BL --> DA --> AUSA

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BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:54 pm

Junior associate (2/3/4 year) in secondary market. Title says it all. End game is AUSA doing financial crimes. Part of me thinks that doing WC at BL firm is the wise choice, but I'm antsy to get in a courtroom and I just hate sitting at a desk all day.

I don't dislike BL more than any other desk job tbh, I was just built to do extroverted stuff (i.e. i'd probably be in sales if not a lawyer).

So am I taking a major step back towards my end goal if I transition to local DA's office -- I'm just antsy to get my foot in a courtroom (more than once or twice a year).

Also, LS was MVP and Firm is V-teen.

Thanks!

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:36 am

I did virtually the same thing, with very similar stats, but went ADA to BL to AUSA. It depends on the district, but many/most will prefer you to have had the standup/trial experience, particularly if you have the stats otherwise (and have done biglaw). It also demonstrates your commitment to prosecution. And being an ADA was a blast, at least at my office. You only go around once.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:I did virtually the same thing, with very similar stats, but went ADA to BL to AUSA. It depends on the district, but many/most will prefer you to have had the standup/trial experience, particularly if you have the stats otherwise (and have done biglaw). It also demonstrates your commitment to prosecution. And being an ADA was a blast, at least at my office. You only go around once.


Not OP but interested in his/her proposed path. Do you think the transition from BL to ADA is more difficult than vice versa?

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:48 pm

Same anon. No, what I did (ADA to BL at a V50) was more unusual.

The USAOs get tons of apps from biglaw associates claiming a devotion to public service but little to support that assertion; it’s also hard to know who among them will be able to stand up in court and represent the office well, let alone put a trial together effectively. I have witnessed a few horror shows that serve as cautionary examples in that regard. That said, there are many who successfully make that transition, and some districts prefer that background.

In my view, those who have had considerable time in court and are committed prosecutors but who can also demonstrate the writing experience and intellectual chops of a T10 grad/biglaw associate have the best of both worlds. Of course, I’m biased, but my point is that it’s certainly doable.

Good luck to you both.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Same anon. No, what I did (ADA to BL at a V50) was more unusual.

The USAOs get tons of apps from biglaw associates claiming a devotion to public service but little to support that assertion; it’s also hard to know who among them will be able to stand up in court and represent the office well, let alone put a trial together effectively. I have witnessed a few horror shows that serve as cautionary examples in that regard. That said, there are many who successfully make that transition, and some districts prefer that background.

In my view, those who have had considerable time in court and are committed prosecutors but who can also demonstrate the writing experience and intellectual chops of a T10 grad/biglaw associate have the best of both worlds. Of course, I’m biased, but my point is that it’s certainly doable.

Good luck to you both.


Biglaw to ada is what I wish I had done (former fedclerk) but am actually currently an ada interviewing for junior lateral biglaw lit gigs. I think that if you save up enough, BL to ada is an awesome path, with usao or judge as goal. I think that I’d you apply off-class (in other words so you’re not competing against public-service-committed law students), your chances are better at becoming an ada.

Does your firm offer a 6 month rotation? That would be huge in terms of you selling yourself to a dao.

There’s currently an active thread about my path ending in “advice on next move.” That’s the reason of my anon post.

Good luck to you.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:27 pm

my question is why go ADA at all? Why not just BL ---> AUSA?

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby BlendedUnicorn » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:my question is why go ADA at all? Why not just BL ---> AUSA?


Because OP is anxious to get into a courtroom and AUSA isn't exactly a gig that's super easy to land right away.

My question is why is this post anon?

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:33 am

OP here -- Thanks for all of the responses.

To answer the post above: when it comes to career stuff, I (probably irrationally) get paranoid that someone from here would recognize me, haha.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP here -- Thanks for all of the responses.

To answer the post above: when it comes to career stuff, I (probably irrationally) get paranoid that someone from here would recognize me, haha.

You’re totally fine, it’s just the person asking why not BL —> AUSA; there’s nothing revealing about that so unclear why they’re posting anon.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:54 pm

BlendedUnicorn wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:my question is why go ADA at all? Why not just BL ---> AUSA?


Because OP is anxious to get into a courtroom and AUSA isn't exactly a gig that's super easy to land right away.

My question is why is this post anon?


Because I choose to post anonymously on questions about AUSA and because the OP's response to my question might lead me to make a substantive reply that is revealing. hth.

For example,if the OP would be happy with being an ADA for a career, that would have been the end of it. I would wish him or her good luck. But if the OP was looking to go to ADA as a way to boost his chances for AUSA, as an AUSA, I personally think it is risky to go the ADA route. If the ultimate goal is to be an AUSA, my opinion would be to skip going the ADA route. As an initial matter, if one is already a prosecutor, the inevitable question arises "Why do you want to be an AUSA?" And a biglaw attorney has a lot of good answers to that question; an ADA has fewer good answers. Similarly, as a biglaw associate, it is understood that candidates are making a big financial sacrifice to become AUSAs. ADAs are usually perceived as looking to move to the federal system in order to make more money. Then there's the fact that other than "courtroom experience" there's very little that transferable from ADA to AUSA. As an initial matter, a biglaw attorney is usually litigating in federal courts and understands the demands that federal courts put on practitioners. ADAs practice in state courts where everything is generally much less formal. ADAs don't need to write as often as biglaw associates, so there's a worry that those skills will atrophy. USAOs place a significant premium on good writing. In terms of connections, generally biglaw associates work can develop close working relationships with former AUSAs; ADAs generally cannot.

Finally, going the ADA route is probably going to set you back a couple years. For example, at DANY (generally regarded one of the top 3 state prosecutor offices in the country), you're not getting AUSA until you have at least 5 years under your belt as an ADA. To begin with, you're going to be prosecuting nothing but misdemeanors for a year. And then the next few years, you're doing nothing but minor felonies. None of that will impress a USAO. The ADAs with significant investigation experience will also be applying and their skills will dwarf any new ADA (and your brief stint in biglaw won't be enough to compensate). Don't kid yourself, the competition for AUSA spots among ADAs is fierce.

To me, it is much safer to become a really good biglaw litigation associate, do pro bono to get into hearings or court, get some former AUSAs to write your recommendations who vouch for your work, and go in the traditional way. You have to do what you think is best though.

Edit: my post, in general, only applies to USAOs in cities that have a major biglaw presence. Obviously, there are USAOs that primarily hire ADAs, but those offices generally are not in cities with major law firms and landing one of those gigs requires local ties and connections.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Junior associate (2/3/4 year) in secondary market. Title says it all. End game is AUSA doing financial crimes. Part of me thinks that doing WC at BL firm is the wise choice, but I'm antsy to get in a courtroom and I just hate sitting at a desk all day.

I don't dislike BL more than any other desk job tbh, I was just built to do extroverted stuff (i.e. i'd probably be in sales if not a lawyer).

So am I taking a major step back towards my end goal if I transition to local DA's office -- I'm just antsy to get my foot in a courtroom (more than once or twice a year).

Also, LS was MVP and Firm is V-teen.

Thanks!


The district I live in, which is one of the most competitive USAO districts, hires normally from BL + clerk. However, they also hire a lot of former DAs that either clerked or has firm experience.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Edit: my post, in general, only applies to USAOs in cities that have a major biglaw presence. Obviously, there are USAOs that primarily hire ADAs, but those offices generally are not in cities with major law firms and landing one of those gigs requires local ties and connections.

:lol: was going to protest about local variation until I got to this caveat, so I stand down.

And frankly I don’t think most people in my former office (which hired a lot of ADAs) would be offended that people wanted AUSA for the money, although certainly being able to talk about wanting to do particular kinds of federal crimes with the resources of the federal government helps a great deal. (the flip side is that the office was very familiar with the limitations of the local DA’s office and understood why good attorneys might want to come to an office with greater resources and a different political atmosphere. But that is really really office specific.)

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Junior associate (2/3/4 year) in secondary market. Title says it all. End game is AUSA doing financial crimes. Part of me thinks that doing WC at BL firm is the wise choice, but I'm antsy to get in a courtroom and I just hate sitting at a desk all day.

I don't dislike BL more than any other desk job tbh, I was just built to do extroverted stuff (i.e. i'd probably be in sales if not a lawyer).

So am I taking a major step back towards my end goal if I transition to local DA's office -- I'm just antsy to get my foot in a courtroom (more than once or twice a year).

Also, LS was MVP and Firm is V-teen.

Thanks!


Couple things to note.

(1) Even if you do BL + ADA, that never guarantees an AUSA position because nothing guarantees an AUSA position. That being said, I know many AUSAs, both in competitive and non-competitive districts, that were former DAs + biglaw.

(2) Because there are no guarantees to an AUSA position, you have to be okay with being a DA. Additionally, unlike what other posters have said, the pay depends upon which office you work for. For instance, in my area, city attorneys are paid the most, then the DAs, then the AUSAs. It is exactly the opposite of how it should be IMO. Also, some DA Offices do not do misdemeanors. Again, in my area, the city takes care of the misdems. Thus, you start with felony trials asap. You have to find out what the situation is in your city because all this is very specific to where I live. It definitely is not the norm.

(3) Apply continuously. Many AUSAs I know get the job after their second or third try, some even more. Try to find out how your local USAO hires. For instance, USAOs hire differently depending on who the US Atty is, the district they are in, etc etc.

(4) Doing WC at BL is the best way to go. Especially because a lot of big firms have former AUSAs, and they tend to practice WC. Get to know those attorneys, and practice WC. After you have a couple years experience, then go to DA. There, you can get a lot of jury trials, and hopefully specialize in WC. This way, you have the writing and WC experience from a big firm, and you have the experience of handling jury trials at the DA. Again, this is not a guarantee, but it gives you a good shot.

Good luck! Sorry for all the typos - I typed all this pretty fast.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:17 pm

You should scope out the USAOs you are applying to - it really depends on the office.

For example, EDNY hires a few DAs and JAGs every year, although the bulk of the class is obviously top school + prestigious clerkship(s) + litigation at top BigLaw firm. In contrast, SDNY is, to a fault, pedigree pedigree pedigree. You're not getting in from "good" law school with "good" grades even if you put fucking Al Capone in jail.

My point isn't to recap EDNY vs SDNY. It's just a good case study: essentially identical applicant pools (every EDNY AUSA applied to SDNY, and vice versa) but somewhat different office profiles.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:02 am

Having done both BL and ADA before becoming an AUSA, I will respectfully disagree with my colleague, as I found my work as an ADA both more relevant to my work now as a WC AUSA and more challenging as an attorney than life as a jr./mid-level biglaw associate.

As an initial matter, if one is already a prosecutor, the inevitable question arises "Why do you want to be an AUSA?" And a biglaw attorney has a lot of good answers to that question; an ADA has fewer good answers.


Really? The BL attorney hasn't demonstrated a commitment to public service, pro bono matters aside. His/her application can equally be interpreted as a desire to get "real experience" before returning to private practice, potentially as a partner (often a dubious proposition absent the stint in gov't), or just to get out of the biglaw grind. Provided the ADA otherwise has BL creds (i.e., top school, clerkship, etc.), that applicant has shown that s/he is a committed prosecutor and most likely wants to move up because that was his/her ultimate objective to begin with. Federal prosecution is the major league of the CJS, so it's fairly natural for the best and the brightest prosecutors to aspire to it.

Similarly, as a biglaw associate, it is understood that candidates are making a big financial sacrifice to become AUSAs. ADAs are usually perceived as looking to move to the federal system in order to make more money.


Disagree. And plenty of us in hiring interviews don't think it such a magnanimous gesture for said associates to deign to join us poor public servants. As mentioned above, there are self-serving explanations for this "sacrifice."

Then there's the fact that other than "courtroom experience" there's very little that transferable from ADA to AUSA.


Could not disagree more. While you may think that prosecuting misdemeanors for 9-12 mos is totally beneath you, the reality is that the experience of working such rudimentary cases--advising your LEOs (who could later be your TFOs as an AUSA), gathering evidence, matching evidence to elements, trying the case before a judge or jury--is directly transferable to the simple matters rookie AUSAs in Major Crimes do. After several years of doing that and moving up to more complex felonies at the state level, I was able to jump into considerably more sophisticated trial work right away on becoming an AUSA, having well over a dozen jury trials under my belt already. Meanwhile, we have direct BL-to-USAO AUSAs who struggle to put together a 922(g) trial even after 1-2 yrs in the office. And I have seen acquaintances at SDNY (where I am not) who go back to private practice having tried 5 or 6 cases total in their legal careers, with few likely to follow upon their return to biglaw. In short, I, for one, found work as a state prosecutor far more relevant than working on a team of 15 attorneys on WC matters in BL. But that's just me. In any event, if AUSA is an ultimate goal, rather than a way station, the hundreds of hours of "courtroom experience" that life as a young ADA affords is a pretty valuable commodity, one that not many folks have coming into the USAO.

ADAs practice in state courts where everything is generally much less formal.


You may not have tried many cases in NY Supreme Ct then. Or maybe your DCs are filled with universally great trial judges. Regardless, I've heard this "those-dang-ADAs-shooting-from-the-hip/flying-by-the-seats-of-their-pants" thing a lot, and while I agree that it depends a lot on which DA's office/state courts you're talking about, it is overblown IME.

ADAs don't need to write as often as biglaw associates, so there's a worry that those skills will atrophy.


Totally agree with this. Though honestly I was more worried about my trial skills having atrophied in BL than my writing ability atrophying as an ADA (rightfully so, as it turns out--my first direct exam post-BL definitely felt a bit awkward). I occasionally wrote substantive motions as an ADA and did a couple appeals, which I would recommend if possible. But my colleague is correct that this is important, and experience in BL or clerking will help a lot as an AUSA. That (and the money) weigh in favor of BL.

Finally, going the ADA route is probably going to set you back a couple years. For example, at DANY (generally regarded one of the top 3 state prosecutor offices in the country), you're not getting AUSA until you have at least 5 years under your belt as an ADA. To begin with, you're going to be prosecuting nothing but misdemeanors for a year. And then the next few years, you're doing nothing but minor felonies. None of that will impress a USAO. The ADAs with significant investigation experience will also be applying and their skills will dwarf any new ADA (and your brief stint in biglaw won't be enough to compensate). Don't kid yourself, the competition for AUSA spots among ADAs is fierce.


So, see above regarding my take on the experience of an ADA. As for the "at least 5 years" bit, I can tell you from personal experience that that's not true, though DANY has a 3-year commitment. I also disagree vehemently with the "none of that will impress a USAO." My trial experience, and that of several other colleagues who came from DA's offices, most definitely did. The gap in trial faculties of those people vs. SOME of the BL-only folks is striking (I say "some" because there are others from the latter category who become great trial attorneys). Finally, yes, those from the DA's office with more experience will have, well, more experience than the younger ADAs, but the fact of the matter is that there are not THAT many people, even from places like DANY, who have a combination of BL creds AND DA experience. That's a rarer breed, and it offers, IMO, the best of both worlds. It's also the OP's potential profile.

TLDR: With no disrespect intended to my esteemed colleague, working as an ADA can provide excellent experience and readily transferrable skills to life as an AUSA, providing your writing is also in order. If you have BL school/other creds but go the DA route and learn how to put a case together and try it yourself, you will stand out during the application process and be more likely to hit the ground running if/when you get there. Others are totally correct in saying that it's still not guaranteed, however, so the caution about asking whether you'd be happy as an ADA if the USAO didn't work out is a worthy admonition. Just my two cents, and opinions may differ. Good exchange in any event. Best of luck.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:12 am

As an AUSA who used to work in a district that hired lots of former ADAs, I absolutely agree that the trial skills are transferable. Learning how to be a prosecutor, period, requires certain basic understandings that you don’t get doing biglaw (I also have seen the phenomenon where former BL people struggle to put together a case compared to ADAs). Obviously a given office may not believe the above things about ADAs and prefer BL refugees and not share my opinion, which is definitely possible and nothing can really be done about that. But I agree that in reality the gulf between the two is overblown. I have seen EXCELLENT AUSAs who started on both paths.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:15 pm

Anyone who says "the skills don't translate" from ADA to AUSA is a fucking idiot. But the people doing hiring at USAOs you're interested in may well believe it. So...make sure to find out first, and make your decision accordingly.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Anyone who says "the skills don't translate" from ADA to AUSA is a fucking idiot. But the people doing hiring at USAOs you're interested in may well believe it. So...make sure to find out first, and make your decision accordingly.


I think literally everyone in this thread said the courtroom skills are transferable. There's disagreement on if the other aspects of a ADAs work are.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:33 pm

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:27 pm

For what it's worth, I agree wholeheartedly with the above poster about DA+BigLaw being a great route to a USAO. I'm biased, as I did the 2L firm thing, clerked, and then became an ADA in New York before leaving for the USAO. Being a prosecutor isn't just about trying cases. That's the end product, but so much about being a prosecutor is knowing how to interact with and win over different people, where the pitfalls are, and having good judgment. Being smart is important, but I rely most heavily on the skills and experiences I've had (and the many, many mistakes I've made!) as a state prosecutor. Those were the greatest years of my life, even the misdemeanor days, and nothing will ever be as fun or formative as my time as an Assistant District Attorney.

Look, I love being an AUSA, but I bristle when I interview candidates from BigLaw who tell me that they want to be a federal prosecutor because federal cases are inherently more "important" or "challenging" than state cases. There's nothing magical about a federal courtroom. Sure, it's a little fancier, but the end of the day you're still just a prosecutor who's got to get a random group of twelve people to agree with you.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:For what it's worth, I agree wholeheartedly with the above poster about DA+BigLaw being a great route to a USAO. I'm biased, as I did the 2L firm thing, clerked, and then became an ADA in New York before leaving for the USAO. Being a prosecutor isn't just about trying cases. That's the end product, but so much about being a prosecutor is knowing how to interact with and win over different people, where the pitfalls are, and having good judgment. Being smart is important, but I rely most heavily on the skills and experiences I've had (and the many, many mistakes I've made!) as a state prosecutor. Those were the greatest years of my life, even the misdemeanor days, and nothing will ever be as fun or formative as my time as an Assistant District Attorney.

Look, I love being an AUSA, but I bristle when I interview candidates from BigLaw who tell me that they want to be a federal prosecutor because federal cases are inherently more "important" or "challenging" than state cases. There's nothing magical about a federal courtroom. Sure, it's a little fancier, but the end of the day you're still just a prosecutor who's got to get a random group of twelve people to agree with you.


Out of curiosity, did you go to a NY office? Have interview with one coming up (and have others pending in other major jurisdictions) so looking to quell the anxiety.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:26 pm

A little off topic, but how hard was it to go BL to ADA for those that did it. I’m a first year trying to make that switch now, and trying to gauge how long I’d have to wait to hear back for first round/no first round from NY offices.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:50 pm

For those in - or considering - biglaw --> DA, biglaw --> AUSA, or biglaw --> DA --> AUSA, I want to encourage you to consider prioritizing firms that allow junior to midlevel attorneys to take a paid 3-6 month leave to gain trial experience at a local DA's office. (Be aware that many firms reserve these programs for partner-track senior associates or junior partners, so you'll need to screen for those who permit early leaves.)

These programs have several benefits for those considering a permanent transition into prosecution:
- You'll apply for prosecution jobs with your first 3-7 jury trials under your belt;
- You'll figure out your own answers to some of the questions in this thread (e.g., if you don't get AUSA, are you comfortable with a long term ADA career);
- You'll have a ton of access to meet prosecutors in different specialties and consider the pros/cons of different state prosecution tracks;
- You'll likely form at least one DA reference that you can use for applications to AUSAs or other DA offices;
- You're better-positioned to seek employment at the DA's office you spent time at than you otherwise would be;
- And frankly, you'll be thrown into cold water regarding the lifestyle differences between BL and state prosecution. I'm not just referring to the salary, but the transition from practicing with tons of support and trying to develop "perfect" work product to the transition to no support, massive caseloads, and trying to do "just good enough" work product to survive it all. If you realize it's not for you, you have a safety net back into biglaw, and a jury trial resume credential that many of your private sector peers won't have.

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby longtimelurker123 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 2:17 pm

Why are AG offices not mentioned as possible stopping points on a path to AUSA?

What about BL to AG to USAO? What makes the BL to ADA to USAO route more common or more preferable?

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Re: BL --> DA --> AUSA

Postby objctnyrhnr » Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:19 pm

longtimelurker123 wrote:Why are AG offices not mentioned as possible stopping points on a path to AUSA?

What about BL to AG to USAO? What makes the BL to ADA to USAO route more common or more preferable?


Agreed. The ago in my state strikes me as analogous to a usao with an emphasis on pre charge investigation.



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