Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Non-BigLaw options as entry into government work?

Hey everyone. What is in your opinion the best path towa sprinklecookie02/07/18
Jag masterpoaster02/07/18
Honors Program JAG BIGLAW "MIDLAW" with experience and pe superttthero02/07/18
This seems correct, strictly from my observations while work aknas02/07/18
The Honors Program is just as competitvw if not more, no? sprinklecookie02/07/18
One route for those of us with less impressive resumes is t themapmaster02/07/18
A path not mentioned here, move to a very small state and wo thirdtierlaw02/07/18
Flame? Seriously, nontrad paths to AUSA are unicorn trod. inho2solo02/07/18
In my district (Major Metro Area), AUSA's invariably have 1 newyorkcity02/07/18
If you don't want to be a gunner, don't shoot for gunner job trollfeeder02/08/18
There are two primary ways in — biglaw and the Honors Prog ichininosan02/08/18
I'm with a large DA's Office--we have had several DA's leave dilemma201802/08/18
Oh and I do know that some AUSA gigs are often easier to get dilemma201802/08/18
I don't know man, at my firm at least one associate has conf superttthero02/08/18
I think with larger city AUSA gigs, they often like people w downwardslope02/08/18
Thank you for the thoughtful replies, everyone. I am in m sprinklecookie02/08/18
If you are going to spend a year prepping the LSAT Please d trijocker02/08/18
Best of luck! And have to say I'm constantly impressed by th dilemma201802/08/18
sprinklecookie (Feb 7, 2018 - 8:05 pm)

Hey everyone.

What is in your opinion the best path towards an AUSA position for someone not at all interested in BigLaw? Or, rephrasing that: what is the best way to work at BigFed without having to go to BigLaw first? Not necessarily as an AUSA since those jobs are highly competitive, but I am not interested in BigLaw. Lots of people say only BigLaw "feeds" into AUSA or BigFed positions but for someone who wants to work in government right away what is the best path? I.e. Clerking > ADA or NYC government legal job > AUSA? I want to stay in NYC because I am from here.

I am most interested in securities, competition/antitrust and white collar crimes. Not opposed to MidLaw but I just can't muster up the "gunner" mentality a lot of BigLaw associates have and a large salary is not a motivator for me. I am truly interested in government work.

Thanks all!

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masterpoaster (Feb 7, 2018 - 8:52 pm)

Jag

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superttthero (Feb 7, 2018 - 9:53 pm)

Honors Program
JAG
BIGLAW
"MIDLAW" with experience and pedigree where you could lateral into BIGLAW

Of course, other paths exist, but there is no "best path" because the ones mentioned above probably account for 80-90% or more of AUSA hires for anyone that hasn't been there 25+ years.

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aknas (Feb 7, 2018 - 10:54 pm)

This seems correct, strictly from my observations while working inside the DC beltway.

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sprinklecookie (Feb 7, 2018 - 9:55 pm)

The Honors Program is just as competitvw if not more, no?

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themapmaster (Feb 7, 2018 - 10:04 pm)

One route for those of us with less impressive resumes is to pursue temporary assignments or special assignments where you are only guaranteed a job for a year or two, or even unpaid positions, at AUSA offices. These are less competitive to get. Sometimes one can use these gigs to meet the AUSAs in the local office and parlay their temp gig into a permanent one.

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thirdtierlaw (Feb 7, 2018 - 10:36 pm)

A path not mentioned here, move to a very small state and work as a state prosecutor. Even better if you're running your own office in some random county. Then you network like crazy whenever the Feds need to get involved with a defendant. You aren't going to do any securities work though. You could also look at state AG's offices. They many times have their hand in some of that stuff.

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inho2solo (Feb 7, 2018 - 10:38 pm)

Flame? Seriously, nontrad paths to AUSA are unicorn trod.

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newyorkcity (Feb 7, 2018 - 11:52 pm)

In my district (Major Metro Area), AUSA's invariably have 1 of 3 backgrounds:

1) former local prosecutor with at least 3 years experience;
2) former biglaw;
3) former district court clerk / Circuit Court clerk from our district or any Circuit.

Former prosecutors and even former biglaw associates still have to really compete to become an AUSA.
Former clerks have an easier time getting in though.

Good luck, they all seem to love their jobs and only leave when their kids start college.

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trollfeeder (Feb 8, 2018 - 11:34 am)

If you don't want to be a gunner, don't shoot for gunner jobs. I am assuming that you are at a T13, if so, it is probably harder to get a good clerkship, than it is to get a run of the mill firm job.

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ichininosan (Feb 8, 2018 - 11:50 am)

There are two primary ways in — biglaw and the Honors Program. Both are competitive. Since you’re not interested in the former, I’ll focus on the Honors Program. To get in, you’ll need exceptional law school performance, preferably buttressed by an Article III clerkship and some demonstrable evidence of subject matter interest in the particular area of law you are applying for (e.g. through prior work experience, law journal, a masters degree). You don’t necessarily need a JD from a T-14 law school as you more-or-less do for entry to biglaw, but it helps. A willingness to work in D.C. opens up significantly more opportunities and doesn’t foreclose a move back to NYC in a few years.

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dilemma2018 (Feb 8, 2018 - 12:07 pm)

I'm with a large DA's Office--we have had several DA's leave to join the Feds as AUSAs.
If a DA has decided that is what they want, then our Office has a couple of Units/Assignments that are excellent launch points: 1)Drug Crimes/Organized--since a ton of Fed Prosecutions deal with guns and dope, this unit is known for trial experience at the state level which translates well--you also end up meeting some Feds through the nature of the work. Oh and also there are some cases involving human trafficking, prostitution rings (online and offline) etc which also translates to the Feds. 2) White Collar Crime: This Unit does not have many trials, however, they deal with fraud, scams, etc which from friends I've had there have said they often are dealing with different Fed agencies. Also, elder abuse/scam cases have interaction with VA, etc. As far as where they went to start their AUSA jobs, many stayed local, one girl took a DOJ gig in Washington (I know for a fact she had little to no political connection--just solid experience here), one went to Vegas.
Also, I think I remember at least one ADA leaving to join a non DOJ agency to gain some experience in order to bolster their resume to make the leap. DHS has attorney slots as well--I met one at some seminar whose job was to handle high volume deportation hearings. While that may not be something one would want to do forever, having DHS experience would be great if your goal is to be an AUSA. I do not know much about the Honors Program--my experience is from what I have learned from attorneys with our Office whose goal was to be a Fed Prosecutor.

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dilemma2018 (Feb 8, 2018 - 12:12 pm)

Oh and I do know that some AUSA gigs are often easier to get than others--one attorney I was chatting with said that if you are willing to live in "less desirable" areas then the competition is often less. Once you gain some experience, it is far easier to internally transfer.

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superttthero (Feb 8, 2018 - 12:21 pm)

I don't know man, at my firm at least one associate has confided in me that he applies to applies everywhere and is willing to move. I figure that almost every office of almost every BIGLAW firm has to have 1 or 2 like him.

I believe it's less competitive, in an numbers sense, but if you don't have the seemingly basic credentials of JAG, BIGLAW, years of prosecutorial experience in a sexy state office, or deep connections, you are still on the outside looking in. Less competitive doesn't necessarily mean better chances for a non-trad applicant.

By all means, a non-trad applicant that thinks he or she is competitive for whatever reason should apply, but I don't think OP should be planning his career with the hope of AUSA unless he's going one of those preferred routes. People try those routes and fail routinely, so to gun for that job and not do it through the method the vast majority of people actually get the job seems silly to me.

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downwardslope (Feb 8, 2018 - 12:58 pm)

I think with larger city AUSA gigs, they often like people with local experience who know the area and the particular issues that pop up there. I met someone in my last town who went to a 4th tier school but had worked as an assistant state attorney before moving over. I went to some AUSA recruitment thing in law school in a larger metro area, but not a huge city, and that was the recommended path.

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sprinklecookie (Feb 8, 2018 - 4:42 pm)

Thank you for the thoughtful replies, everyone.

I am in my last semester of my B.A. in Jurisprudence (I am a non-trad student--took off about 8 years to grow my own consulting firm but I've always felt law was my calling). The goal is to spend the entire year now studying for the LSAT--I know that if I want to work in government I will need to be the best applicant I can be.

This thread has proven very helpful. I've decided that I will place personal satisfaction over prestige or money; for me at the end of the day I would be happiest working white collar/securities because it's the most interesting to me. It looks like I may want to clerk at some point, too.

I am reasonably confident that if I obtain good enough grades, go to a good enough school, and gain excellent experience as an ADA (especially after a number of years when they let you work in the Investigation Division prosecuting fraud, corruption, white collar crimes, rackets, etc.) that I will land on my feet. I've been doing some targeted googling and LinkedIn searches and I found a bunch of attorneys and some partners at BigLaw firms here in NYC who were ADAs. It means that even though BigLaw is not my "thing," it could be an option if I played my cards right. A lot of people say that one cannot go from ADA > BigLaw but I know that at least that direction is possible should I want it one day (and if the stars align).

In any case, I'm confident things will work out somehow. Let's all take a deep breath. :) Thanks all!

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trijocker (Feb 8, 2018 - 6:04 pm)

If you are going to spend a year prepping the LSAT
Please do sign up with 7Sage.com
Several of my pre law school mentees use 7Sage and love it. You can find study buddies and just chat all day long about LSAT questions, what law school you like etc. It seems like its one little world, and I think the Ultimate package is about 500 for a year of access. There is cheaper packages, but a year should get you a good score, there's people getting 170s studying all day long on that site. I think the other competitors are more of a study package only, no chat rooms and run 1000-1500.
You might want to hang out with the Pre laws on Reddit or 7Sage, it can get dark on here sometimes.

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dilemma2018 (Feb 8, 2018 - 5:33 pm)

Best of luck! And have to say I'm constantly impressed by the helpfulness of JDU posters. There are some really good threads on here, and its awesome how attorneys are willing to take time out to answer questions and provide helpful advice free of charge!=)

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