DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

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DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:33 am

I was considering applying for a position as a staff attorney with the DC Circuit. Does anyone have any insight into what the daily work is like and/or what exist options are available?

I previously clerked for a judge on a regional circuit, and my impression was that the staff attorneys basically worked on routine and/or uncomplicated habeas, immigration, etc. cases. It seems like the DC Circuit staff attorneys, however, would have a very different experience based on the different sort of caseload handled by the court. Is that at all correct?

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mjb447

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Re: DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby mjb447 » Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:51 am

What kinds of exit options are you looking for? I'm not particularly familiar with the DC Circuit staff attorney's office, but if you previously clerked for a circuit judge, I can't imagine a staff attorney's office opening many doors that aren't already open.

(And, as long as there are pro se litigants and untimely appeals, I suspect that there's going to be routine, comparatively uninteresting work for staff attorneys to do while chambers works on the more substantive appeals.)

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Re: DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:04 am

OP Here.

Thanks for the reply. I was especially interested in some kind of exit-option focused on appellate work. I'm in a litigating component of a federal agency right now, but it's mainly trial work. I thought the stint as a staff attorney at the DC Circuit might bolster my appellate experience and improve my odds of finding an appellate-focused position.

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Re: DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby mjb447 » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:14 am

Gotcha. Like I said, I'm not that familiar with the DC Circuit SAO, so someone with specialized knowledge might have a totally different and more valid take, but I'm a little familiar with staff attorney's offices generally and I've never heard of the DC Circuit SAO being markedly different from the other ones in terms of caseload or exit options (except obv fewer immigration cases than 2nd or border circuits).

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Re: DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:12 pm

Any other thoughts on this? For example, would a firm looking for someone to join its appellate section look more favorably on someone with staff attorney experience at the DC Circuit, as opposed to someone without such experience? Or would they simply discount the experience for not be an actual clerkship?

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:35 pm

I really don't know what it would add to your resume that you don't already have from the clerkship you did already.

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Re: DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby champ33 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:56 am

I agree that you're in a similar position now for applying to firms with appellate practices as you would be after working as a staff attorney. That said, I don't think it would put you in any worse of a position, you'd still be working for an appellate court, doing some research and writing, etc. It's definitely not as prestigious as a regular clerkship and it likewise probably won't make you competitive for the most prestigious firms, but I don't see why you couldn't parlay it into working in some firm's appellate group, and I personally think it sounds like a pretty cool job.

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Re: DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby clerk1251 » Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:00 pm

When you say you did a regional clerkship, does that mean state or federal? Typically, a staff attorney for any circuit is a stepping stone for someone who might want a federal clerkship and not have the traditional credentials to get it out the gate. I know a few colleagues that are currently clerking in my courthouse who did a staff attorney position with a circuit court prior to their current clerkship.

If you are looking for a federal clerkship to add to your resume, than sure, go for it. However, keep in mind that this will put you another few years out from whatever your ultimate goal is and might make things a bit harder for you. Just evaluate what your ultimate goals are and see where this fits.

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Re: DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:51 am

clerk1251 wrote:When you say you did a regional clerkship, does that mean state or federal? Typically, a staff attorney for any circuit is a stepping stone for someone who might want a federal clerkship and not have the traditional credentials to get it out the gate. I know a few colleagues that are currently clerking in my courthouse who did a staff attorney position with a circuit court prior to their current clerkship.



Thanks for the feedback. By regional circuit, I meant one of the federal courts of appeals, so I would not be using the staff attorney position as a step towards a federal clerkship.

I guess my main thought is that I want to practice appellate law: i.e., thinking about interesting legal issues, doing legal research, and writing extensively (as opposed to my current litigating position, where I'm taking depos, negotiating with defendants, etc.) So, would being a staff attorney at the DC Circuit actually involve such interesting writing and legal issues? Or would it be mainly rote prisoner appeals, etc? It sounds at this point like it's just hard to know without speaking with someone who was actually in the position, and I appreciate everyone's' thoughts.

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Re: DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby mjb447 » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:56 am

Anonymous User wrote:
clerk1251 wrote:When you say you did a regional clerkship, does that mean state or federal? Typically, a staff attorney for any circuit is a stepping stone for someone who might want a federal clerkship and not have the traditional credentials to get it out the gate. I know a few colleagues that are currently clerking in my courthouse who did a staff attorney position with a circuit court prior to their current clerkship.



Thanks for the feedback. By regional circuit, I meant one of the federal courts of appeals, so I would not be using the staff attorney position as a step towards a federal clerkship.

I guess my main thought is that I want to practice appellate law: i.e., thinking about interesting legal issues, doing legal research, and writing extensively (as opposed to my current litigating position, where I'm taking depos, negotiating with defendants, etc.) So, would being a staff attorney at the DC Circuit actually involve such interesting writing and legal issues? Or would it be mainly rote prisoner appeals, etc? It sounds at this point like it's just hard to know without speaking with someone who was actually in the position, and I appreciate everyone's' thoughts.

If you find anyone with knowledge, I'd be interested to hear. My impression was that, immigration aside, the circuit SAOs generally all dealt with the similar subject matter, so if I'm wrong I'd like to know.

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Re: DC Circuit Staff Attorneys

Postby clerk1251 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:13 am

mjb447 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
clerk1251 wrote:When you say you did a regional clerkship, does that mean state or federal? Typically, a staff attorney for any circuit is a stepping stone for someone who might want a federal clerkship and not have the traditional credentials to get it out the gate. I know a few colleagues that are currently clerking in my courthouse who did a staff attorney position with a circuit court prior to their current clerkship.



Thanks for the feedback. By regional circuit, I meant one of the federal courts of appeals, so I would not be using the staff attorney position as a step towards a federal clerkship.

I guess my main thought is that I want to practice appellate law: i.e., thinking about interesting legal issues, doing legal research, and writing extensively (as opposed to my current litigating position, where I'm taking depos, negotiating with defendants, etc.) So, would being a staff attorney at the DC Circuit actually involve such interesting writing and legal issues? Or would it be mainly rote prisoner appeals, etc? It sounds at this point like it's just hard to know without speaking with someone who was actually in the position, and I appreciate everyone's' thoughts.

If you find anyone with knowledge, I'd be interested to hear. My impression was that, immigration aside, the circuit SAOs generally all dealt with the similar subject matter, so if I'm wrong I'd like to know.


I think this is exactly right. My advice to OP would be to just try and get a gig doing appellate litigation at a firm.



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