Should Transactional Attorneys Do Judicial Clerkships?

The legal blog “Above the Law” recently had a thought-provoking guest column here about whether those considering practicing as transactional attorneys should consider a judicial clerkship. Since judicial clerkships take place in a courthouse setting, and court cases are typically considered the province of litigators — not deal lawyers — the common wisdom has been that a transactional attorney (or a law student planning to be one) would get nothing from a judicial clerkship.

But that common wisdom may not be so wise, according to the column’s author, Susan Moon, who is an in-house corporate attorney. Moon notes several potential benefits that transactional attorneys may glean from doing judicial clerkships. Here are a couple of of her main points:

* Many in-house lawyers (even those who are primarily transactional attorneys) eventually manage litigation (for example, those who are general counsel who oversee all of a company’s matters). A clerkship can help such an attorney learn how judges view contractual provisions, negotiations, and litigation tactics, according to Moon.

* Being in the daily rush of a transactional practice means that you may spend most of your time thinking about your client’s business matters and the next deal to be done. Moon points out that a judicial clerkship can give you a chance you might otherwise not have to spend your days “think[ing] deeply about about legal issues that arise, which you often have less time to do in the midst of a fast-paced transactional practice.”

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