OSD 78: Send this to every smart law student you know

Playing the long game with clerkships.

Law students apply to judicial clerkships this fall. Clerkships are a big deal. Clerkships with federal judges are a really big deal. Clerkships with federal appeals court judges are (short of a Supreme Court clerkship) the biggest deal. They put law students onto a life-altering course to enter the most elite law firms, professorships, executive and judicial branch jobs, and so on.

That’s why it was surprising to see this article in the Harvard student newspaper back in January: “Following Lack of Applications, Harvard Law School Encourages Students to Apply to Clerk for Trump-Appointed Judges”. Here’s the gist of it:

In a series of messages to students and alumni, the Office of Career Services and alumni said that the lack of applications on file seemed like “wasted opportunities,” according to Bloomberg Law.

On Dec. 17, the school sent a message encouraging students to apply to work with newly confirmed Ninth Circuit judge Lawrence VanDyke in Nevada.

“Lawrence VanDyke (HLS ‘06) was confirmed last week to become a new judge on the Ninth Circuit based in Reno (‘next to Lake Tahoe and great skiing!’),” the message read.

Based in California, the Ninth Circuit, which reviews cases for several western states, is one of the most desirable clerkships, according to Bloomberg Law.

In a follow-up message on Dec. 19, the Law School referenced other 2020 clerkships that received zero applications from Harvard, including the Los Angeles chambers of California appellate court judge John Wiley and a recently confirmed Ninth Circuit judge, Patrick Bumatay.

So why are we talking about this in the OSD newsletter? Well, here’s a picture of Lawrence VanDyke elk hunting with his SCAR 17S:

About this picture, he wrote, “That’s a SCAR 17 — the same gun used by the Navy SEALs (but mine’s only semi-auto, unfortunately).”

Zero Harvard Law students applied to clerk with him last year, despite a Ninth Circuit clerkship being nearly the most elite job that it’s possible to get as a graduating law student. The same (or similar) likely goes for Yale Law, Stanford, and other top programs. But given the water those schools draw, anyone who did apply would have a great shot at getting the job. These clerkships are a hundred-dollar bill lying on the sidewalk.

Let’s play the long game here. If you’re a law student with a robust view of the Second Amendment, make sure you’re applying to clerkships as aggressively as possible. And seek out these judges who are on top-shelf courts but aren’t receiving applications. If you’re a good student at a good school, you stand a very good chance of getting the job. And that’s going to set you up to be in the next generation of judges, professors, and lawyers who make the rules. We want you there. Go get it.


This week’s links

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down California’s magazine capacity law

The state has the option of asking for an en banc rehearing (i.e. for the Ninth Circuit to rehear the case with 11 judges instead of just three), which will almost certainly happen. Until a final resolution (including the final resolution of the likely Supreme Court appeal after that), this isn’t Freedom Week 2.0 — as this excellent reddit post explains.

For more context on the case, we’d strongly suggest watching the oral arguments, helpfully edited for brevity by Reno May.

How to train when there’s no ammo

Detailed dry fire tutorial from T.Rex Arms.

“The Case for Guns”, the cover story of the September 1981 edition of Esquire

This was a letter to the magazine that the editors found so thought-provoking that they had the writer expand it into a full article. Interesting to note how modern-sounding the arguments on all sides are.

Crawling down a torpedo tube on a nuclear submarine

A bit bigger than the guns we normally cover. Cool stuff from Smarter Every Day.

A psychologist on what is and isn’t persuasive

In this three minute clip from Sam Harris’s podcast, a psychologist explains why he had a change of heart on gun control after learning that one of his professors is a gun owner. Summary: be cool, and cool things will happen.


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