White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

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White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:47 pm

I'll be doing OCI in the fall and am intersted in working in white collar criminal defense. I have a passion for criminal law; civil law, not so much.

I'm curious how associates are brought into white collar defense groups and how these groups tend to function. Do they consist mostly of lawyers who have had work experience in criminal law? How likely is it for a 1L associate to be placed into a white collar practice group? And finally, is it OK to express this as my number 1 field of interest during OCI interviews and not, say, doing corporate transactions or litigation? FWIW, I'm lookign at DC firms and am at median at HYS.

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Aston2412
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Aston2412 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:48 pm

This thread is relevant to my interests.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'll be doing OCI in the fall and am intersted in working in white collar criminal defense. I have a passion for criminal law; civil law, not so much.

I'm curious how associates are brought into white collar defense groups and how these groups tend to function. Do they consist mostly of lawyers who have had work experience in criminal law? How likely is it for a 1L associate to be placed into a white collar practice group? And finally, is it OK to express this as my number 1 field of interest during OCI interviews and not, say, doing corporate transactions or litigation? FWIW, I'm lookign at DC firms and am at median at HYS.

Thanks in advance.


It will still be litigation. So you can just say you are interested in litigating and are interested in white collar defense as well. A lot of white collar defense departments are really small inside law firms, though, so I might tell people that you are interested in litigation, particularly white collar defense. I don't know if you want to peg yourself as one dimensional, as you'll be doing what they give you probably and they'd want you to have flexibility I would imagine. If you say your main interest is in one of their smaller departments, that might turn them off. Just conjecture, though.

Not to mention at least to me, the work doesn't seem like traditional "criminal" work like you would do with a public defender or a prosecutor. The cases are mostly insurance fraud or money laundering or governmental regulation stuff, etc. So not traditional crimes, and maybe things that seem a bit more like civil law. As long as that's still what you're passionate about, go for it.

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GeePee
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby GeePee » Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:00 pm

White Collar Practices are far more common in NY, where there is, unsurprisingly, more potential for white collar crime. There are some exceptions to this -- DC, for example, probably has more cases that involve government contracts. The practice is very document-based; often, the issues turn on the level of proof that circumstantial transactions provide for an allegation of fraud, insider trading, or the like. Also, most of the time representation and investigation begins before formal charges have been pressed. As long as you're okay with document-heavy practice, my impression is that it's okay to express interest in this field as your #1 at OCI. I would qualify it, however, by saying that you're also interested in litigation more generally, but WCC appeals to you in particular due to X, Y, and Z.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby BruceWayne » Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:05 pm

GeePee wrote:White Collar Practices are far more common in NY, where there is, unsurprisingly, more potential for white collar crime. There are some exceptions to this -- DC, for example, probably has more cases that involve government contracts. The practice is very document-based; often, the issues turn on the level of proof that circumstantial transactions provide for an allegation of fraud, insider trading, or the like. Also, most of the time representation and investigation begins before formal charges have been pressed. As long as you're okay with document-heavy practice, my impression is that it's okay to express interest in this field as your #1 at OCI. I would qualify it, however, by saying that you're also interested in litigation more generally, but WCC appeals to you in particular due to X, Y, and Z.


D.C is pretty loaded with White Collar work too. I know that W&C, Covington, Hogan, Kirkland, Gibson, Latham, Sidley, and Baker Botts do a ton of it. With median at HYS and his interests OP should target Baker Botts DC.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby GeePee » Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:09 pm

BruceWayne wrote:
GeePee wrote:White Collar Practices are far more common in NY, where there is, unsurprisingly, more potential for white collar crime. There are some exceptions to this -- DC, for example, probably has more cases that involve government contracts. The practice is very document-based; often, the issues turn on the level of proof that circumstantial transactions provide for an allegation of fraud, insider trading, or the like. Also, most of the time representation and investigation begins before formal charges have been pressed. As long as you're okay with document-heavy practice, my impression is that it's okay to express interest in this field as your #1 at OCI. I would qualify it, however, by saying that you're also interested in litigation more generally, but WCC appeals to you in particular due to X, Y, and Z.


D.C is pretty loaded with White Collar work too. I know that W&C, Covington, Hogan, Kirkland, Gibson, Latham, Sidley, and Baker Botts do a ton of it.

The practice groups are generally smaller, though. I was more saying that so that OP would consider NY if he's interested in White Collar, rather than limiting himself to D.C. where the work is usually done by more selective firms with smaller practice groups. By no means should he give up on D.C. if he wants to be there.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:23 pm

Look at profiles of current white collar crime associates in some of the firms mentioned above in DC and NY. I don't know what this will reveal, but you may be able to figure out whether it seems feasible (e.g., there are some associates who are '08, '09, etc. grads v. everyone in the practice group is older/clerked/worked at USAO, etc.)

As mentioned above, my sense is that they tend to be smaller practice groups, which makes them tougher to break into early on.

I know a former U.S. Attorney who is now head of a white collar practice at a big firm, and from what I recall, many of the partners and associates in his group are former AUSAs.

If it were me, I would lead in with being interested in litigation, and not make too much of a thing of WCC on the off chance that it isn't really realistic, lest they think you will not stick around the firm.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I know a former U.S. Attorney who is now head of a white collar practice at a big firm, and from what I recall, many of the partners and associates in his group are former AUSAs.[/b]

If it were me, I would lead in with being interested in litigation, and not make too much of a thing of WCC on the off chance that it isn't really realistic, lest they think you will not stick around the firm.


This is TITCR. I also know a former AUSA who started in BigLaw lit generally, then went to the USAO, and now does White Collar Crime for a big firm. If white collar work is really your goal, you're a hazard to jump ship early, so tread carefully.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:41 pm

I am very interested in White Collar work too. I do not really have anything to contribute, but I would love if people could describe more of the practice of a white collar associate/attorney? I want to use it as a stepping stone to AUSA (don't worry, I know how difficult this is) and would also love to hear thoughts about this.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby thesealocust » Fri Jul 01, 2011 8:43 pm

White collar defends SOUNDS like defending a CEO in court from evil corruption charges.

The real practice in modern times has a lot to do with corporate internal investigations and certain regulatory regimes (foreign corrupt practices act is HUGE). Kind of a "buyer beware" thing - your "criminal law" may quickly turn into endless review of internal documents on investigations that never get made public.

Or you could be defending Clinton at his impeachment hearings. It definitely is a broader practice than you might intuit based on its title.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:06 pm

thesealocust wrote: Kind of a "buyer beware" thing - your "criminal law" may quickly turn into endless review of internal documents on investigations that never get made public.


Sure, but just like joining a litigation practice does not mean as a first year associate you will be running trials, similarly I do not expect to working on defending Clinton either. I was talking to a State deputy AG who works in white collar and he loves the prosecution side (chasing down the money as he puts it, combing through all these documents to piece together the facts, etc.). I understand as a biglaw lawyer and being on the defense things will be different, and the pace at which I get meaningful responsibility will be slow, but that does sound like something I am interested in right now. I figure firms will allow me some time to do some work before I have to commit, no? and do not associates, at least in some firms, work across sub-practice litigation groups to get broader exposure to this buyer-regret problem? It would be cool if there was some book or something from a white-collar lawyer's perspective or something, as I think you suggested in another thread exists for aspiring corporate lawyers.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:11 pm

Anon from above.

I've spoken with a couple of AUSAs who came over from doing white collar defense, and my impression was that the actual life of a white collar associate is a lot of internal records review/investigative work (as stated by above poster), doing a lot of internal interviews, summarizing internal documents, etc. to determine what type of case the DOJ/USAO could potentially establish.

In reality, it doesn't include that much actual litigation, since almost all white collar defense-type cases end up with a plea bargain/fine situation, oftentimes far in advance of any actual motion practice, let alone trial work. As indicated above, a lot of it also revolves around doing internal corporate investigations before there is actually even a case.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby seatown12 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:42 pm

If you really love crim law don't do this to yourself; stay strong and don't give in to the money.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Anon from above.

I've spoken with a couple of AUSAs who came over from doing white collar defense, and my impression was that the actual life of a white collar associate is a lot of internal records review/investigative work (as stated by above poster), doing a lot of internal interviews, summarizing internal documents, etc. to determine what type of case the DOJ/USAO could potentially establish.

In reality, it doesn't include that much actual litigation, since almost all white collar defense-type cases end up with a plea bargain/fine situation, oftentimes far in advance of any actual motion practice, let alone trial work. As indicated above, a lot of it also revolves around doing internal corporate investigations before there is actually even a case.


This. I'm an SA at a NY firm that is known for its white collar practice, and 80%+ of the work is internal investigations. Lots of large firms shy away from actual criminal defense because (1) the number of individual defendants that can pay big firm rates is tiny, and (2) even in cases where they can, there are collection problems (convicted defendants just refuse to pay, company refuses to cover legal costs of convicted executive, etc).

It bears mentioning, however, that this is a lot of what many AUSAs and DOJ attorneys do, especially in large cities. Sure, as a first or second year you'll do a bunch of smaller-fry drug trafficking cases, but at a more senior level, substantial manpower in places like SDNY or main justice is devoted to massive investigations (Enron, insider trading, etc).

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby keg411 » Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:14 pm

OP, if you're really interested in criminal law, but want big firm work, check out Wilentz in New Jersey. They are mostly know for their plaintiff side tort work, but I know they do some criminal defense as well. The only negative is that they haven't hired SA's for the past couple of years now and I don't know if they're bringing the program back at all (I do think they hire post-clerkship though).

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shepdawg
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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby shepdawg » Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:05 pm

From the informational interviews I've done, most guys have to start out in the DA's office, kick ass there to get the white collar crimes division. Then lateral into a defense firm to make the $$$.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Grizz » Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:10 pm

Echoing what people say about internal investigations. You may also get some qui tam/false claims stuff, which may have a criminal component.

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Re: White Collar Criminal Defense Practice

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:47 pm

keg411 wrote:OP, if you're really interested in criminal law, but want big firm work, check out Wilentz in New Jersey. They are mostly know for their plaintiff side tort work, but I know they do some criminal defense as well. The only negative is that they haven't hired SA's for the past couple of years now and I don't know if they're bringing the program back at all (I do think they hire post-clerkship though).


OP here. Thanks for the suggestion, keg, but given my interests I am limiting myself to DC.

Everyone else--thanks for your input. I learned quite a few things from your replies.




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