Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Federal employment

Does anyone have experience as a general attorney for one of redwhineo11/02/18
Take it!!!! lawrunner31711/02/18
Oh I took it, just curious to know what other’s experience redwhineo11/02/18
It depends--some of those positions have some minor admin he dilemma201811/02/18
I honestly don’t know how I got it. I applied on USAJobs, redwhineo11/02/18
I've worked as a fed. atty. for 18+ years. I've been an att porochi11/03/18
Thanks for the info. I will be a General Attorney and not in redwhineo11/04/18
Stress level is low and I rarely work more than 40 hours wee porochi11/04/18
Sounds like the perfect job. Hope I like my agency as much a redwhineo11/05/18
DoD for 15 years (GS employee). Currently being recruited by fedlawyer11/06/18
Why are you considering the move? Pay? More interesting work redwhineo11/06/18
The main reason is pay. I am close to capping out on the GS fedlawyer11/06/18
Caveat: I am bearish on your plan. What happens if busine billcarson11/07/18
Yeah, the grass is not always greener in the private sector. porochi11/07/18
Appreciate all the feedback. In addition to moving to a law fedlawyer11/07/18
Don’t leave the Fed. I’ve been in DoD for four years and flyer1411/07/18
I disagree. bigwags11/07/18
Disagree with what? fedlawyer11/07/18
[email protected] bigwags11/07/18
Flyer: Are you in JAG? You mentioned base so was curious- dilemma201811/07/18
I’m not working as a lawyer - I’m a contracting officer flyer1411/08/18
@Porochi, just curious. What is the morale like these days catwoman33311/11/18
I'm not in DOJ. I'm with one of their frequent client fed a porochi11/12/18

redwhineo (Nov 2, 2018 - 8:48 am)

Does anyone have experience as a general attorney for one of the 3 letter agencies?

I was just offered a position as an in house attorney for one of the larger 3 letter agencies. I am upgrading from a position with my city’s government. My current position is pretty laid back but the pay sucks. In regards to salary, this job is a huge step up but I’m curious what the day to day will be like. I will be in a field office instead of DC and will primarily handle trasaction.

Any one have experience they can share? It’s been a long road to this point, with a few set backs so I’m hoping this will be the last move I make for awhile.

Reply
lawrunner317 (Nov 2, 2018 - 11:05 am)

Take it!!!!

Reply
redwhineo (Nov 2, 2018 - 11:23 am)

Oh I took it, just curious to know what other’s experience may be.

Reply
dilemma2018 (Nov 2, 2018 - 5:01 pm)

It depends--some of those positions have some minor admin hearings built into the job, however, a lot of it will be most likely reviewing polices, regulations and communicating with attorneys from other agencies. Also, be prepared to be called upon I bet to do in-house trainings of some type or another!=)

Curious: How did you land the gig?

Reply
redwhineo (Nov 2, 2018 - 6:45 pm)

I honestly don’t know how I got it. I applied on USAJobs, had a phone interview a few weeks later and was offered the position. I guess there was not a lot of competition.

Reply
porochi (Nov 3, 2018 - 9:57 pm)

I've worked as a fed. atty. for 18+ years. I've been an atty. for 2 different agencies. It's hard to compare fed. atty. jobs because of the wide variety of positions. Most don't involve going to court, but there's many exceptions, e.g. DOJ, ICE, SEC, etc., but most are Attorney-Advisors or General Attorneys. I'm a Gen. Atty. and work on administrative law matters. In my first position that's all I did. In my current position while I do work on ad law issues and advise management, I also get involved with DOJ in litigation and frequently assist AUSA's with litigation, including drafting Answers, motions, briefs, declarations, and generally game planning legal strategy with them and obtaining settlement authority from my agency. I like working with the AUSA's, they're, on the whole, a very bright and capable group of attorneys and I've learned a lot just working with them on briefs and developing legal strategy. I like my current fed. atty. position much more than my last one, mainly because this agency lets me work directly with DOJ on litigation while the previous agency wouldn't let me near it. Move around once you're in, don't stay in one agency doing one job if you can help it.

Reply
redwhineo (Nov 4, 2018 - 1:31 pm)

Thanks for the info. I will be a General Attorney and not involved in litigation. The job description had administrative hearings as part of the description, but I get the impression that will not be a large part of my job, which I am happy about.

Do you regularly have to work after hours or are you expected to do just your 40 hours? Also, is the stress level pretty low?

Reply
porochi (Nov 4, 2018 - 9:58 pm)

Stress level is low and I rarely work more than 40 hours weekly and never work weekends. It's nice. Sometimes if I'm working on a brief or litigation memo for DOJ I'll put in extra hours but it's not often. Since much of my job involves litigation support for DOJ they let me telecommute a lot. They provided me IT equipment for my home office and I spend a lot of time working on briefs and memos and on the phone with AUSA'S around the country. I really like the litigation focus of this job but many attorneys in my agency don't like working on litigation. There's a lot of turnover in my group. Most are eager to work on more policy and legal advisory issues rather than draft Answers to lawsuits and help DOJ prepare dispositive motions. I'm the exact opposite. Here I feel like I really am practicing law, my last job, not so much. I intend to stay here till I retire.

Reply
redwhineo (Nov 5, 2018 - 4:15 pm)

Sounds like the perfect job. Hope I like my agency as much as you.

Thanks for the info. I am feeling less anxiety about accepting the position.

Reply
fedlawyer (Nov 6, 2018 - 9:24 am)

DoD for 15 years (GS employee). Currently being recruited by a Midwest firm (200+ attys) that want to further develop their defense industry practice. Seriously considering making the move. I can always come back to fed service. Thoughts?

Reply
redwhineo (Nov 6, 2018 - 1:40 pm)

Why are you considering the move? Pay? More interesting work?

Fed positions are talked about like they are the holy grail for attorneys so I am curious what the motivation for leaving at 15 years would be.

Reply
fedlawyer (Nov 6, 2018 - 2:50 pm)

The main reason is pay. I am close to capping out on the GS scale and the firm can offer a higher base salary (plus bonus). Additionally, the work would be in the same industry (defense) just representing companies instead of USG.

Reply
billcarson (Nov 7, 2018 - 6:37 am)

Caveat: I am bearish on your plan.

What happens if business slows down due to cyclical factors beyond your control?

How can you know you are always free to come back to feds? I am unsure how Fed works. Are you essentially taking a long term LOA? If not, you and an army of others will be flocking back to the Fed whenever the private side work Dries. This will be at a time the Fed simply will not need newly hired attorneys if they aren’t enforcing regs as much (due to the cycle being at a point where private business isn’t investing in any work so there can be no controversy). I don’t understand how you could simply be rehired.

After fifteen years of Fed vacation, insurance, and hours... I couldn’t imagine a return to the terrible private sector. You aren’t hired as a rainmaker as you haven’t ever been biz side in a firm. You are hired for expertise in handling very specific client issues involving the regs you enforced. This is reality for a “work doer” in a large firm: no “real” vacation the first several years or more (you DO NOT miss quota as a new hire), industry standard insurance seems to be no premiums for you with copays and deductibles but market-rate premiums for EACH child and for spouse if not working, hours are oppressive and clients will not tolerate “it was 630 so I went home” when embroiled in potential reg enf action. You will travel to the armpits of America (I am at a hotel in one of them right now) to attend motion hearings or defend depositions for clients. Depending on your area of expertise this could mean West Virginia, Ohio, North Dakota in January, etc... not playing on the beach after a friendly meeting in Key Largo.

Reply
porochi (Nov 7, 2018 - 10:42 am)

Yeah, the grass is not always greener in the private sector. It all comes down to risk tolerance. Mine is low, thus I've always been a govt. atty. and will always be. There's a tradeoff, I'll never get a financial windfall (unless I win the lottery) and never become wealthy, but I'll take the steady paycheck and affordable health insurance, plus decent retirement, thank you. What I do know is many friends who are in private practice envy me and want to join me, and not vice versa, that, and I've seen many eminently qualified attorneys join the govt. Some with Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc. pedigrees that made me think, why are you here? You could go anywhere, couldn't you? But to hear their tales, life sucked on the private side. Oh, and DO NOT assume you can always rejoin the fed. While I've seen it happen, I also personally know some ex-fed attorneys who would love to return, they ask me frequently (as if I can make that happen - I can't), but they haven't been able to land back on, so they struggle on in private practice all the while kicking themselves for leaving the fed. Be careful before you gamble away a sure thing for an iffy proposition that might pay more in the short term but in the long term will it pay off vs. the fed. govt.?

Reply
fedlawyer (Nov 7, 2018 - 11:00 am)

Appreciate all the feedback. In addition to moving to a law firm, there is also the possibility of becoming a Contracts Director/General Counsel for a mid-large defense industry company. While I enjoy my current position, I know the ceiling is a lot higher outside USG. I am not greedy at all, just entertaining the opportunity for a little more financial security - as opposed to the financial stability of staying with USG.

Reply
flyer14 (Nov 7, 2018 - 12:02 pm)

Don’t leave the Fed. I’ve been in DoD for four years and you’d have to drag me off that base with a tow truck before I ever think about going to garbagelaw or private sector in general again.

Reply
bigwags (Nov 7, 2018 - 2:10 pm)

I disagree.

Reply
fedlawyer (Nov 7, 2018 - 2:25 pm)

Disagree with what?

Reply
bigwags (Nov 7, 2018 - 2:37 pm)

[email protected]

Reply
dilemma2018 (Nov 7, 2018 - 6:48 pm)

Flyer:

Are you in JAG? You mentioned base so was curious---

Reply
flyer14 (Nov 8, 2018 - 10:53 am)

I’m not working as a lawyer - I’m a contracting officer at the same GS pay grade as many of those attorneys however.

Reply
catwoman333 (Nov 11, 2018 - 11:36 pm)

@Porochi, just curious. What is the morale like these days amongst the "rank and file" worker bee attys. at DOJ? I've thought of applying for jobs there, but given all the mgmt. turmoil, not sure if I could deal with that kind of melodrama culture every day. You seem pretty content there....

Reply
porochi (Nov 12, 2018 - 11:25 pm)

I'm not in DOJ. I'm with one of their frequent client fed agencies though and I work with AUSA's (civil) when they represent my agency in fed court. I assist them with the litigation, serve as their liaison with agency management and help usher settlements through our bureaucracy. I much prefer my role to theirs. The AUSA's I work with seem overworked and harried. More so with this administration than ever. I was hired on during the Clinton admin. and have many years dealing with DOJ. My sense is morale there, at least civil side, is low, and for many their civil docket is heavy with FOIA litigation these days, esp. DDC and SDNY. And FOIA litigation is pure drudgery.

Reply
Post a message in this thread