be a big boost for applications to the PDs offices? I plan to apply to NJ, Philly and surrounding suburbs, and DE.

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 3, 2017 - 3:18 pm)

It won't hurt, but I wouldn't call it a 'big boost', your other experience will likely carry you much further. PD jobs aren't easy to get and it has less to do with credential issues than the number of "true believers" who are applying. Most PD offices are overworked, understaffed, and paid relatively poorly for the amount of work that they do. There are a lot of people out there, and maybe you're one of them, who really believe in the work and that the state is evil and someone must stick up for the little guy. So they are willing to come in with T20 credentials and work for $35k a year.

A lot of other people think these positions are easier to get, due to the horrible pay and work-life, so their offices are flooded with applications from people who missed OCI, lower ranked schools, or really any graduate who is looking to get courtroom experience to possibly get a better job in a year.

My State's PD's offices stopped posting ads for openings on anywhere other than their website and they only leave it up for the statutorily prescribed period that government jobs must be posted. They still receive 100s of applications.

Clerkships can be helpful in getting a job due to the networking opportunities and that judges are normally pretty dialed into openings in their local prosecutor and PD's office.

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dharamsala (Jul 3, 2017 - 3:46 pm)

Wait, does NJPD pay $35K a year?

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 3, 2017 - 3:49 pm)

No, they pay better, I was talking generally across the country. It appears NJ pays around $60k.

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