Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

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bk1
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Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby bk1 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:13 am

NOTICE: While the legal employment forum generally prohibits posts by 0Ls, the mods have decided to make an exception for this thread only. After considering several ways of allowing 0Ls to interface this thread (whether it was by PMing me or by having a separate thread), allowing 0Ls to ask questions in this thread seemed to be the simplest solution. That said, 0Ls are still recommended to tread lightly in this thread. If you have questions regarding what a lawyer posted about their job or wish to ask whether someone in job X could describe their day, feel free to ask those questions here. But this is categorically not a "ask an attorney any question you want that you wouldn't otherwise be able ask in the legal employment forum" thread. The mods will keep an eye on this thread to see how this policy plays out and if it causes problems, it may be changed down the road.

This thread was inspired by a fantastic post by JusticeHarlan describing the work of a capital markets lawyer (available here: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 6#p7636022).

I thought it would be great if current lawyers could offer similarly in-depth explanations for the practice area that they are currently in. The idea would be that these explanations could be catalogued so that future law students who are looking at different practice groups can understand what those practice groups actually do and be able to figure out what they think is most interesting and/or suited to their talents.

This thread isn't just limited to biglaw practice areas so feel free to post even if you do things like work as a DA, practice family law, do trusts/estates, etc, all I ask is that whatever the practice area that you try to be as in-depth as possible. Also note if you can, whether your answer might differ based on your employer (e.g. private criminal defense probably looks a bit different than PD work, working in-house on a transaction probably looks different than working as an associate at a biglaw firm on that same transaction, etc).

Any current lawyers that could help with this, I (and current/future law students) would much appreciate it!

(Note: I understand the problems with the literal question as harlan outlined in his post, just thought it was the best thread title for this considering his excellent post.)

Job and Practice Area Descriptions

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:30 am

Hmm, meant to post anonymously... Well I guess now I can't post till later.

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ph14
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby ph14 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:57 pm

Hope questions are okay in this thread as well.

@ Criminal AUSA. Thanks for such a detailed post. I was hoping you could expand on the hiring process for your position, both when you were on the applicant side and on the AUSA side (if you have been involving in the hiring process). Thanks!

Edit: Well, the post was apparently deleted. But if that poster wants to PM me that would be great too.

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:04 pm

[I got paranoid and deleted but since someone saw it, I'll put it back up.] Okay, I'll bite with a non-biglaw offering:

I'm a criminal AUSA. What my day looks like may not translate outside my district, given some specific characteristics of the crimes we see most. But in my district, for a newbie like myself (first year of work), here's what it looks like:

I am the lead/only attorney on almost all my cases (I'm also second-chair on a couple of cases). When I get assigned a new case, I review the file to identify which charges we're going to bring. That sounds impressive, but usually it's pretty clear what kind of a case it is so I'm just choosing between options. I also review the reports to make sure everything we need to prove the charges is in place. If there are any problems with the reports (which is fairly common), I call up the case agent and ask them about it (examples: is there a report from the state officers who were initially involved in the case? where did you get the photos for this lineup? do you have a recording of the interview?).

I also have to determine whether the defendant should be detained pending trial or not. Sometimes this is very straightforward and pro forma, sometimes I have to make an argument before a judge about it. (Make an argument = 2-3 minutes.) In some cases, it's necessary to put on evidence at a separate hearing on the issue, but I haven't had to do this yet.

Once that's taken care of, I need to draft an indictment to bring the case before the grand jury. This is very easy if it's a charge we see all the time/that I've indicted before because I can just reuse something; it's harder if it's the first time I've prosecuted a less common offense. My supervisor has to sign off on the indictment and I may need to consult a few people before submitting it.

I also need to draft a plea agreement. This isn't hard for about 95% of my cases, because we see so many of the same kinds of offenses that we have a lot of stock/standard pleas worked up for various situations. (This is also the case because I'm junior and get cases that look like they'll be pretty routine.) Writing a plea agreement from scratch is more complicated, because I have to figure out what kind of sentencing range to offer to sufficiently address the seriousness of the crime while still providing some benefit to encourage the defendant to take the plea.

Another big thing is disclosure. I don't have to do much to prepare the physical documents, but sometimes I manually redact reports. And I have to make sure all appropriate disclosure goes out to the defense attorneys, so there's a fair amount of keeping track of what's come in/gone out.

The next stage is indicting the case. I go before the grand jury with my agent, put my agent on the stand, and get them to testify to the probable cause underlying the charges. I go to grand jury probably 2 weeks out of 3, usually 1-3 cases each time.

After that point, I have to keep track of plea deadlines and contact defense counsel to check the status on their end. LOTS of my cases end with the defendant taking a plea (it's just the nature of the cases we get and what we charge). Even when they do, the deadlines often get continued, and it's part of my job to ensure that the continuances don't just drag on forever - at some point I have to be willing to say, Look, this is the last deadline, if you don't take the plea by then we'll go to trial. (I haven't had to do this very much yet and haven't figured out a great way to do it yet either; there are different approaches in the office.) I also respond to defense counsel questions/requests for a better deal.

In some cases, defendants file a formal motion - so far, motions to suppress evidence/statements - and I need to respond and prepare for an evidentiary hearing on the matter. Preparing means calling up the case agent to get them to round up the field agents to come in and talk to me about the case. (Or whoever needs to testify, but usually in my cases it's field agents.) I also have to prepare exhibits (if any), an exhibit list, and a witness list. (Half of the learning curve in this job is figuring out which documents you need to prepare and whether you file them with the court or bring them to the hearing, how many copies you need, etc.) At the evidentiary hearing I put on my witnesses and introduce my exhibits, defense counsel crosses, and I re-direct. (If defense put on witnesses I'd cross-examine, but that hasn't happened yet.) I also make legal argument at the end based on the testimony presented.

(Evidentiary hearings aren't everyday things. I have done one on my own and have 2 more upcoming, but a couple of the folks who started about 6 months before I did haven't done any yet. It just depends on the luck of the draw with your cases.)

If you get a defendant who doesn't want to plead, you go to trial. I haven't yet done a trial (though I have three scheduled for this summer), so I won't go into the details too much. There are a set of sort of stock motions in limine you need to file, depending again on the specific charge and circumstances of your case. You may have a hearing on motions in limine, to determine whether specific pieces of evidence are admissible (expert reports/criminal history/statements/etc.). You prep witnesses, exhibits, and go. Most of the cases that I handle are going to be 2 day trials, maybe 3, tops (if the defendant testifies, for instance).

In terms of a typical day: I get to work around 8:30. Probably 2-3 mornings a week I have routine court hearings, mostly changes of plea and sentencings. COPs require very little effort on my part beyond showing up (they can be more work for defense attorneys if halfway through the defendant balks at admitting what s/he needs to admit to enter a plea, though!).

Sentencings can be routine or more contested. Most of the time, the hardest work in a sentencing goes to the defendant, who is arguing for a lower sentence than has been recommended. Occasionally the government wants a different sentence than what's been recommended, or needs to put on evidence to establish, say, a particular sentencing enhancement. Mostly if you have a contested sentencing, you'd file a sentencing memo ahead of time (though a lot of defense counsel here are terrible about doing this). Putting on witnesses is uncommon, but can happen.

As I mentioned above, some weeks I also have to present at grand jury, which is usually in the mornings.

There aren't a lot of court hearings in the afternoon. That's usually when I identify questions I need to ask more experienced attorneys (that is, everyone), and tromp around the office trying to track down people who can answer. Or I make calls, or I work on writing projects. Or if I have something coming up (evid. hrg or trial or the like) I'll do witness prep. We also have trainings periodically. Other things that come up (that I haven't done yet but will) include going to detention centers to interview witnesses, or going to the scene of an offense to take pictures/get the lay of the land.

I almost always leave by 5:30, and the office empties out by then. If I have a trial or hearing coming up, I may work late or on the weekend. I know some people work longer hours but I haven't figured out what's typical and what's me still being new and so on.

Like I said, some of this is going to be specific to my district, and some of it is specific to me being a newbie. I'm not (yet) involved in a lot of investigations, which require a lot more work on the front end, building the case and working more directly with agents, which can change the nature of what you do (a lot more search warrants, for instance!).

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:11 pm

@ph14: I was hired through the honors program, so not the typical process for AUSA hiring. Within that context, I think the essays I wrote about why I wanted to be an AUSA and how AUSAs can contribute to society (those were the assigned topics) were really important (my other qualifications were good but not spectacular and I had no ties to the office, although I had a lot of demonstrated interest in some of the kinds of cases we do, and I have a long history of moving around for jobs). I haven't actually been involved in hiring since I've been here, though the recent hires have had a wide range of backgrounds in terms of school/experience.

-crim AUSA

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby linkx13 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:51 pm

Tag! Good thread

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patogordo
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby patogordo » Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:03 pm

if you want to get a feel for a typical day at a law firm, this thread is a goldmine

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kalvano
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby kalvano » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:39 pm

I'll chime in when I'm not on my phone. Real estate and telecommunications work here.

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JuanitaFromTheDiner
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby JuanitaFromTheDiner » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:59 pm

@ Criminal AUSA: Thank you for restoring your post! (Didn't see it the first time around, but it's incredibly useful.) Expanding on what was said about hiring, do you have any advice for 0Ls interested in this area? I know it can be competitive...

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worldtraveler
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby worldtraveler » Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:02 pm

Human rights work with an international NGO

Usually have 1 or 2 skype calls a day with partner organizations and discuss planning for project implementation or problems. Takes forever because connections are shitty so half the time is yelling CAN YOU HEAR ME.

Usually some kind of memo or brief question on international human rights treaties in some country. Involves researching a lot of case law and giving a brief opinion on whether the treaty is applicable in the courts there, and if it is, if they will pay any attention. Also often requires figuring out how legal systems operate all over the world and I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the hell civil law is and why anyone uses it.

And I almost always have either a donor report to work on, where I painstakingly document everything I've done for some project and try and show people what we did with their money. Or I'm making a powerpoint or some kind of presentation to give to on the ground staff to help them understand some obscure human rights issue or law. Usually I'm writing that in a language I barely understand and it takes forever.

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:55 am

I work as a law clerk for a federal appellate judge. I am either reading or writing pretty much all day. It makes most sense to describe a schedule in terms of sittings. A sitting is when my judge hears oral arguments for three or four days in a row, usually the first week of that month.

Let's say my judge has June and July sittings. We will receive all the briefs about five to six weeks before the sitting (mid to late April). At this point, the cases will be divvied up among the clerks. Judges (and courts) have many different ways of divvy cases up. Some judges let their clerks decide; others will directly assign each case directly to a clerk; still others use complicated point systems. In any case, each clerk will generally be individually responsible for a share of the cases.

Once we get the cases, the first thing I do is read the briefs. Briefs will sometimes be helpful to my job. A helpful brief tells me exactly what issues the parties wish to raise, accurately portrays the record, tells me the applicable law (and bears in mind that as an appellate court we are bound to follow the Supreme Court and prior decisions of this court), and then applies that law to the facts of the case. A surprising percentage of the time the briefs are not helpful and occasionally they are harmful to the client's interests. As I read the brief, depending on the case, I may occasionally scroll through the record. The length and complexity of the briefs can vary. So this step can take anywhere from an hour to several hours per case.

Once I have read the briefs, I now move on to writing. Again, there is variability among judges in the type of work product they want clerks to produce before oral arguments. Most judges require a bench memorandum on cases for which they are the writing judge. The presiding judge determines who will be the writing judge for each case. A bench walks through all the various issues raised by the parties and offers the clerk's recommendation as to how she would decide each one. Benchs generally analyze issues that the panel would not need to reach in the opinion. So for example, let's say clerk thinks the panel should reverse the district court's judgement based on issue 1, she would still generally go through issues 2 through 6, even though the final opinion may only discuss issue 1.

So while working on benchs, you will need to read the (important) cases cited by the parties. At this point, I don't trust the parties to have briefed all the relevant case law so I will also be doing my own research. All told, bench memorandums can range from 5 to 50 pages, generally averaging 15 to 20. A bench can take a few days to get out (if it is a trivially simple case) or two plus weeks for more complicated cases. We generally exchange bench memorandum two or so weeks away from the sitting (here mid May).

Many legal jobs surely require a great deal of trivial stuff. Federal clerks surely do some of that. But creating a convincing bench memorandum generally requires a good deal of careful thinking, especially if it is on an area of law the clerk is not familiar with. It's generally up to the clerk to figure out how to solve the case and not all cases are that easy to solve. The more unhelpful the brief, the more work and more difficult it is for the clerk.

Back to the story. We are two weeks out from our June sitting and have now received benchs from other chambers (we are also six weeks out from our July sitting so we have also received briefs for our July sitting). For circuits that share bench memorandums, judges will still require some independent work to be done on bench memorandums received from other chambers. This again varies a lot by judge: some do not require any written work product (just be prepared to discuss the case orally), some shorter work product (a mini-bench memo), some only require work product if the clerk disagrees with the bench memorandum, etc. This work product, if any, will be turned in a few days before the sitting (say end of May) so that the judge has time to review it before oral arguments. Of course, if your court or your judge does not share bench memorandums, then you just have to do benchs for all the cases. This will certainly mean a lot more work for the clerks.

The first week of June arrives and we are in oral argument. You might have to travel if your judge does not have chambers wherever your circuit sits. Before oral arguments, your judge might want you to brief him on the various cases, suggest questions for oral arguments, that sort of stuff. We generally hear oral arguments for the first half of the day and then resume normal work for the second half. In my experience, although you might have other things to do (in this case work on July cases), very little work gets done sitting week.

Following a sitting, if your judge remains the writing judge, you will now have the job of converting your bench memorandum into an opinion. Depending on how much work you put into your bench, it can take a few hours to several days to convert a bench into a proposed opinion. Judges again have different styles. Some will have their clerks write the entire opinion, make some edits, and then send it out. Other judges will look at a proposed opinion but write the actual opinion from scratch. In order to not be considered "late," opinions for our court need to be issued sixty days following the oral argument submission date. So once you have down-time (and are not pressed with work for another sitting), you will work on getting out these opinions out.

Many cases do not follow this track. So you might have some cases where you skip the bench memo and just directly go to proposed opinion. This procedure is generally for trivially easy cases. Your judge might have you respond to various motions that come up (most judges handle motions themselves, but sometimes clerks get the first pass at difficult motions). You might also have to read motions for panel reconsideration or motions to reconsider en banc. I generally skim through these, maybe spend 5-10 minutes at the end of the day reading the two or three I have gotten. These are usually trivial, but very rarely another panel has messed up badly. If you see something that suggests that, you then might have to look into it deeper. You will also have to review opinions that you receive from other chambers on your cases (make sure they are right substantively and then proofread and citecheck them). Reviewing an opinion will take anywhere from an hour to half a day. Of course, if you disagree and judge wants to dissent, that can be a considerable amount of work. Some judges also have their clerks work on other things (law review articles, etc.).

Once you finish a sitting, the cycle repeats. So a "typical" day depends on where we are in the cycle and if I have prior cases to get out and if we are in the midst of back-to-back sittings. In the above example, mid-late April will be very stress-free. I don't have anything else to get out and am just working on a few benchs. I will be much more stressed near the time bench memos are due. And usually the week before sittings is quite hectic. The sitting week is tiring but you're generally spending a lot of time working.

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North
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby North » Sun Apr 27, 2014 1:24 am

Well this could easily become one of the more useful threads on TLS. Big thank you to the attorneys who've responded so far.

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JenDarby
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby JenDarby » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:57 am

I work in-house at a bank. I get in around 9:45 everyday and usually leave around 6, though it may be earlier or later depending on the deals I'm covering.

On a typical day I'll have some calls with traders regarding new deals. Then I'll negotiate NDAs with counterparties. I draft engagement letters if deals get there. I review pricing supplements for offerings to make sure they comply with securities regulations and would pass muster with FINRA in cases of certain exemptions before the traders start marketing. I help manage the corporate documents for all of our entities the different desks work through. I negotiate ISDA agreements, credit support annexes and other documents for our derivatives work. If something like lost physical documentation for notes comes up than I will work with the other bank to get bond insurance in place, the proper documentation, etc.

Negotiate is truly a strong word for general transactional documents because for most standard matters each party will have certain internal standards and a range of permitted deviation from those standards. It's not rocket science and oftentimes it comes down to who's hungrier and will sign off to get lunch or go home. When you're not billing clients for your time you see how frivolous a lot of that work becomes. NDAs are basically never litigated, ever. Yet I find that outside counsel will spend so many unnecessary emails and calls fighting over "may" vs "will" and "promptly" vs "immediately" or provisions allowing securities examiners access to materials without notice to the other party (examiners don't drop by and tell you every document they look at in routine examinations, so let's be real and not pretend like we can negotiate this). Internal tends to be far more straightforward to work with when it comes to document negotiation.
Last edited by JenDarby on Fri May 09, 2014 11:26 am, edited 2 times in total.

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ggocat
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby ggocat » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:12 am

I am a staff attorney assigned to one judge at a state intermediate court of appeals. Most of my day requires reading, researching, writing, and talking with the other staff attorney in my chambers and/or the judge (each judge has two staff attorneys or one staff attorney and a law clerk). It's about 50-50% civil and criminal appeals.

In a year, I am responsible for writing about 25-30 draft opinions. That works out to more than one every two weeks (not including any time off), or 6-9 work days per case on average. As one judge told me, "We are paper pushers." A draft will usually be between 10-20 pages. My goal for every opinion is to keep it under 10, but that's hard to do. Brevity is key because my judge has to read, edit, and contemplate all of my opinions and my co-attorney's opinions--about 50-60 per year, including all the briefs and relevant cases and documents in the record. And my judge has to read, edit, and contemplate about 100-120 opinions per year that are written by the other judges/lawyers (including the briefs, cases, and records). And my judge has to read, edit, and contemplate countless orders and opinions (on motions, mandamus petitions, etc.) authored by the central staff lawyers. Of course, not only does my judge have to do that, but so does every other judge. Judges generally like it if you keep things short and simple, so long as all issues are addressed adequately.

I usually spend a full day or two with the briefs, which may include looking up cases and particular documents in the record. I outline the issues with supporting facts and important cases, with short summaries or explanatory parentheticals for the cases. This is my roadmap for when I need to return to the case. Unless it is a simple case or has very good briefing, I generally spend 60-75% of my time on any given case reading, researching, and outlining. I spend less time writing because once I have an outline, it's easy to fill in the gaps. During the research stage, I frequently talk with my judge about how the case will likely come out, and I ask the judge questions about policy and how things work "in the real world." Usually I am making a recommendation about how the case should come out.

My judge has oral argument maybe 1-2 days per month. I rarely have a case argued -- usually less than 5 per year. For those cases, we have a pre-argument conference with the judges on the panel (they sit in panels of 3) and the staff attorneys working on other argued cases for the day. The most senior judge on the panel can decide if the lawyers should submit memoranda about their cases. Usually memoranda are disfavored because it's just more work and more writing/reading that everyone needs to do. My preference, and that of some others, is to prepare a draft opinion before oral argument and then revise it after argument (or re-write if the disposition will be different, which is rare). This way we are not constantly needing to get ourselves reacquainted with old cases. On argument days, there is also a post-argument discussion with the lawyers and judges where usually the judges agree on a disposition and general roadmap for that disposition. We discuss whether anything from oral argument changed their minds or whether we need further research on any issues (usually not).

Once I have finished writing an opinion, my judge reviews it and makes edits--sometimes substantial, sometimes minimal. We discuss the case in depth if there are tricky issues, and we play devil's advocate. After a few days, the opinion is usually ready for circulation (sending it to the other judges for their review, edits, and voting). Depending on the other judges on the panel, sometimes cases receive no or minimal editing; sometimes there are matters of substance the other judges want included.; and sometimes there are dissents and concurrences. Sometimes the judges meet informally to discuss cases that are circulating. Sometimes I need to rewrite or review how my judge has rewritten particular sections of an opinion. Sometimes I need to do additional research to respond to other judges' questions.

After all the judges have voted and I've incorporated edits from other judges, my co-attorney will review the opinion for technical errors. When I incorporate most of those edits, my judge signs the opinion and it issues.

Hours: usually arrive 8:00 - 8:30 a.m. and leave 5:00 - 5:30 p.m.

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wert3813
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby wert3813 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:34 am

Well this is phenomenal. I wasn't prepared for so many non-big law answers. We hear all the time about big law hours, but if those of you that aren't doing big law might be willing to share your average hours when you post that might be helpful.

Also, I hope biglaw lawyers won't shy away. It's hard to figure out how one's life as a project finance lawyer will be different compared to VC compared to bankruptcy, etc.

09042014
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby 09042014 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:37 am

Whatever my boss thinks it should be.

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby 09042014 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:56 am

Desert Fox Intellectual Property Litigator Lover Larger-than-Life

Wake up my dogs ass in my face at 9 am.

shit shower shave

Get to train station at 9:45-10:00

Read email on teh train

Get to work at 10:15.

Pretend to work for an hour.

Do research on my own schedule.

Read documents that are important.

Think about shit.

Negotiate which food truck we are getting lunch from. Luckily it's taco tuesday

12-12:45 lunch.

Google " plasma etching"

Reads wikipedia for 20 minutes

1:45

"DF do you have ten minutes to discuss Y case"

Walks up stairs

Tell partner why his idea is retarded but do it gently

"How is that compliant going?"

(never mentioned actually starting it before right now

"Ok when do you need it"

Tomorrow

Goes back to desk and starts copying a complaint filed by other lawyer in same type of case.

2:30 goes and gets coffee with girls from the floor

2:45 "Upon information and belief, Opponent sucks small asian cock for a living."

3:45 "Alarm: Technical Team Meeting for Case X in 15 minutes."

3:55: "Alarm: Technical Team Meeting for Case X in 15 minutes."

4:00 - beep boop boop beeeep bep booop booop bib bob beep

4:01 - Number confirmed

4:01 - if you are the meeting coordinator press 1 now

4:02- Please say your name after the beep .. . . (says nothing).

4:07- NYC here, DC, Here, SF here.

4:08 - Email :Where r u

4:08 - Email : Come to Lee

4:09 walks up stairs to conference room nobody mentioned we were meeting in/

4:10-15 - Parnter I don't know from NYC describes the client is stonewalling but is definitely totally fucked

4:20-45 slowly go over list of stupid assignments that really can't get started because the client doesn't get information

4:45 - DF how is your thing going. "GOOD" (already has it done but I don't want another assignment)

5-8 work on complaint

8 - email version to partner of local counsel who cites checks it for me. PRESTIGE

8 ride subway home

8:30 order indian food

9-11 finish work

11- watch game of thrones

12 finish bottle of wine

4am wake up from teh couch and crawl into bed. Find dog spread eagle on my pillow.

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby arklaw13 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:02 pm

Desert Fox wrote:day


So you don't even get free breakfast? What a TTT place

09042014
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby 09042014 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:03 pm

arklaw13 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:day


So you don't even get free breakfast? What a TTT place



Only on bagel mondays.

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:30 pm

I'll bite. I'm a first year PD in a well respected state system. Right now, my caseload is hovering at around 150 misdos and a handful of felonies. I'm generally the only attorney assigned to the misdemeanor cases and am working with more senior attorneys on the felonies. I've done around 7 jury trials since I started and frequently litigate evidentiary motions hearings (generally about one a week, on average).

A typical week for me looks like this: on Friday afternoon, I pull my files for the upcoming week and email the ADA assigned to those case to get the starting offers. I call my out of custody clients to set up a time to meet with them early next week. Saturday, I try to take the day off. On Sunday, I read through the files and background check the clients (looking to see if anyone is on felony probation or a deferred sentence, has pending charges in other counties, etc). If folks have such issues, I look to see if they have an attorney assigned on the other case and email that attorney to see how they want me to handle the misdo. I generally spend another part of the day writing motions and / or prepping for hearings that I have coming up the following week. On Monday morning, I return voicemails / emails and try to track down the clients I wasn't able to get in touch with on Friday. Monday afternoons, I meet with out of custodies at my office and then go over to the jail to get a start on talking to my in custody clients. The majority of cases are not good trial cases, so it becomes a matter of getting the best plea possible. The clients tell me what they want / I tell them what I think they could reasonably get, and then I go back to the ADA to talk them into going along with the counteroffer. Tuesday and Wednesday are essentially a repeat of Monday, except when I'm in trial then those are the days that I have to go in for trial call. Thursday I have docket all day, which amounts to putting in the pleas we were able to hammer out earlier in the week, setting people over as needed if they can't resolve that week, and then going to motions on the cases that were previously set for trial. I also have docket on Friday morning.

My job isn't a 9-5 kind of thing. I'm frequently making phone calls to clients after hours and going out to the jail in the evenings and on weekends. I usually get to work around 7:30 a.m. and leave around 7:00 p.m. When I get home, I take about an hour to eat dinner / watch some tv, and then work some more (usually writing motions or doing trial prep). It's exhausting and I love it.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby reasonable_man » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:48 pm

I'll add to this in a little while too.

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SplitMyPants
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby SplitMyPants » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:57 pm

I know many GP firms don't have a patent prosecution practice, but if there are any biglaw patent prosecutors around here, I'd greatly appreciate your input.

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bk1
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby bk1 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 1:02 pm

North wrote:Well this could easily become one of the more useful threads on TLS. Big thank you to the attorneys who've responded so far.

Definite +1. My aim was to see if we could get some info out there that would be really helpful to students/applicants that didn't already exist on TLS. Thanks a ton to the the attorneys who've gone out of their way to write up about their jobs.

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Jsa725
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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Jsa725 » Sun Apr 27, 2014 1:14 pm

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Last edited by Jsa725 on Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lawyers: What's Your Typical Day?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 27, 2014 1:16 pm

JuanitaFromTheDiner wrote:@ Criminal AUSA: Thank you for restoring your post! (Didn't see it the first time around, but it's incredibly useful.) Expanding on what was said about hiring, do you have any advice for 0Ls interested in this area? I know it can be competitive...

Put yourself in a position to get a federal district court clerkship if at all possible (federal COA is nice, too, of course, but I think district court clerking is much more relevant to what you do as an AUSA and more valued). If you can, clerk for a former AUSA, maybe in a district where you'd like to work (this is sort of unicorn-y, though, since you rarely have much choice in clerkships, and won't know what USAOs may be hiring down the road when you apply. But I thought I'd throw it out there). Get to know AUSAs who can put in a good word for you - so in school, I would highly recommend interning for a USAO. It's not a guarantee of anything, but most of the AUSAs I know did so.

Beyond that, it depends a little on your route to the USAO. In my district, there seem to be three common paths: work as a state prosecutor (or public defender) first; work in biglaw first; or do JAG/other military first. We have a lot of former state prosecutors, but some offices hire more/exclusively out of biglaw, so it depends. Mostly it's a matter of being competitive for the job that will get to the USAO, and getting good experience there (what constitutes good experience will depend on whether you're an ADA or in biglaw, though anything that gets you into court will help).

(This is all as far as I can tell. I haven't hired anyone. We are currently hiring and from what I've heard around the office, my impression is that a good chunk of the candidates know someone in the office somehow - it's a small legal market in my district and most of the interviewees have worked in it for a few years.)

- crim AUSA




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