So you want to do PI?

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quijotesca1011
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby quijotesca1011 » Fri May 16, 2014 3:19 pm

yeah, I always planned on doing clinics, summer internships, possibly externships, student practice organizations, etc… I basically hustled IHR in undergrad and after and have an understanding of what that means in terms of connections, networking, sending out a bazillion applications, proving that you have hard applicable skills for the position. I just figured that you have a finite amount of time, and any time you spent on a journal could be spent doing something else (no matter how many other things you are doing). So I was trying to figure out if it's looked well upon. I'm surprised it doesn't give you any skills, at the very least I would have thought reading and editing many articles would help improve your writing… From people I have met in IHR, I thought that it was pretty standard to try to publish, be it for the prestige or to give them a leg up in the field. Maybe that's not the norm, and I just know a lot of people who have flitted between academia and IHR (but I don't think that's wildly unusual)…or maybe it's more common outside of the US that people in NGOs are also looking to publish.

froglee
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby froglee » Sat May 17, 2014 1:00 am

Come on, folks. Get into 100000~200000 debt and do internship/externship free for several years, just for the sake of getting those jobs that pay 40000~60000....does it really worth it?? With this kind of salary, you hardly pay for the interests monthly.


Just what's up with those dreams and fantasies working for the government? Is it just the hours and pension thing? What happened to American youths' entrepreneurship?
Last edited by froglee on Sat May 17, 2014 1:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

The Dark Shepard
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby The Dark Shepard » Sat May 17, 2014 1:05 am

froglee wrote:Come on, folks. Get into 100000~200000 debt and do internship/externship free for several years, just for the sake of getting those 40000~60000 jobs....does it really worth it?? With this kind of salary, you hardly pay for the interests monthly.


Just what's up with those dreams and fantasies working for the government? Is it just the hours and pension thing? What happened to American youths' entrepreneurship?


Maybe this is what we feel like we are called to do? Where we think we'll find the most enjoyment and/or fulfillment in our professional lives?

Also, I don't think we are all going 100000+ into debt

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat May 17, 2014 1:30 am

froglee wrote:Come on, folks. Get into 100000~200000 debt and do internship/externship free for several years, just for the sake of getting those jobs that pay 40000~60000....does it really worth it?? With this kind of salary, you hardly pay for the interests monthly.


Just what's up with those dreams and fantasies working for the government? Is it just the hours and pension thing? What happened to American youths' entrepreneurship?

I don't think this is really the thread to come barging into asking what's up with wanting to do PI like it's some kind of bizarro niche field.

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Tanicius
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Tanicius » Sat May 17, 2014 1:45 am

froglee wrote:Come on, folks. Get into 100000~200000 debt and do internship/externship free for several years, just for the sake of getting those jobs that pay 40000~60000....does it really worth it?? With this kind of salary, you hardly pay for the interests monthly.


Just what's up with those dreams and fantasies working for the government? Is it just the hours and pension thing? What happened to American youths' entrepreneurship?


Have you not even heard of PSLF or something?

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twenty
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Sat May 17, 2014 2:03 am

At some point, I feel anyone that wants to do PI/govt and take out a significant amount of debt to do so (i.e, 100k-200k, as in your example) really should work a non-legal capacity in PI/govt first. There are people in my office that absolutely hate government work -- heck, there are attorneys that came on in our honors program that are absolutely miserable. On TLS, we seem to assume that whereas 4-5 years to pay off sticker at biglaw borders on a human rights violation, 10 years to pay off sticker at PI/govt is just going to be this magical experience.

[removed story about government]
Last edited by twenty on Wed May 21, 2014 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SnakySalmon
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby SnakySalmon » Sat May 17, 2014 4:50 am

twenty wrote:Stuff I'm not quoting


Do you still prefer it to private employment?

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JustHawkin
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby JustHawkin » Sat May 17, 2014 8:16 am

.
Last edited by JustHawkin on Sat May 17, 2014 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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spleenworship
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby spleenworship » Sat May 17, 2014 11:08 am

Yeah, there's downsides to gov work. Still better than biglaw IMO.

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JustHawkin
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby JustHawkin » Sat May 17, 2014 12:53 pm

Spleen, what would you say are the downsides to Gov work as attorney?

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twenty
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Sat May 17, 2014 1:20 pm

SnakySalmon wrote:
twenty wrote:Stuff I'm not quoting


Do you still prefer it to private employment?


It's less of a "government is better/worse than private sector" thing and more of a "you have to decide what your priorities are" thing. The maximum amount of money a GS-level employee can make is 157k, and takes a minimum of 12 years to get to -- which is not even market for a first year associate in biglaw. But the more notable thing is the mentality -- there is zero interest on anyone's part in doing things that make/save money. To a lot of people in government, that's really frustrating.

You know how you meet teachers that are 30 and look 50, are cynical, angry, and have decided to take their frustrations out on their workplace? But then you meet grandmothers who taught the same classroom for 20 years and didn't want to retire because they loved teaching so much? That's pretty much government. I would say the majority (probably 60%+) of the attorneys at my agency:

1) Make between 90k and 120k
2) Show up to work on average two times a week
3) Would be canned on sight if they worked anywhere in the private sector
4) Are absolutely miserable

When a AUSA/government attorney gets fired, that's HUGE NEWS. People don't just get let go for screwing up -- to be fired as a government attorney, you not only have to professionally screw up in every imaginable way, you also have to scream at/physically assault coworkers, take unexcused absences in the middle of a trial, be immensely irritating, be racist, etc. Maybe if you had child pornography on your work computer you'd get canned.

About a year ago, I was offered a senior contracting position at a major defense group that would almost double my salary. I turned it down, and I would turn it down again. I'm one of the "teachers" that can overlook the fatal flaws of government work and thoroughly enjoy the pros: 40 hours a week, solid benefits, complete job security, and an environment where if you do something horribly wrong, your boss will glare at you and say "okay, well, don't do it again."

So. That's my Saturday morning spiel. :)

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat May 17, 2014 1:35 pm

I do want to say that where I work is not really at all like what twenty describes. I don't know whether there's any kind of difference between attorney/staff culture in my office where what he describes is more typical for staff (though I know twenty specifically mentioned attorneys), or whether it's because of location (I'm not in DC) or the difference in agency/agency mission or what. Generally, the people who unhappy are unhappy because they have a lot of work and find the work stressful, but there are a lot of people who love the job, and I think everyone finds the job important and worth doing, which makes up for a lot. People complain about policies that get handed down from DC that they don't agree with, and to some extent about the inefficiency thing (the layers of bureaucracy around the simplest actions can be insane, and I'm regularly horrified at IT and the technology end of things). But overall, the atmosphere is not like what twenty describes (at least for a junior attorney; I may change my tune as I get more senior, who knows).

(And obviously I'm not trying to say that twenty's wrong; just wanted to provide another perspective. I have actually seen the kind of atmosphere/culture he describes, though in a city/county government setting, so I'm not even saying my alternative is typical; his experience may well be more typical.)

It is probably worth adding that I actually don't care about making/saving money, so except for the procedural inefficiencies, that part doesn't bother me. But our mission also doesn't have anything to do with money or business or economics really in any way, so it seems sort of removed from what I actually do.

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ymmv
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby ymmv » Sat May 17, 2014 1:36 pm

twenty wrote:About a year ago, I was offered a senior contracting position at a major defense group that would almost double my salary. I turned it down, and I would turn it down again. I'm one of the "teachers" that can overlook the fatal flaws of government work and thoroughly enjoy the pros: 40 hours a week, solid benefits, complete job security, and an environment where if you do something horribly wrong, your boss will glare at you and say "okay, well, don't do it again."


Assuming the work you do is even mildly interesting, this sounds like job nirvana.

froglee
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby froglee » Sat May 17, 2014 1:56 pm

twenty wrote:
SnakySalmon wrote:
twenty wrote:Stuff I'm not quoting



1) Make between 90k and 120k
2) Show up to work on average two times a week
3) People don't just get let go for screwing up -- to be fired as a government attorney, you not only have to professionally screw up in every imaginable way



Come on folks. These three factors above are the BIG reasons why you want to work for the government. Oh, maybe a nice pension should be on the list

Called to do public service;Dream to serve the public;Federal service is my calling.... sounds like some dumb pickup lines in bars

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twenty
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Sat May 17, 2014 3:34 pm

My estimation is that my agency/office culture is somewhere in the middle to mid-low region of "overall morale." My coworkers regularly complain about my agency, but the ones that lateraled from DCMA or SBA say that my agency is a HUGE upgrade in terms of overall culture. Equally, the people that have lateraled from my agency to CFPB and SEC are ridiculously happy they did.

No question there are offices better than ours, but also offices that are worse :P

froglee wrote:
twenty wrote:
SnakySalmon wrote:
twenty wrote:Stuff I'm not quoting



1) Make between 90k and 120k
2) Show up to work on average two times a week
3) People don't just get let go for screwing up -- to be fired as a government attorney, you not only have to professionally screw up in every imaginable way



Come on folks. These three factors above are the BIG reasons why you want to work for the government. Oh, maybe a nice pension should be on the list


To some extent, perhaps. I understand you're pretty much determined to look at government as this cesspool of leeches that are determined to do as little work as possible for the most amount of money possible -- and that is true to an extent, but once you buy into that completely, you become very cynical about the work in general. I won't say we do "good" things, but I will say we do things that are necessary for our agency's mission to function; if you lose sight of that, you're just working for a company that basically gets to print its own money.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat May 17, 2014 3:53 pm

I'll be honest and say that I went into government in part because of the hours (I need too much sleep to survive biglaw) and the benefits and stability. But as corny as it sounds, it is really important to me to do work that I think matters, and to feel like I'm part of something bigger than myself. It means something to me to go into court and say "A. Nony Mouse on behalf of the United States." I realize that plenty of people get that feeling working for a big firm, on complex matters involving tons of money, and I think that's totally fine, too - it's just not me. Sure, there are leeches in government, and there are sellouts in biglaw, but assuming that's the only reason people work in their chosen fields is pretty short-sighted.

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spleenworship
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby spleenworship » Sat May 17, 2014 9:05 pm

JustHawkin wrote:Spleen, what would you say are the downsides to Gov work as attorney?


I feel weird just listing downsides, without the upsides. That said, here is a list of downsides:

First, everything takes forever. You want to get hired? Get an offer... wait three weeks, submit some paperwork... wait three weeks then finally start your job. Out of printer paper? Office next-door doesn't have any? You're not due for another resupply for a week? Okay no problem… Better hope you petty cash. Because otherwise you are SOL.

Second, the inability of people to get fired. While in many ways this is a good thing, it can be a bad thing. Somebody lazy get promoted? You're stuck with them forever... until they retire or quit or die.

Third, and maybe this is different in other places... You are never funded or paid commensurate with the amount of work and tasks you are expected to accomplish. Now, the pay you expect. You went into this expecting not to get paid. So while that's mildly annoying, it's not the end of the world. But the lack of funding is annoying. Beyond annoying. There is nothing like knowing that you could do a better job for the people you are expected to serve, but cannot because you can't pay for the equipment or personnel to get the job done properly.

Fourth, working in government you never quite get the respect you deserve for the vast majority of positions. If you are an FBI agent or Assistant US Attorney you'll get some respect. You work as a public defender? You work in child support enforcement? You work for a local government? Yeah everybody's going to assume that you are a failure who couldn't get a real private attorney job.

That is what I can think of offhand. I'm sure there's other problems.

All that said, there are so many upsides: Decent hours. Work life balance. A chance to make a difference in your community or nation. Decent benefits. Possibility of actual retirement. 10 year loan forgiveness, etc etc etc.

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JCougar
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby JCougar » Tue May 20, 2014 5:40 pm

froglee wrote:Come on, folks. Get into 100000~200000 debt and do internship/externship free for several years, just for the sake of getting those jobs that pay 40000~60000....does it really worth it?? With this kind of salary, you hardly pay for the interests monthly.

Just what's up with those dreams and fantasies working for the government? Is it just the hours and pension thing? What happened to American youths' entrepreneurship?


Do you think working at a Biglaw firm involves entrepreneurship?

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coldshoulder
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby coldshoulder » Tue May 20, 2014 10:10 pm

JCougar wrote:
froglee wrote:Come on, folks. Get into 100000~200000 debt and do internship/externship free for several years, just for the sake of getting those jobs that pay 40000~60000....does it really worth it?? With this kind of salary, you hardly pay for the interests monthly.

Just what's up with those dreams and fantasies working for the government? Is it just the hours and pension thing? What happened to American youths' entrepreneurship?


Do you think working at a Biglaw firm involves entrepreneurship?


+1

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Pragmatic Gun
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Pragmatic Gun » Wed May 21, 2014 4:09 pm

Making sure massive corporate conglomerates maintain their market domination through legal mechanisms? It's totally entrepreneurial!!!!!

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buffalo_
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby buffalo_ » Wed May 21, 2014 5:48 pm

I have always wonderd about PI vs public service (government work). I see they often get lumped together, but I think of them as distinct. PI being non-profit and maybe PD/DA, and then public service would be any other governent legal work (BigFed right down to state).

I realize that PI (as I have described it) requires a certain amount of "gunning" at the expense of pursuing private practice (i.e. not doing a 2L SA and interning somewhere instead). How does this work for government positions? Especially federal agencies? I am interested in working for a federal agency, but I would be very hesistant to pass up a 2L SA that would go a long way to lowering my 3L debt and giving me a post graduation employement outcome. Do you need to "gun" to get a job in a federal agency like Nony Mouse/Spleen/Twenty? Or can you still keep your BigLaw options open? Can you more easily lateral from BigLaw to those types of jobs than NP/DA/PD PI?

And I know this is really early to ask, but what is protocol for if you want to pursue a job like that right out of LS? You can't accept an offer from a firm and then apply for those jobs right? And wouldn't you have to let a firm know your intentions before the government finishes hiring?

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twenty
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Wed May 21, 2014 6:06 pm

I have always wonderd about PI vs public service (government work). I see they often get lumped together, but I think of them as distinct. PI being non-profit and maybe PD/DA, and then public service would be any other governent legal work (BigFed right down to state).


There is a noticeable difference between PI (non-profits) and government -- there's no real difference between "PI and public interest" especially if you throw DA/PD in that group (arbitrarily?). The biggest distinction is between high-prestige and low-prestige groups, because that completely changes what you should do to achieve those ends.

I've mentioned a couple times throughout this thread that 90%+ of government/PI gigs are what would qualify as "low-prestige." That's going to include every DA/PD position, about 70% of fedgov honors, JAG, and any non-profit that you could tell some layperson you work at who would respond "oh cool, what do they do?" The "high-prestige" jobs include State, Justice, elite public interest law firms, ACLU, Innocence, etc.

When you're talking about firms or 2L summers, etc. you may not be understanding just how difficult it is to get into PI. If you don't have fantastic grades + hopefully flagship law review at HYSCCN, your chances of getting high-prestige PI are basically zilch. If you haven't been gunning for a specific position since your first semester of 1L, are willing to volunteer for free for a year after you pass the bar exam, etc. your chances of getting low-prestige PI are basically zilch. You can't just assume that because you did your 2L summer at an organization rather than a firm that you're "gunning" for PI/govt, it has to be a lifestyle kind of a thing.

To answer your question more directly, you absolutely must gun for a job in a federal agency. How you go about "gunning" for it is largely contingent on the agency, but you must gun nonetheless.

In short, if you have any real hesitation about passing up a 2L SA, treat your 0L/1L years as if you were going for biglaw.

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Pragmatic Gun
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Pragmatic Gun » Wed May 21, 2014 6:44 pm

twenty wrote:
I have always wonderd about PI vs public service (government work). I see they often get lumped together, but I think of them as distinct. PI being non-profit and maybe PD/DA, and then public service would be any other governent legal work (BigFed right down to state).


There is a noticeable difference between PI (non-profits) and government -- there's no real difference between "PI and public interest" especially if you throw DA/PD in that group (arbitrarily?). The biggest distinction is between high-prestige and low-prestige groups, because that completely changes what you should do to achieve those ends.

I've mentioned a couple times throughout this thread that 90%+ of government/PI gigs are what would qualify as "low-prestige." That's going to include every DA/PD position, about 70% of fedgov honors, JAG, and any non-profit that you could tell some layperson you work at who would respond "oh cool, what do they do?" The "high-prestige" jobs include State, Justice, elite public interest law firms, ACLU, Innocence, etc.

When you're talking about firms or 2L summers, etc. you may not be understanding just how difficult it is to get into PI. If you don't have fantastic grades + hopefully flagship law review at HYSCCN, your chances of getting high-prestige PI are basically zilch. If you haven't been gunning for a specific position since your first semester of 1L, are willing to volunteer for free for a year after you pass the bar exam, etc. your chances of getting low-prestige PI are basically zilch. You can't just assume that because you did your 2L summer at an organization rather than a firm that you're "gunning" for PI/govt, it has to be a lifestyle kind of a thing.

To answer your question more directly, you absolutely must gun for a job in a federal agency. How you go about "gunning" for it is largely contingent on the agency, but you must gun nonetheless.

In short, if you have any real hesitation about passing up a 2L SA, treat your 0L/1L years as if you were going for biglaw.


It may have been said earlier in the thread, but what does gunning for a SEC or DOJ look like in terms of trajectory, besides LR and grades?

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twenty
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Wed May 21, 2014 7:11 pm

Here's what they say:

Selections are made based on many elements of a candidate’s background including a demonstrated commitment to government service, academic achievement, leadership, law review or moot court experience, legal aid and clinical experience, past employment, and extracurricular activities that relate to the work of Justice and the relevant component.


Here are the things that are most important, based on anecdata and insight from a former hiring official over there:

Reinstatement (this is super rare) > Veteran's Preference*/Serious past DOJ WE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Grades > School name > Quality/length/relevance of prior WE > Law review/Moot Court/Clinical Experience > "Leadership" and "Commitment" demonstrated through club participation/management, for example.


*They don't give straight-up points like other agencies, but it's still a huge factor.

quijotesca1011
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby quijotesca1011 » Wed May 21, 2014 7:19 pm

Any thoughts of the utility of JD/MPP dual degrees? (thinking particularly of HLS/HKS, particularly for IHR/nonprofit organizations)

Could it theoretically be useful? (Obviously it would depend on the price increase and what of it was debt, I'm going to meet with financial services to figure that out well before considering applying).

It just seems theoretically appealing because you get two degrees in four years instead of five, you presumably get added skills, and I imagine it would be good for networking (especially for international careers).

How would a MPP rank up v. a LMM in international law later on in the career (potentially in another country)?




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