Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

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Anonymous User
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Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:57 pm

Hey all. I am going to one of the Big D.C. Firms to do litigation (think W&C/Covington/A&P/GDC/Wilmer/Hogan) but ultimately want to end up in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. My question is what can I do to set myself up to get there? I am not clerking but was a LR grade-on at a T-14. I really just did not want to clerk, at least not right away. Is this going to be damning? A lot of the partners at the firm I am going to are ex-AUSAs, are they generally helpful in building a bridge to the US Attorney’s Office (even if I did not clerk?) if I develop a relationship with them? I have some experience working at both the DA’s office and AUSA as well during law school. I just really want to go to the firm to get some good experience, make some connections, and make some money but am pretty sure I am actively going to be looking to jump to AUSA.

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splittermcsplit88
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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby splittermcsplit88 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:56 am

flame

Anonymous User
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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:22 am

OP here. Huh? Why is this a flame?

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:00 am

I'd probably recommend you clerk. Other than that, develop relationships with the ex AUSAs--particularly any that have left relatively recently. And seek out white collar work and do a great job. And pray. It takes a lot of luck and often a lot of applications. But you've set yourself up well.

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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:32 am

OP. Is the clerkship really that big of a deal? I know a lot of AUSAs have them, but is that just because clerkships are correlated with other stuff that I have (LR + BigLaw)? Clerkships just seem like another thing strivers mindlessly strive after with no real idea why they want to do it. I just don't see the point, unless is really going to keep me from AUSA

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Danger Zone
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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby Danger Zone » Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:43 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP. Is the clerkship really that big of a deal? I know a lot of AUSAs have them, but is that just because clerkships are correlated with other stuff that I have (LR + BigLaw)? Clerkships just seem like another thing strivers mindlessly strive after with no real idea why they want to do it. I just don't see the point, unless is really going to keep me from AUSA

It also depends highly upon what the US Attorney is looking for. In my district, I was told explicitly by the USA that he will not hire someone who doesn't have some kind of clerkship, with a massive preference for Art III. This is an extremely competitive northeast district though so YMMV.

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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:17 pm

It's not a formal requirement or anything, but I've known of a handful of people who have gone to USAOs in the last couple years and they've all clerked. Now, there's a chicken or egg issue here. People who are competitive for AUSA jobs tended to be clerkship candidates as well; and people who are uber ambitious tend to pursue clerkships if they can. So I don't doubt that you can overcome it. But for better or worse, AUSA jobs are very competitive and prestige oriented and a federal clerkship is a line item on your resume that you won't have.

All of this may be a little different for flyover districts, which I know less about. (Not to say I'm an expert at any of this, just a junior associate who has observed some things.)

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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby Shaggier1 » Wed Apr 01, 2015 12:21 pm

Clerkships just seem like another thing strivers mindlessly strive after with no real idea why they want to do it.


This is silly. To say people strive for this "mindlessly" is to say there is no apparent benefit. How could that be the case? How could it be the case that people who want to litigate in federal court would derive no benefit from working behind the scenes in a federal court? I learned more in the first month of my district court clerkship than I did in the previous year at my V5. Not an exaggeration.

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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:10 pm

My general impression is that clerkship hiring is actually trending toward those with law firm experience. Regardless, you have plenty of opportunity going forward to do a clerkship. I personally think that clerkships are silly and I wouldn't do one. But, I'm also not in lit and not trying to become an AUSA. If this is your goal, you should bite the bullet and apply for clerkships after your first or second year.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:15 pm

I get why clerking isn't for everyone but that doesn't make it a scam.

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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:22 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I get why clerking isn't for everyone but that doesn't make it a scam.


Fair enough. They probably aren't actually a "scam" and you are getting paid. It's better to say what you said, which is that it would be a terrible fit for me. So basically, I understand OP's perspective but if I were OP I would do a clerkship.

KidStuddi
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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby KidStuddi » Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:01 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP. Is the clerkship really that big of a deal? I know a lot of AUSAs have them, but is that just because clerkships are correlated with other stuff that I have (LR + BigLaw)? Clerkships just seem like another thing strivers mindlessly strive after with no real idea why they want to do it. I just don't see the point, unless is really going to keep me from AUSA


You're right that many people do it just because they have the stats for it, but in this context it's not just an accolade. Everyone knows BigLaw litigators are extraordinarily unlikely to see the inside of a court room in their junior years, except maybe while doing pro bono work. Clerkships are far more relevant to what an AUSA does than anything you could do in private practice 1-3 years out of law school.

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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:42 pm

If you're talking a small district, the main thing is to do well in school and then get courtroom experience, preferably in the same city as the federal court. Have a good reputation and network.

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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:24 pm

Here's my perspective as an ex-DCt/COA clerk. I think you should clerk. And here's how I think you should try to clerk:
- In the district where you'd ideally like to be an AUSA
- For a judge who is a former AUSA/ADA and/or otherwise has ties to the USAO you are targeting
- Probably after you've done a couple years in BigLaw. This will make you more competitive to more judges, give you a financial cushion, set you up to get more out of your clerkship, AND mean you get paid more during your clerkship.

Here are my reasons, speaking as someone who clerked for a former prosecutor who has sent multiple clerks to the USAO in the relevant district, including my co-clerks:
- Clerking, especially in-district/circuit, gives you valuable insight into how *that* court (or at least, one or more of its judges) operates. You also get to watch/learn from the AUSAs in action.
- If you target judges as I described above, their LoR and/or phone call to the relevant USA will fast-track you to the front of the interview line. This is how it worked for my judge's clerks who got into the USAO. Most got into the USAO in my judge's district, although a couple got into other districts as well, and my judge's endorsement was still relevant. From what I could tell, it was considerably more relevant than references from former AUSAs now in private practice, though those are great too. Why not have both?
- The writing experience you get as a law clerk is relevant to AUSA motion practice.
- Standard, expected prestige line-item. But this is the least important reason to do it.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:26 pm

Clerkships just seem like another thing strivers mindlessly strive after with no real idea why they want to do it. I just don't see the point, unless is really going to keep me from AUSA


Biglaw->clerk->biglaw here.

1.) You'll probably get more -- or at least more meaningful -- writing experience in a year of clerking than you would in five years practicing. You write a lot more, and you do so with a lot less editing, than you do in practice. Almost everyone I knew who clerked turned into much better writers than pre-clerkship.

2.) You get a really good sense in what is or isn't effective advocacy. Lawyers tend to get lost in the weeds of their cases and crazy arguments can seem plausible after bouncing them around for hours on end. Clerking really helps you develop an appreciation for what is and isn't something you should argue in court.

3.) In some practice areas (mostly litigation-related) that and where you clerked is almost as big of a credential as where you went to law school. USAOs tend to fall in this category, as do high end state government practices (both sides), white collar oftentimes, etc.

4.) Most clerkships are a lot more fun than practice, and if you clerk in a big market after a couple of years practicing, you'll be making close to $100k. It's not biglaw money, but it's not minimum wage either.

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Re: Setting Myself up for BigLaw -->AUSA

Postby KidStuddi » Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Clerkships just seem like another thing strivers mindlessly strive after with no real idea why they want to do it. I just don't see the point, unless is really going to keep me from AUSA


Biglaw->clerk->biglaw here.

1.) You'll probably get more -- or at least more meaningful -- writing experience in a year of clerking than you would in five years practicing. You write a lot more, and you do so with a lot less editing, than you do in practice. Almost everyone I knew who clerked turned into much better writers than pre-clerkship.

2.) You get a really good sense in what is or isn't effective advocacy. Lawyers tend to get lost in the weeds of their cases and crazy arguments can seem plausible after bouncing them around for hours on end. Clerking really helps you develop an appreciation for what is and isn't something you should argue in court.

3.) In some practice areas (mostly litigation-related) that and where you clerked is almost as big of a credential as where you went to law school. USAOs tend to fall in this category, as do high end state government practices (both sides), white collar oftentimes, etc.

4.) Most clerkships are a lot more fun than practice, and if you clerk in a big market after a couple of years practicing, you'll be making close to $100k. It's not biglaw money, but it's not minimum wage either.


Have no reason to doubt most of what you said, but I will offer that of the white collar partners at my firm (a pretty good firm) the great majority of them never clerked at any level. I know there are firms that take a very different approach to hiring in that practice area (I'm thinking Williams and Connolly), but I think it's pretty to safe to say they're in the minority. If there's a connection between white collar and clerking, I'd say it's because laterals with relevant enforcement experience (SEC, DOJ, AUSAs, etc.) are always in demand, and maybe hiring for those enforcement positions has a bias towards clerks. I don't think most firms really care where/if you clerked when looking for white collar associates / lateral partners.




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