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A pathway to a clerkship for diverse applicants: My story

Getting a Clerkship

I am a first-generation lawyer. I am also an immigrant and a minority entering the legal profession. I didn’t have the connections coming into law school that folks often lean on to help further their clerkship applications. In my 2L year, I sent out over a 100 applications without a single interview. In my 3L year, I sent out probably another 85 applications.

I had one interview, and I was ultimately not selected. 

I had all but given up on clerking but I kept getting encouragement from my mentors to remain tenacious. I knew that while I may not clerk immediately after law school, like traditionally sought, I still wanted to have the opportunity to get firsthand exposure to a variety of advocacy styles in a federal district court clerkship. 

Taking another path

I began reaching out to everyone I knew for advice. If they couldn’t help me, I asked them to pass me along to someone who could (through all available resources: Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook, Texting, and Email). I had many great phone calls and met folks who were along similar paths as me.

But eventually, a mentor’s husband connected me with a judge who spoke with me regarding my interests. I was respectful, clear, and prepared during this conversation. He told me he would ask around.

I waited a week after our conversation and then reached back out to him reiterating my interest in clerking. He drafted an introduction based on our conversation and sent my resume around to a few federal judges. These judges weren’t on OSCAR and didn’t even have listed openings.

A federal judge responded and asked for my materials for a 2022 position, even though the judge didn’t normally hire till much later on. I followed up. I waited a week and then reiterated my interest. I normally would not be so bold/persistent but I remembered the advice of mentors that the worst thing anyone can say is, “No!” 

Preparing for the interview

After my follow up email, an interview was scheduled. I prepped very hard for the interview, not only researching the judge online but finding past clerks through other folks who worked in the same district. I called these past clerks, and after a couple of great conversations, I soon realized this clerkship would be an ideal fit. I had the interview and then two days later, I got the call offering me the clerkship. 

Creating your own opportunity

I would have never had this opportunity had I given up. I would have never had the opportunity had I listened to the conservative advice to wait for an organic connection. Folks might make assumptions about your GPA, personality, or makeup and assume you’re not clerkship material; but if you want something badly enough you can definitely create an opportunity.

The judge doesn’t normally hire for this position until much later in the cycle, but because I was qualified and a good fit, he hired me. It didn’t hurt that I was tenacious and willing to go the extra mile to show my interest in the position. 

But ultimately, I couldn’t have done it without my mentors, especially the ones interested in improving the diversity of the judiciary and the clerkship process. The judge who passed my resume along is a lifesaver, and I hope to be in a position one day, where I can do the same for others.

I am very happy that a long-awaited goal is being realized. I will make the most of this opportunity and pave a way for others in the future. 

My biggest takeaway is to ask and be grateful. People really want to help other people. If they know how much you want something, they will help you get there. Be sincere and think hard about how bad you want it as well. 

Pranav Lokin Pranav Lokin is a second year associate at Akin Gump working on commercial litigation and trade sanctions. He graduated with honors from Emory Law in 2020. At Emory, he was an active member of SBA, BLSA, and OutLaw. He also was a Notes and Comments Editor for Emory International Law Review, and his student note was published here.