DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:31 pm

Not sure what the last guy's question has to do with DOJH...

anon168 can you elaborate? how does that make DOJ a bad place to be?

what about doing DOJ honors THEN clerking? ridiculous idea? good idea? doj honors, clerk, firm? are these options?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Not sure what the last guy's question has to do with DOJH...

anon168 can you elaborate? how does that make DOJ a bad place to be?

what about doing DOJ honors THEN clerking? ridiculous idea? good idea? doj honors, clerk, firm? are these options?


Sorry, that's what I meant. DOJ Honors --> Clerking. WOuld want to try to get AUSA after that.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:39 am

Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

Should I go to biglaw, which I've experienced and somewhat liked, but am deathly-afraid of the hours, or to a DOJ office that I've never experienced, and am not sure whether I'd like the work?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:52 am

DOJ Honors --> clerking seems like a really weird idea to me. I mean, I can't say no one's ever done it, but once you're out of DOJ, you have to start the application process all over again to get back in, there's no financial incentive here (unlike people who do Biglaw to pay off loans, then clerk), and the Honors Program seems designed to funnel people into permanent government jobs. For instance, the eligibility is tilted towards people having already clerked before applying, and (AFAIK) one of the big criteria for getting in the door in the first place is dedication to public service. So treating it as a stepping stone to clerking just seems weird to me.

That said, I've also seen that DOJ Honors --> AUSA is a credited career path, so who knows? Maybe some people do take a detour to clerk in between. I think that clerk --> Honors is much more common though. (For one thing, having a clerkship is a big boost in Honors hiring, whereas adding a clerkship after doing Honors may or may not make much difference to future prospects, depending I suppose on what your precise Honors experience was.)

For the OP who didn't get a clerkship, if you want to clerk, I would think Biglaw --> clerkship --> ??? (AUSA, lateral DOJ, other big firm) would make more sense. But that's just me.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

Should I go to biglaw, which I've experienced and somewhat liked, but am deathly-afraid of the hours, or to a DOJ office that I've never experienced, and am not sure whether I'd like the work?

I hate to break this to you, but for most jobs, you'll have to decide whether to take it or not without getting a summer to try it out and figure out whether you'd like the work. Why not talk to people in DOJ (alums from your school?) and find out what the work/hours are like? And when you interview for DOJ, ask about that stuff.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:08 am

Anonymous User wrote:DOJ Honors --> clerking seems like a really weird idea to me. I mean, I can't say no one's ever done it, but once you're out of DOJ, you have to start the application process all over again to get back in, there's no financial incentive here (unlike people who do Biglaw to pay off loans, then clerk), and the Honors Program seems designed to funnel people into permanent government jobs. For instance, the eligibility is tilted towards people having already clerked before applying, and (AFAIK) one of the big criteria for getting in the door in the first place is dedication to public service. So treating it as a stepping stone to clerking just seems weird to me.

That said, I've also seen that DOJ Honors --> AUSA is a credited career path, so who knows? Maybe some people do take a detour to clerk in between. I think that clerk --> Honors is much more common though. (For one thing, having a clerkship is a big boost in Honors hiring, whereas adding a clerkship after doing Honors may or may not make much difference to future prospects, depending I suppose on what your precise Honors experience was.)

For the OP who didn't get a clerkship, if you want to clerk, I would think Biglaw --> clerkship --> ??? (AUSA, lateral DOJ, other big firm) would make more sense. But that's just me.


Yeah that makes sense. I didn't mean to suggest that I view the DOJ as a stepping stone to a clerkship. I didn't apply to clerk this year and think it might be an interesting experience, and also want to be an AUSA.

RE: clerking as a leg up for the Honors program - it varies a lot by component, and even by sections within the component. There are some section chiefs that basically won't look at non-clerks and others that don't care (but certainly don't view it as a negative.) So it may help, but no guarantees.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:DOJ Honors --> clerking seems like a really weird idea to me. I mean, I can't say no one's ever done it, but once you're out of DOJ, you have to start the application process all over again to get back in, there's no financial incentive here (unlike people who do Biglaw to pay off loans, then clerk), and the Honors Program seems designed to funnel people into permanent government jobs. For instance, the eligibility is tilted towards people having already clerked before applying, and (AFAIK) one of the big criteria for getting in the door in the first place is dedication to public service. So treating it as a stepping stone to clerking just seems weird to me.

That said, I've also seen that DOJ Honors --> AUSA is a credited career path, so who knows? Maybe some people do take a detour to clerk in between. I think that clerk --> Honors is much more common though. (For one thing, having a clerkship is a big boost in Honors hiring, whereas adding a clerkship after doing Honors may or may not make much difference to future prospects, depending I suppose on what your precise Honors experience was.)

For the OP who didn't get a clerkship, if you want to clerk, I would think Biglaw --> clerkship --> ??? (AUSA, lateral DOJ, other big firm) would make more sense. But that's just me.


Yeah that makes sense. I didn't mean to suggest that I view the DOJ as a stepping stone to a clerkship. I didn't apply to clerk this year and think it might be an interesting experience, and also want to be an AUSA.

RE: clerking as a leg up for the Honors program - it varies a lot by component, and even by sections within the component. There are some section chiefs that basically won't look at non-clerks and others that don't care (but certainly don't view it as a negative.) So it may help, but no guarantees.

Yeah, sadly, nothing in this gig seems to be a guarantee for anything!

anon168
Posts: 920
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby anon168 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Not sure what the last guy's question has to do with DOJH...

anon168 can you elaborate? how does that make DOJ a bad place to be?

what about doing DOJ honors THEN clerking? ridiculous idea? good idea? doj honors, clerk, firm? are these options?


Elaborate on what? And what is the "that" that you are referring to re: DOJ being a bad place to be?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:18 pm

I was googling this topic and came across this:

--LinkRemoved--

After reading through it, it seems clear that there is a substantial chunk of the legal profession that does not view DOJ Honors in a particularly positive light. (I wonder if this is related to the fact that the HP was not as competitive 10-15 years ago as it is now - see the posts referencing DOJ Honors as a backdoor into biglaw for those that couldn't get the firm they wanted to this time around.)

I had always thought that after 3-4 years at a litigating component I would be able to lateral into a firm if for some reason I really needed the cash. But apparently this may not be the case.

anon168
Posts: 920
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby anon168 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I was googling this topic and came across this:

--LinkRemoved--

After reading through it, it seems clear that there is a substantial chunk of the legal profession that does not view DOJ Honors in a particularly positive light. (I wonder if this is related to the fact that the HP was not as competitive 10-15 years ago as it is now - see the posts referencing DOJ Honors as a backdoor into biglaw for those that couldn't get the firm they wanted to this time around.)

I had always thought that after 3-4 years at a litigating component I would be able to lateral into a firm if for some reason I really needed the cash. But apparently this may not be the case.


Why is this a surprise to you?

If you are in Civil Rights or Fed Programs (for example), no biglaw firm will touch you. Only real desirable components are probably Consumer Fraud, Fraud, FCPA, ENRD and maybe Tax.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I was googling this topic and came across this:

--LinkRemoved--

After reading through it, it seems clear that there is a substantial chunk of the legal profession that does not view DOJ Honors in a particularly positive light. (I wonder if this is related to the fact that the HP was not as competitive 10-15 years ago as it is now - see the posts referencing DOJ Honors as a backdoor into biglaw for those that couldn't get the firm they wanted to this time around.)

I had always thought that after 3-4 years at a litigating component I would be able to lateral into a firm if for some reason I really needed the cash. But apparently this may not be the case.

I didn't get the impression from that discussion that Honors was viewed in a negative light - just that it wasn't a magic golden ticket. You'd still need to do work and get experience that's relevant to a given firm. (Sure, there was the one poster who called Honors attorneys prima donnas - but I didn't think that qualified as a substantial chunk of the legal profession.)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:08 am

anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I was googling this topic and came across this:

--LinkRemoved--

After reading through it, it seems clear that there is a substantial chunk of the legal profession that does not view DOJ Honors in a particularly positive light. (I wonder if this is related to the fact that the HP was not as competitive 10-15 years ago as it is now - see the posts referencing DOJ Honors as a backdoor into biglaw for those that couldn't get the firm they wanted to this time around.)

I had always thought that after 3-4 years at a litigating component I would be able to lateral into a firm if for some reason I really needed the cash. But apparently this may not be the case.


Why is this a surprise to you?



If you are in Civil Rights or Fed Programs (for example), no biglaw firm will touch you. Only real desirable components are probably Consumer Fraud, Fraud, FCPA, ENRD and maybe Tax.




It's surprising for several reasons:

1. The high regard that everyone in the academic world (professors, judges, OCS) has for the honors program.
2. The baseline credentials that HP attorneys seem to have.
3. The substantive experience that HP attorneys get. I don't subscribe to the view that DOJ Honors attorneys are all doing amazing work, but their litigation experience seems to be at least as good as junior associates.

Given 2 & 3, it just seems absurd that, for example, an HLS (with at least honors, and maybe LR/clerkship) grad who worked in Civil Rights would have trouble finding a decent firm when s/he probably could have gone to almost any firm in DC as a SA.

anon168
Posts: 920
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby anon168 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:19 am

Anonymous User wrote:
anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I was googling this topic and came across this:

--LinkRemoved--

After reading through it, it seems clear that there is a substantial chunk of the legal profession that does not view DOJ Honors in a particularly positive light. (I wonder if this is related to the fact that the HP was not as competitive 10-15 years ago as it is now - see the posts referencing DOJ Honors as a backdoor into biglaw for those that couldn't get the firm they wanted to this time around.)

I had always thought that after 3-4 years at a litigating component I would be able to lateral into a firm if for some reason I really needed the cash. But apparently this may not be the case.


Why is this a surprise to you?



If you are in Civil Rights or Fed Programs (for example), no biglaw firm will touch you. Only real desirable components are probably Consumer Fraud, Fraud, FCPA, ENRD and maybe Tax.




It's surprising for several reasons:

1. The high regard that everyone in the academic world (professors, judges, OCS) has for the honors program.
2. The baseline credentials that HP attorneys seem to have.
3. The substantive experience that HP attorneys get. I don't subscribe to the view that DOJ Honors attorneys are all doing amazing work, but their litigation experience seems to be at least as good as junior associates.

Given 2 & 3, it just seems absurd that, for example, an HLS (with at least honors, and maybe LR/clerkship) grad who worked in Civil Rights would have trouble finding a decent firm when s/he probably could have gone to almost any firm in DC as a SA.


Because after 4-5 years as DOJ Trial Attorney in CR, you no longer have marketable skills attractive to biglaw. As a lawyer 5 years out of law school, firms want you to have business development potential. Having worked your entire life in the ivory towers that is DOJ, you have very little translatable skills to the private sector. And, yes, this includes the supposed "courtroom" and/or "trial experience" that DOJ supposedly provides. (Hint: the use of "supposed" and "supposedly" is not unintentional.)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:24 am

anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I was googling this topic and came across this:

--LinkRemoved--

After reading through it, it seems clear that there is a substantial chunk of the legal profession that does not view DOJ Honors in a particularly positive light. (I wonder if this is related to the fact that the HP was not as competitive 10-15 years ago as it is now - see the posts referencing DOJ Honors as a backdoor into biglaw for those that couldn't get the firm they wanted to this time around.)

I had always thought that after 3-4 years at a litigating component I would be able to lateral into a firm if for some reason I really needed the cash. But apparently this may not be the case.


Why is this a surprise to you?



If you are in Civil Rights or Fed Programs (for example), no biglaw firm will touch you. Only real desirable components are probably Consumer Fraud, Fraud, FCPA, ENRD and maybe Tax.




It's surprising for several reasons:

1. The high regard that everyone in the academic world (professors, judges, OCS) has for the honors program.
2. The baseline credentials that HP attorneys seem to have.
3. The substantive experience that HP attorneys get. I don't subscribe to the view that DOJ Honors attorneys are all doing amazing work, but their litigation experience seems to be at least as good as junior associates.

Given 2 & 3, it just seems absurd that, for example, an HLS (with at least honors, and maybe LR/clerkship) grad who worked in Civil Rights would have trouble finding a decent firm when s/he probably could have gone to almost any firm in DC as a SA.


Because after 4-5 years as DOJ Trial Attorney in CR, you no longer have marketable skills attractive to biglaw. As a lawyer 5 years out of law school, firms want you to have business development potential. Having worked your entire life in the ivory towers that is DOJ, you have very little translatable skills to the private sector. And, yes, this includes the supposed "courtroom" and/or "trial experience" that DOJ supposedly provides. (Hint: the use of "supposed" and "supposedly" is not unintentional.)



There's no need for the snark. I completely believe that the vast majority of DOJ Honors hires will not get trial experience.

And yes, that makes sense. However, I'm also guessing that the vast majority of biglaw associates will have limited "business development" potential after 5 years. So given the competitiveness of government positions as laterals, where do they go?

anon168
Posts: 920
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby anon168 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:And yes, that makes sense. However, I'm also guessing that the vast majority of biglaw associates will have limited "business development" potential after 5 years. So given the competitiveness of government positions as laterals, where do they go?


They don't go anywhere. They become DOJ lifers. I know many of them.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:32 am

anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:And yes, that makes sense. However, I'm also guessing that the vast majority of biglaw associates will have limited "business development" potential after 5 years. So given the competitiveness of government positions as laterals, where do they go?


They don't go anywhere. They become DOJ lifers. I know many of them.


No, those that start out in private practice. If government laterals are having a hard time getting in due to an inability to generate business at that level, it seems like biglaw associates should be getting kicked out (and also having trouble lateraling to other firms) as well.

anon168
Posts: 920
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby anon168 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:
anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:And yes, that makes sense. However, I'm also guessing that the vast majority of biglaw associates will have limited "business development" potential after 5 years. So given the competitiveness of government positions as laterals, where do they go?


They don't go anywhere. They become DOJ lifers. I know many of them.


No, those that start out in private practice. If government laterals are having a hard time getting in due to an inability to generate business at that level, it seems like biglaw associates should be getting kicked out (and also having trouble lateraling to other firms) as well.


Midlaw, small law.

When firms evaluate laterals, they view government lawyers differently than a similarly vintaged lawyer from private practice. For one, a lateral candidate from private practice is used to "biglaw hours" and living life by 1/10th increments. Firms are not so sure they can say that about a lawyer who has spent 4-6 years in government. Having been on both sides of the fence, I can tell you that concern is valid.

People have this sort of weird belief -- here on TLS and elsewhere -- that exiting DOJ and the USAO is easy. It's not.

Take a look at the websites and firm bios of ex-DOJ and AUSA attorneys. Most were rock stars. Sure, some were run-of-the-mill line AUSAs or Trial Attorneys, but your Skaddens and DPWs of the world aren't necessarily jumping over each other to get the next line AUSA that wants to exit from SDNY.

So all of that said, you should understand why there is mucho appeal with working for the government. You can work there forever without fear of ever getting laid off, or being asked to leave because you've aged out.

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby rayiner » Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:10 pm


User avatar
BruceWayne
Posts: 2032
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:36 pm

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby BruceWayne » Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:42 pm

rayiner wrote:SDNY AUSA may be an exception: http://www.volokh.com/2010/08/20/is-a-s ... to-riches/


So is DOJ Criminal Fraud, Civil Commerical Litigation, and DOJ Tax.

User avatar
FlanAl
Posts: 1474
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:53 pm

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby FlanAl » Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:23 am

OP were you hoping to ESCAPE to government after a few years of big law? Obviously big law is a helpful stepping stone but it is by no way a guarantee. It would probably make sticking it out for a few years way harder if you could have done what you wanted but opted for big law instead. It would make your future job really suck if you couldn't lateral into DOJ and got stuck doing small firm stuff. Also if you check your school's lrap your take home difference between DOJ and and big law might not be as dramatic as you think (it'll still be big though).

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 18, 2012 1:24 pm

What happened to OP here? Did you get the honors position? If so (what section?), what did you decide?

(No response from OP will be interpreted as DOJH rejection....)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:15 pm

Separate poster. I am likely going to choose small-ish law over a litigating component. I want to be in public service long-term, but DC and the component are just not right for me at this time in my career.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:51 pm

Another separate poster. I'm choosing a litigation component over a V5. Literally every professor I have, and my judge, told me I made the correct choice, and that it was a "no brainer." I asked a lot of people, too.

To make it easier, though, my V5 told me they would have me back if I eventually choose to leave the component.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273280
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DOJ Honors or BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Separate poster. I am likely going to choose small-ish law over a litigating component. I want to be in public service long-term, but DC and the component are just not right for me at this time in my career.


Actually scratch that. I haven't been able to pull the trigger and make a decision. If everything breaks right (I get the assignments I want, the component is active when I start -- which is no sure thing), the DOJ could potentially be an extraordinary experience. However, there's also the potential for me to feel like I passed up 100+k per year and a city that I like more in order to take a job that actually isn't teaching me very much.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.