Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

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cm4998

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Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

Postby cm4998 » Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:54 am

Hi everyone! Figured I would ask this question on TLS because of the diverse community. However, I didn't know which forum was the most appropriate. Also, I'm still studying for my LSAT and I'm currently finishing my undergrad, so compared to many of you, my law school/legal journey has not commenced. I've always wanted to be a lawyer, and I really enjoy law, history, philosophy, politics, and economics (that is my major) with an emphasis on government. I'm pretty set on pursuing a law degree in order to practice law (many people get law degrees and don't practice, which makes me wonder why you would do that in the first place).

I know that the pay in BigLaw is pretty awesome and some people thrive in the competitive environment, but I usually hear more negative aspects of the industry rather than the positive. Since I really enjoy government and have completed various internships in gov, I've set my goal to become an AUSA (SDNY or EDNY would be a dream come true) which in turn has also forced me to make the LSAT my top priority since in order to work at the federal level, you need to attend a T14. Working as an AUSA, I've heard, can be exciting work and can be very rewarding considering you do it in an ethical manner, and opens many political opportunities. However, the downside of working in gov is that the pay is a lot less than private, which sucks considering that attending a prestigious legal institution (I'm shooting NYU) costs a lot which is what makes a career in BigLaw very attractive. Making partner can also be very rewarding, I assume.

Like I said, hopefully, this is the correct forum for posting this question. Those of you who have completed your law school journies, and are working in either government or private sector:

Would you recommend BigLaw? Is it tough? Would you/would you not do it again if you had the choice? Did you have to attend a T14 or be top of your class to get recruited? Is the pay as great as you expected?

Would you recommend Gov work? DA's office, USAO's office? In law school, did you have to focus on criminal law and litigation? Is it rewarding? How easy would it be to transfer over to private/corporate if you wanted to? Would you do it over again if you had a choice?

Also - side note: Definitely incorrect forum, but any advice on how to get past this LSAT from a lawyer's perspective would be appreciated. I hate the LSAT, it absolutely sucks.

Thanks!

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lymenheimer

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Re: Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

Postby lymenheimer » Tue Oct 11, 2016 8:33 am


cm4998

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Re: Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

Postby cm4998 » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:33 pm

lymenheimer wrote:http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=170603


Ah sweet! Thanks!

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lymenheimer

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Re: Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

Postby lymenheimer » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:33 pm

cm4998 wrote:
lymenheimer wrote:http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=170603


Ah sweet! Thanks!


But it was moved to the appropriate sub, so hopefully someone will respond.

Also, there are loads of other threads re: biglaw and the biglaw life. The search function is helpful as is actually browsing the Legal Employment forum for those threads.

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zot1

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Re: Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

Postby zot1 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:27 am

Neither. Don't go to law school.

Biglaw Investor

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Re: Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

Postby Biglaw Investor » Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:05 am

cm4998 wrote:Would you recommend BigLaw? Is it tough? Would you/would you not do it again if you had the choice? Did you have to attend a T14 or be top of your class to get recruited? Is the pay as great as you expected?

Would you recommend Gov work? DA's office, USAO's office? In law school, did you have to focus on criminal law and litigation? Is it rewarding? How easy would it be to transfer over to private/corporate if you wanted to? Would you do it over again if you had a choice?


Biglaw corporate lawyer here. I think the thing that's most telling about your question is I have absolutely no idea. The chasm between what you're describing is pretty great and I've never heard of people on either side (either early or even middle of their careers) thinking about switching betwene the two, although maybe if I talked to someone in the litigation department that would be different.

Of course the real question/answer is, which of these are right for you? If you get into NYU, I'd make sure that you spent at least one summer or internship doing some government work and spend your 2L summer at a Biglaw firm. Then you should be able to make the decision for yourself. Good luck!

lavarman84

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Re: Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

Postby lavarman84 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:21 am

Both have their pros and cons. You have to figure out what's best for you. Personally, I prefer government. However, I didn't go into significant debt, so the pay cut isn't an issue for me. Keep in mind that going t14 doesn't guarantee you anything in terms of the federal government. Those positions are very competitive. And they certainly aren't limited to t14 students. From what I understand, the federal government weighs grades/class ranking more heavily in comparison to law school ranking than biglaw does.

TheProsecutor

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Re: Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

Postby TheProsecutor » Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:41 am

cm4998 wrote:Would you recommend BigLaw? Is it tough? Would you/would you not do it again if you had the choice? Did you have to attend a T14 or be top of your class to get recruited? Is the pay as great as you expected?

Would you recommend Gov work? DA's office, USAO's office? In law school, did you have to focus on criminal law and litigation? Is it rewarding? How easy would it be to transfer over to private/corporate if you wanted to? Would you do it over again if you had a choice?

Also - side note: Definitely incorrect forum, but any advice on how to get past this LSAT from a lawyer's perspective would be appreciated. I hate the LSAT, it absolutely sucks.

Thanks!


I am going to answer this question from a litigation perspective. I clerked, spent five years in biglaw litigation before moving to the USAO. I recommend biglaw if you want to spend a career practicing in federal courts. Even as a junior, biglaw trains associates to practice in federal courts and all the formality that comes with it. Biglaw is tough because there is a lot of grunt work to do and if you're a junior, you're going to be the one doing it. It is also tough because, in booming periods, there's too much work that you don't have a life and in a bad economy, you have to fight for work to stay employed. So there's a competitive stress there. But, on balance, biglaw is good because you can work on a wide range of litigation matters, and any skills or expertise you develop, you get to keep and it makes you more marketable. So they pay you a bunch of money for you to develop skills and expertise that will help you land your next job.

AUSA is rewarding. You go to work everyday to do justice, but there's a different type of stress knowing that your decisions bear on a person's freedom. So everyone I know in the office works extremely hard to make sure that they get it right. Its a heavy responsibility. There's no billable hours, most of the day is spent running investigations, so it goes by quick. In the morning you might be meeting with your FBI agents on one case and in the afternoon you might be meeting with DEA agents on another case. The main thing is really making sure that you're moving forward with your investigations. Of course you go to court far more often than in biglaw and there are trials, but most of the court appearances are initial appearances, probable cause/detention hearings, supervised release violations, change of pleas, and sentencings.

Most of the people in my office came from biglaw. That being said, it's pretty difficult to move from private practice to AUSA. For many litigators it is the job they want to do after going to a firm, so there's just tons of applications for each spot that opens. My advice is to work for a USAO during law school especially during a summer and do a federal district court clerkship (appellate is obviously fine too, but district court is directly related to what a line AUSA does on day to day basis). In fact, I think clerking is probably close to a must have these days.

cm4998

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Re: Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

Postby cm4998 » Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:30 am

Biglaw Investor wrote:
cm4998 wrote:Would you recommend BigLaw? Is it tough? Would you/would you not do it again if you had the choice? Did you have to attend a T14 or be top of your class to get recruited? Is the pay as great as you expected?

Would you recommend Gov work? DA's office, USAO's office? In law school, did you have to focus on criminal law and litigation? Is it rewarding? How easy would it be to transfer over to private/corporate if you wanted to? Would you do it over again if you had a choice?


Biglaw corporate lawyer here. I think the thing that's most telling about your question is I have absolutely no idea. The chasm between what you're describing is pretty great and I've never heard of people on either side (either early or even middle of their careers) thinking about switching betwene the two, although maybe if I talked to someone in the litigation department that would be different.

Of course the real question/answer is, which of these are right for you? If you get into NYU, I'd make sure that you spent at least one summer or internship doing some government work and spend your 2L summer at a Biglaw firm. Then you should be able to make the decision for yourself. Good luck!


Hopefully, If I can pull NYU off, I will definitely consider internships and some biglaw summer spots. Thanks!

cm4998

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Re: Would you recommend Biglaw or Government (AUSA, etc.)??

Postby cm4998 » Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:34 am

TheProsecutor wrote:
cm4998 wrote:Would you recommend BigLaw? Is it tough? Would you/would you not do it again if you had the choice? Did you have to attend a T14 or be top of your class to get recruited? Is the pay as great as you expected?

Would you recommend Gov work? DA's office, USAO's office? In law school, did you have to focus on criminal law and litigation? Is it rewarding? How easy would it be to transfer over to private/corporate if you wanted to? Would you do it over again if you had a choice?

Also - side note: Definitely incorrect forum, but any advice on how to get past this LSAT from a lawyer's perspective would be appreciated. I hate the LSAT, it absolutely sucks.

Thanks!


I am going to answer this question from a litigation perspective. I clerked, spent five years in biglaw litigation before moving to the USAO. I recommend biglaw if you want to spend a career practicing in federal courts. Even as a junior, biglaw trains associates to practice in federal courts and all the formality that comes with it. Biglaw is tough because there is a lot of grunt work to do and if you're a junior, you're going to be the one doing it. It is also tough because, in booming periods, there's too much work that you don't have a life and in a bad economy, you have to fight for work to stay employed. So there's a competitive stress there. But, on balance, biglaw is good because you can work on a wide range of litigation matters, and any skills or expertise you develop, you get to keep and it makes you more marketable. So they pay you a bunch of money for you to develop skills and expertise that will help you land your next job.

AUSA is rewarding. You go to work everyday to do justice, but there's a different type of stress knowing that your decisions bear on a person's freedom. So everyone I know in the office works extremely hard to make sure that they get it right. Its a heavy responsibility. There's no billable hours, most of the day is spent running investigations, so it goes by quick. In the morning you might be meeting with your FBI agents on one case and in the afternoon you might be meeting with DEA agents on another case. The main thing is really making sure that you're moving forward with your investigations. Of course you go to court far more often than in biglaw and there are trials, but most of the court appearances are initial appearances, probable cause/detention hearings, supervised release violations, change of pleas, and sentencings.

Most of the people in my office came from biglaw. That being said, it's pretty difficult to move from private practice to AUSA. For many litigators it is the job they want to do after going to a firm, so there's just tons of applications for each spot that opens. My advice is to work for a USAO during law school especially during a summer and do a federal district court clerkship (appellate is obviously fine too, but district court is directly related to what a line AUSA does on day to day basis). In fact, I think clerking is probably close to a must have these days.


This is super insightful, thank you very much!



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