USAO timing - now or never?

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USAO timing - now or never?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:55 pm

Apologies if this or a similar question has been raised before (couldn't find it in the archives). I'm curious what people know about the general window for applying to USAOs post-graduation. I think my credentials would probably be enough at least to get an interview at most USAOs -- top 1/3 at HYS, flyover d.ct. clerkship, close to 2 years at a V5 in NYC doing mostly white collar/investigations work, and about to start a COA clerkship in a medium-competitive (but non-2/9/DC) market.

My question is, essentially: if I want to work at a USAO, do I have to start applying during my COA clerkship? Or could I go back to biglaw for a couple years, make some more money, and then apply? If I started at a USAO immediately after my COA clerkship, I'd have almost 4 years of post-grad experience. If I started a couple years after, I'd have almost 6 years. My concern is that USAOs are reluctant to hire attorneys with this much experience, if only because they don't want to pay them at that level of seniority. Does anyone have a sense of how substantially your chances diminish the longer you stay in biglaw, and at what point you've likely passed the point of no return? I realize my chances would be greater at a flyover USAO, so I'm particularly interested in how seniority affects chances in more competitive markets (esp. SDNY/EDNY).

andythefir

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Re: USAO timing - now or never?

Postby andythefir » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:16 pm

My law school told me the window was 3-5 years, but the people I know who have gotten hired (I’m as yet unsuccessful) have been trending older, more like 6-10 years. AUSA pay maxes out at 9 years, so by the time you get 8 years in you’re not saving much money compared to 15 years.

Re the timing with a clerkship, id say you should essentially never stop applying. Application + 2 rounds of interviews + a background check can take forever. If you’re open to multiple offices you’re much more likely to be able to catch one at the right time.

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Re: USAO timing - now or never?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:13 pm

andythefir wrote:My law school told me the window was 3-5 years, but the people I know who have gotten hired (I’m as yet unsuccessful) have been trending older, more like 6-10 years. AUSA pay maxes out at 9 years, so by the time you get 8 years in you’re not saving much money compared to 15 years.

Re the timing with a clerkship, id say you should essentially never stop applying. Application + 2 rounds of interviews + a background check can take forever. If you’re open to multiple offices you’re much more likely to be able to catch one at the right time.


OP; thanks. My problem is that I don't want to apply to USAOs now, if possible. I'd rather go back to biglaw for 2-3 years after my clerkship, save a significant amount of $$, then apply for an AUSA position. But I fear that waiting that long to apply will substantially reduce my chances of getting hired.

andythefir

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Re: USAO timing - now or never?

Postby andythefir » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
andythefir wrote:My law school told me the window was 3-5 years, but the people I know who have gotten hired (I’m as yet unsuccessful) have been trending older, more like 6-10 years. AUSA pay maxes out at 9 years, so by the time you get 8 years in you’re not saving much money compared to 15 years.

Re the timing with a clerkship, id say you should essentially never stop applying. Application + 2 rounds of interviews + a background check can take forever. If you’re open to multiple offices you’re much more likely to be able to catch one at the right time.


OP; thanks. My problem is that I don't want to apply to USAOs now, if possible. I'd rather go back to biglaw for 2-3 years after my clerkship, save a significant amount of $$, then apply for an AUSA position. But I fear that waiting that long to apply will substantially reduce my chances of getting hired.


The issue is that AUSA pay scale maxes out at 9 years. So they can pay a 9 year attorney the same as a 20 year attorney. That’s why the 3-7 year experience level is so critical, you’re a value to the office and you’re not head to head with 20 year AUSAs who want the same job.

JusticeJackson

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Re: USAO timing - now or never?

Postby JusticeJackson » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:53 pm

Probably dumb question: don’t they have discretion to pay you below your level?

Sadly I’m in the same boat as OP.


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Re: USAO timing - now or never?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:00 pm

My judge, former USA, said that they did not have such discretion. In one of my interviews I asked the same question of a major office and did not really get an answer. Instead the executive assistant USA basically was like "we have x spots, we can fill them however, and if we have more people we can ask for more spots." That answer made it sound like actual $s weren't at issue, but that can't be right either.

Short answer: i have no idea.



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