So you want to do PI?

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
User avatar
spleenworship
Posts: 4421
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:08 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby spleenworship » Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:09 pm

LSL wrote:Anyone constantly floating back and forth between whether they want to be doing gov't work (more stable, better paying work) vs. non-profit work (a little less job security, lower pay, more interaction with clients and "the fight on the ground")? I feel like I change my mind constantly on this, ugh.


Honestly, no.

User avatar
Tanicius
Posts: 2957
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:54 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Tanicius » Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:19 pm

spleenworship wrote:
LSL wrote:Anyone constantly floating back and forth between whether they want to be doing gov't work (more stable, better paying work) vs. non-profit work (a little less job security, lower pay, more interaction with clients and "the fight on the ground")? I feel like I change my mind constantly on this, ugh.


Honestly, no.


To add to this, it really depends on the type of work you're doing, not whether it's non-profit or government. There are government jobs that involve far more direct client interaction than many kinds of nonprofits. A lot of nonprofit work is purely impact litigation and policy work. At a lot of nonprofits you might not ever even see a client, much less talk to them or actually work with them.

User avatar
LSL
Posts: 2177
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:58 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby LSL » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:00 pm

Tanicius wrote:
spleenworship wrote:
LSL wrote:Anyone constantly floating back and forth between whether they want to be doing gov't work (more stable, better paying work) vs. non-profit work (a little less job security, lower pay, more interaction with clients and "the fight on the ground")? I feel like I change my mind constantly on this, ugh.


Honestly, no.


To add to this, it really depends on the type of work you're doing, not whether it's non-profit or government. There are government jobs that involve far more direct client interaction than many kinds of nonprofits. A lot of nonprofit work is purely impact litigation and policy work. At a lot of nonprofits you might not ever even see a client, much less talk to them or actually work with them.


Yeah, this is a great point that I should have clarified on. I do think it's fair to say you get more exposure in general in the non-profit world to clients, but it definitely does depend.

Glad to hear your happy with where you're at spleen. I feel like I'm just being restless, I guess. I think I'm realizing that finding a gov't job that allows me to still connect with clients and do some heavy advocating is my ideal.

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7662
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:04 pm

LSL wrote:
Tanicius wrote:
spleenworship wrote:
LSL wrote:Anyone constantly floating back and forth between whether they want to be doing gov't work (more stable, better paying work) vs. non-profit work (a little less job security, lower pay, more interaction with clients and "the fight on the ground")? I feel like I change my mind constantly on this, ugh.


Honestly, no.


To add to this, it really depends on the type of work you're doing, not whether it's non-profit or government. There are government jobs that involve far more direct client interaction than many kinds of nonprofits. A lot of nonprofit work is purely impact litigation and policy work. At a lot of nonprofits you might not ever even see a client, much less talk to them or actually work with them.


Yeah, this is a great point that I should have clarified on. I do think it's fair to say you get more exposure in general in the non-profit world to clients, but it definitely does depend.

Glad to hear your happy with where you're at spleen. I feel like I'm just being restless, I guess. I think I'm realizing that finding a gov't job that allows me to still connect with clients and do some heavy advocating is my ideal.


One of the best parts about gov jobs is you are not worried about reporting to donors and funders and setting your objectives based on what they will fund. I spend maybe 30% of my time just reporting on what I do and it's a colossal waste of time.

User avatar
twenty
Posts: 3153
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:08 pm

spleenworship wrote:
LSL wrote:Anyone constantly floating back and forth between whether they want to be doing gov't work (more stable, better paying work) vs. non-profit work (a little less job security, lower pay, more interaction with clients and "the fight on the ground")? I feel like I change my mind constantly on this, ugh.


Honestly, no.


I've never really considered non-profit work. My non-profit gunner friends wouldn't dream of government work. Here's my reasoning for the former:

1) Job security. Every night I can go to sleep knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'll have a job for as long as I want it. If my office closes down, my agency is required to offer me a higher-paying spot in another region. If I don't want to move, I get ICTAP -- which is priority hiring at a different government agency that allows me to beat out disabled veterans and vocational rehabers.
2) I can do whatever I want. I can take days off when I need them, and vacation is a real thing. My agency has hundreds of programs that Congress has authorized us for, but we've never taken the steps to implement. If I want to build a new program, I don't even have to ask permission from my supervisor. I can work from home 3-4 days a week if I want, and I always go home at 5:00.
3) Dose benefits. The attorney career latter ends around GS 14, so 5 years in you should be making about 108k/yr. A lot of states/local governments pay even better than the feds. San Francisco goes up to 170k or so with 2%/yr retirement.


My non-profit friends basically hold the exact opposite reasons:

1) Job competency. Non-profits are really good at getting rid of people that are weighing the team down. Not working with a bunch of incompetent turds is really great. For anyone in non-profits saying that I'm wrong and that there are a bunch of incompetent turds in non-profits, take your incompetent turds and multiply the incompetency by 5. There's government. For what it's worth, some of the biggest screwups I've known are AUSAs and federal executives.
2) Vocational freedom. Feds can't run for partisan office, can't campaign on behalf of a partisan candidate, must quit their golden-handcuff job if they want to do anything that looks like it could even remotely be a conflict of interest, etc. There's also not a lot of opportunity to rise; good work is rewarded along with horrible work. People are promoted to the point where they don't even know what they're supposed to be doing in government, let alone what they actually are doing. Non-profit work is definitely nowhere close to this bad. Government work might sound slightly sexier to the lay-person (mostly because they think all government employees carry guns and badges), but non-profit work definitely gives the individual a lot more opportunity both inside and out.
3) Government may have the edge on security of benefits, but non-profits are definitely king of range of salary. Anecdotally, I used to hold a position where I awarded funding to non-profits that basically filled contractor positions. The guy in charge of the non-profit was making 200k+ a year. That wasn't an isolated circumstance either, I've known plenty of folks in the non-profit field that were doing work that benefited the public as well as their bank accounts. These guys don't last too long in their spots, though, since they usually get picked up for starter political appointments which have exponentially better benefits than the feds.

User avatar
spleenworship
Posts: 4421
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:08 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby spleenworship » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:17 pm

LSL wrote:
Tanicius wrote:
spleenworship wrote:
LSL wrote:Anyone constantly floating back and forth between whether they want to be doing gov't work (more stable, better paying work) vs. non-profit work (a little less job security, lower pay, more interaction with clients and "the fight on the ground")? I feel like I change my mind constantly on this, ugh.


Honestly, no.


To add to this, it really depends on the type of work you're doing, not whether it's non-profit or government. There are government jobs that involve far more direct client interaction than many kinds of nonprofits. A lot of nonprofit work is purely impact litigation and policy work. At a lot of nonprofits you might not ever even see a client, much less talk to them or actually work with them.


Yeah, this is a great point that I should have clarified on. I do think it's fair to say you get more exposure in general in the non-profit world to clients, but it definitely does depend.

Glad to hear your happy with where you're at spleen. I feel like I'm just being restless, I guess. I think I'm realizing that finding a gov't job that allows me to still connect with clients and do some heavy advocating is my ideal.


PDs office followed by appellate work. YWIA. :P :D :P

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7662
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:39 pm

Senior staff at my NGO make from 100k to 250k. They also fly all over the world all the time. We're really good at spending money.

User avatar
BlueLotus
Posts: 2428
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:57 pm

worldtraveler wrote:Senior staff at my NGO make from 100k to 250k. They also fly all over the world all the time. We're really good at spending money.


:shock: JFC.

What do senior staff at more domestically oriented Legal Aid (i.e. immigration, family law) orgs make?

User avatar
LSL
Posts: 2177
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:58 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby LSL » Sun Mar 16, 2014 5:02 pm

Twenty, that's a pretty great list of the pros (and inherent cons) for each sector I've been trying to weigh. I worked in gov't and non-profit work before law school so I definitely second what you said. Golden handcuffs made me laugh pretty hard :lol:. That sentiment is probably what is making me the most restless.

Also, damn WT! :shock:

User avatar
theotherone823
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:44 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby theotherone823 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:05 pm

twenty wrote:Unfortunately, Manhattan DA is very prestige-whorish, far more so than Kings County. If you want to go for Manhattan DA, you should probably retake the LSAT and go for NYU, which, when combined with your GI Bill, seems like a pretty solid way to go.


twenty wrote:
JazzieShizzle wrote:Let's say I go to Cardozo and participate in their prosecutor practicum with Manhattan DA. Would that give me an edge in getting hired by them, or will all the positions go to NYU grads?


The latter. For point of reference, Cardozo has had 175 alumni become partners at large law firms, but only 30~ become ADAs at Manhattan in the entire history of the school. That should give you some idea of just how hard it is to get into Manhattan DA from Cardozo. Roughly 2000 people apply for 25-40 slots each year, which comes out to a 2%-1.25% selection rate.


twenty's advice in this thread is usually spot on, but as a 0L who is currently working for the Manhattan DA I can say that in this case this information is not at all consistent with either my experience in the office or with what I have been told about the hiring procedures by my superiors.

The Manhattan DA's office is the most competitive DA's office in the country and as such it can afford to take things like the prestige of an applicants into greater account that most other DA's office - that is something that I will readily admit and concede. But you overestimate the amount of bump that going to a prestigious school gives. Going to a higher ranked school really only helps with getting your foot in the door to secure a first round interview. After that, it's all about how well you deal with the hypos that you are given and how you handle the pressure of the interview. Remember, hiring at the Manhattan DA's office is not really all that different from hiring at any other DA's office. The office is looking for the best (potential) litigators it can find and if the applicants that best fit the bill are the local TTTT students rather than the NYU students, they are going to forget the prestige and hire the TTTT students every time.

Further, don't discount the bump that you might get from having worked at the office in the past. Any applicant who has prior experience working for the office - either through one of our internship or externship programs or through the clinics offered by NYLS or Cardozo - is essentially guaranteed a first round interview. That is something that is not true of any other applicant, even those that go to prestigious law schools. I know of at least 2 current clinical students that as a result have been offered ADA positions in this falls starting class and I would say that at least half of the ADAs that I know who started at the office in the last 2-3 years had prior experience working for the office before being hired.

When it comes down to it, in almost any hiring situation a student who went to a prestigious school is going to have at least a small leg up on a student that did not, all other things being considered equal. But when it comes hiring at the Manhattans DA's office I would say the the same is also true for students that have experience working for the office vs. those that don't. Obviously if you have gone to a prestigious school and you have worked for the office you are in the best position. But I think that the Cardozo student that has participated in the DA's clinic and the NYU student that has never worked for the office have about equal chances of being hired. If anything, I think the Cardozo student might even have a slim advantage.

TL;DR When it comes to hiring at the Manhattan DA's office, the prestige of your law school only goes so far in helping you. Prior positive work experience for the office is at least as helpful and maybe even more so.

User avatar
Tanicius
Posts: 2957
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:54 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Tanicius » Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:36 pm

theotherone823 wrote:The Manhattan DA's office is the most competitive DA's office in the country and as such it can afford to take things like the prestige of an applicants into greater account that most other DA's office - that is something that I will readily admit and concede. But you overestimate the amount of bump that going to a prestigious school gives.


You're getting confused. Nobody is saying going to a top school is all it takes to get any kind of job, let alone this one. It tends to be a necessary qualification.

User avatar
twenty
Posts: 3153
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:48 pm

theotherone823 wrote:The Manhattan DA's office is the most competitive DA's office in the country and as such it can afford to take things like the prestige of an applicants into greater account that most other DA's office - that is something that I will readily admit and concede. But you overestimate the amount of bump that going to a prestigious school gives. Going to a higher ranked school really only helps with getting your foot in the door to secure a first round interview. After that, it's all about how well you deal with the hypos that you are given and how you handle the pressure of the interview. Remember, hiring at the Manhattan DA's office is not really all that different from hiring at any other DA's office. The office is looking for the best (potential) litigators it can find and if the applicants that best fit the bill are the local TTTT students rather than the NYU students, they are going to forget the prestige and hire the TTTT students every time.

Further, don't discount the bump that you might get from having worked at the office in the past. Any applicant who has prior experience working for the office - either through one of our internship or externship programs or through the clinics offered by NYLS or Cardozo - is essentially guaranteed a first round interview. That is something that is not true of any other applicant, even those that go to prestigious law schools. I know of at least 2 current clinical students that as a result have been offered ADA positions in this falls starting class and I would say that at least half of the ADAs that I know who started at the office in the last 2-3 years had prior experience working for the office before being hired.

When it comes down to it, in almost any hiring situation a student who went to a prestigious school is going to have at least a small leg up on a student that did not, all other things being considered equal. But when it comes hiring at the Manhattans DA's office I would say the the same is also true for students that have experience working for the office vs. those that don't. Obviously if you have gone to a prestigious school and you have worked for the office you are in the best position. But I think that the Cardozo student that has participated in the DA's clinic and the NYU student that has never worked for the office have about equal chances of being hired. If anything, I think the Cardozo student might even have a slim advantage.

TL;DR When it comes to hiring at the Manhattan DA's office, the prestige of your law school only goes so far in helping you. Prior positive work experience for the office is at least as helpful and maybe even more so.


First, please don't think that I'm trying to argue with you -- obviously many of my thoughts are predominantly based on (albeit expansive) research rather than personal experience, so I'm certainly inclined to default to your analysis. Thank you for contributing; TLS desperately needs recent graduates focused on PI/govt to chip in with their thoughts and suggestions.

The one thing I think we might be in some disagreement over is the accessibility of the Manhattan DA's office. I myself often fall into a "let them eat cake" mindset when suggesting that people just "go work for the feds" when this is certainly far easier said than done. There is no question that the Manhattan DA's office hires 2%~ or so of the people that end up applying. Invariably, many highly-qualified and highly-motivated students from Cardozo/NYLS attempt to gun for the DA's office and strike out accordingly. As you yourself pointed out, more than half of the hires for Manhattan DA had a few years of legal experience before they were hired.

To spend three years at law school coupled with another 2-3 years getting work experience for the possibility of working for the DA's office seems like less than a fantastic idea. Now I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, clearly clinical students at Cardozo/BLS/etc. have gotten in right out of law school before, but it's just not really as sound of an idea as it would be somewhere else. If Jazzie has the ability/equal interest in targeting the Philly DA, that seems like a substantially better idea than trying to compete with NYU/Columbia grads that have an equally-vested interest in going to Manhattan DA.

That all said, I'd venture a guess and say that your office hires just as many Cardozo/BLS/etc. grads as NYU/Columbia grads -- perhaps even more of the former. I wouldn't contend with anything you're saying, really, but I'd be very reluctant to spend 3-6 years gunning for something that I had a very low likelihood of actually getting.

If I'm wrong about any of this, please let me know.

User avatar
theotherone823
Posts: 117
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:44 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby theotherone823 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:13 pm

Tanicius wrote:
theotherone823 wrote:The Manhattan DA's office is the most competitive DA's office in the country and as such it can afford to take things like the prestige of an applicants into greater account that most other DA's office - that is something that I will readily admit and concede. But you overestimate the amount of bump that going to a prestigious school gives.


You're getting confused. Nobody is saying going to a top school is all it takes to get any kind of job, let alone this one. It tends to be a necessary qualification.


I never said that anyone was claiming that going to a top school was by itself a sufficient qualification to get this job. What I DID say was that people were placing far too much emphasis on the value that going to a top school has in qualifying for this job and that in my experience it not at all a necessary qualification.

twenty wrote:
theotherone823 wrote:TL;DR When it comes to hiring at the Manhattan DA's office, the prestige of your law school only goes so far in helping you. Prior positive work experience for the office is at least as helpful and maybe even more so.


First, please don't think that I'm trying to argue with you -- obviously many of my thoughts are predominantly based on (albeit expansive) research rather than personal experience, so I'm certainly inclined to default to your analysis. Thank you for contributing; TLS desperately needs recent graduates focused on PI/govt to chip in with their thoughts and suggestions.

The one thing I think we might be in some disagreement over is the accessibility of the Manhattan DA's office. I myself often fall into a "let them eat cake" mindset when suggesting that people just "go work for the feds" when this is certainly far easier said than done. There is no question that the Manhattan DA's office hires 2%~ or so of the people that end up applying. Invariably, many highly-qualified and highly-motivated students from Cardozo/NYLS attempt to gun for the DA's office and strike out accordingly. As you yourself pointed out, more than half of the hires for Manhattan DA had a few years of legal experience before they were hired.

To spend three years at law school coupled with another 2-3 years getting work experience for the possibility of working for the DA's office seems like less than a fantastic idea. Now I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, clearly clinical students at Cardozo/BLS/etc. have gotten in right out of law school before, but it's just not really as sound of an idea as it would be somewhere else. If Jazzie has the ability/equal interest in targeting the Philly DA, that seems like a substantially better idea than trying to compete with NYU/Columbia grads that have an equally-vested interest in going to Manhattan DA.

That all said, I'd venture a guess and say that your office hires just as many Cardozo/BLS/etc. grads as NYU/Columbia grads -- perhaps even more of the former. I wouldn't contend with anything you're saying, really, but I'd be very reluctant to spend 3-6 years gunning for something that I had a very low likelihood of actually getting.

If I'm wrong about any of this, please let me know.


It seems to me that we are addressing two different issues here and that the answers are getting mixed together.

If the question is "If I am at least as interested in working at the Philly DA's office as I am in working at the Manhattan DA's office and I have a realistic ability be hired at the Philly office, should I focus more on Philly than Manhattan?" then I think that you are 100% correct in that focusing more on Philly is the more sensible approach (although I would argue that this is because there is just MORE competition at Manhattan, not that the competition is somehow better or more qualified). In fact even if you went to YHS, I would say that aiming for Philly in this case is still the better option.

However, if the question is "Do I have an objectively better chance of getting a job at the Manhattan DA's office if I go to a top ranked or 'prestigious' law school rather than if I go to lower ranked school?" than my answer would unequivocally be: "not necessarily." The prestige of your law school is just one qualification amongst many and there are other qualifications and factors (such as positive work experience for the office) that are just as, if not more, important. A person should not be dissuaded from trying to become an ADA in Manhattan SOLELY based on the fact that they did not go to a prestigious law school.
Last edited by theotherone823 on Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22787
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:19 pm

It sounds to me as though the key point here is not that one or the other school has so much of a better shot at Manhattan DA, as much as that the Manhattan DA hires so few people straight out of law school, it's not a wise idea to base a choice where to attend on that slim shot (from anywhere).

(sort of scooped by the above)

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7662
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:14 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:Senior staff at my NGO make from 100k to 250k. They also fly all over the world all the time. We're really good at spending money.


:shock: JFC.

What do senior staff at more domestically oriented Legal Aid (i.e. immigration, family law) orgs make?


I think much, much lower. In international stuff, it is really hard to get but once you are in, you're in, and you tend to get rewarded.

User avatar
kay2016
Posts: 1121
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:23 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby kay2016 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:53 pm

Twenty, this is another awesome thread. I missed it as I'm usually in the DA/PD gunner thread (1L DA gunner here).. But lots of good advice in here!

Tagging

The Dark Shepard
Posts: 450
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:49 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby The Dark Shepard » Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:51 pm

Do school-funded fellowships actually help people get their foot in the door? Or are they literally ONLY useless one-year provisions to increase employment rating

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7662
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:57 pm

The Dark Shepard wrote:Do school-funded fellowships actually help people get their foot in the door? Or are they literally ONLY useless one-year provisions to increase employment rating


This has been discussed a lot already, but yes, they do, provided they fund you to work at somewhere other than your school's library.

User avatar
BlueLotus
Posts: 2428
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:08 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
The Dark Shepard wrote:Do school-funded fellowships actually help people get their foot in the door? Or are they literally ONLY useless one-year provisions to increase employment rating


This has been discussed a lot already, but yes, they do, provided they fund you to work at somewhere other than your school's library.


Yeah, school-sponsored post-grad fellowships get a lot of flak because schools essentially use them to pad their employment numbers (hence why they're not included in LST's employment score), but it's a supremely important thing to look for when choosing schools if you're a PI-oriented 0L because entry-level positions--esp. in legal aid and the nonprofits--are so damn scarce. It's a great foot in the door for those who would otherwise be stuck in the Vale after graduation. I regret choosing BC over W&M for this reason, even though the former is in a more urban environment with much greater PI offerings in the locality.

User avatar
JCougar
Posts: 3175
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:47 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby JCougar » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:01 pm

The Dark Shepard wrote:Do school-funded fellowships actually help people get their foot in the door? Or are they literally ONLY useless one-year provisions to increase employment rating


They can be helpful. Of course, they can also lead to nothing. If the agency/non-profit you're working for never gets the budget to hire anyone, there's just about nothing you can do.

Ultimately, they're a good thing, because they give people opportunities. The number of them actually leading to good jobs though probably depends on the quality of the school. And the bottom line is that, while you are on them, your loans will be in forbearance accruing a ton of interest.

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7662
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:05 pm

JCougar wrote:
The Dark Shepard wrote:Do school-funded fellowships actually help people get their foot in the door? Or are they literally ONLY useless one-year provisions to increase employment rating


They can be helpful. Of course, they can also lead to nothing. If the agency/non-profit you're working for never gets the budget to hire anyone, there's just about nothing you can do.

Ultimately, they're a good thing, because they give people opportunities. The number of them actually leading to good jobs though probably depends on the quality of the school. And the bottom line is that, while you are on them, your loans will be in forbearance accruing a ton of interest.


I believe we've covered this before, but you can count that year toward PSLF depending on how your employer views you as an employee.

And people should be selecting a sponsor carefully. I know people who did school funded fellowships at places that never hire junior attorneys and then were shocked when they were unemployed at the end of the year. Don't be that person. Find a place that hires recent grads or is willing to work with you on applying for donor funding to keep doing what you do.

User avatar
d cooper
Posts: 306
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 2:21 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby d cooper » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:38 pm

Thanks to everyone involved for providing all of this useful information. I searched the thread but still have a few questions. I'm still looking into this stuff so apologies for the ignorance.

1) Is something like the ACLU (or other non-government "prestigious" PI) possible out of the lower T14?

2) Based on the staff attorney gigs listed on the ACLU site, they prefer a demonstrated interest in constitutional issues (with 3-4 years experience). Is this even possible from private sector work?

3) The chasm between PI and Biglaw/firm work is disheartening because I could see myself in either. What areas of law have a lot of crossover potential and may be exempt from this divide? What areas of private practice are actually attractive to relevant PI organizations and vice versa?

User avatar
twenty
Posts: 3153
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:06 pm

d cooper wrote:1) Is something like the ACLU (or other non-government "prestigious" PI) possible out of the lower T14?


Possible, but highly unlikely. ACLU, for example, doesn't hire directly out of law school, they put graduates in fellowships and then offer them staff attorney positions a few years down the road. These fellowships are overwhelmingly dominated by NYU and Harvard, though probably indicative of class size/interest rather than school preference (i.e, I'm sure Chicago or Stanford kids aren't at a disadvantage in hiring).

Out of all the recent fellow hires I saw, I only saw one Cardozo grad, and that was it for outside HYSCCN.

2) Based on the staff attorney gigs listed on the ACLU site, they prefer a demonstrated interest in constitutional issues (with 3-4 years experience). Is this even possible from private sector work?


Not really, no. You *can* roll biglaw experience into marketable experience in other legal PI fields (i.e, housing), but ACLU probably not so much.

3) The chasm between PI and Biglaw/firm work is disheartening because I could see myself in either. What areas of law have a lot of crossover potential and may be exempt from this divide? What areas of private practice are actually attractive to relevant PI organizations and vice versa?


The biglaw -> PI jump rarely happens for two reasons. One, as you pointed out, there's not a lot of crossover in skillset, and two, the non-profit will pay 60k/yr at the most for a biglaw alumni. This same associate could go basically anywhere else and make 2-3 times more money for probably better hours. The one exception is in years past, biglaw attorneys have rolled their savings into starting a legal non-profit. This may be a "if you want to go into politics, go to Harvard" kind of unicorn though.

Far more common is the biglaw -> government jump. Many biglaw burnouts go to federal and state agencies because there is definitely a skillset crossover there.

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7662
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:20 pm

The best way to figure out how to get to work for the ACLU is to look for bios of recently hired attorneys. A lot of litigators at prestigious PI places do spend some time in big law first.

I also disagree with twenty that big law experience is not relevant for PI. In terms of direct services representation where you do client intake, no it's probably not. But for working on impact litigation like at CCR or the ACLU it's absolutely relevant. It's also really relevant for people working on consumer protection or other PI issues that are closely related to business.

A lot of people go to a firm with the intention of leaving for PI but never do though. They get used to the salary and it's hard to jump back. But I work with multiple people who started at firms and now they work on issues of corporate responsibility and business/human rights issues. We really wouldn't hire someone without firm experience for that.

User avatar
twenty
Posts: 3153
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:20 pm

worldtraveler wrote:I also disagree with twenty that big law experience is not relevant for PI. In terms of direct services representation where you do client intake, no it's probably not. But for working on impact litigation like at CCR or the ACLU it's absolutely relevant. It's also really relevant for people working on consumer protection or other PI issues that are closely related to business.


I should have made myself more clear then, because I certainly believe that biglaw experience is relevant to many PI legal outlets. ACLU (staff attorney hires) in particular, however, seems to explicitly require 2-3 years of immigration/human rights/constitutional law background, which I'd imagine is pretty hard to get from what would commonly be considered "biglaw."




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: carlos_danger and 3 guests