Best firms for AUSA lateral?

(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.
Anonymous User
Posts: 324913
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:12 pm

I'm a 1L at CCN with around a 3.8, and I ultimately hope to work in a competitive USAO (think SDNY/EDNY), maybe eventually moving to main justice. I plan on throwing out some honors program apps, but I know that's going to be a long shot. So I know that my most likely route is to go biglaw for 3-5 years (with a clerkship or two) and then lateral.

I'm trying to find out which firms might be the best places for this, and while I can sort of pick up hints here and there, I obviously can't ask one of the partners, "So how easy is it to bounce when I'm done using you to advance my real career?" I know that DPW has a bit of a revolving door with the NY offices, but I've also heard that it might be more valuable to hitch myself to a younger partner who worked as an AUSA more recently, even if the firm might not be as "prestigious".

So does anyone have any insight to offer? I'm primarily interested in ending up in the NY/DC area, but I could be talked into California. I really just want to have something to latch onto to narrow down my bid list for the summer, because right now the only "method" I can think of is to just check off firms by Vault ranking.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324913
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:17 pm

You don't go to Chicago.

DPW, Debevoise, Cleary, Patterson, S&C are all good. Also, you've gotten fewer than half your grades for the year, so that's going to matter a bit.

grixxlybear99

Bronze
Posts: 131
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:26 pm

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby grixxlybear99 » Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:21 pm

I'd say Gibson Dunn, DC

User avatar
zhenders

Silver
Posts: 942
Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:21 pm

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby zhenders » Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:You don't go to Chicago.

DPW, Debevoise, Cleary, Patterson, S&C are all good. Also, you've gotten fewer than half your grades for the year, so that's going to matter a bit.



There is literally nothing more annoying than pointless "look I figured out where you didn't go to school" comments. Also, this isn't what anon is for.

clerk1251

Bronze
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:35 am

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby clerk1251 » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:30 am

A few notes: the easiest route to AUSA will be to go somewhere where you gain valuable trial experience. On just about every AUSA application I've seen, you are required to fill out how many trials you've worked on, what they were about, what your role was, whether they were bench or jury trials, and if they resulted in a verdict in your favor.

Your best best is to go to a top notch lit boutique. There are plenty of them around NY and I believe there have even been an umber of threads listing NY lit boutiques.

If you don't want to go to the boutique route, then you just want to go to as prestigious a biglaw firm as you can and your idea of finding a former AUSA/USA partner to learn from is the right idea.

Last thing to mention is that as a 1L, you have ample time ahead of you to intern with the USAO that you are interested in. This will be very worthwhile, not just for the resume, but also for the networking value. It will allow you to network with current AUSAs and let them get a feel for you and your work. It will also allow you to see where all these AUSA's came from. If you are good at networking and play your cards right, you can probably even get connected to the AUSA's former firms by way of an introduction through the AUSA you've now networked with.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324913
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:48 pm

The post above is not accurate. Most of the "competitive" districts know that biglaw/boutique candidates won't have trial experience. If you're an ADA, then "valuable" trial experience (read: complex felony) is essential.

the number one thing you can do to increase your ability to become an AUSA is clerk either on the district court or appellate court. Just about every AUSA i've seen hired in the last few years from biglaw also had a clerkship.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324913
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:44 am

White collar in a boutique would be good.

Not sure what quals AUSAs have in NY markets though. In my flyover midwest experience, of the AUSA's I've met, many were just normal 2-3 year biglaw guys, but from HLS (which is super rare in that market). FWIW

Anonymous User
Posts: 324913
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:40 am

This is the OP again.

Thanks for all the feedback! I've been talking with some contacts I've made at USAOs, and I'm just trying to build a more complete picture of what my career path might look like. I had a couple of follow-up questions:

Is litigation boutique a good track for someone planning to lateral? I'd been considering this option, but my friends who are going to lit boutiques have been pretty clear that most people go there to stay, not to lateral after a few years. I know that doesn't necessarily preclude people from heading to government, but is that a common path people take?

In terms of clerkships, how do people feel about appellate vs. district court? And does it matter if I clerk in a totally different part of the country from the offices I apply to?

I also should specify that, at least at the present moment, I'm most interested in violent crimes prosecution. If that continues to be the case, would it potentially be better to go the less-traveled DA-to-AUSA route? Or does biglaw just read as better experience in general, regardless of what specialty I may ultimately want to end up in?

Civilservant

New
Posts: 79
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:15 pm

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby Civilservant » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:46 am

We can all sit around and pontificate on what your life plan is, but why violent crime in USAO? Is it the perceived prestige? The pay as oppose to a state prosecutor? It just seems like a lot of stepping stones between big law, a clerkship, a lit boutique/DA's office, all to reach AUSA, and then plea out a bunch of cases with a rigid sentencing structure.

Before you make all these plans, intern at an office, and it doesn't need to be sdny, just a criminal division, get a flavor for what the work really is, before you build it up into something it isnt.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324913
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:47 am

Current AUSA, though with no personal experience with the super competitive districts, which may well handle things differently. But with that caveat, re: appellate v. district - I know way more AUSAs who've done district court clerkships than I do ones with COA clerkships. I think the former is much more helpful, although that said, I'm also told that some offices put newbies in appellate to start (as a way to learn the really common legal issues to avoid when trying cases), so those offices might feel differently. Also, I know lots of people (including myself) who clerked in different districts/circuits from where they end up working, so while being local is probably good in some ways, it's absolutely not necessary at all.

Re: violent crimes - in the districts I'm familiar with, hiring former DAs with violent crime experience is really common and would make someone a strong candidate. Again, though, these aren't SDNY/EDNY/CDCA/EDVA or the like, and tend to hire a lot of former state prosecutors, more than ex-biglaw people (in fact I know a number of people who did unpaid SAUSAs to transition from biglaw to AUSA). Don't know how the districts you're particularly interested in operate, though, so I just mention this for broader context.

Also in the context I know, interning for a USAO is really helpful. And I tend to agree with Civilservant about making sure you know what you're getting into. A lot of violent crime is much more a state level thing. Or go to a district responsible for Indian country.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324913
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:56 am

Civilservant wrote:We can all sit around and pontificate on what your life plan is, but why violent crime in USAO? Is it the perceived prestige? The pay as oppose to a state prosecutor? It just seems like a lot of stepping stones between big law, a clerkship, a lit boutique/DA's office, all to reach AUSA, and then plea out a bunch of cases with a rigid sentencing structure.

Before you make all these plans, intern at an office, and it doesn't need to be sdny, just a criminal division, get a flavor for what the work really is, before you build it up into something it isnt.


Just to answer this one a little more thoroughly, prestige has nothing to do with it, although I definitely want to keep the possibility of DOJ work open, which is easier from a USAO than from elsewhere. And violent crime just sticks out as the division that is most appealing to me at this stage; I'm totally open to that changing. I'm also not convinced that this is "a lot of stepping stones", because I'm not describing anything out of the ordinary for these offices. Every single AUSA or former USA I've met worked for a few years at a big firm and usually did a clerkship. I know that there are one or two (literally one or two) honors positions that are open to clerks, but I think it would be really dumb for me to pin my hopes on those spots.

I should have mentioned this earlier, but I'm planning on interning next fall/spring to get a better idea of the day-to-day work. So I'm not planning on flying blind into the field.

Anonymous User
Posts: 324913
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:17 am

As a 1L, your task should be to figure out what you want to *do*. So get those externships and internships in DA's offices, USAOs, whatever. Those help on your resume when the time comes, but you really need them so you can see what the offices actually do. There are actually a lot of ADA/AUSA burnouts out there because they didn't really know what they were getting into. If your interest continues to be in-the-courtroom prosecution of violent crimes (which is in tension with competitive USAO/main justice), great, do that in a top DA's office. Or if more money but never being in trial and traveling a lot to boring places sounds more appealing, try to get to main justice ASAP.

For USAO, if you have a district in mind, I think it's a good idea to target district court clerkships in that district. Not essential, as others have said, but it will give you the best picture of that office if you don't have it from an externship/internship. (And will also give you chummy things to talk about in interviews.) Also start learning your target district's hiring practices. I'm several years past this, so what I'm about to say may not be current, but when I was coming up the word was that, e.g., SDNY hires young (couple years out of law school at most), EDPA hires ADAs, EDNY is a mixed bag but willing to hire more senior, etc. There are always exceptions to those rules but that's the kind of thing you need to learn. You don't want to spend your "3-5" years in biglaw and then be told that your target district really would have been more interested in you three years ago.

As for your firm experience, I agree with the previous poster who said that as much trial experience as you can get is helpful. Yes, they do know that you're coming from biglaw, you're not going to have 10 jury trials under your belt. But you will be better off if you are able to pitch yourself as the person who sought out trials and stand-up experience while your peers were just doing doc review. Next to that is working with people who can help you get the job you want. Ex-AUSAs in firms tend to like to help people become AUSAs. So focus less on prestige per se and more on firms with some former AUSAs from your target district. (That said, it's not just a numbers game. One very strong mentor who can help you far outweighs the mere fact that you were at a firm with 10 former AUSAs who barely know your name.)

Happy to say anything else I can. I was at a big high-prestige firm for years, then a flyover USAO (where I did a fair bit of violent crimes for reasons that gov-experienced commenters can surmise), now a competitive USAO (not NY). USAO hiring is very varied, but I have a good window into the biglaw-USAO route.

TL;DR - the best ingredients for competitive USAO are clerkship in that district, USAO/prosecution externship/internship, trial experience at your firm, and people who will help you. These are not all necessary, nor are they sufficient, but they put you in the best position.

Nebby

Diamond
Posts: 31199
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:23 pm

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby Nebby » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:26 am

Way too early to be asking this question

User avatar
BlendedUnicorn

Platinum
Posts: 9320
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:40 pm

Re: Best firms for AUSA lateral?

Postby BlendedUnicorn » Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:41 am

Nebby wrote:Way too early to be asking this question


Because who knows when we'll go back to hiring AUSAs



Return to “Legal Employment�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.