Biglaw to Government Transition

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A@M_or_bust

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Biglaw to Government Transition

Postby A@M_or_bust » Fri Jul 01, 2016 2:50 pm

Hello TLS,

I am entering OCI at UT as a rising 2L. I am a bit conflicted. I like the idea of starting at a big law firm upon graduation so I can promptly pay off my debt, but I feel like I would be happier if I was working in government - working towards being a district attorney, for example. My question: is it inconceivable to transfer from big law (after say 3 years) to the district attorney track?

I am sorry if I sound like an amateur, but any insight is appreciated.

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grand inquisitor

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Re: Biglaw to Government Transition

Postby grand inquisitor » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:00 pm

with this noncommittal, test-the-waters attitude, you are unlikely to land either biglaw or govt

A@M_or_bust

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Re: Biglaw to Government Transition

Postby A@M_or_bust » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:01 pm

grand inquisitor wrote:with this noncommittal, test-the-waters attitude, you are unlikely to land either biglaw or govt


Thanks for the insight...

A@M_or_bust

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Re: Biglaw to Government Transition

Postby A@M_or_bust » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:10 pm

A@M_or_bust wrote:
grand inquisitor wrote:with this noncommittal, test-the-waters attitude, you are unlikely to land either biglaw or govt


Thanks for the insight...


But seriously, you are silly. Since when is asking a question about the legal field equal having a test-the-waters attitude? Sure, I can convince myself that I would just absolutely love to do tax at a big law firm. But I would rather ask a few more questions about what doors are closed off before I commit to the big law track.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Biglaw to Government Transition

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:23 pm

I haven't seen a lot of biglaw --> DA trajectories (not saying it's impossible, just uncommon), partly because the pay cut is going to be DRASTIC, and I don't know that the average DA office would find biglaw work very helpful experience. Biglaw isn't going to teach you how to run a criminal trial. Biglaw --> federal prosecutor is more common (the pay isn't quite as bad and the work can transfer a bit better). Or maybe --> city attorney or AG's office.

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UnicornHunter

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Re: Biglaw to Government Transition

Postby UnicornHunter » Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:33 pm

3-5 years of biglaw -> something else is the norm. What that something else is will depend very much on what your practice area is, who your contacts are, how the moon aligns with Neptune's ring, etc...

If you're interested in being a trial attorney though, there are worse paths than BigLaw Lit--> prosecutor. Nony's right that it's probably more common to go AUSA than state prosecutor.

tyroneslothrop1

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Re: Biglaw to Government Transition

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:08 pm

Also really depends on where you want to live. Big law litigation to Manhattan DA's office going to be very different that big law lit to DA's office in random other city. Basing this on a co-worker leaving my litigation firm and going to DA's office in random secondary city. He was something of an idiot and did not have trouble with the move.

A@M_or_bust

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Re: Biglaw to Government Transition

Postby A@M_or_bust » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:08 pm

Okay, cool. Thanks for this - I appreciate it.

kaysta

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Re: Biglaw to Government Transition

Postby kaysta » Sat Jul 02, 2016 5:27 pm

as others have probably mentioned, it's not inconceivable. It's probably easier with a little more prestige on your resume (I don't know what the cut off would be, and it probably differs among different cities and different DAs offices, but if yr outside T14 it might be harder). I think if you spend longer than 2 yrs in biglaw you may start to be at a disadvantage.
I'd also second the idea that you might not really want to be an ADA and shd research fed govt options. Biglaw to ADA is unusual but not unheard of though
ah sorry I read impressionistically, I see yr at UT. Dont know the market, as long as you stay local and don't stay too long in biglaw I think you'd be able to do it

TheProsecutor

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Re: Biglaw to Government Transition

Postby TheProsecutor » Sat Jul 02, 2016 7:55 pm

In New York, it is somewhat common for former biglaw associates to try to get into the manhattan D.A.'s office. A famous example is Eliot Spitzer, who left Paul Weiss for the Manhattan D.A.'s office. In Washington, the D.A.'s office is the U.S. Attorney's Office. LA and San Fran have their share of biglaw alum in the local prosecutor's offices.

The problem with going the DA route is that it is difficult to transition from there back to private practice. As a result, many biglaw alum who make the move do so in order to gain enough trail experience in order to then jump to an AUSA position, do it because they genuinely want to be career prosecutors, or do it because they have political ambition.

One word of caution, although getting a ADA position in a large metro area coming from biglaw can be done, it is often exceedingly difficult to do so in areas that are smaller. DA is political position and experienced hires usually have ties/connections to the office or area.



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