First, allow me to thank everyone who has offered advice and input. I really do appreciate all of it. I'm going to try and respond to some of the comments in the hope that I can help clarify my position.
Elston Gunn wrote:
ETA: OP, I think you may need to reexamine your career goals, and ask yourself if you'd be satisfied with "lesser" outcomes than the ones you're saying you're targeting. I mean, your third choice is a clerkship (I assume federal), which is about the most prestigious thing you can do out of LS.
Yeah I agree with this too.
I realize that my first post was somewhat misleading. I'm not at all interested in the prestige of these positions, I just happen to be interested in an area of law best practiced with these organizations. Specifically, I'm interested in working with the PIN section of the DoJ, or doing similar work elsewhere. This only really answers part of the above charge, but to clarify, if I end up doing similar work in less prestigious positions, I'd be quite happy. For the other half:
Elston Gunn wrote:
0L, but everything I've gotten from reading this board has led me to believe that getting DOJ right out of LS is near-impossible. I'm not sure about DOJ specifically, but most Honors programs (i.e. entry level BigFed) are incredibly competitive for federal clerks. I don't know about AGs, but I would ask around. If you really want BigFed, then your best path may be: get gov internships/externships while in LS-->work in biglaw for 2-3 years, hopefully on something relevant to DOJ-->lateral.
In this case, firm prestige may actually matter quite a bit, so that could be another argument for NYU/CLS. I'd probably choose Duke though, especially since if you were able to lateral, by the time you got there you probably would only partially qualify for LRAP (BigFed pays pretty well), and so would be in a similar predicament debt-wise to someone who leaves big law after 2-3 years for an in-house position or smaller firm.
I have no illusions (I hope) about securing any of the positions that I'm looking for. All of the 3Ls that I've spoken to who've been looking for these sorts of posts as well as all of the professors with whom I've spoken haven't been sanguine about my chances. This might lead me to hedge my bets by going to UCLA, or it might lead me to double down and do everything I can to increase my odds by going to Columbia. Advice like the above is quite useful; it suggests that I ought to be looking for firm work directly out of school given my long-term goals, which is an option I hadn't considered.
4. Columbia, Duke, and Georgetown are the only schools I know of that have programs placing you in the DoJ for a semester, which seems very important given I want to work for the DoJ. Anyone else knows any different, I'd love to hear about it.
Not sure how much weight you should put on this factor. You have 2 summers to establish a foothold in DOJ and CLS/NYU should be able to get you those summer positions anyway. It might be a slight plus for CLS over NYU if you're completely on the fence though.
My interest in externships with the DoJ is based on two factors. First, from what I understand, there are a lot of students who internship with them over the summer, but very few who work with them during the semester. I would presumably get more networking benefit out of working there when I was the only one doing so. Also, if I externship there over the summer, I may be able to internship in a similar position elsewhere during my 2L summer, thereby diversifying my experience and setting up a different job when I graduate should the DoJ not work out (which, of course, seems like a likelihood).