Do I screw ausa chance by going to a boutique?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 325896
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Do I screw ausa chance by going to a boutique?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 17, 2018 11:39 am

I was a fedclerk in large (competitive) market. The market is not nyc. I then (for better or worse) became an ada in that same competitive market. I have been an ada for a couple years but, significantly, have not yet made it to a grand-jury-indictment unit. I am not geographically flexible.

For unforeseen reasons, I now kind of need some money. I have been interviewing and getting callbacks at a large market law firms since I started looking several months ago. Nothing has stuck yet. I can probably put off the need for $ for another 6-9 months. In a year, I might be in a rough spot. In a year, though, it’s very likely I will be in a grand-jury-indictment unit.

My question, now, is whether I screw my shot at becoming an ausa in this market if I go to a good lit boutique (no personal injury, no low level crim defense, etc) without superior court or biglaw experience. This boutique is probably the top 5 (maybe arguably 3) in the market, but probably not 1 or 2.

Relatedly, I am wondering if I would increase or decrease my chances at biglaw if my next move is a boutique.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325896
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Do I screw ausa chance by going to a boutique?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 17, 2018 4:37 pm

Biglaw or AUSA?

Anonymous User
Posts: 325896
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Do I screw ausa chance by going to a boutique?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 17, 2018 5:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Biglaw or AUSA?


Goal is ausa. Primary question is whether I screw up my chances of becoming one if I don’t do grand jury stuff as an ada and then go private sector boutique instead of biglaw.

Secondary question is whether, with my resume (fedclerk and juniorish ada), do I increase or decrease my chances at lateraling into biglaw in 6 months to a couple more years if I went to a boutique at this point?

PMan99

Bronze
Posts: 323
Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:21 pm

Re: Do I screw ausa chance by going to a boutique?

Postby PMan99 » Thu May 17, 2018 5:44 pm

Depends on the boutique, market, etc. In LA, for instance, boutiques like Bird Marella or Hueston Hennigan are probably better for AUSA chances than any big law firm. But a big firm will be better than a middling boutique with no institutional AUSA ties.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325896
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Do I screw ausa chance by going to a boutique?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 17, 2018 5:48 pm

PMan99 wrote:Depends on the boutique, market, etc. In LA, for instance, boutiques like Bird Marella or Hueston Hennigan are probably better for AUSA chances than any big law firm. But a big firm will be better than a middling boutique with no institutional AUSA ties.


Would one with my resume (note the fedclerk) be able to use a solid boutique to climb up to biglaw or am I more competitive for biglaw without private sector experience?

Anonymous User
Posts: 325896
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Do I screw ausa chance by going to a boutique?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 17, 2018 5:59 pm

As to the first q, you will certainly be asked why you left so soon, if being a prosecutor is what you want to do. You may have a compelling answer, I don’t know. But it’s unlikely to help unless, say, a premier WCC boutique and/or one where you’ll really get meaningful experience. By leaving the DA so early, you’re missing most of the substantive experience that makes those jobs worthwhile in the first place, and which you’re unlikely to get even at a top “trial boutique” in equal measure.

Regarding the second, you’d likely improve your chances of lateraling to biglaw if you went after a clerkship, 2 yrs ADA, and 1.5-2 yrs at a top commercial lit/WCC boutique. You’d probably take a haircut as to class year and would not want to wait much past that, but it’s doable 5 yrs out, depending on the market. I would not recommend trying to do so after only 6 mos at the boutique.

I’d figure out what you really want to do. If AUSA, i’d do my best to make the DA’s office work, get to grand jury, and try some felonies. If biglaw, well, not sure why you’d do ADA to begin with, but I understand things can change. In that case you’re better off trying to make the jump now (which can be done, depending on credentials and market) or do a reputable boutique and try to lateral in a couple yrs when you’re 5 yrs out.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325896
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Do I screw ausa chance by going to a boutique?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 17, 2018 8:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:As to the first q, you will certainly be asked why you left so soon, if being a prosecutor is what you want to do. You may have a compelling answer, I don’t know. But it’s unlikely to help unless, say, a premier WCC boutique and/or one where you’ll really get meaningful experience. By leaving the DA so early, you’re missing most of the substantive experience that makes those jobs worthwhile in the first place, and which you’re unlikely to get even at a top “trial boutique” in equal measure.

Regarding the second, you’d likely improve your chances of lateraling to biglaw if you went after a clerkship, 2 yrs ADA, and 1.5-2 yrs at a top commercial lit/WCC boutique. You’d probably take a haircut as to class year and would not want to wait much past that, but it’s doable 5 yrs out, depending on the market. I would not recommend trying to do so after only 6 mos at the boutique.

I’d figure out what you really want to do. If AUSA, i’d do my best to make the DA’s office work, get to grand jury, and try some felonies. If biglaw, well, not sure why you’d do ADA to begin with, but I understand things can change. In that case you’re better off trying to make the jump now (which can be done, depending on credentials and market) or do a reputable boutique and try to lateral in a couple yrs when you’re 5 yrs out.


OP here. This was an extremely helpful answer.

If state litigation paid more, I would be happy. But it doesn’t, and the only way I can really afford to have the life I want is if ausa is on the horizon, and even then it’ll be very hard. Problem is that, if it’s not on the horizon, by the time I find that out I’ll be 7 years out of LS and it’ll be much more difficult (if not impossible) to make solid money in private sector litigation as you pointed out.

I enjoy litigation-type work in different contexts. I loved my clerkship, I like appellate work, I like doing trials, motions, etc. I suppose I’m now curious about what private sector litigation is all about. There’s something a bit repetitive about criminal lit, which is why I think I find myself feeling antsy...in addition to the financial aspect.

PMan99

Bronze
Posts: 323
Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:21 pm

Re: Do I screw ausa chance by going to a boutique?

Postby PMan99 » Fri May 18, 2018 1:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:
PMan99 wrote:Depends on the boutique, market, etc. In LA, for instance, boutiques like Bird Marella or Hueston Hennigan are probably better for AUSA chances than any big law firm. But a big firm will be better than a middling boutique with no institutional AUSA ties.


Would one with my resume (note the fedclerk) be able to use a solid boutique to climb up to biglaw or am I more competitive for biglaw without private sector experience?


Honestly, I'm not really sure there is a clear answer. If you want biglaw, there's no reason not to apply now. You're getting some interviews which is a good sign. If you completely strike out, it's not like the firms will remember in 2 years if you apply again. Depending on the strength of the boutique you may be able to get another crack at things, but in many cases that's a difficult road to go down unless the boutique has a great reputation. And most of those firms are paying close to Cravath anyway, so jumping for the salary wouldn't make sense if you do land a top boutique.

Anonymous User
Posts: 325896
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Do I screw ausa chance by going to a boutique?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 18, 2018 10:33 am

OP here. This was an extremely helpful answer.

If state litigation paid more, I would be happy. But it doesn’t, and the only way I can really afford to have the life I want is if ausa is on the horizon, and even then it’ll be very hard. Problem is that, if it’s not on the horizon, by the time I find that out I’ll be 7 years out of LS and it’ll be much more difficult (if not impossible) to make solid money in private sector litigation as you pointed out.

I enjoy litigation-type work in different contexts. I loved my clerkship, I like appellate work, I like doing trials, motions, etc. I suppose I’m now curious about what private sector litigation is all about. There’s something a bit repetitive about criminal lit, which is why I think I find myself feeling antsy...in addition to the financial aspect.


Listen, here's the deal. You need to figure out what you really want to do. Even then, there are no guarantees, but you're talking about two different paths. It's not to say they can't intersect in future, but it seems like you're jumping--probably prematurely if you're dead-set on AUSA--out of anxiety regarding a future that you're not going to be able to predict, or even control. All you can do is take steps and plan to put yourself in the best position you can, given your goals. And, frankly, I'm having a tough time understanding how these two paths have a whole lot in common.

If by affording "the life you want" means driving a luxury car, having a higher-end home, sending kids to private schools and taking nice vacations, etc., why do you think AUSA is the way to go? I make barely over 6 figures nearly 10 yrs out of law school as an AUSA, which doesn't pay for any of the above, even with no debt. And don't fall into the trap about limitless "exit options" as an AUSA, as many on TLS do. Gone are the days when a criminal AUSA can walk into a good biglaw shop after 4-5 years in gov't and spend the rest of his/her career as an equity partner there--even those doing white collar like me. (As another former AUSA mentioned in a thread a while back, those doing big civil enforcement cases tend to have some of the best exit options, oddly.) On the other hand, if cranking away for the rest of your career with good benefits, decent hours (if you want them), and fun trial work where you cap out at $155k is what you mean, then AUSA will foot the bill. In that case, my recommendation, FWIW (having done biglaw, ADA, and AUSA), is to stick with the DA and distinguish yourself there.

If you truly love litigation for its own sake and enjoy civil work--both of which I also understand--then it makes sense to move ASAP, as it should also solve your money problem. (Frankly, as long as the pay were comparable, I'd take the boutique, as you'll get more substantive work as a litigator there than in biglaw.) But doing that in order to go to an USAO doesn't make a whole lot of sense, given where you're coming from.

If I were in your shoes, I would ask: (1) What do I enjoy most about law? (2) What area of the law allows me to do what I enjoy--i.e., what kind of lawyer do I want to be? (3) What sort of lifestyle do I believe I need to be satisfied? (4) Does no. 2 above afford that? (5) If not, what compromises am I willing to make? (6) Based on the foregoing, what can I do to put myself in the best position to have that career and the benefits that accompany it? Being clear about what you're trying to do and why is the surest way to achieve it--though, even then, there are no guarantees.

Good luck.



Return to “Legal Employment?

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.