Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Big Announcement

So, I feel I've been teasing you with promises of news for awhile. It wasn't intentional, I swear -- I really was consistently on the edge of being able to announce stuff, and events kept transpiring to put it off. But now, I can finally reveal the entire story -- as well as my employment for the next two years.

This past September, I was offered and accepted a clerkship for the 2012-2013 term with Judge Diana Murphy on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, Minneapolis.

And next year, I will be a visiting professor in the Academic Fellows program at the University of Illinois law school.

These are both incredibly exciting opportunities. Judge Murphy and I really clicked in the interview -- I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to getting a chance to work with her (and Jill isn't displeased with getting to go back to the old homestead for a year).

But the Illinois position -- which I just found out about today -- represents the attainment of a dream I've been pursuing for nearly a decade. Obviously, it's not permanent, and there's a lot of things I still need to do. But starting next August, I will be able to say that I am a law professor.

The story of how this all came about is, I think, worth recounting -- and hopefully will justify the slow-roll of the news. My interview with Judge Murphy was at 7:30 AM on the first Thursday that "on-plan" federal judges could conduct interviews. It was, as I said, going fantastically -- we really seemed to click in a way that I can honestly say has never happened (at least so smoothly) in any job interview I've ever had.

Unfortunately, Judge Murphy had already finished hiring for 2011-12 term at 7 AM (yeah, I thought 7:30 was a prime slot too). But she immediately made me an offer for the following term (2012-13).

This presented a problem, for Covington had recently revised their clerkship policy such that attorneys could no longer start with the firm, then leave to clerk. We could graduate, clerk, and then begin with the firm, but they didn't want a situation where incoming attorneys got a few months of training and then, just when they began to be integrated into cases and clients, they left again.

That was the original reason why I couldn't announce the clerkship -- without something for the 2011-12 year, I couldn't accept Judge Murphy's offer without running afoul of Covington's new policy. So I immediately set to work trying to find something -- another clerkship or, preferably, a teaching fellowship, to fill the gap year so I could stay in harmony with Covington's policy.

Once it became apparent that a different clerkship wasn't on the table, the first candidate was a teaching fellowship at the University of Chicago -- specifically, the Kauffman Fellowship. And it looked good -- I met with a dean, and he said that assuming the funding was renewed, he saw no reason not to hire me. And as for the funding, he didn't know what the foundation was waiting for, but he thought maybe if he told them that he had a excellent candidate lined up for next year, that would shake loose a few dollars so they could formalize things.

That was the second iteration of nearly-having news. But as you might have guessed, it didn't pan -- despite our best efforts, the funding didn't happen. So it was back to the drawing board.

Meanwhile, there was some good news -- Covington had reversed its clerkship policy (albeit with a stated preference that we not start-then-leave), meaning I could accept Murphy's offer and return to Covington next year. That was, at least, a load off my shoulder. But it did impose a November 1st deadline to accept Covington's offer. On the theory that the Kauffman fellowship should be forthcoming, I managed to secure an extension until December 1. But once the Kauffman fell through, I had to beg for more time.

I was all amped up to actually beg -- I basically had a speech prepared and everything. After the initial pleasantries, I started into my spiel, beginning with "So some things have come up, and it's looking like I won't hear anything until February/March...." and before I got any further, the legal recruiting director brightly remarked "oh, so we won't hear from you until March? Great, I'll mark it down!" I was so prepared to have to plead my case that I don't think I really processed that, and basically continued with the begging as if she hadn't said anything, which I have to imagine sounded incredibly strange until I finally managed to restore a grip on myself and thank her.

And in that extra space of time, I applied for and received this offer at Illinois -- thus bringing my long, chaotic autumn to a close.

Speaking of Covington, I do need to give them specific thanks for being so flexible with deadlines. They extended their timeline twice to accommodate me, and if they hadn't done that, I wouldn't have been able to secure this opportunity. I am so grateful for that. I also need to thank my recommenders, but in particular Lisa Bernstein, who shepherded me through this process like a pro. And of course, everyone else -- my friends, family, Jill, the whole crew -- who was so patient with me throughout this whole ordeal. I'm sure I was more than a bit manic at times, and they kept me sane.

Anyway, to close out, it seems like such a milestone in my life should have at least some impact on my blog. And you'll note at the top that I have a new tagline. It's a bit premature -- I'm not a professor yet -- but I told myself as soon as I got my first teaching gig, I'd make the change.


N. Friedman said...

Congratulations! A federal clerkship. That is awesome.

I do not know the judge although my practice often involves work in Federal court, just not (so far, anyway) in Minnesota. Just as well, now that you are working at that circuit, I would not have a chance.

And, congratulations on your visiting professorship. It should be a great opportunity for you. Perhaps, it will give you a chance to think through your ideas away from the world that is politically correct - all towards finding a way to save liberalism.

Rebecca said...

Congratulations! You are a star! I hope your new responsibilities won't get in the way of your blogging (that is, when they start).

dkk said...


sonicfrog said...

Way Cool... Congrats!!!

Richard Jeffrey Newman said...

Congratulations, David! On both counts.