Questions about AUSA jobs

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

Questions about AUSA jobs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 02, 2012 6:37 am

I am a 0L going to HLS next year and have read a ton about being an AUSA. I am pretty sure that is my career goal (though, of course, I know it is an extremely difficult objective to achieve). However, there are some things I am still unsure about despite reading as much as I can find (various law school guides, lots of stuff on this website, etc etc).

1. How necessary is it to work at an AUSA office your 1L summer if you want to ultimately be an AUSA? I know full well that doing so will in no way get me a permanent job. However, I am curious whether it is a reasonably necessary component for a successful AUSA resume. I plan on trying to work at an AUSA office my 1L summer, but I just want to know how hard I should push for it. I've heard that it doesn't really matter where you work for your 1L summer and that you should just go for your cheapest option/the best location. Is that true for prospective AUSAs? Should I only apply to AUSA offices in the few locations I'd really like to be in, or should I plan to apply to a bunch of AUSA offices to make sure I get one because otherwise I'd be fighting an uphill battle when I eventually apply for a permanent job in like 5-7 years?

2. Along those same lines, how hard is it to get a 1L summer job at an AUSA office? I'll be at HLS, but am coming directly from undergrad, so I do not have any significant work experience to boost my application. Assuming I don't screw up interviews, how likely am I to get 1L summer employment at SDNY/EDNY/DC/Massachusetts?

3. I am curious how good one's grades must be from HLS to eventually get a permanent job as an AUSA. I know AUSA offices are very selective, but it is unclear to me how well I need to do at HLS to be competitive. Can anyone give me a general idea of how good my grades will need to be for both competitive districts (SDNY/EDNY/DC, etc) and less competitive districts? Before anyone says anything, I KNOW this is looking far ahead, and I KNOW I should just do as well as I can in law school and see where the chips fall, but I want to get a sense of how realistic my goals are and what I should actually go into law school realistically shooting for.

4. Again, I know this is looking stupidly far ahead. However, I know the majority of AUSAs started out in a biglaw firm before becoming AUSAs. I am curious how much the actual firm/practice matters in this case. Does it need to be a really top litigation firm (W&C, Covington, Susman, Quinn, Paul Weiss, etc) or would any solid biglaw firm be okay? Similarly, does it matter what specific practice the applicant worked on at the firm? I assume the person must have at least been in litigation, but do you need to have worked specifically in White Collar Crime practices to have a solid chance?

5. My impression is that you do not NEED to have been at a WCC practice in a top litigation firm, but that WCC practices at top litigation firms tend to be littered with former AUSAs who could help you get the job. Are these sorts of connections pretty much necessary to have a real chance at getting the job? Should I look to network with former/current AUSAs heavily?

6. Lastly, do people who get DOJ Honors have an easy time lateraling to AUSA offices? I know DOJ Honors is virtually impossible to get, so it is almost irrelevant, but I am just curious whether they can pretty much automatically get an AUSA job.


Thanks in advance for any responses! Please don't tell me I'm looking too far in advance. I know that; I simply want to get my goals and expectations straight before I start law school. Also, in every thread I read about AUSAs, someone comes in and says "YOU CAN'T GET THIS JOB STRAIGHT OUT OF LAW SCHOOL!!!11." I know that. You don't need to tell me.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273259
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Questions about AUSA jobs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 02, 2012 3:34 pm

i'm not sure there is one path- many of the answers you'll get will be pure anecdote. my father is a career ausa in a very visable office. he was top 1/4 at a non HYS T14, did Biglaw summers, clerked (Fed. Ct), then worked at a v10 for 2 years in litigation(Yes, one of the firms that is known for big lit). He says both of the lawyers his office hired this year were from local schools (nonT14), but generally most of the attorneys in his office are from harvard,yale,columbia,stanford, michigan, and a few other notable schools. I know nothing about the summer program.

I will say, my father loves his job and has turned down a lot of money to represent the USA. He quickly grew tired of moving money around for rich/morally ambiguous clients in private practice and viewed the US attorney's office to be a place where hard work/skill/knowledge were rewarded. I think he found this perception of the office largely true, although he does occasionally get frustrated about his best lawyers leaving the govt for more profitable pastures.

Not sure if any of that is useful, but hopefully it bumps your thread :)

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

Re: Questions about AUSA jobs

Postby USAIRS » Thu May 03, 2012 5:18 pm

1. How necessary is it to work at an AUSA office your 1L summer if you want to ultimately be an AUSA?
The thing to keep in mind is that it is really difficult to get into the USAOs especially the ones you are looking at, and especially now with the new economy, and there is nothing you can do that will guarantee you the job. Part of that is fit - graduating first in your Harvard class does not mean you are a good fit for the needs of the office. That being said, having interned at a USAO, and performed weill, could only help you stand out from the literally thousands of applicants with otherwise similar credentials and may help them determine whether you are a good fit.
2. Along those same lines, how hard is it to get a 1L summer job at an AUSA office? Not a shoe in, but a good chance if you grades are decent and you take the interview seriously and are a good fit.
If you don't get a 1L summer job, then intern at the Boston USAO during the year. I can't remember if you get credit for it at Harvard, but I know those are pretty available.
3. I am curious how good one's grades must be from HLS to eventually get a permanent job as an AUSA.
I'm not sure if grades matter very much for the USAO because you need to have very good experience by the time you apply. A lot of people with who graduated top of their class work at the USAO, but the grades can be correlated with great Pre-USAO experience and skills, whether it is clerking, working at a top litigation firm, or being a high performer at a local prosecutor's office.
4. Again, I know this is looking stupidly far ahead. However, I know the majority of AUSAs started out in a biglaw firm before becoming AUSAs. ....
I'm not sure this is the case nationwide, though it may be for some USAOs. Others have a lot local prosecutors who lateral in. Also, the feeder firms into USAOs varies from office to office.
5. My impression is that you do not NEED to have been at a WCC practice in a top litigation firm, but that WCC practices at top litigation firms tend to be littered with former AUSAs who could help you get the job. Are these sorts of connections pretty much necessary to have a real chance at getting the job? Should I look to network with former/current AUSAs heavily?
No. WCC is only one part of USAO work and I don't think you'll find any correlation between firms that have big WCC practices and feeding into USAOs.

6. Lastly, do people who get DOJ Honors have an easy time lateraling to AUSA offices? I know DOJ Honors is virtually impossible to get, so it is almost irrelevant, but I am just curious whether they can pretty much automatically get an AUSA job.

It isn't automatic. If you perform well in DOJ honors, in a litigating division like criminal tax, you'll have a better shot at getting into a USAO than from virtually anywhere else. Nothing is easy. Be aware that it does not mean that you will be entitled to work in any office that you want regardless of fit. It may also take a lot of time to find an office that has a need for you. You will have to interview for the job. You have to, at the end of the day, be the best candidate. Of course, it would help to have litigated a dozen criminal cases at the DOJ before the interview as far as having the type of experience they look for.




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