DA vs. USAO (generally)

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Flanker1067
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DA vs. USAO (generally)

Postby Flanker1067 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:52 pm

I am just wondering what the major differences are. As far as I know, being an AUSA is more prestigious than being an ADA but it seems like the primary difference is in the types of cases they handle. Other insights/info?

Anonymous User
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Re: DA vs. USAO (generally)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:53 pm

Flanker1067 wrote:I am just wondering what the major differences are. As far as I know, being an AUSA is more prestigious than being an ADA but it seems like the primary difference is in the types of cases they handle. Other insights/info?


USAOs only prosecute federal crimes. These include, generally: banks, narcotics, firearms, criminal enterprises, immigration/smuggling, fraud (mail and wire), and crimes committed on federal territory/targeting federal offices, employees or programs. There are other less-seen niches too (Antitrust, Tax fraud, Civil Rights, Nat'l Security, etc).

DAs have broad general criminal jurisdiction. They tend to prosecute all crimes: murder, rape, robbery, fraud, firearms, narcotics, gangs, etc.

By their nature, USAO investigations tend to be broader, longer, and more complex. DA's offices tend to be relatively simpler. DAs offices try way more cases and prosecute way more crimes. USAOs do try cases, but they tend to be fewer and longer. These are just tendancies. For example, the Manhattan DA"s office's white-collar crime section is just as sophisticated as any USAO out there. And the US Attorney in Montana doesn't bring too many racketeering cases.

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npe
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Re: DA vs. USAO (generally)

Postby npe » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:24 am

Not sure if you're interested, but don't forget Main Justice (DOJ) prosecutors' offices as well. Check out the CRM division, they have some really interesting offices. If you're particularly interested in a specific area of prosecution, that may be the way to go (e.g., Fraud for financial crimes or PIN for public corruption crimes).

BeautifulSW
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Re: DA vs. USAO (generally)

Postby BeautifulSW » Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:45 pm

In most parts of the country, it is a lot harder to get in with the feds because they have far fewer positions and they tend to pay more. Here in N. Mex., the feds pay a LOT more and only rarely hire anyone right out of law school. You may also find that an AUSA opening attracts applicants from half the country instead of just the District where the job is.

If you've never worked inside the federal government, you may discover that about the only thing to recommend it is the pay. I personally found the federal government to be hidebound and stifling but I wasn't an AUSA; my experience was with the Navy and Department of Transportation.

A local DA has a lot more freedom of action. OTOH, if you can deal with the irritating fact that every decision of importance seems to have to be made by someone in Washington D.C., a federal civil service career has a great deal to recommend it. DOn't turn down the opportunity if it presents itself!

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Re: DA vs. USAO (generally)

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:21 pm

USAO is much much more prestigious than working as an ADA in the same geographic region. I don't think that the pay thing is at all true though, unless you are comparing AUSA pay to small time law. Even mid-sized boutiques will pay more than the US Gov does. And if you are qualified to be an AUSA, chances are you have the credentials to make much much more.

The anonymous user up top pretty much summarized the differences pretty accurately, but I would add that it is vastly different depending on whether you're working Crim Div or Civ Div. A lot of the things he or she listed were Crim Div types of cases, Civil Division can be vastly different particularly if you're working on the affirmative side (False Claims Act, some larger offices do Civil Rights type stuff, tax etc) or on the defensive (defending slip and falls, doing employment discrimination, etc). There is also a ton of really fascinating bankruptcy, environmental, international tax shelter, and mortgage fraud work that is being done by DOJ right now as well.

Also, in speaking with AUSAs in my larger USAO, the working environment is just much better on the USAO, there is a high bar for collegiality and additionally, USAOs tend to attract the best and brightest even with the crappy pay (though certainly much better than ADAs make, a few Kings County/Brooklyn ADAs I know make in the 50k region after a year with the office, whereas an AUSA in NY makes around 90k with locality and 2 years experience).

Oh, but you do occasionally get stuck with FOIA crap which is a huge pain.




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