DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

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DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:13 am

Hello all:
I am a 0L entering a top 10 with a large scholarship and beginning to plan for my 1L summer employment. I currently work with many extremely well-connected former government officials from these agencies, so I do have strong connections, but I obviously do not have any grades to go off of yet and know how selective these programs are.

I also have great connections within BigLaw firms. I am confident I can land a job in my local market NLJ 250 firms, and have had partners tell me to "let them know if I needed anything" at three V100s, but I don't necessarily think this will lead to 1L summer associate.

I am very debt averse, but I do have a good scholarship and will be continuing to work for my current employer during school and for half-summers, so am "ok" financially with my scholarship.

Ultimately, I would prefer to work in government, but I would rather do BigLaw than take just any government job. So, its basically something like DHS/CIA/DoJ or bust for me.

I am trying to figure out if I should apply for the internship or the honors programs my 1st summer, or if I should take BigLaw. The internship is obviously easier to get, and I don't want to "use up my one chance at honors" when they don't really take 1Ls.

So my questions are:

1) Should I apply to the internships or honors (or both)?
2) If I get the internship, should I just take BigLaw and aim for honors 2L summer?
3) Would taking BigLaw 1L summer hurt my chance for honors 2L?
4) If I get neither internship nor honors, would I be better off taking "just any government job" (I know I can get a small market district court judicial internship-already be pseudo-offered) to show commitment to public service--should I be aiming for a city government job?

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:17 am

Split DoJ and Jones Day in Washington DC. I know someone doing this, but at another highly regarded gov't agency.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:18 am

What you do your 1L summer matters very little to your future career outside of personal growth. This is an accepted fact but one that a lot of people resist.

Having established that, you'll see that your options range from unpaid to poorly paid to ridiculously overcompensated. Everyone, IMHO, shold try to work at a firm over 1L summer. Better to learn if you don't like it early on, better to get comfortable with the environment before recruiting if you do like it. And in a world where your choices won't matter that much for your future career prospects, a wise man once said "choose the one that's willing to pay you ~$80/hour for your time."
Last edited by thesealocust on Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:21 am

thesealocust wrote:What you do your 1L summer matters very little to your future career outside of personal growth. This is an accepted fact but one that a lot of people resist.

Having established that, you'll see that your options range from unpaid to poorly paid to ridiculously overcompensated. Everyone, IMHO, shold try to work at a firm over 1L summer. Better to learn if you don't like it early on, better to get comfortable with the environment before recruiting if you do like it. And in a world where your choices won't matter that much for your future career prospects, a wise man once said "choose the one that's willing to pay you ~$80/hour for your time."

Also, I'd remove the 'please read' in all caps from the first line of your thread before people start talking about how annoying it is instead of responding to your thread. But that's just me.


OP here--done and noted. I just want to make sure people get the tidbits. For example, it is probably pretty relevant to response that I would rather have BigLaw then a non-related government job. I want to work with a national related 3-letter agency if I do government.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:21 am

The DOJ honors program is for entry-level hiring. I think you are referring to SLIP, which is the paid summer program. However, it is open only to 2L's, so your only DOJ option for your first summer will be the volunteer program.

So with that--I did SLIP. I don't know which division your are aiming for, but I would say that many divisions want to see that you have a commitment to government work and to the work that the division does. Biglaw generally is not an ideal way to show that commitment. But the again, if you are okay with potentially ending up in biglaw rather than in government work, then it may not matter.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby Army2Law » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:22 am

Whether a government program is "honors" or an "internship" depends on the agency. Example: SEC does its honors program for summers and the DOJ does its honors program for grads. If you want DOJ, I would try to get an internship with the DOJ 1L summer, take a biglaw SA position your 2L summer, then apply for the DOJ honors program 3L year. That way if you don't get into DOJ honors you'll have a decent fallback, and it's not prohibitively difficult to lateral to government after a few years at a reputable firm. Government hiring is pretty cyclical for most agencies due to budget concerns, so there may be some years when anyone who wants a job gets one and other years when no one at all gets one.
Just cast as wide a net as possible for your 1L job search, it's not determinative of what your ultimate job after school will be, but if you can make connections with an agency you want to work with, it certainly can help.
Just my opinions, nothing works for everyone.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:27 am

thesealocust wrote:What you do your 1L summer matters very little to your future career outside of personal growth. This is an accepted fact but one that a lot of people resist.


I actually disagree with this. This is true if you are aiming for biglaw as your first job outside of law school. Your first summer does matter though if you are aiming for government or public interest work. These are not places that tend to participate in OCI or that do much entry-level hiring, so relationships that you build during your summers end up mattering much more.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:
thesealocust wrote:What you do your 1L summer matters very little to your future career outside of personal growth. This is an accepted fact but one that a lot of people resist.


I actually disagree with this. This is true if you are aiming for biglaw as your first job outside of law school. Your first summer does matter though if you are aiming for government or public interest work. These are not places that tend to participate in OCI or that do much entry-level hiring, so relationships that you build during your summers end up mattering much more.


You might be right for "government or public interest" but that's not the category OP desires. OP pretty much wants the most elite government jobs or biglaw, and those firmly land within the 'what you do 1L summer won't matter as long as it's legal" category.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:38 am

thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
thesealocust wrote:What you do your 1L summer matters very little to your future career outside of personal growth. This is an accepted fact but one that a lot of people resist.


I actually disagree with this. This is true if you are aiming for biglaw as your first job outside of law school. Your first summer does matter though if you are aiming for government or public interest work. These are not places that tend to participate in OCI or that do much entry-level hiring, so relationships that you build during your summers end up mattering much more.


You might be right for "government or public interest" but that's not the category OP desires. OP pretty much wants the most elite government jobs or biglaw, and those firmly land within the 'what you do 1L summer won't matter as long as it's legal" category.


OP here:

Interesting. I guess I assumed you would get a big boost if you interned there. So you don't think one would be significantly better positioned for the SLIP summer and post-grad Honors hiring if they do a 1L internship with the agency than if they do BigLaw 1L?

Is this affected by the fact that I already have significant connections to these agencies/

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:
thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
thesealocust wrote:OP here:

Interesting. I guess I assumed you would get a big boost if you interned there. So you don't think one would be significantly better positioned for the SLIP summer and post-grad Honors hiring if they do a 1L internship with the agency than if they do BigLaw 1L?

Is this affected by the fact that I already have significant connections to these agencies/


No, it definitely matters. I did SLIP. I suspect the person above does not have much experience with the DOJ. If you intern at the DOJ your 1L summer, you will have a much better shot at SLIP and it does have an influence on Honors Program hiring.

But with that said, see how you do in law school. The DOJ Honors Program requires very strong grades, so it's important to see how you do first.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:43 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Interesting. I guess I assumed you would get a big boost if you interned there.


That's probably not ever very true, and to the extent that it is, it's probably much more true for 2L summer than 1L summer. Even 2L summer a split would be prudent.

Note that for many elite government jobs, a tour of duty in big law is boon or all but mandatory prior to getting hired. Note also that for the truly elite government positions you will get hired after a clerkship, and by the time you've done all of the legwork to make that happen your grades, connections, and the judge you clerk for will totally eclipse whatever you did 1L summer.

As for your connections, that's far too amorphous for people on the internet to help you with. Just know that anti-nepotism / cronyism laws and regulations can make hiring at the federal level not nearly as wink/nudge as it can be in the private sector. That doesn't mean it won't help, but it's worth keeping in mind as you weigh various factors.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:58 am

thesealocust wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Interesting. I guess I assumed you would get a big boost if you interned there.


That's probably not ever very true, and to the extent that it is, it's probably much more true for 2L summer than 1L summer. Even 2L summer a split would be prudent.

Note that for many elite government jobs, a tour of duty in big law is boon or all but mandatory prior to getting hired. Note also that for the truly elite government positions you will get hired after a clerkship, and by the time you've done all of the legwork to make that happen your grades, connections, and the judge you clerk for will totally eclipse whatever you did 1L summer.


Yes, it's true you will probably need to clerk first. And if you decide to start in biglaw and then try to lateral much further down the road, what you need your 1L summer will stop mattering a whole lot.

But if you are hoping to start in the DOJ or in another government agency immediately after a clerkship, both summers will matter a lot. The DOJ and other agencies care far more than the private sector about commitment and interest, and being an intern is the best way to show that. I'd also add that if you make a very good impression on your supervisors, that can go a long way.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:03 pm

With respect to DoJ honors and similar hiring, plenty of people who intern fail to get full time job offers and plenty of people who get full time job offers never interned. I'm really not convinced that the connection is that strong, but unless one of us has data to trot out, I don't see this conversation getting much further.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:15 pm

thesealocust wrote:That's probably not ever very true, and to the extent that it is, it's probably much more true for 2L summer than 1L summer. Even 2L summer a split would be prudent.

Note that for many elite government jobs, a tour of duty in big law is boon or all but mandatory prior to getting hired. Note also that for the truly elite government positions you will get hired after a clerkship, and by the time you've done all of the legwork to make that happen your grades, connections, and the judge you clerk for will totally eclipse whatever you did 1L summer.

As for your connections, that's far too amorphous for people on the internet to help you with. Just know that anti-nepotism / cronyism laws and regulations can make hiring at the federal level not nearly as wink/nudge as it can be in the private sector. That doesn't mean it won't help, but it's worth keeping in mind as you weigh various factors.


Where are you getting the bolded from? Essentially all of the most elite government jobs (assuming you mean DOJ) will hire students straight out of DOJ Honors (Criminal, Civil, Tax etc.) and even those that hire less frequently from law school (SEC) still hire some law school grads every year, and love to hire from other government agencies that will hire you straight from law school (aforementioned DOJ etc.). They will also hire from JAG. Big law experience isn't really mandatory for anything. Almost no job is mandatory for another job.

One dangerous thing about this website is that a lot of people peddle this idea that there is only one route to anything (and oftentimes that route is biglaw). I think people should be a lot more careful about these absolute statements that they make. Particularly if they haven't had much interaction with the people or groups that they're commenting on.

For example, one thing that I constantly here on the site is how one must work biglaw (and usually the most prestigious at that) to work as an AUSA. This is so untrue that it's laughable, but because people repeat it over and over again on this site (particularly by those with high post counts) it's accepted as true. Posters should definitely take advantage of the site and ask questions, but they should also be careful about taking everything on here as gospel. Take the time to meet people in the fields that you are interested in, in person, especially older people, and ask about their experiences as well. You'll learn a lot that way.

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Re: DoJ/DHS/CIA: 1L Internship v. Honors v. BigLaw

Postby thesealocust » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:43 pm

I think we're talking past one another. For somebody who is equivocating about elite government positions and biglaw, the fact that it's somewhere between highly plausible and easy to follow the biglaw track and then lateral to government makes it, in my opinion, a rational choice for a number of reasons. Of course it's possible to do it another way. Of course AUSAs can get hired from other paths. But we're not talking about somebody who is dedicated to a public interest / government career and trying to figure out how to do it, we're talking about somebody with vague preferences. Then we have path A and path B, both wind up at some amorphous target of 'elite government lawyer stuff.' Path A involves piles of cash and is relatively straightforward. Path B involves a lot of working for free.

To each their own, but the reason I suggest looking into a firm track isn't because it's mandatory, it's because I really like getting paid, and solipsistically assume others do too.




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