double clerk then DA

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Cinderella
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:04 pm

Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Cinderella » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote: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.


A couple of things: the "quality" of trials and opposing counsel at the state level is very jurisdiction-dependent. In many places this is true; in places with really good public defense organizations, you'd be going up against HYS grads who turned down biglaw/clerkships. It also depends heavily on the level of the charge. After a few years, if you're prosecuting felony murders and such, you can expect to compete against really high-quality, experienced defense attorneys.

Also, volunteering isn't to get good at trials, it's to get a line on your resume you can point to as a demonstration of your commitment, and to have something to talk about in your interviews.

ETA: LOL at biglaw partners trying a criminal case (as defense attorneys).
Last edited by Cinderella on Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Cinderella
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:04 pm

Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Cinderella » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote: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.


Uh, no they haven't; they're just throwing out stats. Law review is about as irrelevant for ADA jobs (with the caveat of a handful of big city DAs) as a clerkship is, and there are plenty of other posts on this site to confirm this. Many DAs have a GPA floor below which they won't dip, but it's a relatively low floor and having an insane GPA isn't that big of a boost (again, with the caveat of a handful of big city DAs).

target
Posts: 688
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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby target » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:25 pm

To OP's long post:

I don't know about all ADA offices, but, from my limited knowledge of a few offices that I know, there are a few opposite facts
-Contrary to what you said that ADAs often face so-so counsel, ADAs often have to face seasoned PDs.
-Depend on the structure of the office, ADAs that are responsible for a case from a beginning to an end do good amount of research and writing
-Not all ADAs focus on crim works. Again, depend on where you look at, but ADAs can take on civil cases, environmental law cases, and IP law (for places like Santa Clara county).

My points:
-I don't think working for a DA office limits one's option as much, not that it doesn't limit one's option somewhat.
-I am sure you have a very wide network already, so keep talking to people and find out what you find out.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:00 pm

Cinderella wrote:ETA: LOL at biglaw partners trying a criminal case (as defense attorneys).


Most, if not all, major federal prosecutions involving white collar crime are first-chaired on the defense by big law partners. These big law partners are trying criminal cases as defense attorneys. They do this for a living.

http://www.maglaw.com/index
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http://www.jenner.com/practices/144
http://www.irell.com/practices-34.html
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Cinderella
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:04 pm

Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Cinderella » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Cinderella wrote:ETA: LOL at biglaw partners trying a criminal case (as defense attorneys).


Most, if not all, major federal prosecutions involving white collar crime are first-chaired on the defense by big law partners. These big law partners are trying criminal cases as defense attorneys. They do this for a living.

http://www.maglaw.com/index
--LinkRemoved--
http://www.jenner.com/practices/144
http://www.irell.com/practices-34.html
--LinkRemoved--


This is from a blog by Brian Tannebaum, President of the Florida Association of Bar Defense Lawyers and immediate Past President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers:

"'White collar' lawyers are either criminal defense lawyers who work in big firms and never go to court but their firms want the big corporations to retain them for 'criminal' type work such as grand jury subpoenas, or they are lawyers who mainly handle fraud cases. 'White collar' is generally a moniker that criminal defense lawyers use when they don’t want people to think they represent criminals. Look on any big firm website and you’ll see 'white collar.' Sometimes they add 'corporate investigations.' Those lawyers are not the ones to call at 2 am, they’ll readily admit that."

In all seriousness, I know biglaw partners who do nothing but white collar crime. They're typically former federal prosecutors who maintained their own private practice before joining the firm. They're basic association with the firm is renting space and getting a profile on the website. These types are extremely rare, and they try cases less than once in a blue moon

rad lulz
Posts: 9844
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:53 pm

Re: double clerk then DA

Postby rad lulz » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:17 pm

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Last edited by rad lulz on Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: double clerk then DA

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:39 pm

I think this thread involves confusing a job that is hard to get based on qualifications, see. e.g. federal appellate clerkship, versus jobs that are hard to get because the hiring entity has no money. PD/DA didn't all of a sudden become "hard to get" - the hiring offices went broke. That's what happened.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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BruceWayne
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Re: double clerk then DA

Postby BruceWayne » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think this thread involves confusing a job that is hard to get based on qualifications, see. e.g. federal appellate clerkship, versus jobs that are hard to get because the hiring entity has no money. PD/DA didn't all of a sudden become "hard to get" - the hiring offices went broke. That's what happened.




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