I am a graduate of a NYC school headed to one of the DA's offices in the city (NY, BX, BK, Qu, SI) following the bar. I received interviews at all offices except one and received offers from 3. Here are my tips to land a gig at a DA's office.
1. INTERN- every person in my class has interned at a district attorney's office somewhere. whether it be in NY, or another state, or county, every single person has this line on their resume. DA's offices are also more partial to ppl that do defense work like a PD, as it usually takes that experience coupled with a internship at the DA's office to truly see the "light".
Internships with federal agencies such as the USAO or Federal Defenders is also looked favorably upon, however there are stark differences in their jobs (mainly resources and time allocation). I had both DA and USAO experience and through an interviewer was told that they liked my dedication to criminal prosecution.
2. CLASSES/GRADES- EVIDENCE, CRIM PRO, TRIAL AD- without these classes you will be not be taken seriously. These are the background classes for 90% of what you will be doing in the DA's office. If your school has a prosecution clinic, and many schools in the NY area do, do it. 2 people from my school who did the clinic had a leg up in the office due to their work there. I did not do a clinic as I did an externship(will talk about in pt. 4), but in my 1st round interview in one of the DA's office, i noticed he underlined on my transcript- Evidence, Crim Pro, Trial Ad, Professional Responsibility, White Collar Crime, etc. While grades used to not be such an important factor, I have noticed they have increasingly become more important in admissions decisions. As in a candidate with a 3.4 or a 3.3 will def be considered greater than someone with a 3.1 or a 3.08.
3. STUDENT TEAMS, STUDENT GROUPS- DA's offices look very favorable upon Moot court as well as trial advocacy teams. Many of the people in my class were either members of one of these teams or both. Moot court I have seen has been particularly praised as often the people who go into DA's offices are very trial oriented, and they need people in appeals who can write as well as argue in front of a panel. I think my membership on Moot Court and various roles including participant in competitions gave me a leg up in the process. Student groups such as prisoners rights advocacy groups are also looked favorable upon as it shows a dedication to serving the community and interacting with people who have been part of the criminal justice system.
4. REFERENCES- make contacts with ADA's or former ADA's who are professors or adjuncts in your school. By speaking with them and making connections, if you show a significant interest, you can list them as references (which most DA's offices require 3 usually made up of professors and past legal employers). I was able to do an externship with a office in NYC and my externship professor was an ADA at that office. His recommendation set me apart from other interns as I was able to get a recommendation from someone who knew both my legal work and academic ability.
5. STORY- have a compelling story as to why you want to be a prosecutor. In this market you honestly need a compelling story as to why you want to become a prosecutor that will set you apart from the other applicants. To give a small one line of myself, I grew up in the county that I will be an ADA, and due to the low socioeconomic neighborhood in which I lived, I wanted to make a difference on the level of crime and drug abuse in my hometown.
This isn't a job for ppl who struck out at 2L oci. Practically everyone i talked too who landed something at OCI (which is very few, C/O 2011), would love to be a prosecutor because its such a fun and great job. That said most ppl have planned for this position starting 1L summer or the 2L semesters. The drawback is pay, as is not extremely rewarding (NY: 60G, BX:56G BK: 50G, Q: 54G, SI: 53G). However there are many programs which can help a DA or PD including- IBR, PILF, LRAP, JRJ, NYBAR,- In which LRAP or JRJ can basically pay your IBR payments for you for 10 yrs in which your debt balance will be forgiven. The only drawback is that your limited to government and public interest service.
If anyone has any further questions regarding DA's offices, particularly in NY (i have done a lot of research regarding each office), please post your q here.