Entry-level jobs in criminal law

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Heartford
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Entry-level jobs in criminal law

Postby Heartford » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:39 pm

My impression is that criminal law jobs (both prosecution and defense) are more or less reserved for those with courtroom experience. Do entry-level jobs in criminal law exist? What about doing criminal work at a midlaw firm? Does anyone have experience in getting a Criminal law gig right out of law school?

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BruceWayne
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Re: Entry-level jobs in criminal law

Postby BruceWayne » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:57 pm

Plenty of DA's offices hire ADAs straight out of law school. They will look for things like trial ad, evidence, mock trial, clinics, and the like that show interest in trial work/criminal law.

DOJ crim hires through the DOJ honors program but that is phenomenally competitive. The DC USAO hires students straight off of clerkships but again this is insanely competitive. DOJ tax hires in the same manner as DOJ crim and they have a criminal enforcement division.

From what I've gathered law firms don't allow new associates to touch much white collar defense work; the stakes are viewed as being too high to let anyone other than partners and (maybe) senior associates handle the cases.

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Heartford
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Re: Entry-level jobs in criminal law

Postby Heartford » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:01 pm

BruceWayne wrote:Plenty of DA's offices hire ADAs straight out of law school. They will look for things like trial ad, evidence, mock trial, clinics, and the like that show interest in trial work/criminal law.

DOJ crim hires through the DOJ honors program but that is phenomenally competitive. The DC USAO hires students straight off of clerkships but again this is insanely competitive. DOJ tax hires in the same manner as DOJ crim and they have a criminal enforcement division.

From what I've gathered law firms don't allow new associates to touch much white collar defense work; the stakes are viewed as being too high to let anyone other than partners and (maybe) senior associates handle the cases.


Thanks. I was talking about midlaw firms doing criminal defense work, not so much of the white-collar variety, but what you said about white collar work probably still applies to other crime.

BTW, from what I hear, prosecutors don't really hire straight out of school around here...

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BruceWayne
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Re: Entry-level jobs in criminal law

Postby BruceWayne » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:04 pm

Heartford wrote:
BruceWayne wrote:Plenty of DA's offices hire ADAs straight out of law school. They will look for things like trial ad, evidence, mock trial, clinics, and the like that show interest in trial work/criminal law.

DOJ crim hires through the DOJ honors program but that is phenomenally competitive. The DC USAO hires students straight off of clerkships but again this is insanely competitive. DOJ tax hires in the same manner as DOJ crim and they have a criminal enforcement division.

From what I've gathered law firms don't allow new associates to touch much white collar defense work; the stakes are viewed as being too high to let anyone other than partners and (maybe) senior associates handle the cases.


Thanks. I was talking about midlaw firms doing criminal defense work, not so much of the white-collar variety, but what you said about white collar work probably still applies to other crime.


I don't think that's the kind of question you can get a blanket answer to. You're basically going to have to ask the individual mid law firm. Again though our thoughts about them being slow to let a new associate touch the work is probably correct. Would you want some brand new lawyer defending you against the USAO? :D

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Heartford
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Re: Entry-level jobs in criminal law

Postby Heartford » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:11 pm

BruceWayne wrote: Would you want some brand new lawyer defending you against the USAO? :D


No, definitely not. I just ask because the track for entering criminal law work seems pretty hazy, unlike the system that's already in place for civil firm associates. It makes me wonder whether it would be a waste of time for someone to take a bunch of crim classes, only to be more or less shut out of the criminal law field after passing the bar. So I guess I should have asked whether the entry-level-track for civil law is much more established than for criminal law, as it seems to be. And if so, whether one would be better off starting off with whatever attorney position they can find and then trying to transition toward a criminal career from there.

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Grizz
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Re: Entry-level jobs in criminal law

Postby Grizz » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:18 pm

Heartford wrote:
BruceWayne wrote: Would you want some brand new lawyer defending you against the USAO? :D


No, definitely not. I just ask because the track for entering criminal law work seems pretty hazy, unlike the system that's already in place for civil firm associates. It makes me wonder whether it would be a waste of time for someone to take a bunch of crim classes, only to be more or less shut out of the criminal law field after passing the bar. So I guess I should have asked whether the entry-level-track for civil law is much more established than for criminal law, as it seems to be. And if so, whether one would be better off starting off with whatever attorney position they can find and then trying to transition toward a criminal career from there.


If you want to do crim, I recommend trying to get a PD or ADA job, using this to get trail experience, and then maybe leaving the office for a firm once you actually know what you're doing.

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Heartford
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Re: Entry-level jobs in criminal law

Postby Heartford » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:02 pm

Ok so basically the only suggestion is to find a job as an ADA or PD? I'm thinking about this in terms of investment, and not putting all of my eggs in one basket. If I take a bunch of crim classes in the hope that I will land an ADA or PD job, what happens if there just aren't any ADA or PD jobs? I'd be stuck looking for a civil firm job with a transcript full of crim. It just seems risky. I guess I'm answering my own question.

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A'nold
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Re: Entry-level jobs in criminal law

Postby A'nold » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:40 pm

Heartford wrote:Ok so basically the only suggestion is to find a job as an ADA or PD? I'm thinking about this in terms of investment, and not putting all of my eggs in one basket. If I take a bunch of crim classes in the hope that I will land an ADA or PD job, what happens if there just aren't any ADA or PD jobs? I'd be stuck looking for a civil firm job with a transcript full of crim. It just seems risky. I guess I'm answering my own question.


I've taken a ton of business law classes and a ton of criminal law classes. I think you can diversify if you plan it out.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Entry-level jobs in criminal law

Postby BeautifulSW » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:06 pm

Around here (N.Mex.), the majority of non-government criminal lawyers are solos. Not small firms, SOLOS. Office sharing arrangements are common of course but the sharers are usually each on their own. I don't know why or whether this is the case elsewhere. If a criminal matter shows up at a mid sized commercial firm, they'll sometimes handle it "in-house" just for the sake of doing something different for once but just as often, they'll farm it out to someone they know and trust (not to steal the commecial stuff, that is.)

It is very common to do a couple of years in a state DA or PD office then hang a shingle. Federal appointments are hard to get; the local federal CJA criminal defense panel protects its turf like a momma grizzly in the name of "competent representation" but it's not; it's just avoiding competition for older practitioners. State appointments are much easier to come by in most areas of the state. They pay poorly but offer invaluable jury experience.

It's also fairly common for a would-be criminal defender to open his own shop right out of law school. I don't recommend this but criminal law is probably the easiest field in which to go out on your own. Just be sure to identify a mentor.

There's plenty of work and, if you don't mind DUI defense, there's no shortage of paying clients. Speaking decent Spanish is a major advantage. You don't have to be fluent just fairly fluid and willing to try.

WARNING! Criminal law is a lot of fun but you don't get rich.




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