Federal Attorney Taking Questions

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Anonymous User
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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:44 pm

ArmyVet07 wrote:Does the veterans' preference apply for all federal agencies/departments, including honors programs?


Let me google that for you...

http://www.usdoj.gov/oarm/images/veteranspref.pdf

-OP

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 02, 2009 6:54 pm

thanks so much for answering our questions, OP

does prior work experience help one acquire a position? like a two-year stint in consulting before law school? or is that a non-factor?

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:35 pm

Your prior experience will help to the extent it is relevant to a practice area. For example, from what I understand, the SEC basically requires the kind of background that would require you to read the wall street journal. There will be relevant sections within the DOJ you'd want to focus on as well, basically major frauds or anything white collar.

-OP

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:47 pm

I'm a 1L at a lower T14 doing a JD/MA program in environmental science. Do you have any specific advice on what steps I should take to get into the honors program for the ENRD?

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:10 pm

I don't have any specific advice for that group. If I were you, I would do whatever is necessary to find out certain things about it, though: How big is the section, and how much hiring do they do? Are they pretty much litigation only like most sections are (if they are, then you know how to focus your studies and extracurriculars)? Is it criminal, civil, or both? Where do they get most of their work from?

Perhaps you could find out who the chief/deputy chief of the section is and search lexis/westlaw for cases to find some of this out and to find the names of other attorneys who worked, or used to work there, and see if there is anyone who worked or used to work in that group that maybe went to your univ and give her a call. I know that isn't the answer you've been looking for, but I've done a bit of cold calling to friends of friends to get the inside scoop on a job. You really can't pull any punches when you are going for something as specific, and maybe perfect, as a job like that. I mean, have a top degree, and an MA in Env. and having your first job somewhere like ENRD sounds like someone's dream fulfilled, right?

There are probably a lot of agencies that deal with things like environment and land use that would be pretty cool, though. Not just federal agencies, but state and county as well. I would be doing a lot of legwork to see what you need to do to make yourself attractive to all these positions, and maybe even secure some cool internships during your second year or third year (not just summer).

Obviously, go for journals and grades, etc., but I'd also recommend entering outside moot court and legal writing competitions, as well as doing things like joining and taking responsibility in environmental law section of the ABA. Those things can really help you stand out-especially since very few people from top schools take intiative outside of campus.

-OP

articulably suspect
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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby articulably suspect » Thu Sep 03, 2009 5:02 pm

I don't know if you can answer this, but how do salaries for US Attorney's compare to that of prosecutors in your region or others? Do da/pds tend to climb the salary scale as fast (ie every year like DOJ)?

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triplecats
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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby triplecats » Thu Sep 03, 2009 5:14 pm

What sort of grades are required to be competitive for a federal internship/gig via the Honors Program? I seem to remember reading top 10-15%, but can't recall the source... and I can't look it up now.

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:29 am

It depends a lot on the region. The wealthier counties seem to pay more faster than the USAttOffs. However, people don't really go from the USAO's to DA's Offices. The opposite is the case usually because the work is better in the USAO.

There used to be informal cutoffs I think at about top 20% (or law review or something similar) or a B average from a top 25. To be competitive now, I don't know. The informal cutoffs are just minimums, they don't guarantee you as much as an interview. Competition is stiffer now with the economy, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was only the top 10 or 15% that warrant a closer look. I could really only speculate. The new hires are incredibly well qualified, and more so each year.

-OP

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby smalltown » Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:48 am

Valuable stuff.

Do you have any insight on the Bureau of Prisons? Obviously it's an obscure and largely undesirable agency, but there are some appealing factors for me, such as proximity to home and possible issues beyond locking people up. Do you know what areas of law beyond criminal are involved? The BOP's employment materials say there is a wide variety of law covered, but they don't really say what that is.

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:05 am

Do you have any comments on what the hiring process is for URM candidates, specifically for honors programs? Is there a legitimate diversity initiative at most agencies, specifically the DOJ? Are URM candidates actively recruited and as far as you know does there exist similar hiring practices that seem to be pretty common at big law firms?

Thanks

hbb
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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby hbb » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:32 am

Again, thanks for your time.

I'm somewhat surprised this hasn't come up yet, but why did you choose* gov't work over a private firm?

*assuming that you were equally well situated to land a great firm job as you were to enter public service.

jitsrenzo
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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby jitsrenzo » Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:50 am

.....
Last edited by jitsrenzo on Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:11 pm

I don't really have insight on the BOP. It seems to me that a lot of agencies have more non-litigation reasons they need attorneys, and I could imagine a bunch for BOP because there isn't an administrative, article I court for prisoner appeals-I think they all go to article III courts. My best guess is that they need in-house counsel for employment issues and to refer suits against BOP employees to the DOJ. They probably also do troubleshooting and internal legal memorandum. In DC, you'll probably find a higher level of advisors and people who do policy work. Could actually be interesting stuff, if you are into institutional sociology. Again, this is all speculation, but it gives you an idea of what kinds of things you need to figure out.

As far as I know, there is no federal affirmative action. I do think that the government, as any employer would, seeks out diversity because it makes a better workforce. They do recruit at minority job fairs as well. That being said, the minimum standards, as far as I can tell, are not lowered. The government a pretty diverse place attorney-wise, relative to the population of top law students generally (which seemed horrendously un-diverse at my school), and the minority attorneys always have exceptional credentials (like everyone else, really).

There is no need to assume people have to choose government work. It would be the incredibly rare person who could do nothing but work in government. The quality of the private job may be in question, but, at least until recently, you could always pass on the public service and either hold out for something in in private practice or take some other job offer. There would be a question as to whether it would be a good idea to pass it up, though, if you have no current offer. I didn't have any offers at the time that I took the government job, but I had 4 or 5 interviews lined up, which I cancelled once I got the government one. When it came down to it, I was not very happy with my summer in private practice, and I was left with this brief feeling of fear, not because I wouldn't find another job, but because I felt like I didn't even have a good skill set from law school. At some point, I resolved to getting a job that would give me a specialty and a lot of training fast, so that I knew I would never have to worry about not being competent. Experience-wise, there is simply no better way to start as an attorney. I mean, once you stop worrying about the money, government work is a no-brainer.

The other thing was that I felt I could work in private practice anytime, but the government opportunity seemed more difficult to come by. Not that you couldn't find a government job, but later on a lot of things can get in the way, or competition may be stiffer. Ideally, at the time, I would have worked for a couple years in private practice to pay off loans, and then gone to govt (that was the plan). But, when the perfect job comes up, I think you have to jump on it even if the timing isn't perfect. I mean, timing is like 90% of getting a job anyway. They wanted me now, I couldn't guarantee that they would want me later, so I got it while the getting was good.

It makes me look like a genius now. I'm watching friends apply for similar jobs in the last year and get denied, even though their grades were better than mine. Their timing is just really bad. One of them passed on a DOJ job two years ago because it wasn't the exact group within the section he wanted. Now he can't even get an interview (something tells me they may remember when you turned them down, too, though).

If you are unwilling to work long hours and push yourself to the brink, avoid the DOJ or USAO's. These jobs are for overacheivers. Again, you'll find the best hours in the agencies. Also, with that attitude, definitely forget about getting appellate work. It is 100 times more competitive, so you need to either build the resume of an overacheiver, likely including both a DOJ/USAO trial attorney experience and a high-level clerkship, or clerk on the supreme court. I'm sure these jobs can be had through other means, but everyone would love to get all the prestige of doing appellate work only and avoid trial work, so it is incredibly competitive. If you do criminal work you handle your own appeals in the USAOs.

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby linquest » Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:As far as I know, there is no federal affirmative action.


Many agencies do practice AA, though not in the way most people think of AA (i.e. quotas). See July 1995 DoJ Memorandum, "Post-Adarand Guidance on Affirmative Action in Federal Employment"

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 05, 2009 5:13 pm

linquest wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:As far as I know, there is no federal affirmative action.


Many agencies do practice AA, though not in the way most people think of AA (i.e. quotas). See July 1995 DoJ Memorandum, "Post-Adarand Guidance on Affirmative Action in Federal Employment"


This is to be the last thing on AA or I'll either stop taking questions or ask the mods to lock the thread. I don't think it is a very useful or appropriate debate for this thread. I was involved in recruiting and employment decisions for at least one of the agencies, and there was no practical way race-based AA could have been practiced as to attorneys. Adarand had to do with AA requirements for contractors. There could very well be other places in the agency or government where it is practiced, but race was either not a factor in hiring because most people don't provide those optional forms (which specifically say they are for statistical purposes) or it is simply not part of the hiring discussion. The only affirmative action I am aware of is for persons with disabilities, and I am still unsure of whether that applies to attorneys in the way that someone with a disability would be at an advantage-although reasonable accomodations and other provisions of the ADA certainly apply.

Again, I'll continue to take other questions, but if you want to talk about AA any further, it will have to be in another thread. Thanks.

-OP

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 05, 2009 6:11 pm

I have read that the Honors program favors folks who have demonstrated a some type of commitment to government. Do you think internships on the Hill would be of substantial value on an applicant's resume?

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:28 am

I think you can sell a political internship as public service interest. It seems pretty straight forward to me. I don't know if it would be "substantial value." More like a limited value just for showing that one thing. Something I would consider substantial value would hit a number of things you want to demonstrate, e.g., a stint at a US Attorney's Office gets you public service, litigation oriented work, connections, and good experience to talk about. You'll have to find other ways to demonstrate your interest in prosecution or antitrust or litigation.

-OP

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triplecats
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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby triplecats » Tue Sep 15, 2009 4:05 pm

How important is pre-LS interest involvement in the area you're interested in? For example, assuming one was interested in, say, working for the DOJ. Would a lack of a previous background in, say, law enforcement be held against you? Or would demonstrated interest during law school (1L/2L internships at agencies, etc, possible involvement for a related journal) be enough?

Hitachi
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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Hitachi » Sat Sep 19, 2009 3:46 pm

What's the dress code?

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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:18 pm

OP - I hope you can answer my question. What background check form is required for the various attorney positions with the federal government. Specifically, what do EPA attorneys who work in the Office of General Counsel or Office of Enforcement, Compliance, and Assurance? And what about the attorneys who work at the Solicitor's Office for the Department of the Interior? Or the attorneys who work for the Department of Energy? Do they have to apply using SF-85 or SF-85P? I am wondering because these forms are different and it makes a difference to me in deciding whether to apply for these positions at all.

Aqualibrium
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Re: Federal Attorney Taking Questions

Postby Aqualibrium » Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP - I hope you can answer my question. What background check form is required for the various attorney positions with the federal government. Specifically, what do EPA attorneys who work in the Office of General Counsel or Office of Enforcement, Compliance, and Assurance? And what about the attorneys who work at the Solicitor's Office for the Department of the Interior? Or the attorneys who work for the Department of Energy? Do they have to apply using SF-85 or SF-85P? I am wondering because these forms are different and it makes a difference to me in deciding whether to apply for these positions at all.



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