Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

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Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:34 pm

Hi All,

Interested in some advice on attempting to transition from prosecution to big law. I graduated from a top 3 law school in 2011 with average grades, and then worked at the Manhattan DA's Office for about 5 years (lots of trial experience, mostly violent crime). Last year I moved to main justice, where I've been for about a year. I work on cool, federal criminal cases, building big investigations that always plead out (0 trials in the last year). I'm committed to two more years in my section, at which point I would have 8 years in the public sector (combined federal/state prosecution).

I naively never really worried about my sorry financial state, but now that I have kids, I want to try to transition to big law. Is it wiser to try to get into a white collar/cybercrime section at DOJ before attempting the move to the private sector? That would mean committing at least two more years after I finish my current commitment, however. Or, is just "trial experience" enough to sell Big Law, even if most of it is in violent/organized crime?

Thank you for taking the time to read. Any thoughts, anecdotes, etc greatly appreciated.

Anonymous User
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Re: Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi All,

Interested in some advice on attempting to transition from prosecution to big law. I graduated from a top 3 law school in 2011 with average grades, and then worked at the Manhattan DA's Office for about 5 years (lots of trial experience, mostly violent crime). Last year I moved to main justice, where I've been for about a year. I work on cool, federal criminal cases, building big investigations that always plead out (0 trials in the last year). I'm committed to two more years in my section, at which point I would have 8 years in the public sector (combined federal/state prosecution).

I naively never really worried about my sorry financial state, but now that I have kids, I want to try to transition to big law. Is it wiser to try to get into a white collar/cybercrime section at DOJ before attempting the move to the private sector? That would mean committing at least two more years after I finish my current commitment, however. Or, is just "trial experience" enough to sell Big Law, even if most of it is in violent/organized crime?

Thank you for taking the time to read. Any thoughts, anecdotes, etc greatly appreciated.


A few questions:
1. Is your work at DOJ white collar related at all? or is it violent/organized crime?
2. are you working towards loan forgiveness? it may pay to stay an extra 2 years to move to a different bureau.
3. While having money is great, do you think BL will give you the work-life balance you have in government to see your children as often as you do now?
4. Do you dislike your current work enough to the point where you want to risk making the jump to private practice?
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:46 pm

.

Anonymous User
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Re: Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:12 pm

Great questions, thank you for your response.

1) My work at DOJ is not really white collar related at all. It's centered around international organized crime, though there is occasionally some asset forfeiture stuff involved.

2) Fortunately not.

3 + 4) These are difficult questions, and work life balance is a concern. Honestly federal prosecution (perhaps particularly at main justice) is not all it's cracked up to be. There is so much time spent fighting between offices and agencies, arguing over whose case it is, indicting crappy cases quickly so that we can "claim" a target, it just isn't the most satisfying. Combine that with the fact that my spouse and I live far from our families, and we can't really afford childcare...it's just so much financial stress for what seems to me to be insufficient reward. State prosecution was truly rewarding stuff, but the pay is SO bad I think it's simply not possible to return to doing that.

A few questions:
1. Is your work at DOJ white collar related at all? or is it violent/organized crime?
2. are you working towards loan forgiveness? it may pay to stay an extra 2 years to move to a different bureau.
3. While having money is great, do you think BL will give you the work-life balance you have in government to see your children as often as you do now?
4. Do you dislike your current work enough to the point where you want to risk making the jump to private practice?[/quote]

Anonymous User
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Re: Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:28 pm

Would you consider trying to go AUSA in less expensive market? I don't think the political stuff you complain about holds true for USAOs (but financially it's not really going to help unless you go somewhere with a much lower COL, which may not be an option).

Anonymous User
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Re: Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:44 pm

Our families are from NY and SF/LA, so realistically we're probably stuck in expensive markets. Big law could just be a way to transition out of government, to diversify a bit, and then find something else lucrative but not as soul sucking. I just have no idea if they'll be interested in someone with a (nearly) exclusively criminal, non-white collar background.

Anonymous User wrote:Would you consider trying to go AUSA in less expensive market? I don't think the political stuff you complain about holds true for USAOs (but financially it's not really going to help unless you go somewhere with a much lower COL, which may not be an option).

mdaoca

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Re: Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby mdaoca » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:05 pm

I think there are a handful of firms that are interested in young lawyers with criminal litigation experience, but you will have to hustle to get one of those positions. From what I've seen, it's better to be younger and without white collar than to stay too long in the government and have every box checked that an employer could want, but I may be wrong.

Anonymous User wrote:Our families are from NY and SF/LA, so realistically we're probably stuck in expensive markets. Big law could just be a way to transition out of government, to diversify a bit, and then find something else lucrative but not as soul sucking. I just have no idea if they'll be interested in someone with a (nearly) exclusively criminal, non-white collar background.

Anonymous User wrote:Would you consider trying to go AUSA in less expensive market? I don't think the political stuff you complain about holds true for USAOs (but financially it's not really going to help unless you go somewhere with a much lower COL, which may not be an option).

Anonymous User
Posts: 312850
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi All,

Interested in some advice on attempting to transition from prosecution to big law. I graduated from a top 3 law school in 2011 with average grades, and then worked at the Manhattan DA's Office for about 5 years (lots of trial experience, mostly violent crime). Last year I moved to main justice, where I've been for about a year. I work on cool, federal criminal cases, building big investigations that always plead out (0 trials in the last year). I'm committed to two more years in my section, at which point I would have 8 years in the public sector (combined federal/state prosecution).

I naively never really worried about my sorry financial state, but now that I have kids, I want to try to transition to big law. Is it wiser to try to get into a white collar/cybercrime section at DOJ before attempting the move to the private sector? That would mean committing at least two more years after I finish my current commitment, however. Or, is just "trial experience" enough to sell Big Law, even if most of it is in violent/organized crime?

Thank you for taking the time to read. Any thoughts, anecdotes, etc greatly appreciated.


Might want to just break the commitment and get into big law now. In two or four years it'll be impossible unless you are partner material and having never worked in biglaw before and not being in a relevant section at DOJ will make it pretty difficult. You might right now as a sixth year be able to convince a firm to take you on as a fourth year and then work your way up to being a partner.

Anonymous User
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Re: Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:41 am

Thanks for your input. I've heard of a couple of senior prosecutors being hired not as partner but as "of counsel." It doesn't really sound like they're on the partner track unless things go extraordinarily well, but they make good money nonetheless. In your opinion, is that a common thing and would it be preferable (in terms of role, money, etc) than trying to be hired as a 4th year when I'm actually more experienced?


"Might want to just break the commitment and get into big law now. In two or four years it'll be impossible unless you are partner material and having never worked in biglaw before and not being in a relevant section at DOJ will make it pretty difficult. You might right now as a sixth year be able to convince a firm to take you on as a fourth year and then work your way up to being a partner."

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

Re: Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:54 am

I considered going into biglaw white collar, and talked to several biglaw partners in white collar (some of which I know personally). Honestly, given that you're looking at biglaw from a long-term perspective, I don't think it makes sense for you unless you're going into as a biglaw partner (depends on the firm, but some might start you off as a non-equity partner until you prove that you're ability to generate business). It seems like as an associate you mostly do a bunch of grunt work that isn't all that interesting (many biglaw white collar associates don't even have any fed prosecutorial experience). And you'll never be able to generate enough business to make to equity partner at a biglaw firm without the fed prosecutor white collar experience because that's what the clients demand. I do know of one person who made it to biglaw white collar partner, but she didn't make it (she wasn't able to generate business). To get into biglaw as a partner, you really need to switch to white collar at the DoJ or get into white collar at an AUSA's office and make a name for yourself (at least locally). But, as others have mentioned, there's a pretty big trade off in terms of work/life balance, so I think that's something to seriously consider (esp given that you're at the DoJ, which pays reasonably well for gov work).

gaddockteeg

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Re: Transition from Prosecution to Big Law

Postby gaddockteeg » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:10 pm

Can't offer any advice but tagging because relevant to my own interests



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