How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

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How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:13 pm

Currently a 1L - come OCI this Fall, my only substantive work/internship experience is going to be with the federal government. I'm worried that employers think I'll bail within 3-5 years for a FedGov job (which isn't entirely inaccurate, but I don't want to put all my eggs in the DOJ Honors basket). What's the best way to make my government experience relevant, as well as establish my interest in working for a law firm?

Graybrow

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Re: How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby Graybrow » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Currently a 1L - come OCI this Fall, my only substantive work/internship experience is going to be with the federal government. I'm worried that employers think I'll bail within 3-5 years for a FedGov job (which isn't entirely inaccurate, but I don't want to put all my eggs in the DOJ Honors basket). What's the best way to make my government experience relevant, as well as establish my interest in working for a law firm?


I had a couple years of government-y and public interest stuff on my resume. I hardly talked about it. Some of it was overseas and we discussed what it was like being in that country but otherwise no one cared. It was more about my interest in the firm and what I wanted to do there.

Moreover, 3-5 years is the average time an associate spends at a law firm, so even if that was the case, no one would care.

ThisLawyerLife

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Re: How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby ThisLawyerLife » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Currently a 1L - come OCI this Fall, my only substantive work/internship experience is going to be with the federal government. I'm worried that employers think I'll bail within 3-5 years for a FedGov job (which isn't entirely inaccurate, but I don't want to put all my eggs in the DOJ Honors basket). What's the best way to make my government experience relevant, as well as establish my interest in working for a law firm?


The vast majority of students interviewing for biglaw do not have private law firm experience - tons of people spend 1L summer in public interest, govt, externing for a judge, etc. It is not a barrier to getting a biglaw job. And lots of biglaw depts work directly with Fed agencies (especially DOJ and SEC), so having some experience is a positive, not a negative. Just talk up your experience like you would for any other job - cool projects you worked on, responsibilities you had, leadership opportunities, etc.

RaceJudicata

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Re: How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby RaceJudicata » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:47 pm

ThisLawyerLife wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Currently a 1L - come OCI this Fall, my only substantive work/internship experience is going to be with the federal government. I'm worried that employers think I'll bail within 3-5 years for a FedGov job (which isn't entirely inaccurate, but I don't want to put all my eggs in the DOJ Honors basket). What's the best way to make my government experience relevant, as well as establish my interest in working for a law firm?


The vast majority of students interviewing for biglaw do not have private law firm experience - tons of people spend 1L summer in public interest, govt, externing for a judge, etc. It is not a barrier to getting a biglaw job. And lots of biglaw depts work directly with Fed agencies (especially DOJ and SEC), so having some experience is a positive, not a negative. Just talk up your experience like you would for any other job - cool projects you worked on, responsibilities you had, leadership opportunities, etc.

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Re: How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:57 am

RaceJudicata wrote:
ThisLawyerLife wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Currently a 1L - come OCI this Fall, my only substantive work/internship experience is going to be with the federal government. I'm worried that employers think I'll bail within 3-5 years for a FedGov job (which isn't entirely inaccurate, but I don't want to put all my eggs in the DOJ Honors basket). What's the best way to make my government experience relevant, as well as establish my interest in working for a law firm?


The vast majority of students interviewing for biglaw do not have private law firm experience - tons of people spend 1L summer in public interest, govt, externing for a judge, etc. It is not a barrier to getting a biglaw job. And lots of biglaw depts work directly with Fed agencies (especially DOJ and SEC), so having some experience is a positive, not a negative. Just talk up your experience like you would for any other job - cool projects you worked on, responsibilities you had, leadership opportunities, etc.


Especially for the NYC firms with 100+ class size, they expect a higher attrition rate.

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Re: How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby Nebby » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:02 am

Probably close to a third or more of SAs spent their 1L summer at a government internship. No firm will care. Is the govt position litigation or regulatory? Do you want to do litigation or transactional big law?

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Re: How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby globetrotter659 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:42 pm

Is your only work experience a federal gov internship you will be doing this summer? If so then that will not be a problem at all. If you worked in the federal government for a few years prior then you will have to have a good answer for why a firm (which is obnoxious because if you are interviewing with DC firms then there is a good chance that your interviewers have prior gov experience).

Focus on skills gained and why you think those skills are important for a firm. If you want to be a litigator, focus on that. There are very few actual litigator jobs in the federal government open to people straight out of law school.

Many former gov employees fall into the “policy trap” in law interviews. You are not going to a firm to do policy work, so don’t sound like a wonky policy nerd.*

*caveat being some niche DC regulatory practices.

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Re: How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:18 pm

globetrotter659 wrote:Is your only work experience a federal gov internship you will be doing this summer? If so then that will not be a problem at all. If you worked in the federal government for a few years prior then you will have to have a good answer for why a firm


[OP here] I worked for the federal government for a couple years prior to law school, but I wasn't working in an explicitly legal capacity.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:19 pm

Nebby wrote:Probably close to a third or more of SAs spent their 1L summer at a government internship. No firm will care. Is the govt position litigation or regulatory? Do you want to do litigation or transactional big law?


[OP here] the gov't internship is in ligitation, and I want to do litigation...so I'll probably focus on that during OCI.

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Re: How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby globetrotter659 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
globetrotter659 wrote:Is your only work experience a federal gov internship you will be doing this summer? If so then that will not be a problem at all. If you worked in the federal government for a few years prior then you will have to have a good answer for why a firm


[OP here] I worked for the federal government for a couple years prior to law school, but I wasn't working in an explicitly legal capacity.


I was in your position. Nearly every interviewer asked me I wasn’t returning to government. I struggled. I ended up getting a Big Fed honors position anyways.

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Re: How to spin government experience for biglaw SA positions?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:22 pm

I worked for Congress for five years before law school and it was a major sticking point during EIW/OCI. The partisan nature of my experience definitely closed some doors and the interviewers seemed highly skeptical that I was actually interested in going into the private sector and working outside of DC.

Looking back, I would have tried to emphasize my interest in litigation over corporate (my actual preference) simply because it made for a more compelling story and it seemed the most closely related to my background. Assuming the firm does some sort of rotation or free market system for summers, there will be plenty of opportunity to work in different practice areas once you have your foot in the door. And if you haven't already locked down a 1L summer position, I would recommend trying to find something in the private sector or with a client-relevant regulator (SEC, CFPB, FTC, etc.) so you can develop your BigLaw narrative.



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