double clerk then DA

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Anonymous User
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double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:41 am

I'm class of '12. I will do a district court clerkship followed by a CoA. I'd like to become an ADA after the clerkships. For one, I'd like to stay in the public sector (hate firm hours). And for another, I like the idea of being a trial lawyer. I'm mostly doing the clerkships as a hedge (in case I want to rotate back into big law some day as an "Of Counsel"). Plus, I didn't do ADA work during the summers, so I'm not sure if there's a real way for me to break into that racket anymore.

What should step one be for my ADA-job search, during the fall of my CoA clerkship? My career advisor at school said the clerkships are totally irrelevant to ADA work. Both clerkships are in major cities (Manhattan/Los Angeles/Washington D.C./San Francisco).

I have no interest in AUSA. They don't get as much trial experience as ADAs.

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NinerFan
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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby NinerFan » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:51 am

Ah Career Services. They can't help those that are at the bottom of the class, they can't help those that are just "qualified" enough to shoot for big law, and they can't even help those who are over-qualified.

If I were you, I would find as many alumni as possible who work in this field and pose this question to them. Think of it as a dual networking and advice solicitation opportunity. I'm sure one of those people will have some wisdom they can share with you.

Cinderella
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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Cinderella » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:10 am

Yeahhhh...clerkships are meaningless for DA's offices. Did you work for any DA, ever? It will be an uphill battle if you didn't, and saying "I *think* I'd like trial work and I don't like working hard" aren't going to cut it. Not that you shouldn't try, but the best you can do is mass mail and hope to get some bites.

Have you considered the appellate division of a DA or AUSA? Their hours are about as sweet as you can get, and your clerkships will be a big boost.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:14 am

OP here. Let me say one thing. It's not purely that I don't like working hard. I love working hard. And I think I will happily work 40 hour weeks during off-weeks and 80-hour weeks during trial, which is what litigation in big law is like anyway. It's just that I won't get any personal or professional satisfaction out of "indexing" and "billing" my hours to a corporation. I'd rather be making a meaningful purposeful impact, conduct trials, live in an interesting environment, etc. About fifteen minutes of big law would bore me, give me no sense of meaning or purpose, and frankly - the people don't seem too affable.

I frankly made a grave error in calculating how much $160k means to me. It doesn't mean much given my projected lifestyle.

If I had to do law school all over again, I would have done a criminal clinic, journal, and internship.

Regretting it now.

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ggocat
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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby ggocat » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:What should step one be for my ADA-job search, during the fall of my CoA clerkship?

My two cents: Step 1 is probably to not wait that long before you start implementing your plan.

Try to do a DA internship this summer (doesn't need to be 5 days/week or 8 hours/day) while studying for the bar or during the month after you take the bar. I have a hard time believing they will turn you away.

Then, during your DC and COA clerkships, be sure to get your CLE by going to criminal and specifically DA-oriented events. Join the local section of the bar for criminal or specifically DA, and go to their local events (often sections have a recurring lunch presentation/etc. for CLE).

In most ADA jobs, you will need to work your way up from the bottom. Sometimes that means starting in municipal court doing traffic tickets (sometimes this work is contracted out). Make sure they know you are willing to put in your time.

Also make sure you don't just focus on the main county/district servicing your large metro area. You may have more luck in surrounding counties/districts. Talk with criminal lawyers (both ADA and defense) at lunches/CLEs to get a good idea of what offices are good to work for. Your enjoyment of the job may depend on the leadership in the office.

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patrickd139
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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby patrickd139 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:46 am

Is it so tight that a double Art. III clerk (including COA) has trouble getting a job as an ADA?!

OP: I think you'll be fine. Start networking to the extent that you can while clerking, ready your resume, concentrate your interviews on desire to get trial experience and how clerking has helped you develop the requisite skills, ??? and PROFIT (but not monetarily because ADAs don't make money).

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Cinderella » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:02 pm

patrickd139 wrote:Is it so tight that a double Art. III clerk (including COA) has trouble getting a job as an ADA?!


Yes.

patrickd139 wrote:OP: I think you'll be fine.


No.

patrickd139 wrote:Start networking to the extent that you can while clerking, ready your resume, concentrate your interviews on desire to get trial experience and how clerking has helped you develop the requisite skills, ??? and PROFIT (but not monetarily because ADAs don't make money).


Internship interviews are where you sell your desire to get trial experience, not job interviews. Stop giving advice about something you know nothing about. OP needs serious help.

ggcat is right, you need to immediately start developing a resume that will prove you have a serious interest in prosecution. These are no longer jobs people back into. Can you get an externship now? Like, this semester? It doesn't have to be for credit.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:24 am

i'm interested in this, too. i'm doing a dct clerkship (2 years) starting in fall. would like to be an ADA, maybe AUSA someday. will it really be that hard for me to get a job?
also, will having a gig at the PD's office my 1L summer be a negative when interviewing for ADA positions?

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:17 am

I really feel like d.ct + COA clerk -> ADA is not as difficult as a lot of people here are making it seem. Sure you'll have to network, but it's kind of tough to justify not hiring a brilliant person genuinely interested in government work...

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:59 am

Anonymous User wrote:i'm interested in this, too. i'm doing a dct clerkship (2 years) starting in fall. would like to be an ADA, maybe AUSA someday. will it really be that hard for me to get a job?
also, will having a gig at the PD's office my 1L summer be a negative when interviewing for ADA positions?


if you work hard networking, I dont think its going to be too tough becoming an ADA, and the PD gig will not matter one bit

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Cinderella » Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I really feel like d.ct + COA clerk -> ADA is not as difficult as a lot of people here are making it seem. Sure you'll have to network, but it's kind of tough to justify not hiring a brilliant person genuinely interested in government work...


The problem isn't the clerkships; it's the lack of relevant work experience. OP might even be more competitive for an AUSA job than an ADA (which, I know, is hard to fathom). DAs seriously just don't care about clerkships - ADAs hardly ever write, or research, or cite check. DAs care about demonstrated commitment to the work and public speaking experience. A DA will put enormous resources into training new lawyers, and they want to hire people who know what they're getting into. Federal courts, especially CoA’s, could not be more different from state trial courts, and a DA would be seriously concerned that a year into the job, OP will decide he’s too intellectual for the work and leave.

Consider also who OP will be competing against: ADA’s who’ve been laid off, attorneys who have civil trial experience, and people who HAVE interned with a DA before (many of whom will have carried their own case loads).

OP has a ton of great career options. ADA just might not be one of them.

Edit for grammar
Last edited by Cinderella on Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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patrickd139
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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby patrickd139 » Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:29 pm

Cinderella wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I really feel like d.ct + COA clerk -> ADA is not as difficult as a lot of people here are making it seem. Sure you'll have to network, but it's kind of tough to justify not hiring a brilliant person genuinely interested in government work...


The problem isn't the clerkships; it's the lack of relevant work experience. OP might even be more competitive for an AUSA job than an ADA

LOLOL. I stopped reading right there.

Cinderella: What authority do you have to support this? (Serious question, no snark.)

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby 2LLLL » Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:51 pm


The problem isn't the clerkships; it's the lack of relevant work experience. OP might even be more competitive for an AUSA job than an ADA (which, I know, is hard to fathom). DAs seriously just don't care about clerkships - ADAs hardly ever write, or research, or cite check. DAs care about demonstrated commitment to the work and public speaking experience. A DA will put enormous resources into training new lawyers, and they want to hire people who know what their getting into. Federal courts, especially CoA’s, could not be more different from state trial courts, and a DA would be seriously concerned that a year into the job, OP will decide he’s too intellectual for the work and leave.

Consider also who OP will be competing against: ADA’s who’ve been laid off, attorneys who have civil trial experience, and people who HAVE interned with a DA before (many of whom will have carried their own case loads).

OP has a ton of great career options. ADA just might not be one of them.



You realize that criminal defendants appeal after they lose right? And that the State/Commonwealth appeals where it can as well? I'd venture that the dockets of most appellate courts are predominantly composed of criminal cases. Do you think that those appeals require no writing or research? OP would seem like a great candidate for a position with an DA's appellate division

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Cinderella » Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:54 pm

2LLLL wrote:

The problem isn't the clerkships; it's the lack of relevant work experience. OP might even be more competitive for an AUSA job than an ADA (which, I know, is hard to fathom). DAs seriously just don't care about clerkships - ADAs hardly ever write, or research, or cite check. DAs care about demonstrated commitment to the work and public speaking experience. A DA will put enormous resources into training new lawyers, and they want to hire people who know what their getting into. Federal courts, especially CoA’s, could not be more different from state trial courts, and a DA would be seriously concerned that a year into the job, OP will decide he’s too intellectual for the work and leave.

Consider also who OP will be competing against: ADA’s who’ve been laid off, attorneys who have civil trial experience, and people who HAVE interned with a DA before (many of whom will have carried their own case loads).

OP has a ton of great career options. ADA just might not be one of them.



You realize that criminal defendants appeal after they lose right? And that the State/Commonwealth appeals where it can as well? I'd venture that the dockets of most appellate courts are predominantly composed of criminal cases. Do you think that those appeals require no writing or research? OP would seem like a great candidate for a position with an DA's appellate division


No doubt. But hiring for appellate divisions is different than hiring for trial divisions - different credentials required, different background required, etc. OP would be extremely competitive for appellate division, which I've already pointed out.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Cinderella » Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:11 pm

patrickd139 wrote:
Cinderella wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I really feel like d.ct + COA clerk -> ADA is not as difficult as a lot of people here are making it seem. Sure you'll have to network, but it's kind of tough to justify not hiring a brilliant person genuinely interested in government work...


The problem isn't the clerkships; it's the lack of relevant work experience. OP might even be more competitive for an AUSA job than an ADA

LOLOL. I stopped reading right there.

Cinderella: What authority do you have to support this? (Serious question, no snark.)


Internships with USAO, state DA, and state PD. Personal discussions with hiring lawyers in these offices, along with discussions with many others in this line of work (obviously). I've seen people get hired as AUSAs straight after clerkships - clerking in a district court gives one a good deal of experience that is highly relevant to AUSA work. AUSAs research and write a ton. But knowing the federal sentencing guidelines isn't relevant to state criminal law. I haven't heard of someone getting hired ITE, relatively straight out of law school, for a state DA/PD job without some kind of background in it.

This is not to say it’s not possible. OP's situation is very rare, and no one can say for sure what will happen. Maybe someone would be impressed enough to take a shot. I’m trying to explain why not doing something right now is a big, big risk if OP really wants to be an ADA in 2 years. Assuming that these clerkships are going to cut it would be a mistake.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:28 pm

Cinderella wrote:No doubt. But hiring for appellate divisions is different than hiring for trial divisions - different credentials required, different background required, etc. OP would be extremely competitive for appellate division, which I've already pointed out.

Not to mention that there is competition in appellate hiring from women who work in DA's offices already. It is commonly a "mommy track" division.

Clerking is one way to get a ADA job, but OP needs to think of how, while clerking, (s)he can start demonstrating commitment to it. They really care most that you legitimately want to prosecute and you need to be able to demonstrate the interest that you have.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:57 pm

Cinderella wrote: I haven't heard of someone getting hired ITE, relatively straight out of law school, for a state DA/PD job without some kind of background in it.


I was hired straight out of law school by a big city DA's office with zero experience/internships relating to the position.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby patrickd139 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Cinderella wrote: I haven't heard of someone getting hired ITE, relatively straight out of law school, for a state DA/PD job without some kind of background in it.


I was hired straight out of law school by a big city DA's office with zero experience/internships relating to the position.

And I can think of several others who have had the same success, including one who clerked a the district level and another from the 5th Circuit. None of them had interned during law school.

I'm not sure I've ever seen someone underestimate the value of a federal clerkship to such an extreme extent.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:33 am

In the Manhattan DA thread, several people have mentioned that law review and quality of law school are increasingly becoming important hiring factors, both of which have nothing to do with an applicant's court room abilities or previous DA office experience. Clearly a A.III clerkship is a big plus.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby 20160810 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:56 am

Granted DA jobs are outside of my wheelhouse, but I fail to see how someone with 2 good AIII clerkships (and the school/grades to get those clerkships) wouldn't be competitive for an ADA position. I know people who are median at T30 schools who have ADA gigs lined up for next year. Someone with top grades from a top school and two top clerkships is going to be well-positioned, relative to the rest of the applicant pool.

OP, your main challenge is probably going to be formulating a compelling answer to the number one question I imagine you're going to get in ADA interviews, which will probably be some variant of "Why do you want to do this and not biglaw?"

Did you get no-offered by your firm after 2L summer? If so, that could make things tougher for you by creating the impression that you suddenly developed an interest in prosecution after biglaw stopped being an option. I don't imagine this will be fatal, but it'll be something you have to practice explaining.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Cinderella » Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:39 am

Dear lord. Fine. OP - you'll do great! Just send out apps during the fall of your second clerkship. DAs will be falling all over themeselves to hire you!

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby BruceWayne » Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:15 am

It's obvious that outside of Cinderalla and the Stop sign guy a lot of people really don't understand how ADA hiring works. It is NOTHING like Biglaw/AUSA hiring, which is the model that many of you are trying to force on it (OMG high grades and prestigious clerkship!! What else could matter?!) They care MUCH more about demonstrated interest (clinics, criminal coursework, volunteer internships at DA's offices, connections to the city, mock trial).

That being said, I actually met someone who was in a similar situation as the OP who landed one of the big market DA's offices. But they did work at DOJ Civil for SLIP. Still that's not ADA experience either. They landed a dist court clerkship and started at the big city DA later.

The irony of the OP's situation is that they will do better at an office like the Manhattan DA because those offices are starting to care more about landing people with strong paper credentials. If I were OP I would make the Manhattan DA my number one target and also apply to Philly. Still you should try to make some effort to volunteer at a local DA's office if this is what you want.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby patrickd139 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:37 pm

I don't think anyone here is trying to superimpose biglaw/AUSA hiring standards on anything, but to say that an AIII clerkship would somehow work to OP's DISadvantage is ludacris in my opinion.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:57 pm

OP here. Attended a conference recently where I talked to a couple of AUSAs in a high-profile district. Here were my takeaways:

ADA's have a bad rep for being shoot-from-the-hip hacks. It wouldn't be a good investment of my time to work/volunteer as an ADA because it wouldn't be very good trial training. They shoot fish in a barrel against opposing counsel who are generally not that good. Trial law isn't simply about getting reps - it is about being faced with an incredibly strong opposing trial counsel and meeting them at their level. This is why AUSA is so good. You get to do a couple of trials a year if you're lucky - but that's a ton more than whatever you'll get in big law. But more importantly, you go up against big law partners who were former AUSAs and who know how to try cases. And the cases you try as AUSA, at least after you're done with the low-level stuff your first year, are big complicated cases.

ADAs do very little research/writing, and it is essentially a dead-end career which doesn't allow you to rotate back into civil litigation. DO NOT do ADA work for trial experience - it is not the type that is useful for big law. And DO NOT do ADA work with any expectation of "rotating back" into big law. The type of slapdash trials at the local prosecutor's office do not resemble the type of trials conducted by AUSAs - which are closer to what happens in civil litigation.

One AUSA who worked in big law for a few years said that there was a marked difference between the skills he brought to cases than former ADAs - who were simply not equipped to "manage" cases. This "case management"/"quarterbacking" aspect seems significantly more important than courtroom time, which ADAs have plenty of.

How this applies to me? Not sure. I don't want to work in a big law firm. I don't much care if my eventual profession is looked at as a "hack" by anybody. But I don't want to do "exclusively" slapdash trial work in slam-dunk cases. So, I'm even less sure of where to take my career at this point. Maybe I'll just quit law altogether and start a dunkin donuts and cross-examine the customers.

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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Cinderella » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:32 pm

patrickd139 wrote:I don't think anyone here is trying to superimpose biglaw/AUSA hiring standards on anything, but to say that an AIII clerkship would somehow work to OP's DISadvantage is ludacris in my opinion.


No one is saying it's a disadvantage. I'm saying it's not an ADvantage - not anywhere close to the extent that it would be in other contexts, at least.




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