Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

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Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 13, 2014 5:39 pm

I recently graduated and have been working big law (corporate) for less than a year, but am thinking about quitting so I can work as a City Attorney Prosecutor and get litigation experience. I would only want to do the Prosecutor job so I can transfer to the federal government out east. Is it possible to get these jobs with one year prosecutor experience? I would like Assistant U.S. Attorney with the DOJ or Department of Labor or some other federal government litigation job where you actually try cases. Has anyone had a Prosecutor job and lateraled after a year? The cases you try are very low level municipal gigs.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 13, 2014 6:29 pm

I know a lot of AUSAs who've come from state prosecution backgrounds, but most of them had 3-7 years experience when they got hired. (It will also depend on the office and who they like to hire.) I'm not sure that state prosecution would be at all relevant for working at DOL - people seem much more likely to come from labor/employment backgrounds. It's the civil/criminal difference - I don't think criminal litigation really transfers directly to civil fields, at least not when you're competing with people who have lit experience in the relevant fields.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 13, 2014 6:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I know a lot of AUSAs who've come from state prosecution backgrounds, but most of them had 3-7 years experience when they got hired. (It will also depend on the office and who they like to hire.) I'm not sure that state prosecution would be at all relevant for working at DOL - people seem much more likely to come from labor/employment backgrounds. It's the civil/criminal difference - I don't think criminal litigation really transfers directly to civil fields, at least not when you're competing with people who have lit experience in the relevant fields.


The job is actually civil in nature. Prosecuting violations of civil ordinances on behalf of the city. However, the initial years is low-level crimes. For example, traffic violations, noise violations, etc. I wouldn't really get to do "the constitutionality" of a city ordinance until year 3 to 7. The city also deals with labor issues, but I don't think I would be able to do that until year 3-7...And I'm definitely not looking to stay that long. Ugh...

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 13, 2014 6:48 pm

Ah, I get it. Maybe a bit more applicable, then. I still think 1 year is going to be pushing it for sufficient experience, though.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 13, 2014 8:32 pm

Fastest I've ever seen is 30 months from ADA-> AUSA

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby deadpanic » Sun Dec 14, 2014 8:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Fastest I've ever seen is 30 months from ADA-> AUSA


Everyone is answering him in regards to ADAs; this is a city prosecutor position. From what I gather, at least where I practice, it is pretty crappy work that is not very transferable, especially if you are just looking to be there for a year or two. You do not get much litigation experience as a city prosecutor like you do as an ADA. The college kid that was given a $200 fine for his jam box being too loud is probably going to just pay the fine rather than having the trial of the century.

AUSA positions are incredibly competitive and this will likely have no help whatsoever in getting a fed gov't gig. That being said, it would be way less stressful than big law so that's a plus.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby dresden doll » Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:02 pm

deadpanic wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Fastest I've ever seen is 30 months from ADA-> AUSA


Everyone is answering him in regards to ADAs; this is a city prosecutor position. From what I gather, at least where I practice, it is pretty crappy work that is not very transferable, especially if you are just looking to be there for a year or two. You do not get much litigation experience as a city prosecutor like you do as an ADA. The college kid that was given a $200 fine for his jam box being too loud is probably going to just pay the fine rather than having the trial of the century.

AUSA positions are incredibly competitive and this will likely have no help whatsoever in getting a fed gov't gig. That being said, it would be way less stressful than big law so that's a plus.

My take as well.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 15, 2014 1:03 am

deadpanic wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Fastest I've ever seen is 30 months from ADA-> AUSA


Everyone is answering him in regards to ADAs; this is a city prosecutor position. From what I gather, at least where I practice, it is pretty crappy work that is not very transferable, especially if you are just looking to be there for a year or two. You do not get much litigation experience as a city prosecutor like you do as an ADA. The college kid that was given a $200 fine for his jam box being too loud is probably going to just pay the fine rather than having the trial of the century.

AUSA positions are incredibly competitive and this will likely have no help whatsoever in getting a fed gov't gig. That being said, it would be way less stressful than big law so that's a plus.


I agree that it would be hard to go from the city to AUSA. However, at least in my city, you get as many trials as you want. A friend who interned for my city last summer did 20+ trials. Obviously the stakes are lower, but practice is practice. Some of our dockets are actually handled by big firms who are trying to get their baby associates trial experience.

I still think the career path would be city --> ADA misdemeanor --> ADA felony --> AUSA though.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Displeased » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:15 am

deadpanic wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Fastest I've ever seen is 30 months from ADA-> AUSA


Everyone is answering him in regards to ADAs; this is a city prosecutor position. From what I gather, at least where I practice, it is pretty crappy work that is not very transferable, especially if you are just looking to be there for a year or two. You do not get much litigation experience as a city prosecutor like you do as an ADA. The college kid that was given a $200 fine for his jam box being too loud is probably going to just pay the fine rather than having the trial of the century.

AUSA positions are incredibly competitive and this will likely have no help whatsoever in getting a fed gov't gig. That being said, it would be way less stressful than big law so that's a plus.


Agreed with this. There's just no comparison between city prosecutor and AUSA or ADA.

Any random ADA is probably trying serious felonies (sexual assault, malicious woundings, etc) in front of a jury within 12 months of starting. As a city prosecutor, you'll be lucky to have more than a few noise violations and unlicensed dog cases to your name within that 12 month period. Guess who the feds are going to hire?

And honestly, if you got a AUSA job within 3 years of being an ADA, you are practically a prodigy. You simply aren't "lateraling" from city prosecutor to AUSA in one year.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:01 pm

Displeased wrote:
deadpanic wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Fastest I've ever seen is 30 months from ADA-> AUSA


Everyone is answering him in regards to ADAs; this is a city prosecutor position. From what I gather, at least where I practice, it is pretty crappy work that is not very transferable, especially if you are just looking to be there for a year or two. You do not get much litigation experience as a city prosecutor like you do as an ADA. The college kid that was given a $200 fine for his jam box being too loud is probably going to just pay the fine rather than having the trial of the century.

AUSA positions are incredibly competitive and this will likely have no help whatsoever in getting a fed gov't gig. That being said, it would be way less stressful than big law so that's a plus.


Agreed with this. There's just no comparison between city prosecutor and AUSA or ADA.

Any random ADA is probably trying serious felonies (sexual assault, malicious woundings, etc) in front of a jury within 12 months of starting. As a city prosecutor, you'll be lucky to have more than a few noise violations and unlicensed dog cases to your name within that 12 month period. Guess who the feds are going to hire?

And honestly, if you got a AUSA job within 3 years of being an ADA, you are practically a prodigy. You simply aren't "lateraling" from city prosecutor to AUSA in one year.


I'm a city prosecutor. It's a lot more than a few noise violations in a 12 month period. The cases aren't particularly serious, but they are numerous. It's a lot of trial experience in a short time (partly because the cases have pretty low stakes so you get thrown in very quickly).

Any random ADA will be spending their first year filing cases and dealing with Justice of the Peace courts. In the office I interned at, you spent a year filing cases, then a couple years doing misdemeanors and then maybe you'd get moved up to felonies. I think it's pretty rare for first year prosecutors to even be touching felony cases.

With all that said, ADA is still a considerable step closer to AUSA if that's your goal, OP.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Displeased » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Any random ADA will be spending their first year filing cases and dealing with Justice of the Peace courts. In the office I interned at, you spent a year filing cases, then a couple years doing misdemeanors and then maybe you'd get moved up to felonies. I think it's pretty rare for first year prosecutors to even be touching felony cases.



I'm a Virginia PD, and I've never heard of an ADA being stuck doing misdemeanors for a "couple years". Just hasn't been my experience at all, most Virginia prosecutors (called CWAs here, because Virginia is a Commonwealth) just don't have the luxury of wasting two years on a new hire. Hell, the CWAs in many jurisdictions here in VA don't bother getting involved in anything less serious than a DUI, so even if you're "stuck doing misdemeanors", you're still involved in relatively serious offenses.

And I know this is anecdotal, but in my first year of practice I tried a (juvenile) felony aggravated sexual assault and abduction case, going against a prosecutor who had gotten his bar results less than two months prior to trying that case. Its just not that uncommon to have newbies handling serious cases.

No comment on caseload, because I don't know a city attorney's caseload. All I'll say is that an individual PD in Virginia averages about 200 cases a year, and Commonwealth Attorneys likely average just slightly below that. I'm in court just about every single day, as are many of the prosecutors. I have a hard time imagining that a City Attorney has a tougher caseload than a Commonwealth Attorney.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:55 pm

More anecdata, but I'm in a city in the southwest, and the state prosecutors certainly spend a couple of years doing misdemeanors. (Lots of DUIs, I think.)

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:16 pm

Displeased wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Any random ADA will be spending their first year filing cases and dealing with Justice of the Peace courts. In the office I interned at, you spent a year filing cases, then a couple years doing misdemeanors and then maybe you'd get moved up to felonies. I think it's pretty rare for first year prosecutors to even be touching felony cases.



I'm a Virginia PD, and I've never heard of an ADA being stuck doing misdemeanors for a "couple years". Just hasn't been my experience at all, most Virginia prosecutors (called CWAs here, because Virginia is a Commonwealth) just don't have the luxury of wasting two years on a new hire. Hell, the CWAs in many jurisdictions here in VA don't bother getting involved in anything less serious than a DUI, so even if you're "stuck doing misdemeanors", you're still involved in relatively serious offenses.

And I know this is anecdotal, but in my first year of practice I tried a (juvenile) felony aggravated sexual assault and abduction case, going against a prosecutor who had gotten his bar results less than two months prior to trying that case. Its just not that uncommon to have newbies handling serious cases.

No comment on caseload, because I don't know a city attorney's caseload. All I'll say is that an individual PD in Virginia averages about 200 cases a year, and Commonwealth Attorneys likely average just slightly below that. I'm in court just about every single day, as are many of the prosecutors. I have a hard time imagining that a City Attorney has a tougher caseload than a Commonwealth Attorney.


This is the OP. The city attorney is a prosecutor and they are in court several times a week. However, the cases don't last long. 30 minutes to an hour. If it is a complex DWI with witnesses, then maybe 2-3 hour trials.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:01 am

Displeased wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Any random ADA will be spending their first year filing cases and dealing with Justice of the Peace courts. In the office I interned at, you spent a year filing cases, then a couple years doing misdemeanors and then maybe you'd get moved up to felonies. I think it's pretty rare for first year prosecutors to even be touching felony cases.



I'm a Virginia PD, and I've never heard of an ADA being stuck doing misdemeanors for a "couple years". Just hasn't been my experience at all, most Virginia prosecutors (called CWAs here, because Virginia is a Commonwealth) just don't have the luxury of wasting two years on a new hire. Hell, the CWAs in many jurisdictions here in VA don't bother getting involved in anything less serious than a DUI, so even if you're "stuck doing misdemeanors", you're still involved in relatively serious offenses.

And I know this is anecdotal, but in my first year of practice I tried a (juvenile) felony aggravated sexual assault and abduction case, going against a prosecutor who had gotten his bar results less than two months prior to trying that case. Its just not that uncommon to have newbies handling serious cases.

No comment on caseload, because I don't know a city attorney's caseload. All I'll say is that an individual PD in Virginia averages about 200 cases a year, and Commonwealth Attorneys likely average just slightly below that. I'm in court just about every single day, as are many of the prosecutors. I have a hard time imagining that a City Attorney has a tougher caseload than a Commonwealth Attorney.



I've worked in 3 Prosecutors through law school and my current job. The average time to get to felony jury trials was 2-3ish years. And it varies heavily from year to year. I also know in Chicago it takes like 5-6 years to get out of misdemeanor court.

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Re: Can A Person Lateral To City Attorney Prosecutor To Fed Gov?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:37 pm

I didn't get the job so I guess its a moot point....




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