Law School -> DC -> FBI

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Future Ex-Engineer
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Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby Future Ex-Engineer » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:56 pm

So currently I work as an engineer for a DoD contractor (Electrical Engineering). I don't love what I'm doing, and don't see this being a very fulfilling career, as it is wayyyyy more machine/computer focused than people-focused. I don't get to work with people/for people, I mostly just spend time tinkering away on hardware/software problems. I've always wanted to work as an agent with the FBI, and I thought the engineering route would take me there (both from academic advisement, and reading officially published documents from them).

It looks like I was wrong - the Bureau claims they hire engineers and are actively seeking engineers for agent spots, but if you really dig into their application, it's pretty apparent that most typical career engineers don't have the vast majority of experience/skills they are asking for on their applications. Further, the way selection works is that you have to pass an initial 'points' screening in the application regarding skills/experience before they even will take a look at your application. Long story short, I don't think the current career path will get me where I want.

My current thoughts/plans are as follows:
Go to LS (T14, thinking either GULC, Mich, or UVA) -> work for a year or two in IP and make connections (preferably in DC) -> lateral into the Bureau and really dive into a career there.
I've spoken with a number of lawyers and adcomms during this cycle, and they have all been very positive/encouraging that this route would make me a very attractive candidate for the job I really want (having tech background w/ a JD).

My question is this: are they all just blowing sunshine up my shorts because they want me to attend their school/alma mater, or is this really as viable of a plan as I think it is? Mostly wondering if anyone here has friends/colleagues/old classmates that have done similar things.

Thanks

cavalier1138
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:12 pm

Talk with the FBI, not with adcomms or non-DOJ lawyers.

I know that a JD can be seen as an asset for senior agents, but I don't know whether that translates to a leg up in the initial hiring process.

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kalvano
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby kalvano » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:51 am

A friend of mine (who is an attorney) applied for the FBI and passed all the initial screening. He was going through the exceptionally rigorous physicals and found out he had a small heart condition, but it was enough to disqualify him. He said that his JD was a big help in getting the initial interview and progressing through the various stages, but he also does a lot of criminal work, not IP.

Anon.y.mousse.
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby Anon.y.mousse. » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:40 am

One of the FBI agents we work with who does primarily cyber crimes has a JD. I do think it makes you significantly more competitive in the hiring process, given the FBI will waive their three-year work experience requirement for agents for those who have one.

As someone who has gone through the FBI hiring process (not even for an agent position) - it's no joke. Took well over a year and I think it can be even longer for agents between the different phases of testing (written, physical, medical) and then the background investigation. Having an in-demand skill is one way to try to make the long and competitive process somewhat shorter.

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Future Ex-Engineer
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby Future Ex-Engineer » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:55 am

kalvano wrote:A friend of mine (who is an attorney) applied for the FBI and passed all the initial screening. He was going through the exceptionally rigorous physicals and found out he had a small heart condition, but it was enough to disqualify him. He said that his JD was a big help in getting the initial interview and progressing through the various stages, but he also does a lot of criminal work, not IP.


Thanks for the input! I am open to whatever legal work would put me in the best position to get where I want to be post-law school, and initially I just thought IP given my engineering background and my likelihood to push for a cybercrimes assignment if I get in. I've been hearing the JD could be a huge boon to getting my foot in the door. Glad to hear there are at least some others with corroborating experience.

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Future Ex-Engineer
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby Future Ex-Engineer » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:58 am

Anon.y.mousse. wrote:One of the FBI agents we work with who does primarily cyber crimes has a JD. I do think it makes you significantly more competitive in the hiring process, given the FBI will waive their three-year work experience requirement for agents for those who have one.

As someone who has gone through the FBI hiring process (not even for an agent position) - it's no joke. Took well over a year and I think it can be even longer for agents between the different phases of testing (written, physical, medical) and then the background investigation. Having an in-demand skill is one way to try to make the long and competitive process somewhat shorter.


I figure having my DoD clearance already will be helpful for the background investigation stage, as well as having a JD/MS (electrical engineering) should put me squarely in two of their hot-topic areas.

As for the 3 year w/e req - I was under the impression from their website and from what a recruiter told me at a job fair that the JD just reduces the 3 year req down to a 2 year req. I'd be thrilled to find out I'm wrong on that.

For reference, this is where I find the info online: https://www.fbijobs.gov/career-paths/special-agents
"To be eligible for the FBI Special Agent position, candidates must meet all of the requirements on our Eligibility page, as well as the following:

Have at least three years of full-time work experience — this does not include summer jobs, internships, seasonal positions, temporary employment and/or volunteer work. Certain specified experiences or abilities may waive some (but not all) of the work experience requirement:
A Juris Doctorate (J.D.)
A license as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
An advanced degree
Be available for assignment anywhere in the FBI's global jurisdiction
"

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kalvano
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby kalvano » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:09 am

I'll reiterate what was said above - the process is no joke. The physical screening portion was murder on my friend. And it's extraordinarily competitive.

I would make sure you're comfortable working the rest of your life as an attorney, as it's very possible that you won't get into the FBI.

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BlendedUnicorn
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby BlendedUnicorn » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:16 am

+1 what Kalvano's saying

A JD is a boost for the FBI, no question about it (especially if you're going for an agent position). But, a boost is not a guarantee. Hiring needs fluctuate greatly, disqualifications lurk, and they don't prioritize prestige in the same way firms do so there's no formula for maximizing your chances. If you're going to law school, do so with the intent of being a lawyer.

If you really want to be an FBI agent one day military experience + your engineering background would probably be a better path in.

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MichiganHoosier
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby MichiganHoosier » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:28 am

HuntedUnicorn wrote:+1 what Kalvano's saying

A JD is a boost for the FBI, no question about it (especially if you're going for an agent position). But, a boost is not a guarantee. Hiring needs fluctuate greatly, disqualifications lurk, and they don't prioritize prestige in the same way firms do so there's no formula for maximizing your chances. If you're going to law school, do so with the intent of being a lawyer.

If you really want to be an FBI agent one day military experience + your engineering background would probably be a better path in.


Truth. OP, what kind of DOD clearance do you have? But please, do not join the military so that you look good to the FBI. You will be very unhappy lol.

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Future Ex-Engineer
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby Future Ex-Engineer » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:35 am

MichiganHoosier wrote:
HuntedUnicorn wrote:+1 what Kalvano's saying

A JD is a boost for the FBI, no question about it (especially if you're going for an agent position). But, a boost is not a guarantee. Hiring needs fluctuate greatly, disqualifications lurk, and they don't prioritize prestige in the same way firms do so there's no formula for maximizing your chances. If you're going to law school, do so with the intent of being a lawyer.

If you really want to be an FBI agent one day military experience + your engineering background would probably be a better path in.


Truth. OP, what kind of DOD clearance do you have? But please, do not join the military so that you look good to the FBI. You will be very unhappy lol.


Fair on both accounts. I recognize that it's not a guarantee, but it's what I've always wanted to do, and I'm at a stage in life where I've got to start really taking shots at what I really want to do, or just accept that I'm not going to get there. GULC is high on my list (if the money makes sense) due to the connections available to 3-letter orgs from there. I also recognize that hiring fluctuates greatly, but there is no way that people with engineering/tech backgrounds (especially my master's focus inside of electrical engineering) will go out of demand any time in the next decade - the way of the world is cyber, and that's not going to change.

I have a final Secret currently. That may turn into TS/SCI in the near future.

I had also considered the military route at one point, but I think if everything blew up in my face and I didn't make it in the Bureau, I'd be happier with being an IP lawyer than a military guy as a fallback.

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chili_davis
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby chili_davis » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:40 am

OP, just a heads up.

Your current security clearance will not matter when applying to the Bureau. Most agencies conduct their own type of security clearances, and it will only be more paperwork that they will have to look at (your past security clearance app). Just make sure everything is EXACTLY the same on your new app. I've had to do a new clearance for every sector of the government I've worked for, and it didn't matter which clearance I held previously. Good luck.

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Future Ex-Engineer
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby Future Ex-Engineer » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:43 am

chili_davis wrote:OP, just a heads up.

Your current security clearance will not matter when applying to the Bureau. Most agencies conduct their own type of security clearances, and it will only be more paperwork that they will have to look at (your past security clearance app). Just make sure everything is EXACTLY the same on your new app. I've had to do a new clearance for every sector of the government I've worked for, and it didn't matter which clearance I held previously. Good luck.


Yep, thanks for confirming that - it was what I expected. I'm more thinking along the lines that since I passed my current with no issues, I should be sitting in a pretty good spot for passing a different check. Definitely have all of my old E-QUIP's saved so I can make sure I consistently report.

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chili_davis
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby chili_davis » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:51 am

Sounds like you have your ducks in a row. The biggest factor will be the lie-detector portion. I've heard it's pretty brutal from friends who have taken it, and even had a couple fail. Good luck.

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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby Anon.y.mousse. » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:56 am

mrgstephe wrote:
chili_davis wrote:OP, just a heads up.

Your current security clearance will not matter when applying to the Bureau. Most agencies conduct their own type of security clearances, and it will only be more paperwork that they will have to look at (your past security clearance app). Just make sure everything is EXACTLY the same on your new app. I've had to do a new clearance for every sector of the government I've worked for, and it didn't matter which clearance I held previously. Good luck.


Yep, thanks for confirming that - it was what I expected. I'm more thinking along the lines that since I passed my current with no issues, I should be sitting in a pretty good spot for passing a different check. Definitely have all of my old E-QUIP's saved so I can make sure I consistently report.


Yep this. Had also previously received a Secret clearance before applying with FBI, still took a year and by all accounts is even slower now (Has taken over a year for a Public Trust for my current position). But yes, we're in agreement that the three-year requirement is not the same for JD holders!! Two might be right but I'm not completely sure. Between your current position and any work post-JD I think you would be good, no?

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Future Ex-Engineer
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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby Future Ex-Engineer » Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:07 pm

Anon.y.mousse. wrote:
mrgstephe wrote:
chili_davis wrote:OP, just a heads up.

Your current security clearance will not matter when applying to the Bureau. Most agencies conduct their own type of security clearances, and it will only be more paperwork that they will have to look at (your past security clearance app). Just make sure everything is EXACTLY the same on your new app. I've had to do a new clearance for every sector of the government I've worked for, and it didn't matter which clearance I held previously. Good luck.


Yep, thanks for confirming that - it was what I expected. I'm more thinking along the lines that since I passed my current with no issues, I should be sitting in a pretty good spot for passing a different check. Definitely have all of my old E-QUIP's saved so I can make sure I consistently report.


Yep this. Had also previously received a Secret clearance before applying with FBI, still took a year and by all accounts is even slower now (Has taken over a year for a Public Trust for my current position). But yes, we're in agreement that the three-year requirement is not the same for JD holders!! Two might be right but I'm not completely sure. Between your current position and any work post-JD I think you would be good, no?


So I'm nearing one full year post-master's. Unfortunately, despite teaching 20 hr/week during my two years of graduate school, that is all considered part time and doesn't count. Thinking I'd probably need a year post law school to break the two year full time employment thing, and even then, with the process taking 10-12 months, I'd imagine it looks like two years of post-law school work before I'd actually get to start.

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Re: Law School -> DC -> FBI

Postby andythefir » Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:29 pm

Seems to me there are 2 pieces of advice not laid out plainly thus far. 1 People get bounced from the FBI application process all the time, and there's no way you can predict whether you will be one of them. Some humans are unable to take lie detector tests, and you just can't know which group you'll fall into until you get strapped up. Even if your nose has been clean since birth (it better, no misdemeanors, no juvie record, no school cheating record) and you're lights out physically fit (you better be), there's just no way to tell if you will pass it. 2 I'm not sure how a top law school would come across compared to a law school that more agents attended. If you went to random state law school there would be lots of agents like you, and there wouldn't be any suspicion you flamed out and couldn't get a "real" lawyer job.

From everything I've seen, the FBI seems like the JAG. You can chase it if you want, but you shouldn't count on it or make life decisions based on getting it.

All that said, it seems like you may love being a prosecutor/PD/immigration attorney. Lots of ways to help people in a meaningful way other than being an FBI agent.




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