Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

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Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 11, 2017 11:26 am

Became an AUSA some months ago. I was a junior associate in biglaw before this.

Dislike being an AUSA. I want to lateral back to big law ASAP.

I'm currently in misdemeanors. I get to run my own cases. I have the option of moving over to the bigger investigations but I'd be working under someone else.

If my goal is to lateral back to big law ASAP (by end of 2017), should I stay in misdemeanors? Not sure whether its more valuable to be running my own cases or to be a part of bigger investigations.

I'd be lateraling as a mid-level.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 11, 2017 11:40 am

Anonymous User wrote:Became an AUSA some months ago. I was a junior associate in biglaw before this.

Dislike being an AUSA. I want to lateral back to big law ASAP.

I'm currently in misdemeanors. I get to run my own cases. I have the option of moving over to the bigger investigations but I'd be working under someone else.

If my goal is to lateral back to big law ASAP (by end of 2017), should I stay in misdemeanors? Not sure whether its more valuable to be running my own cases or to be a part of bigger investigations.

I'd be lateraling as a mid-level.


DOJ attorney here-
The only USAO to my knowledge that does misdemeanors is the DC USAO. Also from my knowledge you cant simply change from misdemeanors to something else as there is a set rotation that new hires go through (Misd, appeals, guns and drugs, intake).

If you want to lateral now i say try to go back now and don't wait.

A better question is what don't you like about being an AUSA? If its misdemeanors I understand, I used to be an ADA. But once you pass that and do large scale investigations on a federal level, it is glorious.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 11, 2017 12:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:The only USAO to my knowledge that does misdemeanors is the DC USAO. Also from my knowledge you cant simply change from misdemeanors to something else as there is a set rotation that new hires go through (Misd, appeals, guns and drugs, intake).


In my jurisdiction there's a large national park, and there are enough misdemeanors in the park for 1-2 AUSAs to be mostly working on that docket. It's not known for being very exciting, which might explain OPs issues (if he's doing misdemeanors in DC and isn't having fun, prosecution is probably not the right gig).

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby JackofLit » Thu May 11, 2017 2:11 pm

I did this after five years even though I LOVED being an AUSA. Some free advice: consider having some patience. Biglaw is great, esp. the pay, but if I had it to do over I think I'd have stayed longer and jumped back at a higher level. Also, doing the CVB docket is not a reasonable representation of the overall AUSA/DOJ experience. You'd be missing a chance to work serious matters and develop real skills you cannot get elsewhere by bailing so early. And no one in Biglaw with real DOJ experience who reads your resume will be deceived/impressed by a year at a USAO focused on CVBs.

$0.02.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 11, 2017 3:38 pm

Not in biglaw, but as an AUSA, I'd say get on the bigger investigations if you can. Second chairing those will get you better experience than doing CVBs/misdemeanors (I mean, running even misdemeanor trials is good trial experience, to start with, but the kind that makes you a better prosecutor - I don't see it getting you anywhere in biglaw).

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 11, 2017 3:44 pm

OP here. I dislike the gig for a number of reasons but generally I think I'm not fit for prosecution. Almost 100% of the time, I find myself siding with the Defendant and it just don't feel good to do work for somehting I don't believe in.

Also, I've got a second kid on the way so the money is a relevant issue too.

JackofLit wrote:I did this after five years even though I LOVED being an AUSA. Some free advice: consider having some patience. Biglaw is great, esp. the pay, but if I had it to do over I think I'd have stayed longer and jumped back at a higher level. Also, doing the CVB docket is not a reasonable representation of the overall AUSA/DOJ experience. You'd be missing a chance to work serious matters and develop real skills you cannot get elsewhere by bailing so early. And no one in Biglaw with real DOJ experience who reads your resume will be deceived/impressed by a year at a USAO focused on CVBs.

$0.02.


What do you think is minimum amount of time I'd have to stick around? I think I can do 2 years, but beyond that, I honestly think Id rather be unemployed.

Anonymous User wrote:Not in biglaw, but as an AUSA, I'd say get on the bigger investigations if you can. Second chairing those will get you better experience than doing CVBs/misdemeanors (I mean, running even misdemeanor trials is good trial experience, to start with, but the kind that makes you a better prosecutor - I don't see it getting you anywhere in biglaw).


That's a good point.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby claptrap » Thu May 11, 2017 3:58 pm

Having been both a state prosecutor and done my fair share of misdemeanors, and now being a criminal AUSA investigating and prosecuting serious and complex felony cases, I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of your opportunity to graduate to working on these bigger federal cases. It may take some time for you to work through the steps in your office to get there, but it will be worth it.

And with the misdemeanor stuff, I'd be surprised if there's a prosecutor out there who didn't agree with/feel sorry for the defendant on a lot of them. Unless they're righteous DV or blatant DUI cases, you can get a lot of rinky-dink stuff on the misdo side, and the fact that your officers often won't care enough to do a solid case workup doesn't help either.

It definitely gets better when you start handling your own felony cases. And criminal AUSA gigs, even the ones where you start out doing misdemeanors, aren't exactly easy to get. So like I said, it's a pretty great opportunity, even if there's a bit of a grind up front.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby los blancos » Thu May 11, 2017 4:04 pm

How does one get maybe the single most competitive gig in the entire profession and then discover a few months in that it poses ethical challenges & the money is an issue? Maybe I'm being harsh but honestly wondering if this is flame.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby mercymainbtw » Thu May 11, 2017 4:08 pm

Also how is someone who "doesn't like doing work they don't believe in" pining for biglaw

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby lolwat » Thu May 11, 2017 4:28 pm

mercymainbtw wrote:Also how is someone who "doesn't like doing work they don't believe in" pining for biglaw


I guess if you're going to hate your work no matter what you might as well get paid better for it. Blurgh at this question to begin with though. It's like "I got in Yale and don't like law school or the money I'm paying to go there." Just gtfo and leave law at that point.

i like mercy.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby MKC » Thu May 11, 2017 4:38 pm

mercymainbtw wrote:Also how is someone who "doesn't like doing work they don't believe in" pining for biglaw


There's a difference between academic arguments about which business owes which other business how much money and giving a kid a criminal record for an ounce of weed or whatever. There's "I don't really care" and there's "I'm personally fucking up this particular person's future."
Last edited by MKC on Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby cheaptilts » Thu May 11, 2017 5:05 pm

MarkinKansasCity wrote:
mercymainbtw wrote:Also how is someone who "doesn't like doing work they don't believe in" pining for biglaw


There's a difference between academic arguments about which business owes which other business how much money and giving a kid a criminal record for an ounce of weed or whatever. There's "I don't really care" and there's "I'm personally fucking up this particular person's future."

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby mercymainbtw » Thu May 11, 2017 5:06 pm

that sounds like "I don't want to practice criminal law" to me, in which case wtf did you expect

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 11, 2017 5:36 pm

OP here.

MarkinKansasCity wrote:
mercymainbtw wrote:Also how is someone who "doesn't like doing work they don't believe in" pining for biglaw


There's a difference between academic arguments about which business owes which other business how much money and giving a kid a criminal record for an ounce of weed or whatever. There's "I don't really care" and there's "I'm personally fucking up this particular person's future."


This is on the money.

mercymainbtw wrote:that sounds like "I don't want to practice criminal law" to me, in which case wtf did you expect


Nothing to do with criminal law. I dont know where you got that.

los blancos wrote:How does one get maybe the single most competitive gig in the entire profession and then discover a few months in that it poses ethical challenges & the money is an issue? Maybe I'm being harsh but honestly wondering if this is flame.

Dont know what a flame is, but if it means burnout, that's not the case. I'm not burned out, I just dont like this job.

lolwat wrote:
mercymainbtw wrote:Also how is someone who "doesn't like doing work they don't believe in" pining for biglaw


I guess if you're going to hate your work no matter what you might as well get paid better for it. Blurgh at this question to begin with though. It's like "I got in Yale and don't like law school or the money I'm paying to go there." Just gtfo and leave law at that point.

i like mercy.

Why would I leave law? I just said that I liked biglaw.

claptrap wrote:Having been both a state prosecutor and done my fair share of misdemeanors, and now being a criminal AUSA investigating and prosecuting serious and complex felony cases, I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of your opportunity to graduate to working on these bigger federal cases. It may take some time for you to work through the steps in your office to get there, but it will be worth it.

And with the misdemeanor stuff, I'd be surprised if there's a prosecutor out there who didn't agree with/feel sorry for the defendant on a lot of them. Unless they're righteous DV or blatant DUI cases, you can get a lot of rinky-dink stuff on the misdo side, and the fact that your officers often won't care enough to do a solid case workup doesn't help either.

It definitely gets better when you start handling your own felony cases. And criminal AUSA gigs, even the ones where you start out doing misdemeanors, aren't exactly easy to get. So like I said, it's a pretty great opportunity, even if there's a bit of a grind up front.


Thanks, this was good to hear. How long have you been an AUSA? and how much longer do you intend to stay?

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 11, 2017 7:29 pm

Why did you think you would want to be an AUSA?

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby claptrap » Thu May 11, 2017 7:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks, this was good to hear. How long have you been an AUSA? and how much longer do you intend to stay?


Still brand new--less than 6 months in. Unless something drastic changes I pretty much plan to retire as a federal prosecutor, though I may move districts at some point.

Bear in mind law is something of a second career for me and I switched for the sole reason of becoming a prosecutor, so I am probably a little more on the "true believer" side than most. (Even still, I totally get your reservations on some of the misdo cases out there, and definitely have had them myself at times.)

But I have been really happy with the types and the complexity of the felony cases they have been giving me, even as a new AUSA. Other than volume the caseload is pretty much indistinguishable from my more experienced colleagues.

I'm not in a major metro but I wouldn't categorize my district as flyover either.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 11, 2017 8:32 pm

Love it how people ITT can't conceive that some of us might not enjoy consistently being on the winning side of a one-sided, unfair criminal justice system.

Anonymous User wrote:Why did you think you would want to be an AUSA?


Can't speak for OP, but I considered being an AUSA for a while, despite concerns above. There's the whole notion that people who are skeptical about the current system should become prosecutors in order to better it, the idea that since you run your cases you can make a difference, etc etc. Plenty of reasons for skeptics or people on the fence who want to work in criminal law to nonetheless want to become prosecutors. Obviously that's without mentioning the prestige of USAOs, and the expectations that career overachievers set on themselves to always move on to the "next thing." You don't really know what the day-to-day is going to be like until you start (presumably unless you've interned, and even then you don't get a full picture). On top of that, from what I understand the DC USAO can be pretty terrible for a variety of reasons, including a very pro-criminalization culture. I completely understand how OP could end up in this situation.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby mercymainbtw » Thu May 11, 2017 8:34 pm

I can easily see how someone would not enjoy that. I'm wondering how such a person ends up as an AUSA. It's not really about the day to day. It's literally the entire institutional mission. But w/e It doesn't really matter. Either quit now or stick it out a while for better options.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby bruinfan10 » Thu May 11, 2017 9:11 pm

it's not that hard to understand. people who get ausa positions in competitive districts are by definition overachieving rules-followers, and the ausa position is often viewed as being along the path to biglaw partnership/higher end litigation/a brass ring/invaluable experience. you don't really turn that job down if you can get it, according to many older lawyers and even judges. people may just shuffle along that path and then realize the drawbacks (ethical, economic, etc) associated with an ausa position after the fact. totally plausible. you folks questioning OP seem overawed by the job.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby los blancos » Thu May 11, 2017 10:07 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:it's not that hard to understand. people who get ausa positions in competitive districts are by definition overachieving rules-followers, and the ausa position is often viewed as being along the path to biglaw partnership/higher end litigation/a brass ring/invaluable experience. you don't really turn that job down if you can get it, according to many older lawyers and even judges. people may just shuffle along that path and then realize the drawbacks (ethical, economic, etc) associated with an ausa position after the fact. totally plausible. you folks questioning OP seem overawed by the job.


I think I'm just surprised, given how difficult these jobs are to get and how extensive the interview process is, that the USAOs don't do a better job weeding out the just-checking-a-box-on-the-way-to-biglaw-riches-revolving-door types. I'm not even talking about OP (who maybe seems to have had legit reasons for making the switch) but there have been a lot of threads over the last year that kind of make go "whaaat? are these offices really full of 3-year-plan strivers?" Maybe it's just in major cities because it doesn't align w my experience.
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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby cheaptilts » Thu May 11, 2017 10:12 pm

los blancos wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:it's not that hard to understand. people who get ausa positions in competitive districts are by definition overachieving rules-followers, and the ausa position is often viewed as being along the path to biglaw partnership/higher end litigation/a brass ring/invaluable experience. you don't really turn that job down if you can get it, according to many older lawyers and even judges. people may just shuffle along that path and then realize the drawbacks (ethical, economic, etc) associated with an ausa position after the fact. totally plausible. you folks questioning OP seem overawed by the job.


I think I'm just surprised, given how difficult these jobs are to get and how extensive the interview process is, that the USAOs don't do a better job weeding out the just-checking-a-box-on-the-way-to-biglaw-riches-revolving-door types. I'm not even talking about OP necessarily but there have been a lot of threads over the last year that kind of make go "whaaat? are these offices really full of 3-year-plan strivers?" Maybe it's just in major cities because it doesn't align w my experience.

It's like you're purposely feigning ignorance re: how someone could possibly be qualified, interest, and capable of performing a job only to realize soon after starting that they absolutely hate it

The same thing literally happens in every industry, everyday

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby los blancos » Thu May 11, 2017 10:27 pm

cheaptilts wrote:
los blancos wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:it's not that hard to understand. people who get ausa positions in competitive districts are by definition overachieving rules-followers, and the ausa position is often viewed as being along the path to biglaw partnership/higher end litigation/a brass ring/invaluable experience. you don't really turn that job down if you can get it, according to many older lawyers and even judges. people may just shuffle along that path and then realize the drawbacks (ethical, economic, etc) associated with an ausa position after the fact. totally plausible. you folks questioning OP seem overawed by the job.


I think I'm just surprised, given how difficult these jobs are to get and how extensive the interview process is, that the USAOs don't do a better job weeding out the just-checking-a-box-on-the-way-to-biglaw-riches-revolving-door types. I'm not even talking about OP necessarily but there have been a lot of threads over the last year that kind of make go "whaaat? are these offices really full of 3-year-plan strivers?" Maybe it's just in major cities because it doesn't align w my experience.

It's like you're purposely feigning ignorance re: how someone could possibly be qualified, interest, and capable of performing a job only to realize soon after starting that they absolutely hate it

The same thing literally happens in every industry, everyday


No I know that's always possibility, I'm just surprised how often I'm seeing it on this board given that the vast majority of DOJ lawyers seem to love their jobs, and given what the alternative is. (Probably just selection bias)

In any case OP's gotten good advice and I'm going to stop derailing that.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 12, 2017 8:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:Became an AUSA some months ago. I was a junior associate in biglaw before this.

Dislike being an AUSA. I want to lateral back to big law ASAP.

I'm currently in misdemeanors. I get to run my own cases. I have the option of moving over to the bigger investigations but I'd be working under someone else.

If my goal is to lateral back to big law ASAP (by end of 2017), should I stay in misdemeanors? Not sure whether its more valuable to be running my own cases or to be a part of bigger investigations.

I'd be lateraling as a mid-level.


First of all, you probably have a commitment if you're in a major metro and it's probably not a six-month commitment. Second, you know you took someone else's dream job, right? Third, you also know that your colleagues are getting paid less than they could've been paid in order to make room for you? This ain't biglaw where it doesn't matter if you stay or go because they can just replace you. There's hiring freezes, budget decisions, caseloads that get shuffled . . .next time you make a decision to go to a job of consequence, be a real professional and do the job for a reasonable amount of time.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby onionz » Fri May 12, 2017 9:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Became an AUSA some months ago. I was a junior associate in biglaw before this.

Dislike being an AUSA. I want to lateral back to big law ASAP.

I'm currently in misdemeanors. I get to run my own cases. I have the option of moving over to the bigger investigations but I'd be working under someone else.

If my goal is to lateral back to big law ASAP (by end of 2017), should I stay in misdemeanors? Not sure whether its more valuable to be running my own cases or to be a part of bigger investigations.

I'd be lateraling as a mid-level.


First of all, you probably have a commitment if you're in a major metro and it's probably not a six-month commitment. Second, you know you took someone else's dream job, right? Third, you also know that your colleagues are getting paid less than they could've been paid in order to make room for you? This ain't biglaw where it doesn't matter if you stay or go because they can just replace you. There's hiring freezes, budget decisions, caseloads that get shuffled . . .next time you make a decision to go to a job of consequence, be a real professional and do the job for a reasonable amount of time.


Good use of anon to take someone else down like that needlessly. I think it's unreasonable to expect anyone to know ex ante if they'll end up loving or hating any job but that shouldn't mean you need to tough it out. Do you think the AUSA's office would want them working there for "a reasonable amount of time" if he hated it? No. I don't think OP has a duty to literally everyone else who wanted that 'dream job.' It'd be different if it sounded like OP only wanted it for a few months for a resume line item, but that doesn't sound like the case. This is like when people get mad at students who have multiple biglaw offers or at those who sit on scholarships from multiple law schools before deciding--those people put themselves in positions to have those choices and as long as they're not rubbing it in your face/abusing the system I don't see the problem.

Also aren't federal employees on a fairly formal salary scale? I don't think it's quite so simple that they could have been paid more if he/she didn't come aboard.

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Re: Current AUSA but it's not for me and I want to go back to BL. Should I swtich divisions?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 12, 2017 9:23 am

Anon because I'm an AUSA. My experience has been that offices do get discretion over how to use their money - you're paid on a scale but there are a range of salaries within each grade. I know that when it comes to raises, for instance, offices get discretion about how to distribute a set pool of money, and can either give fewer people more or more people less. So I think the comments about salary are correct. Also, if someone quits now there isn't any guarantee the office will be able to replace them. I'm not saying any of these things mean the OP has to stay at their job, but the above anon isn't blowing smoke.

(And also I think the office would rather have someone competent there who hates the job than have to redistribute their caseload etc. And people who sit on the allowed number of biglaw offers are fine but people who keep open more than that are assholes.)

It's true that you can't know if you're going to hate a job until you do it, and people can hate being an AUSA, but I'll admit to being a little puzzled why disinclination to convict people and money weren't red flags before even applying. In any case, OP, if you do think you want to get out as soon as you can, you might better off just sticking with your current cases, since you may not be there long enough to get useful experience on investigations.

(Also I hated the job for the 1st 6 months or so because the learning curve was SO steep and I'm a type-A control freak who hates not understanding everything. I realize this is different from what you've identified but if you haven't been there very long your opinion might change over time. Or not, of course.)



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