Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

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Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:04 pm

Feel free to fire away any questions while I'm packing up my office. I am posting anonymously because I will be discussing details of my law firm employer, and don't want to be identified. But, here is some general info:

Law School class of 2009
6th year litigation associate at an AmLaw 100 firm outside the V20
Joining a litigating component at DOJ

bjohnsobf
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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby bjohnsobf » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:06 pm

what GS and step level are you coming in at? Was there any negotiation if there was what was that like offer/counter accept? What kind of overall compensation loss are you taking from firm to gov?

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:13 pm

bjohnsobf wrote:what GS and step level are you coming in at? Was there any negotiation if there was what was that like offer/counter accept? What kind of overall compensation loss are you taking from firm to gov?


GS15, one of the lower steps. There was not really any negotiation. If they had offered GS14, I might have asked for additional steps, but at 15, I was satisfied. I did attempt to negotiate enrollment in the DOJ ASLRP (loan repayment program), but did not get anywhere. For overall comp (including an estimate of average bonus), I am taking about a $80k/year cut.

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los blancos
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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby los blancos » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:22 pm

How long did the process take and what do you think made you stand out from the pile?

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:33 pm

los blancos wrote:How long did the process take and what do you think made you stand out from the pile?


The total process, from beginning the search through the final written offer, was about 10 months. About 7 months from initial application to final written offer. I don't have a great answer as to what made me stick out from the pile, but my guesses are: (1) it's a numbers game, and I unsuccessfully applied to many, many other positions; (2) I had decent substantive experience in the area of law my DOJ component practices; and (3) I had a demonstrated commitment to public service and conveyed that I am not just jumping ship to build my resume.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby JohannDeMann » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:34 pm

How long have you been open to the possibility of leaving / actively looking? Why are you calling yourself a midlevel at Year 6? Seems senior to me. What were your partnership prospects looking like?

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby los blancos » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
los blancos wrote:How long did the process take and what do you think made you stand out from the pile?


The total process, from beginning the search through the final written offer, was about 10 months. About 7 months from initial application to final written offer. I don't have a great answer as to what made me stick out from the pile, but my guesses are: (1) it's a numbers game, and I unsuccessfully applied to many, many other positions; (2) I had decent substantive experience in the area of law my DOJ component practices; and (3) I had a demonstrated commitment to public service and conveyed that I am not just jumping ship to build my resume.


Thanks. Did you have the impression that firm PREFTIGE or things like law school grades were at all important?

bjohnsobf
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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby bjohnsobf » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:42 pm

I had a demonstrated commitment to public service and conveyed that I am not just jumping ship to build my resume.


How do you demonstrate a commitment to public service with 6 years of biglaw? lots of pro bono work? Would you be open to jumping back to biglaw partner after you're deputy attorney general for a couple years or are you planning to retire in gov?

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:48 pm

JohannDeMann wrote:How long have you been open to the possibility of leaving / actively looking? Why are you calling yourself a midlevel at Year 6? Seems senior to me. What were your partnership prospects looking like?


It's always been something that was in the back of my mind as a possibility, but I wasn't actively looking until the last year or so. I just began my 6th year, so I have completed 5 years and I am really in the transition from mid-level to senior level. I guess technically, I'd agree that I am a senior associate now, but I've only been one for a month or so and I am leaving imminently. Partnership prospects are difficult to forecast, but I am as on track as you can be at this point. I'd need to step up my game for the next 3 years, and cross my fingers that certain things would fall into place, but I'd roughly put my chances at a coin flip.

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:49 pm

Did you attend T14 law school? Any sense of how law school prestige affects big law-->DOJ?

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby johndhi » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:51 pm

1. why did you decide to leave?

2. you still have loans after 5 years of biglaw? how much?

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:53 pm

bjohnsobf wrote:
I had a demonstrated commitment to public service and conveyed that I am not just jumping ship to build my resume.


How do you demonstrate a commitment to public service with 6 years of biglaw? lots of pro bono work? Would you be open to jumping back to biglaw partner after you're deputy attorney general for a couple years or are you planning to retire in gov?


Pro bono work and government internships/summer jobs that I had during law school. I don't have a clear 30 year plan, but I am definitely not looking to return to private practice anytime soon. But you never know and I wouldn't rule it out somewhere down the road.

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:55 pm

los blancos wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
los blancos wrote:How long did the process take and what do you think made you stand out from the pile?


The total process, from beginning the search through the final written offer, was about 10 months. About 7 months from initial application to final written offer. I don't have a great answer as to what made me stick out from the pile, but my guesses are: (1) it's a numbers game, and I unsuccessfully applied to many, many other positions; (2) I had decent substantive experience in the area of law my DOJ component practices; and (3) I had a demonstrated commitment to public service and conveyed that I am not just jumping ship to build my resume.


Thanks. Did you have the impression that firm PREFTIGE or things like law school grades were at all important?


I don't think firm prestige (in the Vault sense) matters at all. But, I think coming from a big firm probably adds a vague sense of desirability and perhaps a perceived veneer of being intelligent and a hard worker. My sense is grades definitely matter (at my stage), but not nearly to the degree they mattered in OCI. Experience is what matters most.

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:56 pm

Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:Did you attend T14 law school? Any sense of how law school prestige affects big law-->DOJ?


I did not attend a T14. I was top 1/3 at a T20. I think law school prestige carries a lot of weight at DOJ, but of course they are not limiting hiring to HYS.

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los blancos
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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby los blancos » Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
los blancos wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
los blancos wrote:How long did the process take and what do you think made you stand out from the pile?


The total process, from beginning the search through the final written offer, was about 10 months. About 7 months from initial application to final written offer. I don't have a great answer as to what made me stick out from the pile, but my guesses are: (1) it's a numbers game, and I unsuccessfully applied to many, many other positions; (2) I had decent substantive experience in the area of law my DOJ component practices; and (3) I had a demonstrated commitment to public service and conveyed that I am not just jumping ship to build my resume.


Thanks. Did you have the impression that firm PREFTIGE or things like law school grades were at all important?


I don't think firm prestige (in the Vault sense) matters at all. But, I think coming from a big firm probably adds a vague sense of desirability and perhaps a perceived veneer of being intelligent and a hard worker. My sense is grades definitely matter (at my stage), but not nearly to the degree they mattered in OCI. Experience is what matters most.



Much appreciated. Good luck with the new gig, I'm jealous.

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nothingtosee
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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby nothingtosee » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:05 pm

Were you at a NY office?
Where is your DOJ office?
Did you have ties to that area?

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:05 pm

johndhi wrote:1. why did you decide to leave?

2. you still have loans after 5 years of biglaw? how much?


1. My reasons are varied. On the one hand, I have some perhaps sappy or idealistic reasons -- I am attracted by the public service component, and would like to achieve something more than just helping my particular client's wallet. I will get a warm fuzzy feeling by saying that I represent the United States of America. And I am drawn to the idea of working for justice, the "best" result, rather than just an individual interest.

At the same time, I think it's also a good move for very practical reasons of my own career and professional development. A few of the previous posters asked about my partnership chances, which to me is slightly off the mark. My professional ambition isn't just to be "made partner," but rather to be an expert lawyer. I think that I will have a better shot at becoming an expert by switching to DOJ, for a variety of reasons (mainly the level of responsibility I will be given and narrow practice area focus I will have).

2. Yes I still have loans. I graduated with about $175k in student loans. My balance is now about $130k. The interest rates are low and I am okay with carrying low-interest rate debt. I probably won't pay off until the full 20 year term is up.

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:06 pm

nothingtosee wrote:Were you at a NY office?
Where is your DOJ office?
Did you have ties to that area?


DC firm, DC DOJ

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:10 pm

congratulations OP! This is a very solid exit option. Also it is encouraging to hear from mid-level+ big law people with stories other than "don't do this, I want to kill myself every day."

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:35 pm

Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:congratulations OP! This is a very solid exit option. Also it is encouraging to hear from mid-level+ big law people with stories other than "don't do this, I want to kill myself every day."


my pleasure.

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:58 pm

Congrats OP! How did you go about looking for this position? Just usajobs.gov, or did you have connections at DOJ, or through a recruiter?

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seizmaar
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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby seizmaar » Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:08 pm

if you had the choice, given what you know now, do you think you would have gone DOJ honors or do you value the experience/$$$ of biglaw?

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hairbear7
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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby hairbear7 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:08 pm

How feasible is it to go from biglaw to DOJ? What would you recommend to someone wanting to take this route (what should they do to increase their chances of getting into the DOJ).

Thanks for taking questions!

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby JohannDeMann » Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:12 pm

Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:congratulations OP! This is a very solid exit option. Also it is encouraging to hear from mid-level+ big law people with stories other than "don't do this, I want to kill myself every day."


but for real how many days doing it did you like or not like your job?

Also, my partnership comment is more to get a grasp on how hard partnership really is. Selfish question. I wasn't trying to say that should be everyone's goal. In fact, I think it should not be anyone's goal.

Do you have a family? Do you have hobbies that you are able to spend time on? How much time do you spend on family/hobbies?

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Re: Mid-Level Biglaw Associate, Leaving for DOJ, Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Congrats OP! How did you go about looking for this position? Just usajobs.gov, or did you have connections at DOJ, or through a recruiter?


Just USAJobs. AFAIK the government does not work with recruiters.




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