Circuit Court Staff Attorney Position

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trbrny
Posts: 124
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:57 pm

Circuit Court Staff Attorney Position

Postby trbrny » Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:26 pm

Does anyone have any information on staff attorney positions? I am thinking of applying to an open position in a prestigious Circuit Court and think that I may have a decent chance. My first pick would have been to clerk for a District Judge, but I don't know if that's going to happen at this point.

Can anyone please fill me in on what this job entails? Is it anything like a clerkship? What are the exit options re: clerkships or big law?

Thanks.

Anonymous User
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Re: Circuit Court Staff Attorney Position

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:27 pm

Former Staff Attorney. It depends. My office was extraordinarily laid back and we were given a ton of freedom; we were essentially the clerks for a defined set of cases. Little interaction with judges but otherwise a great job. Whereas a friend of mine in a more-prestigious Circuit does basically the same kind of work, but is far more limited in his creativity and is ridden quite hard in his stats...and he enjoys his job less. Make of that what you will.

Edit: Exit options weren't great. Nobody knows what we do, at least in my Circuit, and neither firms nor government organizations were exactly chomping at the bit to gobble us up. Nor was it the entre to chambers that many hoped.

lolwat
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Re: Circuit Court Staff Attorney Position

Postby lolwat » Fri Oct 11, 2013 12:47 am

I don't have the experience that anon above does, but I interviewed at one, and the impression I got was that:

(1) the hours/workload is generally great
(2) they do a certain defined set of cases, which seemed to typically be (a) non-complex ones and (b) in certain specific areas (habeas appeals, § 1983, etc....) basically the complex/"interesting" stuff goes to law clerks . . .
(3) you really don't have any MEANINGFUL interaction with judges--i mean, you do talk to them, but it's nowhere near the mentoring relationship that clerks have with their judges
(4) exit options generally suck

Anonymous User
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Re: Circuit Court Staff Attorney Position

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:06 pm

Original anon, if that's a thing. Hours are definitely great: we were pretty much 9-5, no weekends, few emergencies, standard vacay accrual time. Interactions with judges was limited to the occasional emailed "hey, can you double check x?" (A few judges were more gregarious and liked calling, but they all retired. I spoke to maybe five separate judges during my term. But I've heard, for example, that the DC Staff Attorney's office is much more hands-on.)

Many of our cases were actually quite complex. Pro se appeals can arise in contexts that are plenty complex, and they usually present their own unique procedural challenges. However, the poster above is correct in that we didn't necessarily handle the "final product" of these complex cases. If we got a doozy, our job was pretty much to write up a memo and punt the matter to chambers.

I learned a ton during my stint and really enjoyed the work. It's a pity that exit options weren't as good as they could be.

Anonymous User
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Re: Circuit Court Staff Attorney Position

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:16 am

I was wondering if anyone who has had a position like this might know what my chances are at the job? The posting says that new graduates and judicial clerks are encouraged to apply.

I am currently working in a lower state court judicial clerkship in a mid-size PA city. I graduated from a T2 school in the top 15% of my class, was a high ranking editor on the main law review, published, RA/TA for legal writing, worked from my 1L summer until graduation at a public interest office local to my school, and spent my 2L summer in Philadelphia at a public interest organization, and received a few random awards and honors from my school. I want to work in public interest or at a non-profit in Philadelphia where I am applying for the staff attorney position.

Anonymous User
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Re: Circuit Court Staff Attorney Position

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:52 pm

Your chances are decent. Many people who've gotten an interview have connections to the Pa. state courts, or a connection to the area in general. If you have habeas/immigration experience, that's also a bump.

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

Re: Circuit Court Staff Attorney Position

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:Your chances are decent. Many people who've gotten an interview have connections to the Pa. state courts, or a connection to the area in general. If you have habeas/immigration experience, that's also a bump.


Thank you for the response!




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