Benefits of Rural AUSA? Chances of transferring offices?

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Anonymous User
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Benefits of Rural AUSA? Chances of transferring offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:03 pm

Hello all,

I have received an offer from USAO in a rural district (think AZ, OK, NM) doing criminal work (drugs/guns/aliens/fraud). I always wanted to become an AUSA and even eventually to manage an office. However, I am having second-thoughts about moving across the country (from DC) to the USAO's location. I am not married, but have a significant other. I have two weeks to accept or reject the offer.

Could some explain to me some of the benefits and skillsets I'd gain working at a rural USAO? I also am wondering about my chances of transferring offices in one to three years to a more desirable location (think NC, SC, GA, FL). I know transferring offices depends on the USA of each district, so I'd appreciate insight into how favorable my experience in rural USAO would be and perhaps the transferability of skills.

I have already looked through all the other USAO/AUSA threads on this website so I'm looking for new ideas, anecdotes and recommendations.

andythefir
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Re: Benefits of Rural AUSA? Chances of transferring offices?

Postby andythefir » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:34 pm

The uncertainty in trumpland cuts both ways. In the last hiring freeze the people who got in just in time made out like bandits because new hires were frozen, but moving around got the green light. Problem with going to an office you don’t want to be in for awhile is nobody knows whether or when a given office will hire again. So you could be at the rural office a year, could be there 3 years.

Anonymous User
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Re: Benefits of Rural AUSA? Chances of transferring offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:37 pm

I did basically this - started in a border district, went to another non-border district (fwiw, I’m not sure that any of the districts you want to get to are considered super competitive, as districts go, though I get that they’re more desirable to you). You will learn how to prosecute cases. That's absolutely transferable. The cases in my current district are completely different from the cases I used to work, but I learned the basics of how to pick up a file and work a case. And the basics of trial prep and discovery and the like also completely transfer. Another key is getting to know senior people in your office who will know lots of people in lots of other places and can vouch for your work as a prosecutor. Having the FAUSA get on the phone and pitch me to my new office was a huge plus. Finally, I think putting in the time in a rural district can be a good way to sell your dedication to the mission. There are definitely plenty of offices who hire out of biglaw so the dedication thing isn’t required, but it can help. (Anecdotally, a lot of the AUSAs I’ve met from the southeast started as state prosecutors, though not all by any means, so it might help.)

FWIW, the only person I know who has actually transferred has a military spouse and so was faced with moves outside of her control. So she was able to apply for a hardship transfer. Everyone else I know who has moved offices has done so by applying for openings when they occur (so my point is that you are unlikely to be able to create an opening by deciding you want to transfer at some given moment). That said, I know a whole bunch of people who went from my rural/border district to other offices (including NDCA, Ohio, CDCA, SDCA, Oregon, and Colorado, as well as the criminal division of DOJ in DC). I would say they needed at least 3 years experience to make the jump (many had more, though not always in that office).

All *that* said, the places you name are going to be a HUGE culture shock from DC if you’ve never been/lived there. I personally think AZ/NM are pretty interesting places to explore for a while (can’t speak to OK) but I’ve lived in a bunch of different places and am used to moving and not knowing people. Leaving your SO (it sounds like?) in DC would be pretty hard. And the learning curve for a new prosecutor can be very hard. So while I’m personally all about making sacrifices for a long term job goal, think about whether you’re going to be setting yourself up to succeed, based on your personal circumstances.

(I guess AZ and NM are rural, but I never thought of them that way - their defining characteristics are being border/Indian country.)

andythefir
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Re: Benefits of Rural AUSA? Chances of transferring offices?

Postby andythefir » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:52 pm

I’d add to the above that New Mexico and Arizona can be radically different, and that would have a huge impact on your quality of life. Tucson or Phoenix would be a far way to travel to see a SO, but would be pretty palatable to a DC dweller. ABQ would be rough, and Cruces would be an enormous shock.

While it would help your chances to do well there, doing poorly/quitting after a few months may also hurt your chances of getting to a different office.

Anonymous User
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Re: Benefits of Rural AUSA? Chances of transferring offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:56 pm

I don’t think ABQ and Tucson would be *that* different (they’re different from each other but a similar level of different from DC, I think?). But totally agree about Cruces. :lol:

Anonymous User
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Re: Benefits of Rural AUSA? Chances of transferring offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I did basically this - started in a border district, went to another non-border district (fwiw, I’m not sure that any of the districts you want to get to are considered super competitive, as districts go, though I get that they’re more desirable to you). You will learn how to prosecute cases. That's absolutely transferable. The cases in my current district are completely different from the cases I used to work, but I learned the basics of how to pick up a file and work a case. And the basics of trial prep and discovery and the like also completely transfer. Another key is getting to know senior people in your office who will know lots of people in lots of other places and can vouch for your work as a prosecutor. Having the FAUSA get on the phone and pitch me to my new office was a huge plus. Finally, I think putting in the time in a rural district can be a good way to sell your dedication to the mission. There are definitely plenty of offices who hire out of biglaw so the dedication thing isn’t required, but it can help. (Anecdotally, a lot of the AUSAs I’ve met from the southeast started as state prosecutors, though not all by any means, so it might help.)

FWIW, the only person I know who has actually transferred has a military spouse and so was faced with moves outside of her control. So she was able to apply for a hardship transfer. Everyone else I know who has moved offices has done so by applying for openings when they occur (so my point is that you are unlikely to be able to create an opening by deciding you want to transfer at some given moment). That said, I know a whole bunch of people who went from my rural/border district to other offices (including NDCA, Ohio, CDCA, SDCA, Oregon, and Colorado, as well as the criminal division of DOJ in DC). I would say they needed at least 3 years experience to make the jump (many had more, though not always in that office).

All *that* said, the places you name are going to be a HUGE culture shock from DC if you’ve never been/lived there. I personally think AZ/NM are pretty interesting places to explore for a while (can’t speak to OK) but I’ve lived in a bunch of different places and am used to moving and not knowing people. Leaving your SO (it sounds like?) in DC would be pretty hard. And the learning curve for a new prosecutor can be very hard. So while I’m personally all about making sacrifices for a long term job goal, think about whether you’re going to be setting yourself up to succeed, based on your personal circumstances.

(I guess AZ and NM are rural, but I never thought of them that way - their defining characteristics are being border/Indian country.)


Thank you for this

JakeTappers
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Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:38 pm

Re: Benefits of Rural AUSA? Chances of transferring offices?

Postby JakeTappers » Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I did basically this - started in a border district, went to another non-border district (fwiw, I’m not sure that any of the districts you want to get to are considered super competitive, as districts go, though I get that they’re more desirable to you). You will learn how to prosecute cases. That's absolutely transferable. The cases in my current district are completely different from the cases I used to work, but I learned the basics of how to pick up a file and work a case. And the basics of trial prep and discovery and the like also completely transfer. Another key is getting to know senior people in your office who will know lots of people in lots of other places and can vouch for your work as a prosecutor. Having the FAUSA get on the phone and pitch me to my new office was a huge plus. Finally, I think putting in the time in a rural district can be a good way to sell your dedication to the mission. There are definitely plenty of offices who hire out of biglaw so the dedication thing isn’t required, but it can help. (Anecdotally, a lot of the AUSAs I’ve met from the southeast started as state prosecutors, though not all by any means, so it might help.)

FWIW, the only person I know who has actually transferred has a military spouse and so was faced with moves outside of her control. So she was able to apply for a hardship transfer. Everyone else I know who has moved offices has done so by applying for openings when they occur (so my point is that you are unlikely to be able to create an opening by deciding you want to transfer at some given moment). That said, I know a whole bunch of people who went from my rural/border district to other offices (including NDCA, Ohio, CDCA, SDCA, Oregon, and Colorado, as well as the criminal division of DOJ in DC). I would say they needed at least 3 years experience to make the jump (many had more, though not always in that office).

All *that* said, the places you name are going to be a HUGE culture shock from DC if you’ve never been/lived there. I personally think AZ/NM are pretty interesting places to explore for a while (can’t speak to OK) but I’ve lived in a bunch of different places and am used to moving and not knowing people. Leaving your SO (it sounds like?) in DC would be pretty hard. And the learning curve for a new prosecutor can be very hard. So while I’m personally all about making sacrifices for a long term job goal, think about whether you’re going to be setting yourself up to succeed, based on your personal circumstances.

(I guess AZ and NM are rural, but I never thought of them that way - their defining characteristics are being border/Indian country.)


Would you mind PMing me? I have an interview in a border district coming up and would love possible insight.

andythefir
Posts: 527
Joined: Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:56 am

Re: Benefits of Rural AUSA? Chances of transferring offices?

Postby andythefir » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:24 pm

I have 2 friends that are trying to do this exact maneuver, and both are finding it way harder than anticipated. To answer the OP directly, I don’t know if the 1-3 year timeline is reasonable. I think 3-5 years in the first office is much more reasonable, and in some cases even longer. I think the hiring freeze, which is functionally only lifting now based on the number of jobs posting, meant that there’s a whole bunch of super qualified applicants applying to every single posting. I’d imagine that cohort of overqualified border district AUSAs will be competing with the usual hyper qualified applicants to the usual offices. There’s also a whole bunch of USA nominations up in the air, which can distort hiring.

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

Re: Benefits of Rural AUSA? Chances of transferring offices?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:01 am

andythefir wrote:I’d add to the above that New Mexico and Arizona can be radically different, and that would have a huge impact on your quality of life. Tucson or Phoenix would be a far way to travel to see a SO, but would be pretty palatable to a DC dweller. ABQ would be rough, and Cruces would be an enormous shock.

While it would help your chances to do well there, doing poorly/quitting after a few months may also hurt your chances of getting to a different office.


Las Cruces would definitely be a huge change from D.C., but FWIW, I really like the Las Cruces/El Paso area. It really depends on whom you are as a person. If you love mega-cities, it may not be for you, OP.




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