Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Exit options: NYC ADA vs. NYC Assistant Corporation Counsel vs. NYC AAG

Hey everyone. Just wondering which position out of the three sprinklecookie05/22/18
NYC ADA = Criminal Defense solo or work for a firm. Being th greenhorn05/22/18
Thank you so much! I appreciate your response. I have two sprinklecookie05/22/18
I noticed that the Law Dep't for the City of New York has a sprinklecookie05/22/18
Sec. 1983 defense for a new lawyer generally means you'll be flharfh05/22/18
Thank you! That is helpful. What about their description sprinklecookie05/22/18
I don't think any would provide a natural route to BigLaw, b jd4hire05/22/18
USAO- DAs office or AGs. Most people in the AGS office are f readingrainbow05/22/18
Thank you for the reply! Would ADA plus a well-regarded c sprinklecookie05/22/18
Well-regarded or Fed Clerkship? If Fed then yes. If not Fed readingrainbow05/23/18
There is no question that working as an ADA or AAG is excell dandydan05/23/18
None of these jobs are a direct path to biglaw or bigfed. Yo trollfeeder05/23/18
sprinklecookie (May 22, 2018 - 5:25 pm)

Hey everyone. Just wondering which position out of the three has the best exit options for someone considering either going to BigLaw afterwards or going to government work: NYC ADA, Assistant Corporation Counsel or AAG? Assuming the person has garnered enough experience to handle felonies and had the education and grades to get into BL in the first place.


Reply Like (0)
greenhorn (May 22, 2018 - 5:39 pm)

NYC ADA = Criminal Defense solo or work for a firm. Being that you will get a ton of court experience, you will also be marketable to many ID firms.

NYC Corporation Counsel = Insurance Defense opportunities will be ample. So will Plaintiff side work. Depending on which Dept. you get assigned to, you can potentially obtain specific niche area expertise and then work in the private sector. I know a guy who was Corp Counsel but ended up a law secretary/judges law clerk.

NY AG = Similar to NYC Corp Counsel, except more opportunities to go into specialized niche areas. Some are really interesting combining civil and criminal fields of law, e.g Medicaid type Fraud Unit.

All of the above will give you options once have decided the public sector is enough.

I will note that all of the above are not “easy government jobs.” The hours are long and demands are high. You will work private sector hours and have overbearing “lifer” type bosses. I never worked for these agencies, but did some independent contracting for an agency related to NYC Corp Counsel, and I did not envy those workers !

Reply Like (0)
sprinklecookie (May 22, 2018 - 5:45 pm)

Thank you so much! I appreciate your response.

I have two follow ups:

1. Which of the three would give the best federal gov. exit options? Even if combined with clerking. I would love to work as an AUSA, even in a "flyover city" (I hate that term) or potentially for a federal body. I am very geographically open and not particular.

2. I fully understand about the hours and understand it's not easy work! For personal reasons I am just averse to working for a private firm. Doing justice and working for the public good and all that yuckiness just is a better fit for me. :-)

Reply Like (0)
sprinklecookie (May 22, 2018 - 5:48 pm)

I noticed that the Law Dep't for the City of New York has a division devoted to special federal prosecution as follows:

The Special Federal Litigation Division defends the City and its officials in civil rights cases brought in federal court in which police, District Attorney, or correction officer misconduct is claimed. The cases on which division attorneys work grow out of contact between citizens and law enforcement officers in three distinct contexts: police operations; criminal prosecutions; and detention of arrestees in the City's detention facilities. The facts on which the claims rest are frequently intricate, calling into play the fundamental problems faced by law enforcement officers in the field and society's perception of how those problems ought to be addressed. The law governing the resolution of these cases is the Constitution of the United States and the vastly complex area of federal law specific to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, the post-Civil War statute which authorizes suit for violation of constitutional rights. The Division defends against individual damages actions and class actions seeking institutional reform.

The Division faces a substantial volume of cases, in a complex, ever-changing area of law. The federal courts in which the Division attorneys exclusively practice maintain stringent standards and enforce strict deadlines. Division attorneys maintain active caseloads and are responsible for all aspects of litigation, from initial interviews of named defendants to investigation, depositions, paper discovery, negotiation of settlements, motions, court conferences, arguments, and trials by jury. Due to the high-profile nature of their work, many Division attorneys litigate actions that garner press coverage or are the subject of public debate.


Is this perhaps transferrable to federal government work?

Reply Like (0)
flharfh (May 22, 2018 - 6:09 pm)

Sec. 1983 defense for a new lawyer generally means you'll be defending police and jail/prison staff from crazy pro se inmate civil rights lawsuits (there are some legit cases with represented plaintiffs as well).

It will give you some litigation experience in federal court and the law can be pretty complicated, but litigating against pro se inmates isn't really analogous to what most civil lawyers do. Those cases almost never go to trial and you will very rarely be in court. The upside is that the skills and knowledge are very transferrable, as every state and local government entity with a prison or jail has to defend similar lawsuits in federal court.

Reply Like (0)
sprinklecookie (May 22, 2018 - 6:13 pm)

Thank you! That is helpful.

What about their description of the affirmative litigation unit?


The Affirmative Litigation Division represents the City as plaintiff. The Division litigates a wide range of issues in federal and state court and before administrative agencies, and advises City agencies on a wide range of topics. Subject areas include commercial disputes; hazardous product claims; civil racketeering and fraud claims; nuisance and restitution claims; antitrust claims; intellectual property claims; and challenges to state and federal government decisions affecting funding for public benefit programs and education.

New attorneys in the Affirmative Litigation Division, working with senior attorneys, handle all aspects of litigation brought in state and federal court on behalf of the City and related entities. This includes investigating facts and developing legal theories; drafting briefs, affidavits, and other papers; arguing motions in court; taking and defending depositions; interviewing and preparing witnesses; and conducting settlement negotiations. New attorneys manage smaller cases themselves, with supervision, while playing a substantial role in larger cases managed by senior attorneys.

Reply Like (0)
jd4hire (May 22, 2018 - 6:01 pm)

I don't think any would provide a natural route to BigLaw, but that's just pure speculation on my part. Dependent upon the specific division and type of work, there could be possibilities, but BigLaw IMO does a lot of OCI hires who start as 1L summer associates and stay in that world. Sure biglaw picks up some associates at different points in time, but they normally are laterals who have been in that world or are moving up from mid-law. There are always exceptions, but my personal thoughts.

I'd think the ADA or AG would potentially provide a route to Federal P.D. or USAO. My understanding is that you really need to be a stand out to get those gigs. Others here are much more knowledgeable on this though.

Reply Like (0)
readingrainbow (May 22, 2018 - 8:43 pm)

USAO- DAs office or AGs. Most people in the AGS office are former ADAS. Most Federal Government attorney jobs (well the good ones) require investigate experience which these jobs allow you to develop. However be warned, it is very very difficult to get an AUSA gig in any district, flyover or big city, coming from the ADA or AGS office. The reason being is that USAOS care more about writing ability than trial ability (because with the resources they have, the cases are usually slam dunks and are not going to trial). For that reason it’s hard to make the jump to USAO from an ADA or AG background unless you are well regarded and tried some serious cases.
Most DAS and AGS go on to midsize firms doing ID, and other large volume work. Some also go to other city agencies -DOI, DOC, DOE for a better quality of life and better pay.
Corp Counsel Exit options are geared more to the private sector. Most go to law firms. USAO Crim wouldn’t really desire the skills developed there. However USAO Civil would-that may be a decent option.

Reply Like (0)
sprinklecookie (May 22, 2018 - 9:42 pm)

Thank you for the reply!

Would ADA plus a well-regarded clerkship put someone in the running for an AUSA job, even in a district with fewer competitive applicants than, say SDNY?

As a corollary, which of the three positions-ADA, AAG or Corp Counsel--would put someone in a good position for a job with the federal government, not necessarily as an AUSA? For example, FDIC or similar?

Sorry for the million and one questions. You guys are an excellent resource and I thank you all for your knowledge :)

Reply Like (0)
readingrainbow (May 23, 2018 - 3:50 pm)

Well-regarded or Fed Clerkship? If Fed then yes. If not Fed then more difficult.

Now for a Fed govt attorney job-FDIC-unless you have banking regulatory experience you are not becoming an attorney at the FDIC. There are Govt Agencies that need attorneys as more of a GC-for employment matters, FOIA requests, etc-administrative internal matters. They tend to recruit from firms with associates who have that sort of experience.
Agencies that are financial regulators also recruit from firms heavily, because associates deal with that type of work (FCPA, Securities etc.). However, I could see someone with the AGS office or Manhattan DA doing with Securities Fraud casesgoing to SEC enforcement, however it takes years, luck and knowing the right people to get into one of these sought after bureaus (because people know they can lateral to a firm or a Gov't Agency from there). Also SEC has not hired attorneys recently.

Reply Like (0)
dandydan (May 23, 2018 - 1:38 pm)

There is no question that working as an ADA or AAG is excellent training for becoming a strong litigator. However, I agree with other posters that it, by itself, is not a path to biglaw. Biglaw wants to see that you are doing corporate work. Sophisticated corporate prosecutions and the like are usually left up to the US Attorney. Similarly, FINRA actions are also involved in transactional matters that are relevant for biglaw.

You can start at a state or city government agency and then move to the US Attorney's office. You should consider which route will get you there. If you are doing low-level drug prosecutions then it will be difficult to move into highly-complex prosecutions. You should consider this aspect if that is the route that you wish to take.

It is good to have a pedigree that can help you achieve biglaw. With that said, they will not care if you do not have the rest of the biglaw resume. Some years back, I was discussing my circumstances with an immigration lawyer. He told me that he had the grades and law school stuff to get into biglaw (journal, research assistant etc). He was offered a gig with a PI firm and it was during the tech bust. Instead of waiting and possibly having nothing, he opted for the PI gig. He did PI for a while and then transitioned into immigration. His point was that it is extremely difficult to get into corporate law and if you try other things then it will hurt you, despite your law school credentials.

If you are considering long-term goals, find the circumstance that puts you in the best position to achieve those goals.

Reply Like (0)
trollfeeder (May 23, 2018 - 8:26 pm)

None of these jobs are a direct path to biglaw or bigfed. Your best shot would be to get biglaw out of school, and then clerking, then big fed. Those agencies are decent jobs, but I dont get the whole TLS style let me plan the next 10 years of my career, because who knows what happens.

By the way, OAG hires very few entry level attorneys, and there are far fewer glamorous assignments then you would think. For many it is a landing spot for da's. Focus on getting one of these jobs, do well at it, meet people, and see how it goes from there.

Reply Like (0)
Post a message in this thread