How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

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How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:12 pm

Assume 2.5 years of mixed litigation experience in a V15 biglaw firm before the clerkship, including some depo and trial prep experience.

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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:22 pm

Gunning for a specific market? Any major market? Or anywhere? Your answer will be different depending.

Citizen Genet
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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Citizen Genet » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:32 pm

Right now, virtually impossible because of hiring freezes. My understanding is there is a little bit of a thaw in particularly understaffed districts, but spaces are still going to be very few and far between.

In a good economy, it could happen. If you can land a clerkship, you presumably have good enough stats for most USAOs (to the extent that an office cares about the stats). After that, it's going to be connections and demonstrated experience. "Some depo and trial prep" can be a pretty wide range (I've deposed one or two minor witnesses to I've deposed dozens of witnesses on major issues). The more experience the better.

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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:42 pm

OP here.

I'm interested in any market.

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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:25 pm

OP here.

I'm interested in any market.


Then I think the answer is you have a shot, but not a great one. E.g., it's probably worth looking and applying, but I wouldn't hold your breath. There will almost certainly be people with your rough qualifications who get hired as AUSAs this year. And I suspect many of them will have strong connections to the region that they are hired in (if that helps you tailor your search). But there's not going to be a ton of hiring in the near term, and much of that hiring will be of people who are more competitive than you (HYS / COA clerkship-types).

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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby JusticeJackson » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:35 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:03 pm

I pretty much agree with what everyone else has said. If you're willing to go to any market, maybe; it will just depend when/if there's an opening (and who else applies, of course). I know of people moving across the country for an AUSA slot. Most new AUSAs I know had around 3-5 years at the state level (prosecution or defense); I do know people who came from civil litigation, but a few of them did an unpaid SAUSA position first (one had been in biglaw for 10 years). But other offices may vary. I know one person who got an AUSA directly out of the district court clerkship he did after graduation, but it's a fairly undesirable part of the country and he had very strong connections.

Sorry this is sort of rambling and anecdotal; it's just hard to answer in the absence of a specific opening. The short answer is I think you'd be competitive, certainly (and I don't think HYS/COA stats are required, but I may just be more familiar with less pedigree-conscious offices), but there are so many variables, it's hard to predict anything.

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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I pretty much agree with what everyone else has said. If you're willing to go to any market, maybe; it will just depend when/if there's an opening (and who else applies, of course). I know of people moving across the country for an AUSA slot. Most new AUSAs I know had around 3-5 years at the state level (prosecution or defense); I do know people who came from civil litigation, but a few of them did an unpaid SAUSA position first (one had been in biglaw for 10 years). But other offices may vary. I know one person who got an AUSA directly out of the district court clerkship he did after graduation, but it's a fairly undesirable part of the country and he had very strong connections.

Sorry this is sort of rambling and anecdotal; it's just hard to answer in the absence of a specific opening. The short answer is I think you'd be competitive, certainly (and I don't think HYS/COA stats are required, but I may just be more familiar with less pedigree-conscious offices), but there are so many variables, it's hard to predict anything.


How does that work when one moves across the states to get the AUSA gig? do they have to take the bar of that state?

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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby JusticeJackson » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:56 pm

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Last edited by JusticeJackson on Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:13 am

One of my favorite things about this awful economy we're in is how no partners at the firms in my cloistered-bar-near-really-big-city District realize that the AUSA biz has completely changed. Almost to a man, these partners have the same background:

1) Graduated from the big-ticket (but second-tier USNews) law school in the area;
2) District Court clerkship;
3) Went to the U.S. Attorney's office for five years;
4) Big firm.

At almost every firm reception, these partners are like "well, have you considered applying to the U.S. Attorney's office?" I usually smile and nod and say I'll think about it, whereas the actual answer is "dude, I've applied something like five separate times. They have a waitlist. I know a Thomas clerk on the end of the waitlist."

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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:58 pm

Why is there an "indefinite" hiring freeze for AUSAs? Why has almost every other facet of the federal government been funded, but not the DOJ? This SAUSA deal is ridiculous--just another evidence that going to law school is an insane idea in this economy. It's understandable when people who are trying to make a profit hire unpaid attorneys so they can "get experience." But it's simply depressing when your own government does this. It's exploitative, particularly when it doesn't lead to a full-time, paid job at the DOJ.

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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Citizen Genet » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:47 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Why is there an "indefinite" hiring freeze for AUSAs? Why has almost every other facet of the federal government been funded, but not the DOJ? This SAUSA deal is ridiculous--just another evidence that going to law school is an insane idea in this economy. It's understandable when people who are trying to make a profit hire unpaid attorneys so they can "get experience." But it's simply depressing when your own government does this. It's exploitative, particularly when it doesn't lead to a full-time, paid job at the DOJ.

I agree, but hint: even though the ads say "will not lead to a job as a paid AUSA," I know of at least 4 AUSAs who started as unpaid SAUSAs. (I don't know anything about how the hiring freeze works but it's not absolute because I've seen a posting for a paid position just last week or so.) Personally, I think it's worse for for-profit places to hire unpaid than the government doing it, but I realize people can disagree about that.

Also, as for the taking the bar question: you don't usually have to because you only practice in federal court. And in most districts, if you're admitted in federal court somewhere, you can get admitted (or at least permission to practice) in that district (even if it's not in the state where you are admitted). So if you're admitted in a state, you can often get admitted into the local district by filling out a form. If you can't do that, you just need to find someone admitted in a district that allows distance admission (so you don't have to appear in person) to sponsor you for admission in that district, then you can get permission for where you are practicing.

That's kind of long and rambling but the short answer is that it's really easy for federal attorneys to practice wherever in federal court. Unless it's a district like California that requires you to take the local bar. (Of course, if you get an AUSA gig the background check takes so long that you'd probably almost have time to take the second bar before you start...)


The most recent posting for a AUSA spot in SD Cal actually omitted the California bar preference. It's my understanding that they may have recently changed the requirement.


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Re: How hard is it to get AUSA after a fed d. ct. clerkship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:12 am

Citizen Genet wrote:This looks promising: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2014/02/10/hir ... epartment/

Yup. Hiring freeze is over.




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