ADA v. AUSA

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ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:30 pm

I have a dilemma. I am trying to be a prosecutor, but I am not sure whether to be an ADA or an AUSA.

In my area, ADAs get a significantly higher salary and benefits package than the AUSAs. The AUSAs do bigger cases (really cool cases too). However, they mostly litigate on paper and almost never see the courtroom. The ADAs on the other hand, do small cases in the first few years. However, after a couple of years they handle gang murders, organized crime murders, etc. A good amount of their cases gain national attention.

I do not mind writing. However, I also want to try cases. I do not care about exit options because either route, I will be retiring there. I am trying to be a career prosecutor. I do not want to do white-collar crimes, but the AUSAs also does big organized crime cases. I have an interest in violent crimes with victims.

What are your thoughts?

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby lavarman84 » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:37 pm

Do you have an offer from both? Are you in law school or a graduate?

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:42 pm

Graduated. Offer from a smaller DA Office.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby lavarman84 » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Graduated. Offer from a smaller DA Office.


Does this mean you don't have an offer from either yet? If so, I'd say take whichever one gives you the offer.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:51 pm

lawman84 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Graduated. Offer from a smaller DA Office.


Does this mean you don't have an offer from either yet? If so, I'd say take whichever one gives you the offer.


Issue is with the USAO most come from clerkships or BigLaw. (at least in my area). Thus, if I choose the USAO route I will be applying for clerkships for the next year or year after. I'll be applying to both either way. However, if I am sticking with the DA route, I won't need to go out of my way to get a clerkship. What would you recommend/advice?

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby lavarman84 » Fri Jul 22, 2016 11:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
lawman84 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Graduated. Offer from a smaller DA Office.


Does this mean you don't have an offer from either yet? If so, I'd say take whichever one gives you the offer.


Issue is with the USAO most come from clerkships or BigLaw. (at least in my area). Thus, if I choose the USAO route I will be applying for clerkships for the next year or year after. I'll be applying to both either way. However, if I am sticking with the DA route, I won't need to go out of my way to get a clerkship. What would you recommend/advice?


Pick the one that will be easier to get. Especially if it allows you to not have to make a sacrifice.(for example, if you don't want to have to clerk or work biglaw, it seems more logical to go for the ADA spot)

I'm not seeing something that would sway me to either side because you're a prosecution lifer and the money isn't a factor here.

Do you see yourself becoming a judge? It seems like USAO could be valuable for that. Especially if you want to be a federal judge. But if all you want is to be a career prosecutor, I'm not seeing a reason to favor one over the other. Take the one that will be easier for you to get.

Is there something that draws you to one or the other? Or is it a true toss-up for you as well?

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby bruinfan10 » Sat Jul 23, 2016 2:44 pm

there's some really unhelpful commentary in this thread. i assume you're asking in the abstract which job would be better because you're trying to decide whether to clerk and build and ausa resume or whether to just take the DA job that you have in hand. so, i'm not going to spend much time discussing your chances of getting one position or the other (depending on your geographic area, an AUSA position can be tough-but-possible to get vs impossible to get), nor am I going to speculate whether you should become an ausa because it'll make it easier for all the senators you personally know to sell you as an aiii judge to congress (come on now).

i've also considered these career options and have good friends who work in both positions. i would be very surprised if you didn't end up strongly preferring one job or the other given how crazy different the work is. you've correctly identified that the ausa job is much, much more writing based. i think it's too writing based and i think the hours are too high for the salary for my personal taste, so i don't really lean that way. i also think that enforcing the current mandatory minimum system would be really demoralizing.

the state job is courtroom based and REALLY light on writing. i wish it were more of a mix. but i think generally i'd rather have lower hours and less writing than the ausas have, so for me personally the ada position has an edge here. but that's really dependent on personal tastes, you need to analyze what you enjoy doing. for what it's worth, i think adas have slightly more discretion/flexibility to avoid railroading someone than an ausa does, and the bulk of state sentences are never actually served in a lot of places, so it might be easier to sleep at night.

anyway, you seem to have a decent handle on the pros and cons of each position. also (and i know said i wouldn't talk about chances, but just for perspective, since you're thinking about taking a year out of your life to clerk, etc) if you're in a metro area where an ada makes more than an ausa, it's probably not a flyover place, so you're not going to get offered an ausa gig anyway statistically speaking. unless you're super, super high powered. don't feel bad, i think the ada gig is better in a ton of ways.
Last edited by bruinfan10 on Sat Jul 23, 2016 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2016 3:01 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:i also think that enforcing the current mandatory minimum system would be really demoralizing.

If you're talking about drugs, USAOs only enforce mandatory minimums for people with significant criminal history or evidence of being some kind of ringleader. See the Holder memo: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/f ... gcases.pdf

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby lavarman84 » Sat Jul 23, 2016 3:12 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:there's some really unhelpful commentary in this thread. i assume you're asking in the abstract which job would be better because you're trying to decide whether to clerk and build and ausa resume or whether to just take the DA job that you have in hand. so, i'm not going to spend much time discussing your chances of getting one position or the other (depending on your geographic area, an AUSA position can be tough be possible to get vs impossible to get), nor am I going to speculate whether you should become an ausa because it'll make it easier for all the senators you personally know to sell you as an aiii judge to congress (come on now).

i've also considered these career options and have good friends who work in both positions. i would be very surprised if you didn't end up strongly preferring one job or the other given how crazy different the work is. you've correctly identified that the ausa job is much, much more writing based. i think it's too writing based and i think the hours are too high for the salary for my personal taste, so i don't really lean that way. i also think that enforcing the current mandatory minimum system would be really demoralizing.

the state job is courtroom based and REALLY light on writing. i wish it were more of a mix. but i think generally i'd rather have lower hours and less writing than the ausas have, so for me personally the ada position has an edge here. but that's really dependent on personal tastes, you need to analyze what you enjoy doing. for what it's worth, i think adas have slightly more discretion/flexibility to avoid railroading someone than an ausa does, and the bulk of state sentences are never actually served in a lot of places, so it might be easier to sleep at night.

anyway, you seem to have a decent handle on the pros and cons of each position. also (and i know said i wouldn't talk about chances, but just for perspective, since you're thinking about taking a year out of your life to clerk, etc) if you're in a metro area where an ada makes more than an ausa, it's probably not a flyover place, so you're not going to get offered an ausa gig anyway statistically speaking. unless you're super, super high powered. don't feel bad, i think the ada gig is better in a ton of ways.


I'm not a prosecutor, but nobody else had answered his question so I gave it a shot. In the end, you end up reiterating my main point. Go for the job you are more likely to get.

I also do think it's worth mentioning that many of the federal judges you see appointed (at least in my state) are former AUSAs. I don't know if that's OP's goal, but if it was, it was worth mentioning (even accepting that the odds aren't high).

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby bruinfan10 » Sat Jul 23, 2016 3:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:i also think that enforcing the current mandatory minimum system would be really demoralizing.

If you're talking about drugs, USAOs only enforce mandatory minimums for people with significant criminal history or evidence of being some kind of ringleader. See the Holder memo: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/f ... gcases.pdf

solid anon. clearly you're not someone who sees a lot of fed sentencing.

I'm not a prosecutor, but nobody else had answered his question so I gave it a shot. In the end, you end up reiterating my main point. Go for the job you are more likely to get.

I also do think it's worth mentioning that many of the federal judges you see appointed (at least in my state) are former AUSAs. I don't know if that's OP's goal, but if it was, it was worth mentioning (even accepting that the odds aren't high).

sorry, i'm sure you were trying to be helpful, but i think OP was trying to get info on the relative merits of each position. my main point was not about odds, i was trying to discuss the pros and cons of working each gig depending on your personal prefs.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby lavarman84 » Sat Jul 23, 2016 4:20 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
I'm not a prosecutor, but nobody else had answered his question so I gave it a shot. In the end, you end up reiterating my main point. Go for the job you are more likely to get.

I also do think it's worth mentioning that many of the federal judges you see appointed (at least in my state) are former AUSAs. I don't know if that's OP's goal, but if it was, it was worth mentioning (even accepting that the odds aren't high).

sorry, i'm sure you were trying to be helpful, but i think OP was trying to get info on the relative merits of each position. my main point was not about odds, i was trying to discuss the pros and cons of working each gig depending on your personal prefs.


I appreciate that. I couldn't speak to it. Gave what advice I could. Glad someone could give the OP the explanation he needed.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2016 5:50 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:If you're talking about drugs, USAOs only enforce mandatory minimums for people with significant criminal history or evidence of being some kind of ringleader. See the Holder memo: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/f ... gcases.pdf

solid anon. clearly you're not someone who sees a lot of fed sentencing.

Lol, I'm anon because I am an AUSA, and I had something like 3 or 4 sentencings last week. In three years in this job and a whole slew of drug cases I've not yet had a case where the mandatory minimum was enforced.

I take your points about writing, and spending less time in the courtroom than an ADA does. I have also heard former state people say that they had more discretion in the state system, but I also think it's a little difficult to compare because charging policies are so different. USAOs generally only charge cases that are problem-free, whereas my friends in the state system have said that they frequently get cases with bad stops/crappy policing/other problems and just have to make of it what they can - so I feel like that leads to more creative pleading solutions.

I think the points about railroading or sleeping at night because people in the state system don't serve most of their time are very very subjective kinds of things.

OP, you are probably going to get more experience with violent crime cases as an ADA than an AUSA.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2016 6:23 pm

bruinfan10 wrote: for what it's worth, i think adas have slightly more discretion/flexibility to avoid railroading someone than an ausa does


It probably depends on the district to some extent, but on the whole I find it hard to believe ADAs more discretion than AUSAs. I mean AUSAs don't even bother with cases where they aren't sure they are going to win. They dismiss cases all the time where there's any type of doubt that they can prove their case at trial (assuming defense counsel is pushing for a trial). Whereas, ADAs try weak cases all the time, and they lose a lot more frequently. It depends on your DA, but I think a lot aren't as willing to dismiss cases even where they aren't guaranteed to win. The AUSAs, on the other hand, have to write a letter (to central justice?) explaining why they wasted taxpayer dollars on a trial that they then lost. So AUSAs avoid trials at all cost when they aren't certain they're going to win.

If you meant more along the lines of sentencing, it's true that the AUSAs can only recommend a sentence, and it's up to the judge what s/he wants to do (and the person can't withdraw his guilty plea at that point even if the judge rejects the plea agreement and gives him a horrible sentence). But in the vast majority of cases the judges do follow plea agreements because they want to foster the plea bargaining process (they don't want a million criminal trials). Moreover, the AUSAs have a ton of discretion with respect to moving for 5K departure or just a general departure. I was actually really surprised by just how reasonable most of the AUSAs in my district are relative to the state prosecutors in my old jurisdiction.

Anonymous User wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:i also think that enforcing the current mandatory minimum system would be really demoralizing.

If you're talking about drugs, USAOs only enforce mandatory minimums for people with significant criminal history or evidence of being some kind of ringleader. See the Holder memo: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/f ... gcases.pdf


It really depends on the office. They're all supposed to follow the Holder memo and the Inspector General's office has been looking for offices who are ignoring it. But there are a lot of USAOs that have been charging in a way where they're hitting people with the mandatory minimums even though those people don't fit within the policy of the Holder memo.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2016 6:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:The AUSAs, on the other hand, have to write a letter (to central justice?) explaining why they wasted taxpayer dollars on a trial that they then lost. So AUSAs avoid trials at all cost when they aren't certain they're going to win.

I think this must be office-specific as well, because I don't know of anyone in my office who has had to write such a letter, and people definitely bring cases they're not certain they're going to win - admittedly, not often and probably lot less than in the state system, but it happens. You're right that the office only accepts a case they think they will win, but obviously problems can arise along the way. Sometimes those problems mean we dismiss the case, sometimes that we offer a better plea, but not every single time.
(and the person can't withdraw his guilty plea at that point even if the judge rejects the plea agreement and gives him a horrible sentence).

This just isn't true - if the judge rejects the plea agreement at sentencing to give a higher sentence, the defendant can withdraw and go to trial. I don't think this is something you can contract away in the plea agreement.
It really depends on the office. They're all supposed to follow the Holder memo and the Inspector General's office has been looking for offices who are ignoring it. But there are a lot of USAOs that have been charging in a way where they're hitting people with the mandatory minimums even though those people don't fit within the policy of the Holder memo.

Yeah, that's fair. Probably the best takeaway for OP is to find out how whatever office you're considering handles things.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2016 6:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
(and the person can't withdraw his guilty plea at that point even if the judge rejects the plea agreement and gives him a horrible sentence).

This just isn't true - if the judge rejects the plea agreement at sentencing to give a higher sentence, the defendant can withdraw and go to trial. I don't think this is something you can contract away in the plea agreement.


My earlier statement could have been clearer. All of our pleas are under Rule 11(c)(1)(B), which doesn't bind the court, and is simply an agreement by the government to recommend a particular sentence. Defendant is admonished that he has no right to withdraw the guilty plea if the court doesn't accept the government's recommendation. But the defendants don't really have a choice in the matter--it's basically either they go to trial, plea without an agreement, or plead guilty under the guilty plea agreement. Generally, there's a reason why they would plead under an agreement (e.g. they have a terrible record and are going to get more time with the particular district court judge assigned if plead guilty without an agreement, or they are getting something more than simply the low end of the guidelines and the 3 points for acceptance).

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2016 8:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
(and the person can't withdraw his guilty plea at that point even if the judge rejects the plea agreement and gives him a horrible sentence).

This just isn't true - if the judge rejects the plea agreement at sentencing to give a higher sentence, the defendant can withdraw and go to trial. I don't think this is something you can contract away in the plea agreement.


My earlier statement could have been clearer. All of our pleas are under Rule 11(c)(1)(B), which doesn't bind the court, and is simply an agreement by the government to recommend a particular sentence. Defendant is admonished that he has no right to withdraw the guilty plea if the court doesn't accept the government's recommendation. But the defendants don't really have a choice in the matter--it's basically either they go to trial, plea without an agreement, or plead guilty under the guilty plea agreement. Generally, there's a reason why they would plead under an agreement (e.g. they have a terrible record and are going to get more time with the particular district court judge assigned if plead guilty without an agreement, or they are getting something more than simply the low end of the guidelines and the 3 points for acceptance).

Ah, ours are 11(c)(1)(C) agreements. So our defendants are specifically admonished that if the court rejects the plea, they have the right to withdraw and go to trial (or negotiate a different plea, I guess, although in practice there's no point if the court wants a higher sentence). I agree that in practice it's not realistically a choice, and I've never seen the court even hint at going above the plea, so it's pretty much moot. I was just surprised by the statement above since our practice is different.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby bruinfan10 » Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:It really depends on the office. They're all supposed to follow the Holder memo and the Inspector General's office has been looking for offices who are ignoring it. But there are a lot of USAOs that have been charging in a way where they're hitting people with the mandatory minimums even though those people don't fit within the policy of the Holder memo.

Yeah, that's fair. Probably the best takeaway for OP is to find out how whatever office you're considering handles things.

Now I wish I was anon---sorry I suggested that you didn't know what you were talking about re: sentencings---but while I don't want to get into specifics on my real account, there are common mandatory minimums that apply to non-drug crimes that people can get upset about. even just limiting the discussion to drugs, i must've just observed a number of districts that follow policies different from yours.

that said, really awesome to have actual ausas commenting in here. OP, you're lucky to get this kind of perspective.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Tigerbait2015 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:02 am

If you have the grades/other qualifications to get an Aiii clerkship, then absolutely go for it. On the other hand, if you need a job right now and you have an offer on the table, take the offer. However, do not assume you will get an AUSA job, because even the people who are extremely qualified have to fight tooth and nail to get those jobs. I read somewhere here that the last time the Miami USAO had an opening there were something like 4000 applications. Take what is most practical now, do not plan for something that may never materialize, and if you have a chance at an Aiii, then take that over the ADA job because you will likely still be able to get the ADA job later and the Aiii clerkship will open other doors for you.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:23 am

bruinfan10 wrote:there's some really unhelpful commentary in this thread. i assume you're asking in the abstract which job would be better because you're trying to decide whether to clerk and build and ausa resume or whether to just take the DA job that you have in hand. so, i'm not going to spend much time discussing your chances of getting one position or the other (depending on your geographic area, an AUSA position can be tough-but-possible to get vs impossible to get), nor am I going to speculate whether you should become an ausa because it'll make it easier for all the senators you personally know to sell you as an aiii judge to congress (come on now).

i've also considered these career options and have good friends who work in both positions. i would be very surprised if you didn't end up strongly preferring one job or the other given how crazy different the work is. you've correctly identified that the ausa job is much, much more writing based. i think it's too writing based and i think the hours are too high for the salary for my personal taste, so i don't really lean that way. i also think that enforcing the current mandatory minimum system would be really demoralizing.

the state job is courtroom based and REALLY light on writing. i wish it were more of a mix. but i think generally i'd rather have lower hours and less writing than the ausas have, so for me personally the ada position has an edge here. but that's really dependent on personal tastes, you need to analyze what you enjoy doing. for what it's worth, i think adas have slightly more discretion/flexibility to avoid railroading someone than an ausa does, and the bulk of state sentences are never actually served in a lot of places, so it might be easier to sleep at night.

anyway, you seem to have a decent handle on the pros and cons of each position. also (and i know said i wouldn't talk about chances, but just for perspective, since you're thinking about taking a year out of your life to clerk, etc) if you're in a metro area where an ada makes more than an ausa, it's probably not a flyover place, so you're not going to get offered an ausa gig anyway statistically speaking. unless you're super, super high powered. don't feel bad, i think the ada gig is better in a ton of ways.


This was extremely helpful, for someone who didn't really know what the difference between the two was. Thanks for your comment!

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:47 am

Tigerbait2015 wrote:If you have the grades/other qualifications to get an Aiii clerkship, then absolutely go for it. On the other hand, if you need a job right now and you have an offer on the table, take the offer. However, do not assume you will get an AUSA job, because even the people who are extremely qualified have to fight tooth and nail to get those jobs. I read somewhere here that the last time the Miami USAO had an opening there were something like 4000 applications. Take what is most practical now, do not plan for something that may never materialize, and if you have a chance at an Aiii, then take that over the ADA job because you will likely still be able to get the ADA job later and the Aiii clerkship will open other doors for you.


(Not OP) Sorry I'm a noob; what does Aiii mean?

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 25, 2016 11:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tigerbait2015 wrote:If you have the grades/other qualifications to get an Aiii clerkship, then absolutely go for it. On the other hand, if you need a job right now and you have an offer on the table, take the offer. However, do not assume you will get an AUSA job, because even the people who are extremely qualified have to fight tooth and nail to get those jobs. I read somewhere here that the last time the Miami USAO had an opening there were something like 4000 applications. Take what is most practical now, do not plan for something that may never materialize, and if you have a chance at an Aiii, then take that over the ADA job because you will likely still be able to get the ADA job later and the Aiii clerkship will open other doors for you.


(Not OP) Sorry I'm a noob; what does Aiii mean?


Article III, essentially clerking for a federal judge.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby bruinfan10 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Tigerbait2015 wrote:If you have the grades/other qualifications to get an Aiii clerkship, then absolutely go for it. On the other hand, if you need a job right now and you have an offer on the table, take the offer. However, do not assume you will get an AUSA job, because even the people who are extremely qualified have to fight tooth and nail to get those jobs. I read somewhere here that the last time the Miami USAO had an opening there were something like 4000 applications. Take what is most practical now, do not plan for something that may never materialize, and if you have a chance at an Aiii, then take that over the ADA job because you will likely still be able to get the ADA job later and the Aiii clerkship will open other doors for you.


(Not OP) Sorry I'm a noob; what does Aiii mean?


Article III, essentially clerking for a federal judge.

specifically a SCOTUS judge, a court of appeals judge, or a district court judge (also technically the us court of international trade), all of whom exercise the judicial power of the united states under article iii. that's in contrast to bankruptcy court judges, court of federal claims judges, and magistrate judges, who are federal judges but not aiii judges. clerking for non aiii judges (for often stupid reasons) is seen as less prestigious than clerking for an aiii, and the bonuses and hiring options are worse for those clerks, but often they get much more practical experience.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Tigerbait2015 wrote:If you have the grades/other qualifications to get an Aiii clerkship, then absolutely go for it. On the other hand, if you need a job right now and you have an offer on the table, take the offer. However, do not assume you will get an AUSA job, because even the people who are extremely qualified have to fight tooth and nail to get those jobs. I read somewhere here that the last time the Miami USAO had an opening there were something like 4000 applications. Take what is most practical now, do not plan for something that may never materialize, and if you have a chance at an Aiii, then take that over the ADA job because you will likely still be able to get the ADA job later and the Aiii clerkship will open other doors for you.


(Not OP) Sorry I'm a noob; what does Aiii mean?


Article III, essentially clerking for a federal judge.


Oh ok, I'm just sleep-deprived; my brain didn't process that it was Art. III with the lower-case i's. Thanks all.

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Re: ADA v. AUSA

Postby andythefir » Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:45 pm

I am currently an ADA who is fighting tooth and nail for an AUSA spot. I know people on BOTH SIDES, and I generally agree with what's been posted here.

ADA Pros: in the courtroom 3 of 5 days of the week. In my first job Mondays were dockets all day, Tuesdays were prelims all day, and Thursdays were jury trials. We spent more time in courtrooms than our offices. Quick turnaround on the cases, close contact with victims means you get a good feel for the good you're doing. Ridiculous experience right away-I did a trial the day I was sworn in and staffed on a murder within 6 months (not representative of all offices, obviously). It can be thrilling to manage the chaos as you go, witnesses recant, officers change their story in the middle of trial, and so on. Constant turnover means that sitting in one place for a minute can move you up the ladder quickly. Benefits can be spectacular, I am entitled to a pension that vests at 6 years.

ADA Cons: judges and defense attorneys can be hacks, which makes your job much harder than it has to be. In the middle of a trial I had a defense attorney try to admit a letter from a witness (that he drafted) as a business record, and since I didn't have a case in my hand the judge deferred to the more senior attorney. State cops can be awful, and you can't really get out in front of of the investigation 9 times out of 10. Actual day-to-day is redundant once the thrill wears off. Bad pay, low pay ceiling, little to no training. Management is typically people who couldn't catch on anywhere else, which can make your life a nightmare. Facilities tend to be old and gross. Your boss is an elected official, and if s/he loses an election you may lose your job. Generally you have to choose between being in a cool town prosecuting speeding tickets for 3 years or being in a hole where you move up more quickly.

Not an AUSA, so take the following with a grain of salt.

AUSA Pros: better judges, better management, better defense attorneys. Since so much more is written, there's much less "I know there's a rule that says X" at the bench in the middle of trial. There's also superstars within the office, which means you can develop more as an attorney. Working with law enforcement as cases develop means you can get out in front of any issues, and you're working with FBI agents instead of local cops. Cases are complex enough that they don't get as redundant. Much higher salary ceiling.

AUSA Cons: much higher expectations means more pressure/stress. Fewer trials. Fewer cases and cases don't resolve as quickly. May have to move to a smaller town to get your foot in the door. Extremely difficult to get.

My advice would be to start as an ADA, get your legs under you, make some money, then look to transition (you're also a much stronger clerkship applicant a few years out, which can be very helpful in actually getting an AUSA gig). Being a DA is a blast, but 2 years out I can already feel it becoming less fun as I've done it more.



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