AUSA answering questions

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Coco_Local
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:11 pm

AUSA answering questions

Postby Coco_Local » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:13 pm

So, I'm happy to answer any questions about moving to the US Attorney's Office.

User avatar
npe
Posts: 138
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:39 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby npe » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:22 pm

Thanks for taking questions.

Do most AUSA's at your office come from biglaw, DA's offices, or Main Justice? Does any of these three have an advantage over the other, all being equal?

How many hours do you put in per week (in trial/not in trial)?

What's the best thing about your job? What's the most frustrating?

User avatar
Wholigan
Posts: 763
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 4:51 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Wholigan » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:29 pm

For other AUSAs coming over directly from biglaw, what do you think matters the most? The firm they work for? Area of practice? Law School? How long do they usually work in private practice before lateraling to the USAO?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273566
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:40 pm

Apologies in advance for the crude question, but does any drug use (even minimal) during law school severely harm your chances--after say getting a clerkship and doing biglaw for a few years (and having strong grades)?

User avatar
Patriot1208
Posts: 7044
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 11:28 am

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Patriot1208 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:10 pm

What exactly do you believe is most important in getting DOJ honors? If at a t14 do you need top half, top third, etc? Will prior TS clearance and DOJ w/e make a big deal in honors hiring? And is working for a firm for 2L summer fine if you want honors?

Thanks for the answers in advance.

dddhhh
Posts: 264
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:55 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby dddhhh » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:13 pm

How important is the law school attended? Is there a big difference between lower t14 and t30? Thanks!

cake
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2008 5:55 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby cake » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:22 pm

Which division?

Renzo
Posts: 4265
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 3:23 am

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Renzo » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:22 pm

Civil or Criminal? Did you apply for both? Was it your preference?

Coco_Local
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:11 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Coco_Local » Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:02 pm

I'm a civil AUSA, which basically means I defend the US whenever it's sued.

I went to Chicago, did decently but not spectularly, went to a big firm, paid off debt, left to clerk, and came here right after.

My preference from interviewing in criminal and civil divisions across the country was that I do civil work. But that is also due to me liking the folks I work with.

From talking to friends who had issues getting clearance, yes, any drug use in law school was a problem.

The Honors Program is an entirely different animal from being an AUSA. 90 percent of the offices will not hire without good work experience ~3-5 years.

The best thing about my job is that I truly run my own cases. From top to bottom. I think working in a big litigation firm, most associates spend their entire tenure working to help the partners practice law. What little experience they do get is usually crumbs. I put in serious hours but nothing like firm life. I usually work 8-6:30 and one day a weekend when things are normal. Trial is 16 hour days easy. There's a lot in between these extremes, though.

But there's no filler work. I'm running from dep. to hearing to writing dispositive motion. There's no make work, which I enjoy. But you truly are the person on the line. All. The. Time. It's a big responsibility.
Last edited by Coco_Local on Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Patriot1208
Posts: 7044
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 11:28 am

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Patriot1208 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:06 pm

Do you see a lot of kids who go Honors for a few years and then to AUSA?

Coco_Local
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:11 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Coco_Local » Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:09 pm

It depends. Main justice is a cush gig. AUSA's tend to work more/heavier case loads. We have one former Honors person in our office. A lot of those people go to agencies which is even more cush.

The law school thing depends. My office is changing from being local grads to top 10 grads from firms who've completed district court clerkships. Grades need to be good, but you need work experience and a federal clerkship. It's pretty competitive. We were hiring before the freeze and got ~4000 applications. For one spot.

Coco_Local
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:11 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Coco_Local » Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:13 pm

For other AUSAs coming over directly from biglaw, what do you think matters the most? The firm they work for? Area of practice? Law School? How long do they usually work in private practice before lateraling to the USAO?


First, you need to come from a firm that is litigation heavy. I think we're more interested in a Boies or Quinn or W&C litigator than a litigator from DPW simply because those folks tend to get more experience from what I saw in comparing resumes. When you're looking at firms, look for firms that do actual trial work.

Appellate clerkships are not entirely helpful in comparison to district court clerkships. We litigate there, so knowing how these judges work is way more impressive and useful.

Please stop using law review comments as writing samples. They are so useless.

The process, I think, is pretty interesting. You need to do a lot of things that are not explicitly spelled out anywhere and dramatically vary. Many big firms, including my old one, funnelled people into the US Attorney's Office (particularly the star associates) with the idea they would return. I wasn't a star but realized that duh, I need to learn to really litigate, so I pursued this path on my own. It's a great job, but the process of getting it was extremely interesting.

That said, my office is becoming more law school/credential heavy. Friends in other offices report the same.

Coco_Local
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:11 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Coco_Local » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:37 pm

Uh. I guess those folks don't use ECF like the rest of the country's district courts?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273566
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:18 pm

This is so timely - I have an USAO internship interview next week - any tips?

User avatar
Lawquacious
Posts: 2037
Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:36 am

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Lawquacious » Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:31 pm

Coco_Local wrote:It's pretty competitive. We were hiring before the freeze and got ~4000 applications. For one spot.


So did the person hired have a special connection? I imagine the only way a laywer is going to get hired for such a ridiculously competitive slot is if he or she either (a) had some kind of in, or (b) were the valedictorian at Harvard Law. I mean, most of the applicants have pretty similar credentials don't they? (Even once narrowed down to top 100 or 50 people of 4,000, I imagine that group will all be students who did very well at the very best schools and have gained similar work experiences; without connections having some influence it seems like it would be a matter of throwing the best 50 resumes down a set of stairs and seeing which one lands farthest down).

Coco_Local
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:11 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Coco_Local » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:19 pm

So did the person hired have a special connection? I imagine the only way a laywer is going to get hired for such a ridiculously competitive slot is if he or she either (a) had some kind of in, or (b) were the valedictorian at Harvard Law. I mean, most of the applicants have pretty similar credentials don't they? (Even once narrowed down to top 100 or 50 people of 4,000, I imagine that group will all be students who did very well at the very best schools and have gained similar work experiences; without connections having some influence it seems like it would be a matter of throwing the best 50 resumes down a set of stairs and seeing which one lands farthest down).


It's actually not grades. You're right, in the sense, that people with great grades apply. They don't get interviewed, however, if they don't have the right sort of experience. The bulk of these folks: (1) clerk on the appellate level; (2) spend the bulk of their time attempting to publish law review articles/research for professors when they should be in clinic or externing at a US Attorney's Office or D. Court; (3) work at firms that are known for not having strong trial departments; (4) have no basic litigation experience (i.e. depositions and/or principal brief writing duties); and (5) attempt to portray appellate work as applicable when it's not. Even if you are the law review editor at Stanford, you're not getting interviewed if you make these mistakes. During the last cull of resumes, we chose to not interview former Supreme Court clerks for this reason. During the last round, we found ~25 people with the skills/credentials we needed. It's actually not a big pool since we look for skills that are not exactly valued in law school. We don't need legal academics. We need sharp litigators who can handle running things on their own.
Last edited by Coco_Local on Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Borhas
Posts: 4862
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 6:09 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Borhas » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:32 pm

Coco_Local wrote:We were hiring before the freeze and got ~4000 applications. For one spot.

:lol: holy shit


thanks for the information... great thread

Anonymous User
Posts: 273566
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:45 pm

I'd really love to be an AUSA one day, and I plan to clerk for a district court after graduation. But I will be going to work for a big NYC firm (S&C/DPW/STB) this summer. I know I'm not going to get real substantive trial work at those firms during the first few years. What can I do during my time at the firm to really maximize my chances?

Coco_Local
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:11 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Coco_Local » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:13 pm

But I will be going to work for a big NYC firm (S&C/DPW/STB) this summer. I know I'm not going to get real substantive trial work at those firms during the first few years. What can I do during my time at the firm to really maximize my chances?


After joining the firm as an associate? Figure out as quickly as possible who does: (1) criminal work and (2) worked as an AUSA. Avoid the massive document reviewes, which are mostly in response to subpoenas that those firms (I'm thinking DPW in particular) love to staff associates on. Get on a trial team within two years. Even if it takes volunteering to work on the team without billable credit. Take and defend depositions. Write a few winning motions. In sum, actually litigate, which is much more difficult to do in a big firm than many people think.

Also, get an AUSA internship, if at all possible, during your 3L year. That will help.

Avoid: becoming some partner's Girl Friday. Women, in particular, fall prey to the problem in biglaw. If you entire career is helping someone else shine, you are fucking yourself over.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273566
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:17 pm

Thanks for the advice. I worked at a pretty prestigious US Attorney's Office this past summer (civil, not criminal), but I really want to work the criminal side. If I work at a US Attorney's Office next fall as a 3L clinical, will that give me much of a boost over my current USAO experience?

Coco_Local
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:11 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Coco_Local » Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:22 pm

I worked at a pretty prestigious US Attorney's Office this past summer (civil, not criminal), but I really want to work the criminal side. If I work at a US Attorney's Office next fall as a 3L clinical, will that give me much of a boost over my current USAO experience?


It should. It's a pretty insular culture and recommendations from former AUSAs are weighed very heavily.

memoryl0ss
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:39 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby memoryl0ss » Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:34 pm

If one wishes to work on the criminal side of the AUSA, what path do you recommend? Private firm upon graduation? DA?

Coco_Local
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:11 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Coco_Local » Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:44 pm

For criminal, it seems like JAG's and former DA's get hired regularly. Many times, biglaw folks can get into criminal but the transition to civil is much, much easier.

In my experience, very few folks come from other agencies because they are happy where they are working. We probably work more than other government attorneys for somewhat less pay (the AD scale compared to the GS scale). It's a great job but if you are working a compressed schedule (4 days a week) with one day of telecommuting at your agency, you probably aren't going to take a job for more work and less pay.

User avatar
quiver
Posts: 864
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 6:46 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby quiver » Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:59 pm

This has sort of been touched on already, but (in your experience) what is the most common/fastest path into AUSA after graduation? I know you said JAGs and former DA's get hired a lot, are there any other positions that regularly get hired? Is clerkship(s) directly to AUSA possible?

Obviously trying to get some litigation experience is a top priority.

Thanks for taking questions!

Coco_Local
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:11 pm

Re: AUSA answering questions

Postby Coco_Local » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:11 pm

It depends. Most people on the civil side do a few years of biglaw and have a clerkship either immediately preceding joining or right after law school. The timing ranges ~3-5 years for fast movers and a few offices like DC hire right out of clerkships (but beware being a DC AUSA is basically the same as being a city DA). I actually went directly from a clerkship but I put in three years or so into biglaw. Other people did it the opposite way.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.