Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

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Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:13 pm

I am an associate at big law firm with both a district and appellate clerkship under my belt. I went to a T14 and am evaluating exit options. I have a lot of questions about what being an Assistant US Attorney is like. Would those in the know check in and answer some? Thanks in advance.

First question: What training is provided? I have no experience at all with prosecuting and like most big law associates, my trial exposure is limited. What resources are available to help you learn how to prosecute cases?

I hope others who have questions chime in too.

anon168
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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby anon168 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am an associate at big law firm with both a district and appellate clerkship under my belt. I went to a T14 and am evaluating exit options. I have a lot of questions about what being an Assistant US Attorney is like. Would those in the know check in and answer some? Thanks in advance.

First question: What training is provided? I have no experience at all with prosecuting and like most big law associates, my trial exposure is limited. What resources are available to help you learn how to prosecute cases?

I hope others who have questions chime in too.


I started this thread a while back. viewtopic.php?f=23&t=191582

You might want to peruse that first, it'll probably answer alot of your questions.

The basic source of training for all federal prosecutor is the National Advocacy Center (or NAC) in Columbia, SC (on the campus of the Gamecocks). It has all the courses you could want, incl. Basic Trial, Intermediate Trial and Advanced Trial seminars, all taught by current AUSAs and DOJ trial attorneys, as well as some former and current judges.

But the best training is on-the-job. There's nothing quite the adrenaline rush of doing your first opening, with the rest of the office and your supervisors watching in the audience.
Last edited by anon168 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

anon168
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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby anon168 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:38 pm

.

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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:24 pm

anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am an associate at big law firm with both a district and appellate clerkship under my belt. I went to a T14 and am evaluating exit options. I have a lot of questions about what being an Assistant US Attorney is like. Would those in the know check in and answer some? Thanks in advance.

First question: What training is provided? I have no experience at all with prosecuting and like most big law associates, my trial exposure is limited. What resources are available to help you learn how to prosecute cases?

I hope others who have questions chime in too.


I started this thread a while back. viewtopic.php?f=23&t=191582

You might want to peruse that first, it'll probably answer alot of your questions.

The basic source of training for all federal prosecutor is the National Advocacy Center (or NAC) in Columbia, SC (on the campus of the Gamecocks). It has all the courses you could want, incl. Basic Trial, Intermediate Trial and Advanced Trial seminars, all taught by current AUSAs and DOJ trial attorneys, as well as some former and current judges.

But the best training is on-the-job. There's nothing quite the adrenaline rush of doing your first opening, with the rest of the office and your supervisors watching in the audience.
Thanks for responding! The other thread is helpful for prelim questions but I have a lot of "once I have this job, now what" types of questions that aren't covered.

So, are you sent to the NAC immediately upon starting as an AUSA? How long does the training last?

How are cases staffed? I imagine this might differ from office to office, but at the office where you were/are AUSA, is there a strict assignment system or do AUSAs get to request the types of cases they want?

anon168
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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby anon168 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am an associate at big law firm with both a district and appellate clerkship under my belt. I went to a T14 and am evaluating exit options. I have a lot of questions about what being an Assistant US Attorney is like. Would those in the know check in and answer some? Thanks in advance.

First question: What training is provided? I have no experience at all with prosecuting and like most big law associates, my trial exposure is limited. What resources are available to help you learn how to prosecute cases?

I hope others who have questions chime in too.


I started this thread a while back. viewtopic.php?f=23&t=191582

You might want to peruse that first, it'll probably answer alot of your questions.

The basic source of training for all federal prosecutor is the National Advocacy Center (or NAC) in Columbia, SC (on the campus of the Gamecocks). It has all the courses you could want, incl. Basic Trial, Intermediate Trial and Advanced Trial seminars, all taught by current AUSAs and DOJ trial attorneys, as well as some former and current judges.

But the best training is on-the-job. There's nothing quite the adrenaline rush of doing your first opening, with the rest of the office and your supervisors watching in the audience.
Thanks for responding! The other thread is helpful for prelim questions but I have a lot of "once I have this job, now what" types of questions that aren't covered.

So, are you sent to the NAC immediately upon starting as an AUSA? How long does the training last?

How are cases staffed? I imagine this might differ from office to office, but at the office where you were/are AUSA, is there a strict assignment system or do AUSAs get to request the types of cases they want?


You don't get sent to the NAC. You have to apply/request with your supervisor to go to the NAC (but it's generally approved unless it's outside your practice area).

There are some mandatory courses in the NAC for newbies, at least one that I can recall but it's primarily an intro to working as an AUSA, and a general orientation in DC by DOJ.

So, essentially, there are no mandatory classes at the NAC.

Assignments are based on what section you are in. As a newbie you'll be in what's typically called General Crimes, where you will be doing basically reactive cases, which will include everything from simply immigration cases to simple passport fraud to drug cases to perhaps even things like simple bank robberies -- but again the types of cases will vary from district to district.

Once you matriculate from GC, you will either get your choice of sections or be assigned to one based on office need/space. Once in that section -- e.g., white collar -- the cases are assigned to you by your supervisor, usu. the Section Chief or Deputy Chief.

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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby Coco_Local » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:13 pm

The above poster is right in a way, you walk in the door and start working. The NAC, which I hate (due to its gross food and having to live at work), is something that you might go to a few times a year. You are expected to start working right away. So the odds of getting hired sans real litigation experience (which to clarify at the very least includes having taking a deposition and dispositive brief writing) is basically nill. My office declined to interview former supreme court clerks for the reason--paper credentials are necessary but not sufficient.

Every office is different and there is even a divide in criminal and civil. I work in civil, so I do fraud/affirmative stuff and defensive litigation. You just get cases and there really isn't much jockeying because everyone is insanely busy due to being understaffed due to the hiring freeze. The above poster sounds like he's in DC's criminal division, which operates the way she explained (I remember this description from going through the interview rounds there).
Last edited by Coco_Local on Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:23 pm

Coco_Local wrote:The above poster is right in a way, you walk in the door and start working. The NAC, which I hate (due to its gross food and having to live at work), is something that you might go to a few times a year. You are expected to start working right away. So the odds of getting hired sans real litigation experience is basically nill. My office declined to interview former supreme court clerks for the reason--paper credentials are necessary but not sufficient.

Every office is different and there is even a divide in criminal and civil. I work in civil, so I do fraud/affirmative stuff and defensive litigation. You just get cases and there really isn't much jockeying because everyone is insanely busy due to being understaffed due to the hiring freeze. The above poster sounds like he's in DC's criminal division, which operates the way she explained (I remember this description from going through the interview rounds there).
Thanks. What did you do prior to becoming an AUSA (general info like "three years at V20 big law firm's lit group" is fine) and how many years out of law school were you? How much trial experience did you have prior to becoming an AUSA and how difficult did you find jumping straight to conducting trials? (These questions are meant for Anon168 too.)

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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:15 am

Is this thread dead so soon? I had looked forward to reading the responses. The USAO sounds like a raw deal - just throwing people into trials without training? That's a shittier set up than even big law.

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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 28, 2012 11:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:Is this thread dead so soon? I had looked forward to reading the responses. The USAO sounds like a raw deal - just throwing people into trials without training? That's a shittier set up than even big law.

That's why the USAO only hires people who already have trial experience - no need to train them.

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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby Coco_Local » Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:01 pm

You will not get hired sans trial experience (and at a minimum substantive litigation experience) no matter how great your credentials are. Thousands of people apply for a single spot in my district. Absent real litigation experience, a clerkship and luck, it's extremely difficult to move from big law to a US Attorney's Office. Other threads have addressed this issue.
Last edited by Coco_Local on Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:28 pm

Coco_Local wrote:You will not get hired sans trial experience no matter how great your credentials are. Thousands of people apply for a single spot in my district. Absent real litigation experience, a clerkship and luck, it's extremely difficult to move from big law to a US Attorney's Office. Other threads have addressed this issue.


I'm at an NYC DA's office, went to a T2 with meh grades, no clerkship (obviously). What can I do in the next few years to give myself the best shot possible at a USAO?

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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby anon168 » Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is this thread dead so soon? I had looked forward to reading the responses. The USAO sounds like a raw deal - just throwing people into trials without training? That's a shittier set up than even big law.


Please don't take this the wrong way, but this is one of the dumbest and funniest things I've read on this board.

You sound exactly like the kind of person we do not want at the USAO. If you don't have enough confidence in yourself to do a trial, sans "training," then you will never have enough confidence to do a trial even with all the training in the world.

It's not that there's no training (there is, as I've explained above) but the training is meant to supplement your existing skills, not to implement them.

Let me give you a little vignette of what I mean.

Couple of years ago, a DOJ trial attorney asked to do a detail at our office because she wanted trial experience. She had been at DOJ and never really got into the courtroom (which isn't all that uncommon, btw). We all thought it was a great idea. We were down something like 10 FTEs at the time, with a heavy caseload and she seemed more than qualified -- i.e., Stanford grad, LR, COA. Got into Main Justice through the Honors program, and had even matriculated to the Intermediate Trial course at the NAC.

So we thought it was a win-win. We get free labor, she gets courtroom experience.

First month in, she gets staffed on a simple, reactive passport fraud case. One count, maybe takes 2 days with jury selection, 2-3 witnesses, with no defense case. After jury selection, and opening, she call the case agent as her first witness. After the pleasantries of "what is your title" and "what is your training" (as they "train" you at the NAC), she follows with this exchange with her case agent:

AUSA: Now, did you ask the defendant any questions?
Agent: Yes.
AUSA: Ok, I want to go through them one by one. Did you Mirandize the defendant?
Agent: Yes.
AUSA: What did the defendant say to you when you read him his Miranda rights?
Agent: [pause] He, um, invoked.

And ladies and gentlemen, that's what a SLS education and all that fucking training gets you. And, trust me, she was buying everybody rounds at happy hour that week. Twice.
Last edited by anon168 on Sun Oct 28, 2012 3:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby anon168 » Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Coco_Local wrote:You will not get hired sans trial experience no matter how great your credentials are. Thousands of people apply for a single spot in my district. Absent real litigation experience, a clerkship and luck, it's extremely difficult to move from big law to a US Attorney's Office. Other threads have addressed this issue.


I'm at an NYC DA's office, went to a T2 with meh grades, no clerkship (obviously). What can I do in the next few years to give myself the best shot possible at a USAO?


Make connections with the office -- either through your local bar associations or through judges.

Some USAOs are very receptive to local prosecutors; others will never hire them and treat them like TTT. If you want, PM me and I can give you a rough sketch of which offices fall into which group.

anon168
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Re: Calling AUSAs - Questions about the USAO

Postby anon168 » Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:50 pm

Coco_Local wrote:You will not get hired sans trial experience no matter how great your credentials are. Thousands of people apply for a single spot in my district. Absent real litigation experience, a clerkship and luck, it's extremely difficult to move from big law to a US Attorney's Office. Other threads have addressed this issue.


That's not true. Trial experience is not a necessary nor sufficient condition to get an AUSA gig, esp. if you are applying for a civil AUSA position where you are hardly ever doing trials, and courtroom time is minimal.

If you are applying for a criminal AUSA, if you've clerked ask your judge to get your application noticed. Half the battle of getting an AUSA gig is making sure someone actually reads your application, the other half is what's in it.

I say this because I don't want people with no trial experience to self-select themselves out of applying. Trial experience helps, but it's not a death-knell if you have none.




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