Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

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blaze1306

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Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby blaze1306 » Thu Aug 04, 2016 3:36 pm

I am at a DA office right now and I am looking to go to a Firm. I would prefer a small to medium firm as I have family medical responsibilities that could cause me to miss some work and as I understand it smaller firms tend to "understand" more. I am in a little bit of a different boat as I already have corporate experience but there is a debate as to how firms see experience gained in a DA office.

First of all about me. Tier 4 school. I have two years working for a consultancy group with AT&T doing contracts and land acquisition for senior counsel at AT&T. When AT&T bought Directv we all lost our jobs. Now I am working at a DA office and just took the UBE. My undergrad degree is in biology and chemistry so I will be taking the Patent bar as soon as I can afford the study materials. I really think this will help me get into a firm.

I am just now beginning my search for a Firm job and I am not sure how my experience will be taken. Most of my coworkers are convinced that the litigation we do as prosecutors is analogous to the corporation litigation advertised in most job post (not to mention my corp. law experience). I am not so sure. I am convinced that my experience should be just as good as any judicial law clerk out there. A judicial clerk will work with one or a few Judges, we as prosecutors work with 4-5 Judges everyday via motions and direct courtroom experience. We do depositions, prepare witnesses and work through all aspects of litigation and trial from voir dire to closing arguments. Clerks don't get to do that...I am wondering how to best establish this on my cover letter and resume.

Other members of the office don't think corp. litigation and the criminal litigation we do here at the DA is anywhere close to the same. These people think that without working in a civil firm, the litigation experience is not the same and cant be compared. My argument is, at a firm the majority of civil litigation isn't in the court room and unless you are a senior you wont get close to depositions or preparing witnesses or a courtroom for years, so how do you get the experience prosecutors already have?

I am looking for input.

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:19 pm

I am a prosecutor and I've also been a judicial clerk. Those two jobs are really different and if you try to make that analogy it's going to look uninformed. Clerks write the judge's opinions for them (broadly speaking), DAs don't do that. It's true you have a lot of practical experience that clerks don't have, but I don't think it's a good comparison to make.

tyroneslothrop1

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:38 pm

I'd just pitch your courtroom experience and get a job doing litigation at as a large a firm as possible. Do civil lit or criminal defense according to your preference.

1styearlateral

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby 1styearlateral » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:41 pm

Yeah, prosecutor =/= law clerk. I'd highlight your trial skills. Most people at law firms, big or small, don't try cases until their hair is grey. Even at my firm (~50 attorneys) only the most senior partners actually try cases.

Patent bar will help but without any experience doing patent prosecution I don't see you jumping into an IP group anytime soon.

blaze1306

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby blaze1306 » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am a prosecutor and I've also been a judicial clerk. Those two jobs are really different and if you try to make that analogy it's going to look uninformed. Clerks write the judge's opinions for them (broadly speaking), DAs don't do that. It's true you have a lot of practical experience that clerks don't have, but I don't think it's a good comparison to make.


Thank for the advice, and please correct me if my assumption is incorrect. I don't think I understand the full description of the clerks duties, and to be quite honest I am comparing to the clerks I work with here in my jurisdiction. Honestly the clerks here couldn't begin to compare what they do to what a prosecutor does HERE. I was willing to compare the two because I see a lot of clerks hired right out of their work with the judge with no real courtroom experience listed, whereas I have seen a few profiles of former DA or Public Defenders that have gone to firms list their previous case numbers, depositions run, conviction rates etc. Why are clerks held in such high regard? What are they doing that I am not?

blaze1306

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby blaze1306 » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:49 pm

1styearlateral wrote:Yeah, prosecutor =/= law clerk. I'd highlight your trial skills. Most people at law firms, big or small, don't try cases until their hair is grey. Even at my firm (~50 attorneys) only the most senior partners actually try cases.

Patent bar will help but without any experience doing patent prosecution I don't see you jumping into an IP group anytime soon.



That was my fear with the IP. I do have 6 months each interning with Hewlett Packard and Global Patent Solutions during law school 3years ago.

Still not enough?

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:18 pm

FWIW, I graduated from a T20 school and worked in one of the 5 largest DA/prosecutor offices in the country for two years. I had an exceptionally difficult time convincing employers that my criminal litigation experience transferred to the civil world. I had about 20 trials under my belt (both felonies and misdemeanors). I ended up at a small firm doing commercial litigation because I couldn't break into a large firm. My advice is to try to use whatever connections you may have because that's ultimately going to be the best way to get your foot in the door.

blaze1306

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby blaze1306 » Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:FWIW, I graduated from a T20 school and worked in one of the 5 largest DA/prosecutor offices in the country for two years. I had an exceptionally difficult time convincing employers that my criminal litigation experience transferred to the civil world. I had about 20 trials under my belt (both felonies and misdemeanors). I ended up at a small firm doing commercial litigation because I couldn't break into a large firm. My advice is to try to use whatever connections you may have because that's ultimately going to be the best way to get your foot in the door.


Wow...I am disappointed it is going to be that hard. My hope is that this DA experience coupled with my previous experience with AT&T actually means something. Damn what do I have to do...

Oh well even a small firm will pay more than I am making now, thanks for the advice. Keep me in mind if you need any help.

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am a prosecutor and I've also been a judicial clerk. Those two jobs are really different and if you try to make that analogy it's going to look uninformed. Clerks write the judge's opinions for them (broadly speaking), DAs don't do that. It's true you have a lot of practical experience that clerks don't have, but I don't think it's a good comparison to make.


Different Anon here. What if you have experience in the DA's Appellate Bureau?

blaze1306

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby blaze1306 » Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:12 pm

Anonymous User wrote:FWIW, I graduated from a T20 school and worked in one of the 5 largest DA/prosecutor offices in the country for two years. I had an exceptionally difficult time convincing employers that my criminal litigation experience transferred to the civil world. I had about 20 trials under my belt (both felonies and misdemeanors). I ended up at a small firm doing commercial litigation because I couldn't break into a large firm. My advice is to try to use whatever connections you may have because that's ultimately going to be the best way to get your foot in the door.



Another question for you. Were you UBE and willing to go anywhere when you left the prosecutors office for a firm job?

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby Genius » Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:17 pm

I laughed at prosecutor breaking into a small firm titled...

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:15 am

blaze1306 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am a prosecutor and I've also been a judicial clerk. Those two jobs are really different and if you try to make that analogy it's going to look uninformed. Clerks write the judge's opinions for them (broadly speaking), DAs don't do that. It's true you have a lot of practical experience that clerks don't have, but I don't think it's a good comparison to make.


Thank for the advice, and please correct me if my assumption is incorrect. I don't think I understand the full description of the clerks duties, and to be quite honest I am comparing to the clerks I work with here in my jurisdiction. Honestly the clerks here couldn't begin to compare what they do to what a prosecutor does HERE. I was willing to compare the two because I see a lot of clerks hired right out of their work with the judge with no real courtroom experience listed, whereas I have seen a few profiles of former DA or Public Defenders that have gone to firms list their previous case numbers, depositions run, conviction rates etc. Why are clerks held in such high regard? What are they doing that I am not?

If you're looking at big firms, the former clerks probably worked for a federal district court judge (if not federal court of appeals). District court clerks read all the pleadings associated with a case, do legal research on all the issues, and draft the order determining the outcome (generally - some judges are more hands-on/directive than others). ADAs (and PDs) are advocates, whereas clerks help the judge decide who should win and why, based on a review of all the law (and not just what the parties want to present). ADAs also generally don't do a lot of writing and research, which is all law clerks do. Also, law clerks deal with both civil and criminal law (in fact, a lot of judges have their clerks only work on civil matters, because they're usually more complex and address wider-ranging areas of law - once a judge gets the rules of evidence down it's a lot easier to address criminal matters on their own).

State trial-level clerks can have a lot of administrative duties and spend as much/more time managing the docket as doing research and writing. It's often a very different job than federal district court clerks.

Again, don't get me wrong, you know how to do a lot of things that a clerk who hasn't practiced doesn't know. But a federal district court clerk is going to have a lot of experience with civil law cases that you don't have, and if they're hired in the same district where they clerked, can provide the inside scoop on how a particular judge operates and what they prefer.

Anonymous User wrote:Different Anon here. What if you have experience in the DA's Appellate Bureau?
.
I think it would make you a good candidate for an appellate clerkship, but I don't know how well it would translate to a civil firm - you wouldn't have direct trial experience and you wouldn't have civil litigation experience. I may be overly pessimistic over the possibility of going from criminal to civil, though.

But really, the comparison between practicing attorneys and clerks is weird. A PD is just in a different category from a clerk and is getting evaluated differently. There's no benefit in trying to draw strained analogies between what you do and what a clerk has done, rather than just selling your skills for what they are.

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2016 6:52 am

blaze1306 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:FWIW, I graduated from a T20 school and worked in one of the 5 largest DA/prosecutor offices in the country for two years. I had an exceptionally difficult time convincing employers that my criminal litigation experience transferred to the civil world. I had about 20 trials under my belt (both felonies and misdemeanors). I ended up at a small firm doing commercial litigation because I couldn't break into a large firm. My advice is to try to use whatever connections you may have because that's ultimately going to be the best way to get your foot in the door.



Another question for you. Were you UBE and willing to go anywhere when you left the prosecutors office for a firm job?


Not in a UBE state. I purposely avoided insurance defense firms, where a lot of my colleagues had less troubling finding jobs. I looked in other states, both at small and large firms, but no one would give me the time of day without being a member of their respective state bars.

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby 1styearlateral » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:53 am

blaze1306 wrote:
1styearlateral wrote:Yeah, prosecutor =/= law clerk. I'd highlight your trial skills. Most people at law firms, big or small, don't try cases until their hair is grey. Even at my firm (~50 attorneys) only the most senior partners actually try cases.

Patent bar will help but without any experience doing patent prosecution I don't see you jumping into an IP group anytime soon.



That was my fear with the IP. I do have 6 months each interning with Hewlett Packard and Global Patent Solutions during law school 3years ago.

Still not enough?

I would try to apply for IP lit positions. Patent bar admission is becoming more common now for those positions (even though it's not technically required), so you'll be eligible and competitive in a niche market. HP is a good name for a resume so it should help, IMO.

I'd honestly reach out to any contacts I made while at HP (e.g., a supervisor) to see if they could either 1) get you in there (dream job) or 2) knows outside counsel looking to hire. You and I are similar in that we both went to non-T14 schools. You're going to have to exhaust your alumni network and any connections you've made in the last 6 years.

blaze1306

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby blaze1306 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 10:10 am

1styearlateral wrote:
blaze1306 wrote:
1styearlateral wrote:Yeah, prosecutor =/= law clerk. I'd highlight your trial skills. Most people at law firms, big or small, don't try cases until their hair is grey. Even at my firm (~50 attorneys) only the most senior partners actually try cases.

Patent bar will help but without any experience doing patent prosecution I don't see you jumping into an IP group anytime soon.



That was my fear with the IP. I do have 6 months each interning with Hewlett Packard and Global Patent Solutions during law school 3years ago.

Still not enough?

I would try to apply for IP lit positions. Patent bar admission is becoming more common now for those positions (even though it's not technically required), so you'll be eligible and competitive in a niche market. HP is a good name for a resume so it should help, IMO.

I'd honestly reach out to any contacts I made while at HP (e.g., a supervisor) to see if they could either 1) get you in there (dream job) or 2) knows outside counsel looking to hire. You and I are similar in that we both went to non-T14 schools. You're going to have to exhaust your alumni network and any connections you've made in the last 6 years.



Thanks for the advice I really appreciate it.

blaze1306

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby blaze1306 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 10:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:
blaze1306 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:FWIW, I graduated from a T20 school and worked in one of the 5 largest DA/prosecutor offices in the country for two years. I had an exceptionally difficult time convincing employers that my criminal litigation experience transferred to the civil world. I had about 20 trials under my belt (both felonies and misdemeanors). I ended up at a small firm doing commercial litigation because I couldn't break into a large firm. My advice is to try to use whatever connections you may have because that's ultimately going to be the best way to get your foot in the door.



Another question for you. Were you UBE and willing to go anywhere when you left the prosecutors office for a firm job?


Not in a UBE state. I purposely avoided insurance defense firms, where a lot of my colleagues had less troubling finding jobs. I looked in other states, both at small and large firms, but no one would give me the time of day without being a member of their respective state bars.



I am hoping the UBE is going to give me more opportunities and make the search easier. I am willing to go almost anywhere (except New York) to get a good job. There are so many moving parts I hope work in my favor...IP, DA office experience, Tier 4 school...I have a family to support and I cant wait around for months looking for a good position.

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby TheProsecutor » Sun Aug 07, 2016 11:44 pm

Genius wrote:I laughed at prosecutor breaking into a small firm titled...


i also found this funny

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Re: Prosecutor looking to break into small firm need advice...

Postby lavarman84 » Mon Aug 08, 2016 1:30 am

blaze1306 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am a prosecutor and I've also been a judicial clerk. Those two jobs are really different and if you try to make that analogy it's going to look uninformed. Clerks write the judge's opinions for them (broadly speaking), DAs don't do that. It's true you have a lot of practical experience that clerks don't have, but I don't think it's a good comparison to make.


Thank for the advice, and please correct me if my assumption is incorrect. I don't think I understand the full description of the clerks duties, and to be quite honest I am comparing to the clerks I work with here in my jurisdiction. Honestly the clerks here couldn't begin to compare what they do to what a prosecutor does HERE. I was willing to compare the two because I see a lot of clerks hired right out of their work with the judge with no real courtroom experience listed, whereas I have seen a few profiles of former DA or Public Defenders that have gone to firms list their previous case numbers, depositions run, conviction rates etc. Why are clerks held in such high regard? What are they doing that I am not?


Another poster did a nice job of explaining what clerks do. However, there are a few reasons that clerks are generally hired:
1. A lot of people who take clerkships have good credentials.(strong grades from good schools) These people would have been considered for the jobs before they clerked.
2. Clerks spend most of their time writing and researching. Which is a lot of what they'll do as junior associates. They also work in a job that generally significantly improves their writing. Which is very important to most big firms.
3. Clerks get to see how judges think. This is a valuable resource. Especially if the firm has cases that go before that judge.
4. Clerks tend to gain a unique insight on how things should be done and shouldn't be done by seeing a lot of bad attorneys and some good attorneys. They also gain an understanding of procedural issues.(especially appellate clerks)

This is a nonexhaustive list. But the main point here is that it's not worthwhile to try and compare yourself to clerks. The benefits they bring to the table are very different than the benefits you bring to the table. You're best off looking for firms that try cases. You have trial experience. That's valuable to certain firms. The research and writing experience clerks have is also valuable to certain firms.



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