Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode I

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
USAIRS
Posts: 134
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 8:08 pm

Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode I

Postby USAIRS » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:17 pm

I've done this for the last three years. You could check out those in my profile history. In short, I'm a Chicago grad about 6 -8 years out, who works at a competitive US Attorney's Office. Contemplated not doing a TLS thread this year because I think there wasn't that much interest last year, though it did spur a lot of PMs - which are okay, too. Possible that I've said virtually everything relevant to prospective/current law students in past posts, but feel free to ask me more questions - even ones that have been asked before - if it would be helpful to you. I think Coco Local, who is doing something similar and also a Chicago grad has chimed in before, so maybe you'll get lucky and get a response from someone other than me.

User avatar
bk1
Posts: 18422
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:06 pm

Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode I

Postby bk1 » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:36 pm

1. I appreciate the Star Wars numbering homage.

2. Scanned your previous threads but didn't see an answer to it: likes/dislikes about working for the USAO? how does it compare to your previous job and why'd you make the move?

USAIRS
Posts: 134
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 8:08 pm

Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode I

Postby USAIRS » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:05 pm

bk1 wrote:1. I appreciate the Star Wars numbering homage.

2. Scanned your previous threads but didn't see an answer to it: likes/dislikes about working for the USAO? how does it compare to your previous job and why'd you make the move?


My previous job was with another government agency, which did article I court work as well as acted as in-house counsel for the agency. The USAO is just a much higher level of litigation, especially when you consider the criminal work. Federal district court, jury trials, discovery. I consistently put in more hours than at the agency, the job is about 100 times more stressful, the cases are more substantial, I have more responsibility, and I am in a position where I am entrusted to call more shots. There really is no comparison. Of course, for all that I get a lot more respect, which, I guess, makes up for the fact that my peers at agencies typically work less and get paid a bit more than me. I made the move, basically, because I wanted all those things I just described. I was already working harder than most of my peers at the agency and decided I might as well go somewhere where I get more credit for the amount and quality of work I was doing. I had also interned for a USAO first summer in law school, which had cemented in my mind that this was what the best attorneys did.

My only dislike about the job is the pay. We aren't on the GS scale, we are one a much more discretionary scale that doesn't move you up in pay anywhere near as fast. I guess the hours kind of stink, and I feel like I've made substantial personal sacrifices to be here, but that is also the natural trade off for getting the good cases. Also, this is still a lot more flexible and secure than big firm life, even if the hours aren't that much different (at least initially, things are slowing down as I get fewer/bigger cases and as I get better at this job).

User avatar
annyong
Posts: 317
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:17 am

Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode I

Postby annyong » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:22 pm

Thanks so much for taking questions, I read through some of your old threads and it was really helpful info. Just a quick question re: working for the USAO. Did you work at a firm prior to the agency that you worked for? If you did (or maybe if you can give some info anecdotally from others that you know), how possible is the transition from private to public work, or would you recommend something different from firm work all together if someone would eventually like to work with the DOJ or other fed. gov offices?

USAIRS
Posts: 134
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 8:08 pm

Re: Chicago Alum Taking Questions: Episode I

Postby USAIRS » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:37 pm

annyong wrote:Thanks so much for taking questions, I read through some of your old threads and it was really helpful info. Just a quick question re: working for the USAO. Did you work at a firm prior to the agency that you worked for? If you did (or maybe if you can give some info anecdotally from others that you know), how possible is the transition from private to public work, or would you recommend something different from firm work all together if someone would eventually like to work with the DOJ or other fed. gov offices?


I'm intentionally mysterious as to what I did prior to the agency because it would completely out me. There are not that many agency-to-USAO guys around here, and my law school plus my prior experience would be enough to narrow me down. Not that I've said anything super controversial here, but I'd just rather not.

As you probably know, the Fed Gov is super tight right now. We did just start hiring again in my USAO after being mostly-frozen for about a year and a half. The agencies are typically less competitive, but they have done almost no lateral hiring over the last 3-4 years. Pre-2008, if you had a top school and a clerkship and a big firm, you were auto-hire as a lateral into an agency (non-USAO). That simply isn't the case anymore. The best and, practically, only way into most agencies right now is through the honors programs. So I recommend doing that if you are interested.

The USAO is hiring laterals, but if you want DOJ I still suggest the honors route. We are just insanely competitive. Most of us do come from private practice, so going from a litigation group in a top tier firm to the USAO is common, but not enough by itself.




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest