Best way to AUSA?

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redsoxfan1989
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Best way to AUSA?

Postby redsoxfan1989 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:43 pm

Gun for big law or DA's office post-grad? I know hiring has slowed, so is it better to get street cred as a prosecutor first (even if you are shooting to do white collar/civil fraud litigation)?

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Black Hat
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Re: Best way to AUSA?

Postby Black Hat » Fri Dec 27, 2013 11:59 pm

Seems like if you're a ferocious and competent prosecutor it could only help your reputation and perhaps allow you to land a better job.

Swimp
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Re: Best way to AUSA?

Postby Swimp » Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:07 am

It probably depends on the office. SDNY, for example, hires almost exclusively from BigLaw, but I can't imagine that's true in other parts of the country.

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twenty
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Re: Best way to AUSA?

Postby twenty » Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:42 am

DOJ Honors is pretty much universally the best option, outside of a SCOTUS clerkship. A lot of California veteran ADAs I've talked to don't make the switch because they'd take a substantial pay cut going to USAO, and an even larger benefits cut.

For references' sake, USAO uses FERS. You accumulate 1.1% * years of service (times the average of your high-three years), so a 20-year fed would more or less be getting 22% of their salary, plus social security. CalPERS (and I'm sure many other state pensions) don't allow double-dipping into social security, and to make up for that, offers a significantly better pension plan. I think CalPERS is like 2.7% or something insane, and you can start pulling from that way sooner (albeit with no social security).

So if you have 10 years in with a DAs office, you'd basically have to start over from scratch in order to finally make substantially less money.

I'd imagine JAG and litigation spots with federal agencies (i.e, HUD Fair Housing, SEC Enforcement, etc.) would hold a similar weight to a successful ADA career.

linkx13
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Re: Best way to AUSA?

Postby linkx13 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:05 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
redsoxfan1989 wrote:Gun for big law or DA's office post-grad? I know hiring has slowed, so is it better to get street cred as a prosecutor first (even if you are shooting to do white collar/civil fraud litigation)?

Biglaw and state prosecution are the big routes that I've seen, with JAG following behind (I haven't seen any federal agency litigation types shift to USAO, but that probably depends on location). As Swimp suggests, which route is best probably depends on the USAO doing the hiring, both which office, and who's in office at the time.

As you suggest, getting an AUSA gig straight of law school basically doesn't happen. DOJ Honors is close, but requires a federal clerkship, and is hard to count on just because they keep cutting back the program; this year, no USAOs participated (one partcipated unofficially, but I don't think I've ever seen an "unofficial" component actually hire through the program). I have known someone who got an AUSA gig directly following a federal clerkship (law school --> clerkship --> AUSA), but I don't know how common that is. The AUSA gig was in the same district as the clerkship, but in a relatively undesirable location.

FWIW, all the state people I know who went the AUSA route had 3-5 years experience, not 10 (but I also wonder if California's an outlier in how much it pays its state prosecutors; most of the ones I've known have tended to see the AUSA as a step up in pay. Obviously if you're working biglaw everything is going to be a pay cut).


I thought the DOJ took current law students who were going to graduate. Does that simply not happen?

redsoxfan1989
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Re: Best way to AUSA?

Postby redsoxfan1989 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:10 pm

linkx13 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
redsoxfan1989 wrote:Gun for big law or DA's office post-grad? I know hiring has slowed, so is it better to get street cred as a prosecutor first (even if you are shooting to do white collar/civil fraud litigation)?

Biglaw and state prosecution are the big routes that I've seen, with JAG following behind (I haven't seen any federal agency litigation types shift to USAO, but that probably depends on location). As Swimp suggests, which route is best probably depends on the USAO doing the hiring, both which office, and who's in office at the time.

As you suggest, getting an AUSA gig straight of law school basically doesn't happen. DOJ Honors is close, but requires a federal clerkship, and is hard to count on just because they keep cutting back the program; this year, no USAOs participated (one partcipated unofficially, but I don't think I've ever seen an "unofficial" component actually hire through the program). I have known someone who got an AUSA gig directly following a federal clerkship (law school --> clerkship --> AUSA), but I don't know how common that is. The AUSA gig was in the same district as the clerkship, but in a relatively undesirable location.

FWIW, all the state people I know who went the AUSA route had 3-5 years experience, not 10 (but I also wonder if California's an outlier in how much it pays its state prosecutors; most of the ones I've known have tended to see the AUSA as a step up in pay. Obviously if you're working biglaw everything is going to be a pay cut).


I thought the DOJ took current law students who were going to graduate. Does that simply not happen?


My understanding is that AUSA hiring is done separately from DOJ hiring. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong?

linkx13
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Re: Best way to AUSA?

Postby linkx13 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:56 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Yes, AUSA hiring is distinct from DOJ hiring (I'm pretty sure - the USAO hires AUSAs, they might need approval from main DOJ but DOJ isn't otherwise involved).

The only entry-level hiring into the DOJ that I'm aware of is through the Honors program (on my phone so too lazy to link but if you google DOJ honors you'll find it). I can't say for certain that DOJ has never ever once hired someone out of school not via the Honors program because weirder things have happened, but it is absolutely not the normal practice.

However if you intern for the DOJ 2L summer via SLIP, you can get what's called a funnel offer - you have to go through the honors program application so you technically end up an honors attorney, but you get the offer at the end of your summer (I believe), you're not actually competing when you go through the application. My understanding is that this is pretty rare, though. I've heard of it happening for EOIR and maybe Crim, it's not common. (I don't believe it applies to people who intern outside of SLIP.)

The Honors program has been getting smaller and smaller and accordingly more competitive, so it's extremely hard to end up in DOJ out of law school. (And like I said above, you really don't get hired at a USAO out of school, either).


I think I was under the false impression that the DOJ and USAO were the same entity. What is the exact difference between the two?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Best way to AUSA?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:07 pm

DOJ is the umbrella entity. The USAOs are part of DOJ, but there are tons of other moving parts in DOJ. If you go to justice.gov and click on Agencies you can see its full scope (it includes other strictly legal agencies like the criminal division and the tax division, as well as law enforcement agencies like ATF, DEA, the Marshals, etc.)

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t-14orbust
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Re: Best way to AUSA?

Postby t-14orbust » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:12 pm

When AUSA and DOJ hire from BigLaw, what practice areas are they hiring out of? Do they mostly take partners or are senior associates competitive? Thanks




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