Focusing on federal govt rather than biglaw?

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TigerBeer
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Focusing on federal govt rather than biglaw?

Postby TigerBeer » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:10 pm

Should you plan your law school career differently if you're aiming for a job in the federal government rather than biglaw? Obviously, you should get the highest grades possible either way. But what about ECs or summer jobs? I've seen it mentioned on this board that government agencies prefer candidates that have demonstrated a commitment to public service. Would I do so by aiming for public sector jobs during my two summers and maybe taking a clinic?

Also, I'm curious what the class rank cutoffs are for biggov jobs, especially the SEC/FTC/EPA, if anyone has this information. How difficult is it to get a biggov job in DC versus one in another major city like San Francisco?

I'll be going to MVPB.

Anonymous User
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Re: Focusing on federal govt rather than biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:27 pm

TigerBeer wrote:I've seen it mentioned on this board that government agencies prefer candidates that have demonstrated a commitment to public service. Would I do so by aiming for public sector jobs during my two summers and maybe taking a clinic?

Yes, although it's not necessary to spend both summers in public sector jobs. One summer is usually enough to establish your public sector bona fides.

And yes, government interviewers like to see clinics and coursework that relate specifically to their agency's mission. Such a transcript tells them that you have a genuine and specific interest in their work, and you're not just applying to every government job out there.

TigerBeer wrote:Also, I'm curious what the class rank cutoffs are for biggov jobs, especially the SEC/FTC/EPA, if anyone has this information. How difficult is it to get a biggov job in DC versus one in another major city like San Francisco?

It really depends. The rank requirements will be tighter for agencies' Honors Attorney programs than for their lateral hiring programs. From MVPB, you'll want to be at least in the top third of your class for Honors programs. (Preferably higher.) For lateral hiring—after you've worked a couple years at a firm, nonprofit, clerkship, etc.—your grades will matter much less.

Also think about clerking. Many of the attorneys at SEC/FTC/EPA clerked first.

As for DC vs. offices in other cities, generally it's tougher to land a job in a field office than in DC, as the field offices are much smaller.

TigerBeer
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:00 am

Re: Focusing on federal govt rather than biglaw?

Postby TigerBeer » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:37 pm

Thanks for the helpful reply, anonymous. If you don't mind I have a few more questions. For lateral hiring, how prestige-driven are employers? Let's say you don't get biglaw or a clerkship, and end up working in small- or mid-law, or maybe local government. Is it right to assume that you have virtually no chance of breaking into federal work eventually?

Anonymous User
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Re: Focusing on federal govt rather than biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:08 pm

No, that's not an accurate assumption, TigerBeer. Keep in mind how vast the federal government is and how many lawyers it employs. Yes, most of the lawyers at DOJ, SEC, etc. have the glittering résumés you describe. But that's certainly not the situation at every agency. (See, e.g., EEOC.)

I can't give you numbers, but anecdotally I can say that lawyers do indeed make the jump to federal agencies from small and midsize firms and from local/state government. There are many paths to a federal government career—and many, many breeds of federal government lawyer.

If you haven't already done this, you might surf over to usajobs.gov and search for "attorney" or "attorney-adviser" positions. Check the applications. Agencies often give a numerical boost to applicants with law review membership, an editorial board position on law review, or moot court experience.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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underdawg
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Re: Focusing on federal govt rather than biglaw?

Postby underdawg » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:13 pm

never trust anyone who says see e.g. in normal speak. "like" would have sufficed

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Re: Focusing on federal govt rather than biglaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:15 pm

Fair enough, underdawg. Too much legalese writing lately, I guess.

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underdawg
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Re: Focusing on federal govt rather than biglaw?

Postby underdawg » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:18 pm

anywho, i've heard the same thing. like working at the bureau of prisons is gonna be 10000x easier than getting a job at DOJ




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