AUSA Taking Questions

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:33 pm

I am an Assistant United States Attorney happy to answer any questions I can to help anyone interested in state or federal prosecution.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273582
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:58 pm

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I have a bunch of questions.

I'm a current fed. dist. ct. clerk in the south, enjoying the low cost of living, and I am heading to a permanent honors program prosecutor position in a major city later this year.

- How did you become an AUSA? Lateral? Honors program? How long have you been an AUSA?
- How was the NAC? What was the schedule like? Did you enjoy it?
- How quickly were you in the courtroom? Do you work in teams?
- Are you in a major city? I don't have any debt, but I'm worried about managing the high cost of living. I'm going in as a GS-12, and I have already passed the bar, so I was wondering how quickly promotions come.

Thanks again!

User avatar
swampman
Posts: 489
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:48 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby swampman » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:01 pm

Does your office prefer hiring state prosecutors or people from firms?
For state prosecutors, what distinguishes one applicant from another?

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:05 pm

Like many AUSAs I was an ADA for a few years before I decided to try and move on to federal prosecution. I loved being an ADA so it wasn't anything where I left my work because I got tired of it or anything like that. I wanted a change and a new challenge, and frankly, being an AUSA had always been a goal of mine.

The NAC is a blast. Great food and the instructors are incredible.

In my office we all work as a team so to speak. People cover for one another, but by and large your case is your case and you handle it yourself.

I am not in a major city, I am in a "division office."

As for promotions it depends on the pay scale you are on. AUSAs are on an AD pay scale and so that can vary from person to person. Folks in "main justice" are in a GS pay scale.

Working in the honors program sounds amazing. It sounds like you have a great future ahead of you. Enjoy it!

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:07 pm

swampman wrote:Does your office prefer hiring state prosecutors or people from firms?
For state prosecutors, what distinguishes one applicant from another?


I really am not in a position to speak for my office's hiring preferences.

I can tell you most of the people I work with were previously ADAs, but some came from law firms or other types of jobs.

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:11 pm

swampman wrote:Does your office prefer hiring state prosecutors or people from firms?
For state prosecutors, what distinguishes one applicant from another?


I realized I didn't answer your second question. It's hard to say. Again I don't think I'm in a position to comment on that, but from my perspective I think someone who can demonstrate a proficiency in many types of cases from violent street crime to white collar type of activity would be a major asset. But again, many people I work with come from a variety of backgrounds and I can't really say with much specificity. Sorry.

User avatar
swampman
Posts: 489
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 3:48 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby swampman » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:18 pm

Whiteshirtnavysuit wrote:
swampman wrote:Does your office prefer hiring state prosecutors or people from firms?
For state prosecutors, what distinguishes one applicant from another?


I realized I didn't answer your second question. It's hard to say. Again I don't think I'm in a position to comment on that, but from my perspective I think someone who can demonstrate a proficiency in many types of cases from violent street crime to white collar type of activity would be a major asset. But again, many people I work with come from a variety of backgrounds and I can't really say with much specificity. Sorry.


Thanks, yeah I understand you're not involved in the hiring process, but any general impressions you have are very useful. From your experience, do contacts within the office, prior Federal-level work (including internships), or federal clerkships matter? Is not having any of those a deal-breaker?

What would you say are the biggest differences between the work as an ADA and AUSA? Any new skills that you've had to work on in the new job?

User avatar
SweetTort
Posts: 2449
Joined: Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:57 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby SweetTort » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:18 pm

What are your hours like? Work weekends?

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:30 pm

swampman wrote:
Whiteshirtnavysuit wrote:
swampman wrote:Does your office prefer hiring state prosecutors or people from firms?
For state prosecutors, what distinguishes one applicant from another?


I realized I didn't answer your second question. It's hard to say. Again I don't think I'm in a position to comment on that, but from my perspective I think someone who can demonstrate a proficiency in many types of cases from violent street crime to white collar type of activity would be a major asset. But again, many people I work with come from a variety of backgrounds and I can't really say with much specificity. Sorry.


Thanks, yeah I understand you're not involved in the hiring process, but any general impressions you have are very useful. From your experience, do contacts within the office, prior Federal-level work (including internships), or federal clerkships matter? Is not having any of those a deal-breaker?

What would you say are the biggest differences between the work as an ADA and AUSA? Any new skills that you've had to work on in the new job?


Speaking just from my own experience and not on behalf of the DOJ or any US Atty, I didn't know anyone at the office I was hired to work for. On the other hand, having a reputation in your legal community and having contacts seems like it would logically translate to having some advantage in separating your application from others, not because of some "inner circle" type of thing but because USA offices want people with integrity first and foremost and if someone can shed light on the integrity of an applicant it would seem to me to help wih the process, but again I really don't know. I'm speaking from my subjective view.

I did not have a federal clerkship not did I have any federal experience when I was hired on, so it is definitely not a deal breaker. What I did have was lots of trial experience and, again in my opinion, an open and frank conversation with those interviewing me about my weaknesses. I was up front about my lack of experience in federal court and sold my willingness to learn from others. It worked out well.

The biggest difference for me is in caseload. When I was an ADA I had hundreds of cases. It was extremely hard to keep up with all of them and juggle responsibilities. The true test of being an effective state prosecutor, in my opinion, is juggling an enormous caseload while seeing your cases through to protect both those accused from getting lost in the system and to fight for victims of cases that can equally fall off the radar. As a federal prosecutor I have the ability to truly dig into my cases without feeling overwhelmed.

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Tue Feb 17, 2015 7:33 pm

SweetTort wrote:What are your hours like? Work weekends?


Hours are great. Some weeks are rougher than others but I have friends in big law firms who never go home. I have other friends who started at big law firms and now moved over to state and federal prosecutors offices mostly because of the hours. I would say that I have a heavy workload, but it isn't based on billable hours so I can be more flexible with my family time when the need arises.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273582
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 18, 2015 1:54 am

I had a few AUSA interviews between Dec. 1 and Jan. 31. No word yet. How long is normal? I'm guessing I'mnot going to get them. Also, what are interviews like in your office? I've had some where you walk into room after room with 10+ lawyers in them and they pepper you with questions for an hour each. I've had some where they want you to make an appellate argument or closing or cross on the spot. I've had others that were typical biglaw interviews--sit around and bullshit about the Cubs or whatever.

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:I had a few AUSA interviews between Dec. 1 and Jan. 31. No word yet. How long is normal? I'm guessing I'mnot going to get them. Also, what are interviews like in your office? I've had some where you walk into room after room with 10+ lawyers in them and they pepper you with questions for an hour each. I've had some where they want you to make an appellate argument or closing or cross on the spot. I've had others that were typical biglaw interviews--sit around and bullshit about the Cubs or whatever.


I know it is frustrating to hear, but every office is different and whichever office you interviewed with very well could still be considering. I don't know. If I were in your position I would call human resources and ask if they have made a selection yet. My general guideline is for me personally is 2 weeks post interview if I have not heard back I think it is ok to call and ask.

Like you I have heard a variety of different types of interviews. I interviewed 3 times before getting a position and each was different. 2 of the interviews were in a large room with 3-5 folks asking questions over the course of an hour and one was a sit down with the U.S. Attorney for a district I applied for. I did not get hired following the interview in the district where I interviewed with the U.S. Attorney.

I wouldn't get turned away by it. Most AUSAs that I know had to interview multiple times and each one gets a bit easier since you know what to expect.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273582
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:50 am

Whiteshirtnavysuit wrote:Like many AUSAs I was an ADA for a few years before I decided to try and move on to federal prosecution. I loved being an ADA so it wasn't anything where I left my work because I got tired of it or anything like that. I wanted a change and a new challenge, and frankly, being an AUSA had always been a goal of mine.

The NAC is a blast. Great food and the instructors are incredible.

In my office we all work as a team so to speak. People cover for one another, but by and large your case is your case and you handle it yourself.

I am not in a major city, I am in a "division office."

As for promotions it depends on the pay scale you are on. AUSAs are on an AD pay scale and so that can vary from person to person. Folks in "main justice" are in a GS pay scale.

Working in the honors program sounds amazing. It sounds like you have a great future ahead of you. Enjoy it!



Thank you so much! I am really excited. I'll be joining one of the field offices for a division out of Main Justice that does criminal prosecution (think tax, antitrust, etc.).

Have you had any of those attorneys join the USAO for several months to get more courtroom experience before returning to their office?

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Whiteshirtnavysuit wrote:Like many AUSAs I was an ADA for a few years before I decided to try and move on to federal prosecution. I loved being an ADA so it wasn't anything where I left my work because I got tired of it or anything like that. I wanted a change and a new challenge, and frankly, being an AUSA had always been a goal of mine.

The NAC is a blast. Great food and the instructors are incredible.

In my office we all work as a team so to speak. People cover for one another, but by and large your case is your case and you handle it yourself.

I am not in a major city, I am in a "division office."

As for promotions it depends on the pay scale you are on. AUSAs are on an AD pay scale and so that can vary from person to person. Folks in "main justice" are in a GS pay scale.

Working in the honors program sounds amazing. It sounds like you have a great future ahead of you. Enjoy it!



Thank you so much! I am really excited. I'll be joining one of the field offices for a division out of Main Justice that does criminal prosecution (think tax, antitrust, etc.).

Have you had any of those attorneys join the USAO for several months to get more courtroom experience before returning to their office?



In my office we have not since I have been here, but I have met some of the people at Main Justice that have done it. They enjoyed the experience.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273582
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 18, 2015 1:54 pm

Thanks for taking questions! What practice areas do you work in? White collar, terrorism, narcotics, etc? Are there opportunities to work in more than one area? Also, do you hire attorneys from other government agencies, such as the SEC?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273582
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 18, 2015 2:32 pm

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

What would you recommend as the best things to do for an associate at a firm with fed. clerkship experience gunning for an AUSA position? Given the difficulty of coming by trial experience at firms, what do you think of programs that allow firms to "donate" associates to DA offices for trial experience (like the one linked below)?

http://www.phila.gov/districtattorney/c ... cutor.html

Thanks again.

User avatar
hairbear7
Posts: 517
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2014 2:28 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby hairbear7 » Wed Feb 18, 2015 2:46 pm

Tagging. Thanks for doing this!

Anonymous User
Posts: 273582
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 18, 2015 3:24 pm

Any insight on the application process? How long does it typically take between submission and interviews?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273582
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 18, 2015 5:56 pm

Related to the above question, is there a rating point where you think someone is likely to get an interview? I've applied to a bunch of AUSA positions, and I received pretty dissonant ratings for the ones where I've been referred. I think part of it is about the relative desirability of some districts compared to others but wanted some additional input.

Also, I'm sure that every office interviews differently, but can you talk about the structure for the interviews that you went on? How many applicants are at each stage? Should you start prepping hard for the interview if you get referred, or does that just mean you moved from the super huge pile to the slightly huge pile?

Thanks!

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions! What practice areas do you work in? White collar, terrorism, narcotics, etc? Are there opportunities to work in more than one area? Also, do you hire attorneys from other government agencies, such as the SEC?


I am what is in common parlance called a "line" prosecutor so I handle all kinds of cases. So to answer your question, yes there are opportunities in all areas of federal criminal law.

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions! What practice areas do you work in? White collar, terrorism, narcotics, etc? Are there opportunities to work in more than one area? Also, do you hire attorneys from other government agencies, such as the SEC?


As to your second question, again I play no part in my districts hiring policies. I imagine each district has different preferences, but it would seem to me that SEC experience would be a positive.

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any insight on the application process? How long does it typically take between submission and interviews?


I interviewed 3 times. For me it took around 2 weeks to hear back on each application on the occasions I got an interview. It took much longer to hear back when I didnt.

That, of course, is just my experience and I am sure it differs for others.

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

What would you recommend as the best things to do for an associate at a firm with fed. clerkship experience gunning for an AUSA position? Given the difficulty of coming by trial experience at firms, what do you think of programs that allow firms to "donate" associates to DA offices for trial experience (like the one linked below)?

http://www.phila.gov/districtattorney/c ... cutor.html

Thanks again.


My first job as an ADA was in a different office than I ended up staying in for a lengthy period of time and that office also had a "donation" program as you called it. Speaking from a former state prosecutor perspective I am sort of skeptical regarding how much that really benefited the donee attorneys. Many were put in misdemeanor courts and though it might have been interesting experience, it doesn't really translate to handling truly complex criminal cases. With that being said, trial experience is always a plus and I will always maintain that an intoxicated driver case can be one of the most difficult cases any prosecutor will ever try for various reasons.

So I guess to summarize my entirely subjective view, trial experience will look good on the resume no matter what but practically speaking I am skeptical of the benefits. Again, I can't speak to any hiring policies or what is benign sought, but in my view it couldn't hurt.

Whiteshirtnavysuit
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Whiteshirtnavysuit » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Related to the above question, is there a rating point where you think someone is likely to get an interview? I've applied to a bunch of AUSA positions, and I received pretty dissonant ratings for the ones where I've been referred. I think part of it is about the relative desirability of some districts compared to others but wanted some additional input.

Also, I'm sure that every office interviews differently, but can you talk about the structure for the interviews that you went on? How many applicants are at each stage? Should you start prepping hard for the interview if you get referred, or does that just mean you moved from the super huge pile to the slightly huge pile?

Thanks!


I wish I could be of more help on this question since it seems to be what most people are interested in. The problem is I cannot speak for the DOJ or any US attorney, so the extent of the help I can give here is sharing my experience.

I can tell you I never lost a felony trial and I did provide my trial record at each interview. With that being said, I work with folks who have lost deli you trials so who knows. I can also tell you I lost plenty of misdemeanors so I didn't have a perfect trial record by any means.

I applied to multiple districts as a way of sort of testing the waters in various locations. In many places I didn't even get an interview. Like any job there is certain criteria you can expect such as experience, trial experience, character references etc. But unfortunately I really can't shed light on what else is looked for. I truly don't know.

I know that the first office I applied for had something like 100+ applicants. 20 initial interviews were given and followed up with a second interview for 5 applicants. I was not hired following this process.

I have no idea and was not told how many applied at my other interviews. I got the job and asked no more questions.

One thing that is often mentioned, though I have never actually seen evidence of it so it could just be talk, is that division offices are generally easier to get into than main offices. For example, conventional wisdom says that it would be easier to get a job in the San Jose office of the Northern District of California than the hub office of San Francisco. This is just what people commonly say. I do not know if it is true.

As for getting referred for an interview, the federal jobs website, if I remember correctly, says that if you are referred your application is considered strong. Don't hold me to that, you would have to check usajobs.com. So if your application is getting referred I would view it positively even if an interview doesn't follow.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273582
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: AUSA Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:43 pm

Thanks for answering these questions, OP. Did you have any language skills/any idea if DOJ looks for that at all?




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.