University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

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stripes234
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby stripes234 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:42 pm

USAIRS - really great advice. For someone interested in policy/politics, either in DC or NC, what is your advice? I could see myself wanting to do DOJ, USAO, and then maybe politics. School choices are Chicago, UVA, Duke, and Penn. If I'm interested in NC, is Duke the obvious choice? Or should I go for overall prestige, which would suggest Chicago or perhaps UVA (for DC policy work)?

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:28 pm

Before I post, I should say I don't like telling people where to go to school. Simply, I don't want the responsibility of these kinds of choices. You could go to Chicago and things could go horribly wrong, where if you went to UCLA then the stars just may have aligned. I don't know. You could do everything right and things may not work out. All I am trying to do here is give a picture of what my experience has shown me.

The last two posts are kind of similar, so lets see if this addresses both:

Again, I advise against focusing too much on "alumni networking" etc. Unless the school you are looking at is in the region you want to work and you can personally network, it really isn't going to make any difference. Going to Vandy or Duke is not going to help you network into Birmingham, Alabama. Even so, most people who work in US Attorneys offices went to a variety of schools, and more often than not have lived somewhere outside the region at some point in their lives. It really is not going to require much to explain why you went to a top school. They are going to know which schools are the top ones and, even if they also like their local schools, they are going to put you right at the top of the list if you went to a top school and have proven yourself by clerking or working in the DOJ, or a top local firm.

Granted, it will certainly help to have some people going to bat for you who they know, so you want to work at a local firm branch or a local clerkship, maybe meet some former AUSAs with connections. But, to my understanding, Chicago actually does quite well placing people in clerkships in the 5th, 6th, and 11th circuits. One of my friends who did an appellate clerkship in the 11th circuit was hired into the USAO in upper Florida recently after working for a big firm in Texas. I also recall at least one friend of mine getting an appellate clerkship out of Tennessee. Point being, at any firm or courthouse in the South, they are still going to know Chicago, that it is a great school, and they are going to give you a shot if they have the need for bright young attorneys. Whether this shows up in placement numbers, I don't know. I met a partner in a firm in Tampa a couple years back, second largest in the region. I don't think they had any Chicago alumni there, but he was sure interested in me. I didn't pursue it, and there are probably still no Chicago alumni at that firm, but that doesn't mean I couldn't have been the first.

Now, if you are interested in North Carolina, Duke does seem like an obvious choice, and I like Duke. One of the smartest guys I know went there. I'm not the expert on Duke. I don't know how it places in NC. If Duke gives you a great shot at a NC clerkship and a top NC firm or DA's office following that, I can see how it would be difficult to turn it down, especially if there is some money involved.

If you want DC, the top schools will be pretty much on equal footing. People in DC are from everywhere, and they know the top schools. Chicago, Penn, or UVa will do the trick, but not by themselves. Clerking is important. If you don't go into the DOJ right away, your first job will be important (it doesn't have to be local, they travel a lot and they need talent more than they need people who are going to plant themselves in DC for 25 years). So, you want to choose a school that simply gives you great employment prospects across the board.

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hiromoto45
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby hiromoto45 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:43 am

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Coco_Local
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby Coco_Local » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:43 pm

I was going to add my input into this thread as another Chicago alum toiling away in an US Attorney's Office. Shoot!

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BruceWayne
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby BruceWayne » Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:47 pm

Coco_Local wrote:I was going to add my input into this thread as another Chicago alum toiling away in an US Attorney's Office. Shoot!


Not Chicago specific but are the US Attorney's Offices in smaller markets (especially in the South and the midwest) less competitive than the one's in NYC, DC, and California? Also if one goes the litigation path at a firm is there a type of litigation that USAO's prefer?

Coco_Local
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby Coco_Local » Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:37 pm

I'd say no. Getting a job at the US Attorney's office is still crazy competitive. I live in a mid sized market with a pretty good quality of life. We got nearly ~4000 resumes for one spot.

I think what I've seen is a preference for real litigation skills and an understanding/interest in government/criminal work.

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The Brainalist
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby The Brainalist » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:04 pm

Coco_Local wrote:I'd say no. Getting a job at the US Attorney's office is still crazy competitive. I live in a mid sized market with a pretty good quality of life. We got nearly ~4000 resumes for one spot.

I think what I've seen is a preference for real litigation skills and an understanding/interest in government/criminal work.



What litigation experience did you and other recent hires have? Is there any difference in hiring patterns for civil as opposed to criminal division at your office?

Coco_Local
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby Coco_Local » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:30 pm

Most AUSA coming from biglaw had ~3-5 experience that included things like taking depos, writing briefs alone, managing discovery, etc. Most had a trial or two under their belts. The ADAs usually had tons of trial experience, particularly big trials. The expectation is that you know how to do a complex civil or criminal trial soup to nuts walking in the door.

I came from a clerkship, but had spent time in biglaw before doing the above sort of things. Manyoffices, including mine, expect a district court clerkship from biglaw types (ADAs tend to not have them and have more trial experience).

AS33
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby AS33 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:19 pm

I'm just looking for a quick answer to this simple question: is there an additional/separate OCI (or something similar) for URMs?

Coco_Local
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby Coco_Local » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:22 pm

I'm just looking for a quick answer to this simple question: is there an additional/separate OCI (or something similar) for URMs?


No. That sounds crazy.

AS33
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby AS33 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:39 pm

Coco_Local wrote:
I'm just looking for a quick answer to this simple question: is there an additional/separate OCI (or something similar) for URMs?


No. That sounds crazy.


It does, doesn't it? Perhaps I dreamt this.

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lilybbloom
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby lilybbloom » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:43 am

actually, there's the cook county bar association minority job fair. so yes, there is a sort of separate OCI for URMs.

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:20 pm

lilybbloom wrote:actually, there's the cook county bar association minority job fair. so yes, there is a sort of separate OCI for URMs.


Surprised to see this thread back up. There aren't minority job fairs through UofC. You may need to do some sleuthing, but there are several minority job fairs put on through other organizations across the country. For example, I did a set of interviews as the National Hispanic Bar Association job fair a couple of years ago. They seem to be worth going to.

Coco_Local
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby Coco_Local » Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:30 pm

I thought the poster was asking about a special URM OCI at Chicago. That would be crazy-- considering how small the school is, of course.

I do know of job fairs, etc. out of the law school targeted to URM's, but anyone can (typically) go.

AS33
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby AS33 » Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:46 pm

I was talking about a special URM at UChicago. I think I just misread something or misunderstood someone. I'm guessing it was a URM job fair in Chicago (the city) not at Chicago (the school). People tend to just say "Chicago" when talking about the school, but really, what other school even exists in that city?

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Campagnolo
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby Campagnolo » Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:33 pm

I just wanted to say thank you to USAIRS and CocoLoco for taking questions. It's been insanely helpful for me the last two years as I've read through the threads you popped up in.

One thing I struggle with is how to maintain the most options. If I want to do criminal work, it seems like you really have to dig in and show commitment to working at the county level. The trouble is, they aren't hiring, and tend to distrust graduates of top schools (at least where I'm from). If you try and go for the USAO, the competition is crazy with so many qualified applicants. It seems unlikely that I could ever work in BigLaw for 5 years then move to a DA's office once I pay off the debt (assuming in 5-8 years the county have regained funding).

So, do you jump into the criminal work at a DA's office while in school and just pray to be picked up by an office anywhere in the country, or do you bust your butt to have the shot at the AUSA's office knowing it will likely never happen and you'll be tied to the billable hour forever?

USAIRS
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Re: University of Chicago Alum Taking Questions

Postby USAIRS » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:02 am

Campy, there is no easy answer to your woes. Reality is that everything is some combination of luck and hard work, so there is nothing I can tell you that will make ending up as a prosecutor a sure thing. I kind of came into it sideways myself and was in the right place at the right time.

I think you can address what you termed the "distrust" that local prosecutor's offices have for top schools. You have to earn their trust the same way that the local T1-4 students do, by externing at the local DA/City Attorney's office during your second academic year and your third year. You have to load up on criminal coursework. Also, clinical work seems pretty persuasive for this purpose.

As to your wanting to keep options open, as long as you are doing litigation, big firms don't seem to care about your actual coursework that much. There is no such thing as over-committing to criminal or public interest work while in law school, at least not in a way that makes big firms look askew. You can still do a firm your second summer and take a permanent offer if you want. That's just one summer. You have two academic years and one other summer to focus on what you really love.

USAO is competitive, but it is a second job, not a first. While in law school, work on grades, take litigation and crim oriented courses, do journals and/or clinics - basically put in the good fight. Also, intern at your local USAO during the academic year and NETWORK. Talk to the attorneys, stop by their offices. Say hi. Go to social functions for the office. Whether it is from interning, clerking, or a firm job, you will have a much better chance at an interview if someone connected to the USAO can vouch for your personal and professional reputation. (When you do great work as an intern, and go above and beyond in terms of time and effort, we do take notice.)

At the beginning of your third year, you should be focusing on two things that can put you in prime position for a USAO job. First, apply to the DOJ (in DC, "main justice") for litigating positions. Second, apply for clerkships, which you would then follow with applications to the DOJ (as an honors hire) and the USAO (as a lateral).

For DOJ/USAO you can't be picky as to location for the next four to five years. The DOJ is in DC. Suck it up. Go there for four years and then lateral to a USAO. You clerk in flyover, then go to DC for four years. Also, your value as a clerk is in large part for your insights into the local court. Flyover district court clerkship does not mean much in the more competitive USAO districts - plan on following it up with USAO in or near the district in which you clerked.

Yes, it is possible to go to a firm and then to a USAO. You are right to be uneasy about the odds on that though. My office made maybe two true outside lateral hires in the last year (meaning not from DOJ or another USAO or gov't agency), and we are a big office. They probably tossed a thousand V10 associates' resumes in the garbage before deciding on someone who clerked with a very well regarded local judge and was probably number one in his/her class. We may hire two more in the next six months. I'd put money on one those hires having at least 9th circuit level clerkship experience if not SC. That's why I push DOJ pretty hard. While the top of your class is going to clerkships and Latham-ish firms, you don't compete with them for DOJ Honors. You will compete with them for USAO, though, but at that point you are applying from DOJ with six trials already in your pocket.

Of course, all the above requires that you deliver good work, exercise good judgment, and get the confidence of people you work for. It also requires some luck. Plenty of smart people, who did much better than me in law school, will never get in to the USAO. At the end of the day, DOJ/USAO/DA etc may not be in the cards due to fit, timing, or whatever. So, I consider myself supremely lucky to be in a job I love and am pretty good at. Good news is, you do the above and you'll do well in life regardless of whether you end up in prosecution. Nobody is really going to feel sorry for you. I sure won't.




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