AUSA Positions

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How strong are AUSA exit options? I'm sure it varies by district, but say someone at any district in California. Would they be able to land California biglaw pretty easily?

Also, do AUSA civil positions have exit options?


Also curious about this.

What if you are only an AUSA for say, 1.5 to 2 years? Is that enough experience to have decent exit options?

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gdane

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby gdane » Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:36 pm

A common AUSA exit route is to open a criminal defense firm and advertise the hell out of the fact that you were an AUSA.

Also, you won't be gone after just one or two years. Most USAO require a four year commitment.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:41 pm

Civil AUSAs are largely involved in defending the US against suit, which includes a lot of prisoner civil-rights litigation, Federal Tort Claims Act claims, and employment discrimination claims. They also bring suit in cases involving things like civil fraud, the False Claims Act, and health and defense contractor fraud. So as for practice areas, the civil fraud and employment discrimination seems most directly applicable to biglaw, or also the contractor stuff, depending on the firm and who they represent (but I don't know a great deal about civil). Beyond practice area, though, I would think from the get-go you're going to get a lot of experience writing substantive motions and taking depositions. I don't know anyone who's gone civil AUSA -> firm, though, so I can't say directly how that translates.

For criminal AUSAs, as I understand it, the traditional exit into biglaw is into a white-collar crime group. I think this only works if you've actually been prosecuting white-collar crime, of course - whether you do that starting out depends on the office and what kinds of cases they tend to get. If you're doing a lot of drug cases, for instance, it's not clear to me how well that would translate. There's a poster around here who went biglaw --> AUSA --> plaintiff's firm, he took questions in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=191582&p=5803515&hilit=+AUSA#p5803515. I think he talks about this a little more there.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 23, 2014 5:39 pm

gdane wrote:Also, you won't be gone after just one or two years. Most USAO require a four year commitment.


I'm applying for two AUSA that specifically limit you to this time frame.

But a common exit option is to open a solo criminal defense practice? That seems like a pretty awful exit option. I would think they would have better options than that.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:05 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:In a lot of markets, that is a common things ex-criminal AUSAs, do, yes; but the ones I know who did this were AUSAs for 10+ years, and go into criminal defense because they want to do criminal law and either they're tired of putting people behind bars, or they want to run their own shop (which you can't do in prosecution, of course). It's not that they can't find anything else to do, it's because that's what they want to do. And the vast majority of private criminal defense - apart from white-collar - is solos or partners or maybe very small firms (under 5 people). It's just the nature of the beast.

(When you say the AUSA positions "limit you to this time frame," do you mean they're temporary two-year positions, or that they only require a two-year commitment? I've actually seen a two-year commitment much more often than a four-year.)


Gotcha.

And yes, that is a more accurate way of putting it--it is a temporary position of ~2 years.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby BVest » Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:59 pm

Another part of the reason for the small practices is that imputed conflicts are a much bigger deal for criminal work than for civil work.
Last edited by BVest on Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby anon168 » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How strong are AUSA exit options? I'm sure it varies by district, but say someone at any district in California. Would they be able to land California biglaw pretty easily?

Also, do AUSA civil positions have exit options?


Also curious about this.

What if you are only an AUSA for say, 1.5 to 2 years? Is that enough experience to have decent exit options?


Let me answer the second question first. An AUSA with 1.5 to 2 years should not be leaving the USAO. Not necessarily because you will have little to no exit options, but because you will not have made your experience at the office a meaningful one.

As to exit options for civil and criminal AUSAs, both have exits options, and whether one is greater than the other really depends on the market you are targeting, the type of civil and/or criminal work you did at the USAO.

The forums and the press often talk about criminal AUSAs leaving the office to become partner at biglaw, and while that happens, that's not the norm typically. Many criminal AUSAs do not do work that will entice biglaw firms. Biglaw cares generally about FCPA / securities / white-collar prosecution experience. If you've been in the USAO doing nothing but gun trafficking or drugs, your skill set just doesn't translate to biglaw. For those criminal AUSAs who have done a bulk of their work in more typical "blue collar" crimes, many open up or join boutique criminal defense firms. Some do join midlaw firms, but one should disabuse themselves of the notion that if you are a criminal AUSA (even in a glamour district like SDNY or NDCA) you've punched your ticket to biglaw partnership.

Surprisingly, civil AUSAs many times have more and better options than their colleagues in the criminal section. This is only true for those AUSAs doing affirmative enforcement work -- typically litigation under the False Claims Act, or other affirmative enforcement statues like the FIRREA. Even though civil AUSAs may oftentimes have little to no courtroom experience (much less trial experience) the knowledge and skill set they bring to the table with respect to healthcare and/or financial services fraud is especially in demand with biglaw firms.

If you're a civil AUSA doing nothing but defensive work -- i.e. FTCA, then you'd be best to stay put. Sometimes there are in-house positions but those are few and far between. And very rare.

If you are entering the USAO with the notion that you want to leave and do [insert dream job in private sector] you need to carefully select what type of AUSA (civil or criminal) and the area of law.

Hope that helps.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:51 pm

anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How strong are AUSA exit options? I'm sure it varies by district, but say someone at any district in California. Would they be able to land California biglaw pretty easily?

Also, do AUSA civil positions have exit options?


Also curious about this.

What if you are only an AUSA for say, 1.5 to 2 years? Is that enough experience to have decent exit options?


Let me answer the second question first. An AUSA with 1.5 to 2 years should not be leaving the USAO. Not necessarily because you will have little to no exit options, but because you will not have made your experience at the office a meaningful one.

As to exit options for civil and criminal AUSAs, both have exits options, and whether one is greater than the other really depends on the market you are targeting, the type of civil and/or criminal work you did at the USAO.

The forums and the press often talk about criminal AUSAs leaving the office to become partner at biglaw, and while that happens, that's not the norm typically. Many criminal AUSAs do not do work that will entice biglaw firms. Biglaw cares generally about FCPA / securities / white-collar prosecution experience. If you've been in the USAO doing nothing but gun trafficking or drugs, your skill set just doesn't translate to biglaw. For those criminal AUSAs who have done a bulk of their work in more typical "blue collar" crimes, many open up or join boutique criminal defense firms. Some do join midlaw firms, but one should disabuse themselves of the notion that if you are a criminal AUSA (even in a glamour district like SDNY or NDCA) you've punched your ticket to biglaw partnership.

Surprisingly, civil AUSAs many times have more and better options than their colleagues in the criminal section. This is only true for those AUSAs doing affirmative enforcement work -- typically litigation under the False Claims Act, or other affirmative enforcement statues like the FIRREA. Even though civil AUSAs may oftentimes have little to no courtroom experience (much less trial experience) the knowledge and skill set they bring to the table with respect to healthcare and/or financial services fraud is especially in demand with biglaw firms.

If you're a civil AUSA doing nothing but defensive work -- i.e. FTCA, then you'd be best to stay put. Sometimes there are in-house positions but those are few and far between. And very rare.

If you are entering the USAO with the notion that you want to leave and do [insert dream job in private sector] you need to carefully select what type of AUSA (civil or criminal) and the area of law.

Hope that helps.


Anon 168, this isn't the first time you've made me question my motives right before walking into an interview.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:45 pm

anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How strong are AUSA exit options? I'm sure it varies by district, but say someone at any district in California. Would they be able to land California biglaw pretty easily?

Also, do AUSA civil positions have exit options?


Also curious about this.

What if you are only an AUSA for say, 1.5 to 2 years? Is that enough experience to have decent exit options?


Let me answer the second question first. An AUSA with 1.5 to 2 years should not be leaving the USAO. Not necessarily because you will have little to no exit options, but because you will not have made your experience at the office a meaningful one.

As to exit options for civil and criminal AUSAs, both have exits options, and whether one is greater than the other really depends on the market you are targeting, the type of civil and/or criminal work you did at the USAO.

The forums and the press often talk about criminal AUSAs leaving the office to become partner at biglaw, and while that happens, that's not the norm typically. Many criminal AUSAs do not do work that will entice biglaw firms. Biglaw cares generally about FCPA / securities / white-collar prosecution experience. If you've been in the USAO doing nothing but gun trafficking or drugs, your skill set just doesn't translate to biglaw. For those criminal AUSAs who have done a bulk of their work in more typical "blue collar" crimes, many open up or join boutique criminal defense firms. Some do join midlaw firms, but one should disabuse themselves of the notion that if you are a criminal AUSA (even in a glamour district like SDNY or NDCA) you've punched your ticket to biglaw partnership.

Surprisingly, civil AUSAs many times have more and better options than their colleagues in the criminal section. This is only true for those AUSAs doing affirmative enforcement work -- typically litigation under the False Claims Act, or other affirmative enforcement statues like the FIRREA. Even though civil AUSAs may oftentimes have little to no courtroom experience (much less trial experience) the knowledge and skill set they bring to the table with respect to healthcare and/or financial services fraud is especially in demand with biglaw firms.

If you're a civil AUSA doing nothing but defensive work -- i.e. FTCA, then you'd be best to stay put. Sometimes there are in-house positions but those are few and far between. And very rare.

If you are entering the USAO with the notion that you want to leave and do [insert dream job in private sector] you need to carefully select what type of AUSA (civil or criminal) and the area of law.

Hope that helps.


Very helpful, thanks.

I don't want it to sound like I want to work there for 1.5 to 2 years then leave to snag some great position in the private sector. Ideally, I would work there for many more years, but the position is temporary. So, I'm just feeling out exit options as I would be unemployed after 1.5 to 2 years there.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:12 am

most big city ausa offices are t14 snobby

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby anon168 » Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:most big city ausa offices are t14 snobby


Assuming this is true ...

How is this helpful?

And why is it anonymous?

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los blancos

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby los blancos » Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:20 am

This is kind of a dumb question and I should probably know the answer, but how is appellate work handled? Are there AUSAs that specialize in this stuff? I assume that [ideally] a CoA clerkship and big firm appellate practice experience is the way to get there?

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:40 am

los blancos wrote:This is kind of a dumb question and I should probably know the answer, but how is appellate work handled? Are there AUSAs that specialize in this stuff? I assume that [ideally] a CoA clerkship and big firm appellate practice experience is the way to get there?

It depends a little on the office. Most offices have at least some people dedicated to appellate work (I believe the appellate folk also tend to run trainings, since they keep up on the changes in law). However, of the two offices I know well, one has a dedicated appellate division that handles all (? most? much?) of the office's appellate litigation, and the other does "vertical prosecution" - that is, if you prosecute it, you handle the appeal. (Or, I presume, if you litigate it from whatever side in the civil division.) The "vertical" office has 4-5 people (out of ~60-80ish?) who do exclusively appellate, both to formulate/coordinate the office's overall appellate strategy as well as actually write briefs. But everyone's expected to handle their own appeals within that strategy (and of course with help if you get something difficult). I think the other office had 10-12 appellate people who handled criminal and civil? I can't remember exactly, though, nor do I remember how many attorneys total were in that office.

At the vertical prosecution office I know, trial experience is much more highly valued, and I think there's a concern that someone who's done a COA/tons of high level appellate litigation is not going to be willing to get down and dirty in the trenches of line work. But if an office was hiring expressly for an appellate position, then obviously that's a different matter.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 12, 2014 8:49 am

There is no "best path" to AUSA.

Take Southern District of New York, for example. The dish on them is that you should have HYSCCN. The school has the most AUSAs in that office, however, is Fordham.

So broadly speaking, USAOs in large districts experience significant turnover and have tons of AUSAs. DC has over 300. SDNY has 200+. And I think they take people from Biglaw. They take people from ADA. They take people from JAG. And they take folks with public defender experience.

Smaller Districts, the hiring is almost more competitive. That's because there's minimal turnover and usually only one or two spots available. So the hiring is much more idiosyncratic. The USAOs are typically familiar with the up and coming legal talent in the community and they tend to pick do-gooders (ADAs) from within the community. So even a person with elite "national" credentials will have a hard time breaking in.

As to the experience necessary, it depends on the office. A place like SDNY - where your exit options can easily land you a million dollars per annum - they like to see that you have come in early within the first six years of your career. Spend 5-6 years in the office before breaking out (they have an official 3yr commitment). SDNY is desirable for other reasons. In smaller districts, you might have to work a decade before getting a leadership position. You can get a leadership position in SDNY if you work hard within 3 years. Some of the current heads of groups at SDNY are 32 or 33. DC hires significant numbers of AUSAs each year (well, when there's no freeze). They have no problem hiring AUSAs that have only 1 year of experience. EDVA, on the other hand, unofficially requires at least 3.

Then if you have gone to an elite school and have done biglaw, there are informal qualifications. One of these is you have to show that you have a commitment to public service. You can show this through pro-bono, having served in an USAO office in law school, etc but you should have a compelling reason other than "I'm burned out in biglaw" for wanting the position and it be credible from your background.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby los blancos » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
los blancos wrote:This is kind of a dumb question and I should probably know the answer, but how is appellate work handled? Are there AUSAs that specialize in this stuff? I assume that [ideally] a CoA clerkship and big firm appellate practice experience is the way to get there?

It depends a little on the office. Most offices have at least some people dedicated to appellate work (I believe the appellate folk also tend to run trainings, since they keep up on the changes in law). However, of the two offices I know well, one has a dedicated appellate division that handles all (? most? much?) of the office's appellate litigation, and the other does "vertical prosecution" ...


Thanks for that. Yeah I think I'd much rather be in a place that does vertical prosecution come to think of it... because I enjoy appellate work and research/writing, but I think working on investigations and trial-level motions practice are probably two of the things I'd find most interesting as well.


Also, for anyone else that was wondering more about this, anon168 has posted some useful info in that thread that was linked earlier.

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:40 pm

anon168 & others:

What type of ADA experience is required for AUSA positions? I have taken a few misdemeanor jury trials to verdict but have yet to have any felony trial experience. Should I wait to apply until I have felony trial experience? Do you have any other advice for someone coming from a big city DA's office?

Thanks!

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Re: AUSA Positions

Postby anon168 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:anon168 & others:

What type of ADA experience is required for AUSA positions? I have taken a few misdemeanor jury trials to verdict but have yet to have any felony trial experience. Should I wait to apply until I have felony trial experience? Do you have any other advice for someone coming from a big city DA's office?

Thanks!


There is no such thing as required ADA experience. Some office look favorably on it, some don't give a darn. No office I know of actually requires ADA experience. In fact, some don't even like to hire ADAs at all.



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