Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

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Anonymous User
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Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:13 pm

Hello, I have a (second) interview with a Staff Attorney's Office for a major circuit in a big city. I know what staff attorney's do generally, and I am not exactly thrilled with the work, although I know I can do it, and do it well. The position also pays relatively well for a starting position. However, I am VERY concerned with my "exit options" after the 2 year term is up...

Does anyone know where former Staff Attorneys end up, and if it leads to anything like biglaw/ bigGov?

I have heard that these positions have gotten very very competitive ITE, and that they may lead to clerkships later on. I don't want to clerk after a 2 yr stint at the SAO, so that is not what I am looking for. Ideally, I would like to do appellate litigation or the like...

Thank you in advance!

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dood
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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby dood » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:38 pm

it won't open the doors u want. enjoy $60K working 9-5 and easy (but mindless) work dismissing pro se prisoner appeals every possible way besides on the merits (any substantive work is reserved for clerks)

Danteshek
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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Danteshek » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:46 pm

I know a partner at Horvitz & Levy who was a staff attorney for the 9th Circuit... To the extent you get to know judges, I think it can be useful.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby JusticeJackson » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:49 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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dood
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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby dood » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:54 pm

Danteshek wrote:I know a partner at Horvitz & Levy who was a staff attorney for the 9th Circuit... To the extent you get to know judges, I think it can be useful.


a 30 lawyer firm in the valley is supposed to impress?

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 04, 2011 11:36 pm

A few alums of my school did the Staff Attorney -> personal COA law clerk route, so it's not entirely unfeasible. No idea what the exit options are after that, though I assume they get better?

Danteshek
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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Danteshek » Wed Oct 05, 2011 1:05 am

dood wrote:
Danteshek wrote:I know a partner at Horvitz & Levy who was a staff attorney for the 9th Circuit... To the extent you get to know judges, I think it can be useful.


a 30 lawyer firm in the valley is supposed to impress?


You obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 05, 2011 8:28 am

OP here: If my options are no job and SAO, I'm doing SAO, of course. I'm a little worried as to where this may lead me. Again, I would not want a clerkship after this, unless I had no other options. I have heard of some SAs going to DA/PD offices afterwards as in appeals, but I don't have too much evidence of that. There seems to be a lot of mixed messages online about the value of this job, etc.

Thanks for the input, any more info would be appreciated :mrgreen:

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 05, 2011 8:37 am

If it's the best you have, then exit options are less important. I doubt most firms would be interested in the experience the way they might an elbow clerk, but if you have interest in PI, that might be more valuable. Try the appeals section of local legal aid (if in a major city), a DAs office or municipal law department, a PD department, etc. All of those are likely to be fine with the experience, though it won't be sufficient by any means so if you can get a term-time internship at one as well or work with past experience, that'd be better.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby 03121202698008 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:07 am

Danteshek wrote:I know a partner at Horvitz & Levy who was a staff attorney for the 9th Circuit... To the extent you get to know judges, I think it can be useful.


Eh, from my observations over the summer...staff attorneys have little to no interaction/access to judges. They do light briefs in habeas cases but then hand off to the clerks who actually brief the judge. They only time i ever saw them was when I walked stuff from a clerk down to them.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby lolwat » Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here: If my options are no job and SAO, I'm doing SAO, of course. I'm a little worried as to where this may lead me. Again, I would not want a clerkship after this, unless I had no other options. I have heard of some SAs going to DA/PD offices afterwards as in appeals, but I don't have too much evidence of that. There seems to be a lot of mixed messages online about the value of this job, etc.


Why don't you want to clerk? I'm not knocking that decision, but I'd urge you to reconsider unless you had a reason other than that it's another year of relatively low federal pay. It's just another year, and it significantly increases your exit options (both immediately and for the rest of your career), which is what you're worried about.

Eh, from my observations over the summer...staff attorneys have little to no interaction/access to judges. They do light briefs in habeas cases but then hand off to the clerks who actually brief the judge. They only time i ever saw them was when I walked stuff from a clerk down to them.


When I interviewed at the 4th Cir. for the position, I think they said that they brief the judges on the cases that they work on. It's usually over conference calls, which is probably the bad part; there's no face time with judges, you just talk to a machine. :( But, they basically run through each case and tell them what the recommendations are. This was a while ago (about a year) so I'm basing this off memory, though.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby 03121202698008 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:52 am

lolwat wrote:
When I interviewed at the 4th Cir. for the position, I think they said that they brief the judges on the cases that they work on. It's usually over conference calls, which is probably the bad part; there's no face time with judges, you just talk to a machine. :( But, they basically run through each case and tell them what the recommendations are. This was a while ago (about a year) so I'm basing this off memory, though.


It seemed like they briefed the judge but by written brief not conference call... If the judge had questions the clerks at as a liaison. Even if a conference call, I still don't see it being great bonding. The relationships seemed to be built by give-and-take, arguments over lunch about what just happened, etc.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby lolwat » Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:31 pm

blowhard wrote:It seemed like they briefed the judge but by written brief not conference call... If the judge had questions the clerks at as a liaison. Even if a conference call, I still don't see it being great bonding. The relationships seemed to be built by give-and-take, arguments over lunch about what just happened, etc.


IIRC, they did both--I remember very specifically that they mentioned conference calls with panels of judges (either before or after the memos). You're very right about the rest, though. It's definitely not great bonding at all. But it could be something.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:57 pm

OP here: Thanks for the replies thus far. There seems to be very little information about where SAs go to afterwards. I searched linkedin and stuff and only found some random gov agencies, DAs, some firms, etc. There seems to be no general rule or path. Kinda strange

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:23 pm

On the 9th Cir, they give oral presentations to the judges -- so there is face time. Also, I think 9th Cir staff attorneys have 5-year gigs.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:26 pm

I mean, SAs must go somewhere after they leave the job. I am assuming they are not soloing.

Perhaps they just join midlaw?

MrAnon
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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby MrAnon » Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I mean, SAs must go somewhere after they leave the job. I am assuming they are not soloing.

Perhaps they just join midlaw?


You hope they do. I think the fair answer is that nobody really knows. I've never heard of one in biglaw so chances there look slim. Like someone said above, if this is the job you are looking at then you are not in a position to be choosy. If you want to start your career then keep pounding the pavement until you find a firm job. If you want to delay starting your career then take this job.

JusticeJackson
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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby JusticeJackson » Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:32 am

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:26 pm

SAO procedures vary quite a bit by circuit, and you'd be wise to inquire about what interaction you would have with judges at the interview. Some circuits have very little interaction, b/c SAs prepare memos that go out to panels, while other circuits (e.g., the 9th) have extensive interaction, b/c SAs orally present to the judges. Usually the work load is manageable, and it tends to be a 9-5 type gig. The types of cases you work on also vary by circuit. The 9th and 2nd have very heavy immigration dockets. In every circuit, there will be a lot of prisoner cases, and other pro se cases. There is also a lot of habeas and some direct criminal appeals (usually Anders cases).

Also, the 9th Cir. SAO only hires attorneys with 2 years of experience.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 02, 2013 1:46 am

I had an offer for a staff attorney position in the 2d Cir from Dec. It was rescinded 2 weeks ago due to sequester cuts.

Citizen Genet
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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Citizen Genet » Thu May 02, 2013 8:03 am

dood wrote:
Danteshek wrote:I know a partner at Horvitz & Levy who was a staff attorney for the 9th Circuit... To the extent you get to know judges, I think it can be useful.


a 30 lawyer firm in the valley is supposed to impress?


It impresses Chambers. http://www.chambersandpartners.com/USA/ ... 7238-70555

Pretty much anyone who is in nation-wide appellate practice or California BigLaw knows Horvitz & Levy. They're routinely recognized as the best appellate-only boutique out there.

Anonymous User
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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 02, 2013 9:40 am

It depens on the market. I know one who worked at Winston after.

Anonymous User
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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 02, 2013 10:16 am

Anonymous User wrote:I had an offer for a staff attorney position in the 2d Cir from Dec. It was rescinded 2 weeks ago due to sequester cuts.


how did they let you know?

Agent
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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby Agent » Thu May 02, 2013 2:34 pm

+1

Danteshek wrote:
a 30 lawyer firm in the valley is supposed to impress?

You obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

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Re: Staff Attorney for a US Circuit Court

Postby westbayguy » Thu May 02, 2013 3:53 pm

Citizen Genet wrote:
dood wrote:
Danteshek wrote:I know a partner at Horvitz & Levy who was a staff attorney for the 9th Circuit... To the extent you get to know judges, I think it can be useful.


a 30 lawyer firm in the valley is supposed to impress?


It impresses Chambers. http://www.chambersandpartners.com/USA/ ... 7238-70555

Pretty much anyone who is in nation-wide appellate practice or California BigLaw knows Horvitz & Levy. They're routinely recognized as the best appellate-only boutique out there.

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