Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

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CyanIdes Of March
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Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Thu May 16, 2013 3:36 pm

Hello all,

I'd like to get some info on the following (I've been googling for 48 hrs straight, some of this info I just wasn't able to dig up and thought maybe this forum would be quicker in finding some of this out):
- What would you advice an 0L with an indeterminate amount of time between UG graduation and Law School application submission do in the interim?
- What tier group of schools should I be aiming for if this is my ultimate goal?
- How competitive are these jobs? > Big Law?
- I realize the hours are hard to say because they differ agency to agency, but is it safe to say a government lawyer, on average, works considerably less than a Big Law attorney (for someone making GS 13+ Salary)? And do Government Lawyers bill by the 6 minute increments or not?
- Should I plan to work somewhere else and gain experience before applying for these types of jobs or do they prefer grads straight out of law school?

And if there happen to be anyone on this forum working with a government agency I'd love to hear any anecdotes you'd like to share. So far, if I could just pick an agency to go to work for, I'd like to work in the Public Integrity Section (Ideally I'd work with the Federal government but I'm not adverse to working State or Local, I just don't have enough incite atm), but that is purely based off of the job description, I don't know what day to day operations are like, how often those jobs open (I'm assuming not often), salary, or hours, so I'm trying to get a more realistic gauge on the subject.

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Elston Gunn
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Re: Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

Postby Elston Gunn » Thu May 16, 2013 4:32 pm

--Work for the federal government if possible. Otherwise work for state gov or in an issue area that an agency you want to work for deals with.
--HYS for entry level. Depends on the agency, but clerkships are de facto requirements for litigating sections of DOJ. T13 if you can stomach doing biglaw first.
--Much more competitive than BigLaw at the moment, though they don't necessarily look for identical profiles. Also depends on how "prestigious" the section is and what the exit opportunities are like (i.e. it's harder to get SEC than immigration)
--Yep. And no billing.
--Probably. Very very hard to get hired entry level.

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CyanIdes Of March
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Re: Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Thu May 16, 2013 4:43 pm

Thanks. Some follow ups:

- Do you happen to know what kind of work a recent grad could get with the Federal government, what kind of work would they (and law schools) see as relevant to my interest? I can probably google this on my own, but if anyone has something interesting to say I'd love to hear it.
- If is HYS more or less a requirement for these types of jobs or would CCN suffice? I'm not ruling out getting into HYS, but I think to get in I'll need to put in more time gaining work experience and crafting a better application, retaking the LSAT, etc, but I know I can get CCN right now.
- Hopefully that changes within a decade or so, but I feel like I'll be able to make myself competitive if I start planning now. I could probably stomach Big Law, but with the stories I've heard I don't know if I could stomach a long term career of it.
- That's great, I can see why they'd be so difficult to obtain.
- Thanks.

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Elston Gunn
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Re: Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

Postby Elston Gunn » Thu May 16, 2013 6:06 pm

HYS is definitely not a requirement. The issue is that it's very difficult to get into one of the desirable positions even when coming off a clerkship, and you need to do really well to get a clerkship at CCN. There's some good discussion of how important HYS is for FedGov in this thread: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 2&start=25

HYS is definitely neither sufficient nor necessary, but I think it makes a pretty big difference all things considered. Ultimately, things like work experience and publications can have a big effect as well though.

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CyanIdes Of March
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Re: Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Thu May 16, 2013 6:07 pm

Big Fed. That's a term I've never heard before. Thanks for the reply, I'll give that a read.

EDIT: Depressing thread, but more reason for me to take more time off before going to law school. Wait for the job situation to get a little better and build up some work experience to make a more compelling application. Probably retake the LSAT since I have very little reason not too, get a job somewhere in the Federal government if at all possible, and see what it's like a 2 or 3 years from now.

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presh
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Re: Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

Postby presh » Thu May 16, 2013 7:11 pm

I work for the IRS. I'll take a stab at your questions from my very limited experience.

Interim Job - If you mean government focused, this will vary vastly by what type of work you want to do. Check around USAJobs and see if there is anything that interests you. Honestly if you can get a job at all in this economy, that's a good thing.
School Tier - As prestigious as possible, more or less just like everything else. I'm pretty sure all of the lawyers in my class at the agency are from T50 schools and we were at the top of our classes. That said, a lot of agencies are HYS/T14 whores and with budgets tight right now, they can afford to be really picky (at the IRS, it's up in the air right now whether we will be hiring any grads for this next year).
Competitive? - Yes, very. Possibly more than biglaw
Hours - at my agency, it is a pretty steady 40 hour workweek. Sometimes we put more hours in for a big case or trial prep. Some people do their 40 and go home. Others, who are gunning for promotion do more. I can't think of anyone who regularly does anything more than 60 hours. We "bill" in 15 minute increments, but it's only for record keeping purposes. Remember that not all gov agencies start you off at GS-13, though it usually doesn't take very many years to get there.
Experience - Again, this depends on the agency a great deal. But if you can't get into the Honors program, than it is generally a great deal easier/borderline necessity to have relevant experience.

Generally, I love my job. There are things that suck - I'm getting furloughed for 5 days this summer, but I never wanted to work crazy hours. I make decent money without have to stress or punch a clock.

paul554
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Re: Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

Postby paul554 » Fri May 17, 2013 7:12 am

Kind of an add on, does anyone know if the Fed is switching to the new pathways intern program instead of the honors program? Pathways applies veterans preference and I know with the big vet hiring push it was rumored to happen, but I haven't heard any word about DOJ or the other big hires making the switch.

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JDndMSW
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Re: Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

Postby JDndMSW » Fri May 17, 2013 2:08 pm

I know I just posted a similar question in another thread but I was wondering if anyone had any clue about non competitive status and if that can help you. From my understand with hiring in the gov it puts you on a seperate list than the regular people applying. Also if someone has non competitive status they are able to hire you over a veteran and they can even choose to not post the job if you have a connection like that. If so OP I would look into doing something that can help you get this status. Peace Corps does and so does the AmeriCorps VISTA program. VISTA is less of a commitment and seems pretty cool (I am in a diff Ameri program but could give you some info if you would like).

There is also the push to hire people with disabilities (including mental illness) I wish there was more information about it though I can't seem to find anything :/ from what it seems like though it is similar to non competitive status but they also have the extra incentive as it improves their diversity numbers.

CourCour
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Re: Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

Postby CourCour » Wed May 29, 2013 7:55 am

Disclosure: I am also a 0L so take my advise with a grain of salt. But I have some thoughts on your first question.

I've worked in politics and then government for about 3- 4 years. I took 3 years off during undergrad and worked on campaigns and after graduating ran a campaign and got a job in the MA legislature. I recommend a similar pre-law school path (campaigning plus state or federal work, esp. in the legislature) for a few reasons:

1) work ethic (esp. with campaigns)
2) skill development
3) connections (which will be necessary)

In terms of building a work ethic, there is nothing like being a field organizer. You work 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week. You learn to ask people to do ridiculous things (hey, why dont you give up your fourth of july to march in parade!) Also, you develop an incredible bond with the people you work with (after all you spend 90~ hours a week with them.) And you never know where they are going to go. 5 years out I've got friends who work everywhere from Government Affairs Director for a prominent pro-choice group to software engineer for a prominent social media company to economic analyst for a prominent think tank.

Campaign work helps you build the soft skills, government work helps with both. Working in the legislature, the main staples of your job are 1) reading, 2) writing, and 3) relationship building. Sound like good skills to build? Also, you're tasked with reading and analyzing material as well as writing under a time crunch. In my 2 1/2 years in the legislature, I've become an exponentially better writer. The material your working with is often dense (often statutes themselves) and your job is to take it in and translate it into normal people english. The job also means building real relationships with a diversity of potentially useful people (from congressional staffers to former fed officials and current state officials.)

Also, I believe my work experience gave me a leg up in getting into law school. I was able to outperform my numbers.

A few thoughts for you. Perhaps I'll check back in in 3 years and tell you how it went.

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my prole called life
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Re: Department of Justice and other Government Jobs

Postby my prole called life » Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:26 pm

CourCour wrote:Disclosure: I am also a 0L so take my advise with a grain of salt. But I have some thoughts on your first question.

I've worked in politics and then government for about 3- 4 years. I took 3 years off during undergrad and worked on campaigns and after graduating ran a campaign and got a job in the MA legislature. I recommend a similar pre-law school path (campaigning plus state or federal work, esp. in the legislature) for a few reasons:

1) work ethic (esp. with campaigns)
2) skill development
3) connections (which will be necessary)

In terms of building a work ethic, there is nothing like being a field organizer. You work 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week. You learn to ask people to do ridiculous things (hey, why dont you give up your fourth of july to march in parade!) Also, you develop an incredible bond with the people you work with (after all you spend 90~ hours a week with them.) And you never know where they are going to go. 5 years out I've got friends who work everywhere from Government Affairs Director for a prominent pro-choice group to software engineer for a prominent social media company to economic analyst for a prominent think tank.

Campaign work helps you build the soft skills, government work helps with both. Working in the legislature, the main staples of your job are 1) reading, 2) writing, and 3) relationship building. Sound like good skills to build? Also, you're tasked with reading and analyzing material as well as writing under a time crunch. In my 2 1/2 years in the legislature, I've become an exponentially better writer. The material your working with is often dense (often statutes themselves) and your job is to take it in and translate it into normal people english. The job also means building real relationships with a diversity of potentially useful people (from congressional staffers to former fed officials and current state officials.)

Also, I believe my work experience gave me a leg up in getting into law school. I was able to outperform my numbers.

A few thoughts for you. Perhaps I'll check back in in 3 years and tell you how it went.


How do you feel about your pre law school experience now that you're a couple years removed from it? Have you found yourself actively leveraging relationships from your time in state politics/government?




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