Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

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Bon Scott
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Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Bon Scott » Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:46 pm

Have an interest in prosecution and/or gov. work (Law Departments, etc.). Just wanted to see what the general consensus here was if you work for 3-5 years at these jobs if you transition to mid-law/boutique/maybe Biglaw at some point or are you pigeonholed in the public sector forever? I know the reverse happens quite often, but wanted to see if there was anyone out there who had success from this perspective.

anon168
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby anon168 » Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:54 pm

Bon Scott wrote:Have an interest in prosecution and/or gov. work (Law Departments, etc.). Just wanted to see what the general consensus here was if you work for 3-5 years at these jobs if you transition to mid-law/boutique/maybe Biglaw at some point or are you pigeonholed in the public sector forever? I know the reverse happens quite often, but wanted to see if there was anyone out there who had success from this perspective.


It depends.

You can lateral from an AG or USAO gig to a law firm easily enough, and many do it.

If you work as an attorney in the OC or IG of a federal agency, it might be a more difficult unless you are in an area that involves lots of regulatory work -- e.g. FTC or EPA.

Without more concrete examples from you, it's hard to give you a more definitive answer.

Bon Scott
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Bon Scott » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:03 am

I'm familiar with the USAO and other federal agencies, but was thinking more along the lines of local DA's offices and law departments (I'm guessing the most prominent is NYC or other large city equivalents) where you will get up front litigation experience. Could you lateral into a white collar defense practice of local mid/big firm Y for instance or commercial litigation/appellate work from a litigation background on the law department side?

anon168
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby anon168 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:08 am

Bon Scott wrote:I'm familiar with the USAO and other federal agencies, but was thinking more along the lines of local DA's offices and law departments (I'm guessing the most prominent is NYC or other large city equivalents) where you will get up front litigation experience. Could you lateral into a white collar defense practice of local mid/big firm Y for instance or commercial litigation/appellate work from a litigation background on the law department side?


Hard to do with a DA background. Very rare, but not impossible. Most biglaw firms generally look askance at DA types.

What do you mean by "law departments"?

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:14 am

Sorry for being unclear and the anonymous post by accident. I was referring to city law departments that usually handle the vast majority of its litigation across a wide spectrum of areas from torts to appeals usually in both state and federal courts. I was aware of the DA shelf-life of 3-5 years before being branded a career prosecutor. I thought though that there was some back and forth to the defense side.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

anon168
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby anon168 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:19 am

Anonymous User wrote:Sorry for being unclear. I was referring to city law departments that usually handle the vast majority of its litigation across a wide spectrum of areas from torts to appeals usually in both state and federal courts. I was aware of the DA shelf-life of 3-5 years before being branded a career prosecutor. I thought though that there was some back and forth to the defense side.


It's not the 3-5 years tenure at the DA office that blackballs you for most biglaw firms, it's just the fact of being at the DAs.

Working at local city or municipal law dept, from what I've seen, has almost less appeal to biglaw firms than your typical DAO.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:26 am

anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Sorry for being unclear. I was referring to city law departments that usually handle the vast majority of its litigation across a wide spectrum of areas from torts to appeals usually in both state and federal courts. I was aware of the DA shelf-life of 3-5 years before being branded a career prosecutor. I thought though that there was some back and forth to the defense side.


It's not the 3-5 years tenure at the DA office that blackballs you for most biglaw firms, it's just the fact of being at the DAs.

Working at local city or municipal law dept, from what I've seen, has almost less appeal to biglaw firms than your typical DAO.


Not the op, and agree with anon that your local municipal law department probably won't cut it. I don't know anything about the NYC Law Department, but it might carry more weight in New York if it's particularly reputable and you litigate heavily in federal and state court.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:05 am

Meh, I met an associate at a CB last year who went 2-year PI at a nonprofit (albeit with a Skadden fellowship) --> Art. III Clerkship ---> Biglaw, and there's a partner at my firm who used to be an ADA, a partner who used to be WH Counsel, etc. Not saying these are traditional career paths (and these 3 people all went to HYSCCN), but it's not a total pipe dream.

Myself
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.

Postby Myself » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:04 pm

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Last edited by Myself on Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

get it to x
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby get it to x » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:17 pm

ajax adonis wrote:What's with the BigLaw hate on DA? Can you explain what goes through hiring people's mind when they see it on a resume?


Don't know if this is BigLaw focused or just a general knock against DA offices, but there's a stigma that you don't know how to write. You spend the majority of your time going to court, trial, etc., but your motion practice is pretty much using canned templates and changing names since you're seeing the same issues over and over again and most DA offices want their responses to be uniform. That's why there's an emphasis to ask for appeals work or be placed in the Appeals Division to avoid losing marketability.

But generally, I don't get the aversion to drawing attorneys from DA offices or Law Departments other than the prestige/snob factor. Plus it would make actually make sense - a third-year ADA is light-years ahead in trial practice than a firm equivalent.
Last edited by get it to x on Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:33 pm

Am I understanding this correctly, working or interning in the state capitol at the state’s AG office is somehow not beneficial.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:43 pm

there's a stigma that you don't know how to write


It's not a myth. I worked at a state AG office for 3-4 years. It drew from both the mid-to-big firms and from the DA offices. I worked with dozens of current and former DAs and city attorneys. None of them -- literally not a one -- could write as well as your average biglaw-trained litigator. Though they were all much better in court.

Also, be careful about going to a DA's office and thinking you'll get some time in appeals. In a lot of states, the AGs take over when criminal matters get appealed on the traditional track (state trial court -> state intermediate appellate court). The appeals that the DA's keep tend to be the really crappy misdemeanor appeals (which usually go from the criminal equivalent of small claims court to the state trial court) and odd matters that bypass the traditional track for whatever reason.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:54 pm

Am I understanding this correctly, working or interning in the state capitol at the state’s AG office is somehow not beneficial.


Can't speak to interning, but with respect to working, it depends. What are you trying to do with the experience? Go biglaw? Probably not super beneficial with the exception of a few high profile positions -- SG, ASG, whomever is representing the main public officials (Governor, Lt. Gov, SOS, Treasurer) -- that you'll need elite biglaw credentials to get in the first place and a few regulatory fields like state tax or insurance that are underserved at the biglaw level (likely because they're deadly boring).

On the other hand, the state AG is probably a good route to federal employment, which pays better and is more prestigious (though the general consensus is that the work isn't as good). It's probably good if you want to try to be a judge. It's not bad for academia, assuming that (1) you get meaningful experience in your field and (2) otherwise have the school/grades/clerkship/publication credentials.

(It's also generally a fun job in its own right, though most states pay notoriously bad. Though most AGs are pensioned, so if you can survive 35 years of being underpaid. you can retire in style at 60.)

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
there's a stigma that you don't know how to write


It's not a myth. I worked at a state AG office for 3-4 years. It drew from both the mid-to-big firms and from the DA offices. I worked with dozens of current and former DAs and city attorneys. None of them -- literally not a one -- could write as well as your average biglaw-trained litigator. Though they were all much better in court.

Also, be careful about going to a DA's office and thinking you'll get some time in appeals. In a lot of states, the AGs take over when criminal matters get appealed on the traditional track (state trial court -> state intermediate appellate court). The appeals that the DA's keep tend to be the really crappy misdemeanor appeals (which usually go from the criminal equivalent of small claims court to the state trial court) and odd matters that bypass the traditional track for whatever reason.


Would the same hold true for the NYC Law Department?

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:08 pm

get it to x wrote:
ajax adonis wrote:What's with the BigLaw hate on DA? Can you explain what goes through hiring people's mind when they see it on a resume?


Don't know if this is BigLaw focused or just a general knock against DA offices, but there's a stigma that you don't know how to write. You spend the majority of your time going to court, trial, etc., but your motion practice is pretty much using canned templates and changing names since you're seeing the same issues over and over again and most DA offices want their responses to be uniform. That's why there's an emphasis to ask for appeals work or be placed in the Appeals Division to avoid losing marketability.

But generally, I don't get the aversion to drawing attorneys from DA offices or Law Departments other than the prestige/snob factor. Plus it would make actually make sense - a third-year ADA is light-years ahead in trial practice than a firm equivalent.

So being in the appeals division makes a difference? I have stats that would make me BigLaw-eligible normally, but I really like the idea of DA work. I have a final-round interview for the appeals division of a major-city DA's office; if I end up there, is BigLaw more of a possibility if I decide that I enjoy money more than free time at some point in my future?

get it to x
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby get it to x » Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
get it to x wrote:
ajax adonis wrote:What's with the BigLaw hate on DA? Can you explain what goes through hiring people's mind when they see it on a resume?


Don't know if this is BigLaw focused or just a general knock against DA offices, but there's a stigma that you don't know how to write. You spend the majority of your time going to court, trial, etc., but your motion practice is pretty much using canned templates and changing names since you're seeing the same issues over and over again and most DA offices want their responses to be uniform. That's why there's an emphasis to ask for appeals work or be placed in the Appeals Division to avoid losing marketability.

But generally, I don't get the aversion to drawing attorneys from DA offices or Law Departments other than the prestige/snob factor. Plus it would make actually make sense - a third-year ADA is light-years ahead in trial practice than a firm equivalent.

So being in the appeals division makes a difference? I have stats that would make me BigLaw-eligible normally, but I really like the idea of DA work. I have a final-round interview for the appeals division of a major-city DA's office; if I end up there, is BigLaw more of a possibility if I decide that I enjoy money more than free time at some point in my future?


My reaction is that it will keep you more marketable if you do some appellate work or get placed in an appellate division initially. Whether it helps you easily transition to BigLaw is harder to predict given the prestige factor that defines the BigLaw hiring process. That said, however, if you're good in court and members of the bar know it, I can't see why they would not give you a look.

anon168
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby anon168 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:06 pm

ajax adonis wrote:What's with the BigLaw hate on DA? Can you explain what goes through hiring people's mind when they see it on a resume?


I don't know if hate is the right word, but the biggest asset an ADA can bring to a private firm is trial experience, but it's trial experience related to blue collar crimes (drugs, murder, etc.) and sometimes merely misdemeanors. But this isn't that helpful to biglaw firms because 99% of the biglaw criminal practice involves white collar cases (read: felonies) in FEDERAL court.

So when your typical biglaw firm hires from the prosecution ranks they want someone (1) who has trial experience (2) experience handling complex white-collar type work (e.g. securities, fraud, FCPA, etc.); and who has connections to the prosecuting agency that will be investigating their (potential) clients.

An ADA has only No.1. An AUSA or a DOJ or SEC attorney will have all three, and there are no shortages of AUSAs, DOJ, SEC attorneys to poach from for biglaw firms.

anon168
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby anon168 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Am I understanding this correctly, working or interning in the state capitol at the state’s AG office is somehow not beneficial.


No, that's not correct.

The AGO is very different from the DA. Depending on what department you are slotted in at the AG, many firms will value your experience. For example, if you do environmental regulation at the AG, then a firm that has a big Superfund or NEPA practice will value your connections and experience. Similarly if you do consumer fraud for the AG, then firms will value that experience if they have cases involving advertisements at the state level or even federal issues with the FTC.

A stint at the AG is looked at very differently than one at the DAs, esp. in major states like NY, CA and TX.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:41 pm

anon168 wrote:No, that's not correct.

The AGO is very different from the DA. Depending on what department you are slotted in at the AG, many firms will value your experience. For example, if you do environmental regulation at the AG, then a firm that has a big Superfund or NEPA practice will value your connections and experience. Similarly if you do consumer fraud for the AG, then firms will value that experience if they have cases involving advertisements at the state level or even federal issues with the FTC.

A stint at the AG is looked at very differently than one at the DAs, esp. in major states like NY, CA and TX.


Given ITE, a position with the AG is still a good move? What is the value of an internship?

anon168
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Re: Public Interest to Traditional Firm?

Postby anon168 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
anon168 wrote:No, that's not correct.

The AGO is very different from the DA. Depending on what department you are slotted in at the AG, many firms will value your experience. For example, if you do environmental regulation at the AG, then a firm that has a big Superfund or NEPA practice will value your connections and experience. Similarly if you do consumer fraud for the AG, then firms will value that experience if they have cases involving advertisements at the state level or even federal issues with the FTC.

A stint at the AG is looked at very differently than one at the DAs, esp. in major states like NY, CA and TX.


Given ITE, a position with the AG is still a good move? What is the value of an internship?


Yes it is. Without more details on your situation or what you want to do ultimately hard to answer your other questions.




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