Tell Me About Staff Attorney Positions at the COA Level

Seek and share information about clerkship applications, clerkship hiring timelines, and post-clerkship employment opportunities.
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Anonymous User
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Tell Me About Staff Attorney Positions at the COA Level

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:02 pm

Can anyone tell me about these positions? What are they like? Are they as prestigious as clerking for a specific judge? Will firms provide the same bonuses? General thoughts?

GertrudePerkins
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Re: Tell Me About Staff Attorney Positions at the COA Level

Postby GertrudePerkins » Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:27 pm

This bulletin is from 2008, so the circuit-specific information in the table may have changed, but it gives you some basic idea of the job. I'm quite certain it's not as prestigious as being an "elbow" clerk for a specific judge, and this (admittedly old) ATL post strongly suggests firms won't pay bonuses for staff attorneys. But it does sound like it could be a good way to get some very legit experience. This thread also has some helpful info, though it looks like there's a lot of junk mixed in, too.

I just found all of this in like two minutes with this newfangled "Google" machine, so it's probably not too hard to find even more details.

theaccidentalclerk
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Re: Tell Me About Staff Attorney Positions at the COA Level

Postby theaccidentalclerk » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:44 am

Can anyone tell me about these positions? What are they like? Are they as prestigious as clerking for a specific judge? Will firms provide the same bonuses? General thoughts?


Generally, they are positions where you handle a very specific task or type of case -- like you analyze every incoming appeal to see if the court has jurisdiction, or you handle habeas cases, or whatever. You'll be doing what a clerk would be doing on that very discrete task/issue, but only on that task/issue.

They aren't as prestigious as clerking for a specific judge. I don't know about bonuses, but I'd be flabbergasted if they were offered (but again, I don't know).

My general impression is that a staff attorney job would be pretty fun if you like the issue/task that you are assigned to, but not if not. Your exit options probably will tend more towards the government side of things or even a career clerkship (which are really great jobs, but really hard to get because judges typically only get one).

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Re: Tell Me About Staff Attorney Positions at the COA Level

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:48 pm

I'm a Staff Attorney at an East Coast Circuit. It's somewhat as the above poster described, but keep in mind that procedures vary wildly based on what the Court needs done at any specific time. While we have subject areas of "expertise" as an office (e.g., pro se appeals, immigration, habeas), pro se appeals can actually implicate any given area of law.

Exit opportunities used to be better and are now somewhat mixed, mostly because of the awful economy and because few people actually know what we do (and because "staff attorney" is a veiled epithet at some places). Because the actual job here is so fantastic--great hours, great pay, absolutely no take-home work--there is a great deal of competition for permanent positions that open up on occasion.

Also, keep in mind that the 2008 pamphlet is an artifact for another era. Hiring standards here have skyrocketed in recent years, in part due to a glut of applications for attorneys with practice experience. Do not view Staff Attorney positions as a "fallback."




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