Tom Joad wrote: A. Nony Mouse wrote:
FlanAl wrote:also is being a staff attorney enjoyable?
Depends what you like to do. I'm familiar with this at a state appellate court. You write draft opinions for all the judges, and specialize generally in a couple of areas (so someone would do only criminal, or only juvenile, or only social security, or unemployment, etc.). You tend to get cases that are expected to be pretty routine (they may not turn out that way, but I think that's the expectation). You do pretty much the exact same thing every day: read briefs, read record, research, write. You might go to oral arguments now and then. Personally, I prefer a little more variety, but it's a great 9-5 gig. I can't imagine they ever take work home.
Any idea if it is common for them to specialize in areas like IP or high level corporate since judges may not have a ton of experience in those fields?
sorry, but this kind of misses the point of having state appellate staff attorneys (no reason why you should know this, though). They're there to pound through the vast quantity of (mostly meritless) appeals that the court gets. They specialize in workers' comp, unemployment, juvenile, domestic, and certain kinds of criminal because those are the cases that come up again and again and again - and, frankly, a lot of them aren't especially complicated areas of law. I swear every other divorce appeal I saw was a pro se appellant ranting and raving that the judge was TOTALLY BIASED in favor of the evil ex because the judge ruled for the evil ex. I mean, it's not like even a ranting pro se appellant can't raise a valid issue, but usually they don't. In any case, cases are routed to the staff attorneys precisely because they're routine and not difficult.
Plus, judges tend to snag complex/interesting cases for themselves (granted, this means clerks research/write drafts rather than staff attorneys, but the clerks are there, in chambers, so the process is more interactive/interesting for the judge).
And actually, we had a lot of judges who had done a lot of complex civil lit before becoming judges, which, sure, isn't the same as high-level corporate, but entails the litigation that takes place around any high-level corporate work before it's even going to get to the court of appeals. (As for IP - I'm not sure much of that ends up in state court? I mean, so much of that stuff is federal, right?)