Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

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Go Bears
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Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby Go Bears » Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:56 pm

How does one position him/herself for that path? Clerkships? Private practice first or straight into government/P.I. work?

Anyone have thoughts?

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Supernova
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby Supernova » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:27 pm

Do you mean an Assistant U.S. Attorney or are you asking about becoming the U.S. Attorney appointed in a particular district?

Go Bears
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby Go Bears » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:38 pm

Supernova wrote:Do you mean an Assistant U.S. Attorney or are you asking about becoming the U.S. Attorney appointed in a particular district?


Well, I would imagine being an assistant leads to being a U.S. Attorney in a district? Correct? Though I don't know how tough that is. For example, there are all of two in my state. Then again, someone has to do it.

I'm just curious about working for the Justice Department in general - how you get there, salary, how you move up? Etc.

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Grad_Student
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby Grad_Student » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:54 pm


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Supernova
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby Supernova » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:57 pm

I have some interest in this as well and have looked into it in the past, however this is by no means absolutely conclusive. Basically from what I understand, in order to work for the US DOJ as an Assistant U.S. Attorney you must either qualify for the DOJ Honors Program http://www.usdoj.gov/oarm/arm/hp/hpeligibility.htm right out of law school or have several years of trial experience. I think the key is that you need to have substantive trial experience whether it be in private practice or with a local DA's office.

As far as becoming the U.S. Attorney for a particular district, I'm willing to bet political connections are a virtual must. Being a prior Assistant U.S. Attorney is not a required prerequisite, however I'm sure it can help. You can look up the biographies of just about every U.S. Attorney and take a look at their past experiences. (See here for example: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/mie/about/usattorney.html) A lot of U.S. Attorney's seem to have experience in private practice/major firms, but again most of all...and this isn't directly mentioned, but I'm fairly certain is the case, is you have to have some political connections. Since you must be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, I'm guessing you'd have to know the right people to get an "in."

Edit: Here is some information about the salary and benefits: http://www.usdoj.gov/oarm/arm/hp/hpsalary.htm

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Patrick Bateman
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby Patrick Bateman » Sat Sep 20, 2008 12:24 am

Assuming you are not going via DoJ or a solid clerkship, lots and lots of trial experience (as noted above) is necessary. Not just litigation or law firm experience. I spent some time talking with the guys in the USAO of NDIL and they seemed to have a significant amount of Cook County State's Attorneys and former JAGs.

smalltown
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby smalltown » Sat Sep 20, 2008 1:50 am

Usually the U.S. Attorney serves the current president and their tenure in that job is dependent on how long the president is in office. Of coure, it's a good idea not to piss of that president, or his AG, as several recently ousted U.S. attorneys can attest to.

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DelDad
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby DelDad » Sat Sep 20, 2008 12:01 pm

According to the AUSA's I spoke with this summer, at least for the Wilmington DE office, state DA's/AG's office is not a very likely path the to the US Attorney's office (by itself), because of the differences in the mindsets behind state and federal prosecutions. We were told that an excellent track record of a few years litigating with a good firm was much better, and that a internship in the USAttorney's office during 1L summer or term time gave experience and connections that could only be beneficial in the hiring process. Clerking experience won't cut it.

patentlaw
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby patentlaw » Sun Sep 21, 2008 8:13 pm

DelDad wrote:According to the AUSA's I spoke with this summer, at least for the Wilmington DE office, state DA's/AG's office is not a very likely path the to the US Attorney's office (by itself), because of the differences in the mindsets behind state and federal prosecutions. We were told that an excellent track record of a few years litigating with a good firm was much better, and that a internship in the USAttorney's office during 1L summer or term time gave experience and connections that could only be beneficial in the hiring process. Clerking experience won't cut it.


I know a few people who became AUSAs recently. Most of them had clerkships, then a few years in biglaw litigation departments. I've heard that the 3-4 year mark is when a lot of people move over.

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DelDad
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby DelDad » Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:16 am

Yeah, sorry -that was meant to be "clerkship experience alone won't cut it."

USAIRS
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby USAIRS » Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:27 pm

I know something about this. Most of the above is correct. AUSA's can come from a variety of positions and they are hired by the local office, often by the chief of a particular section with the approval of the US Attorney. Accordingly, there is no single path; the disposition of the section chief will be determinative with some pressure coming from the top for hiring a certain type of candidate. The US Attorney's offices do not hire straight out of law school, but the D.O.J., in D.C., does through the honors program. You absolutely can come straight in to a U.S. attorney's office from a clerkship, right now the pendulum swing is such that they are looking for top candidates with less experience who are trainable. You can come in from a big firm, from a District Attorney's office, or from (and this one is missed a lot) the general counsel for another government agency like the SEC, HUD, or the EPA. Here is the tip, though, ladies and gentlemen-the best way to go into a U.S. Attorney's office is from another federal Agency or the DOJ because you will get paid more. If you come from the outside, the USA's office uses its local scale-which is okay. However, if you come from another government position that is on the GS scale (except for clerkships, but I am not 100% on this) then they will match your GS salary with cost of living adjustments.

The best kept secret about federal jobs are these agency counsels. They can pay more at entry level, can be very prestigious, and often have better quality of life.

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Supernova
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby Supernova » Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:28 am

USAIRS wrote:The best kept secret about federal jobs are these agency counsels. They can pay more at entry level, can be very prestigious, and often have better quality of life.


Could you elaborate a bit on this? What agencies hire counsels, what kind of work do they do, and what kind of experience do you need to get these kinds of jobs?

USAIRS
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby USAIRS » Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:24 am

Supernova wrote:
USAIRS wrote:The best kept secret about federal jobs are these agency counsels. They can pay more at entry level, can be very prestigious, and often have better quality of life.


Could you elaborate a bit on this? What agencies hire counsels, what kind of work do they do, and what kind of experience do you need to get these kinds of jobs?


Pretty much every agency has attorneys. Here are some samples:

http://www.fec.gov/pages/jobs/SummerInt ... ties.shtml
http://www.eeoc.gov/soars/jobs-honor.html
http://www.jobs.irs.gov/car_other_atty.html

Google it, people. Any agency you can think of will have attorneys who basically work in-house. They litigate in administrative courts, they help monitor and regulate entities, they help develop policy, almost anything you can think of as far as attorney work.

Of course, all of these agencies like good grades and law review, etc., and it doesn't hurt to go to a top school. Experience wise, you would need to specialize in the area of law the agency focuses on by taking courses. For the SEC, a business background or MBA plus lots of corporate and securities classes. For the FEC, federal election law would help and con law. I don't work for either of those, and am speculating a bit, but the general idea is that you would need a legitimate and demonstrated interest and a background that makes you a good fit for the agency. If you are interested in federal and constitutional law, there are a number of agencies that may be interesting to you and provide opportunity to work on policy and administrative regulation such as the Dept. of Education. If you are interested in economic policy, then you may want to work in the Treasury Dept. This stuff can be really exciting, which is why I am always surprised at how few people put these on their lists of potential government jobs.

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DelDad
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby DelDad » Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:03 am

Cool - thanks!

06072010
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Re: Becoming a U.S. Attorney?

Postby 06072010 » Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:15 pm

We were told that an excellent track record of a few years litigating with a good firm was much better, and that a internship in the USAttorney's office during 1L summer or term time gave experience and connections that could only be beneficial in the hiring process.


TITCR. I just had a similar conversation with a USAO.




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