Leveraging fed analyst into fed attorney Forum

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Leveraging fed analyst into fed attorney

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:19 pm

I graduated law school four years ago and took a non-legal job at a DOD agency right out of school. I had several non-legal federal and think tank jobs before/during law school. My general field interests me, but I would like to transition into a legal role to give myself more options down the road besides contractor. I plan to sit for the bar for the first time this July.

Beyond passing the bar, my biggest problems seem to be twofold:

(1) I am a GS-13 with zero legal experience. While I could spin my prior work as having a loose legal/policy and strong research nexus, I can't think of a great reason for an agency to pick me up at 13 when they could hire a fresh grad (with more legal experience) at 11. I could potentially take a cut, but that obviously wouldn't be ideal, and I may just get screened out when they see my SF-50.

(2) I was a pretty mediocre law student at a pretty mediocre school, and there's very little chance I would've been considered as a direct legal hire out of school at any agency. I have a Master's in International Affairs from a much better program that has been more relevant to my career progression so far.

My only advantages are my clearance and the fact that I'm an insider from the perspective of certain agencies (and, relatedly, would be a status candidate for jobs not open to the public). I'm just really not sure how far those things will take me.

Currently, my game plan beyond the bar is to try to land a job formulating/applying internal agency policy (or, perhaps less realistically, get an IG job), then parlay that into an OGC post-bar.

Anyone have experience making this type of transition? Any thoughts on my prospects or how I should strategize?

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Re: Leveraging fed analyst into fed attorney

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:05 am

I was somewhat in your footsteps besides the fact I took th bar right out of law school. I interned at a non legal but enforcement related fed division, got hired afterwards as an analyst after grad when a position opened up,stayed there for two years, lateraled to an OGC shop as an attorney at a sister agency and now back at my old agency but with their OGC shop as an attorney.

The things working in your favor are that you should already have an established network within and outside your agency, you know how your agency/interagency policy making process should work, and some attorney jobs are excepted positions meaning they are not posted on USAjobs and can be earned through networking (that’s how I landed my attorney positions).

The things working against you are that you’re several years removed from law school, you’re not barred, and you may have been pigeon holed as a subject matter expert at this point. But all this can be overcome if you have good reputation and worked with the right people who are lawyerss from places that are in a position to hire you.

My advice would be to (of course pass the bar first) leverage heavily on your expertise and how you can spin that to a legal position. You need to work with the GC shop on projects to sell yourself but at the same time don’t insert legal stuff in work product like “this appear to be inconsistent with whatever law” because that’s just being a try-hard—I hate it when analysts with “,esq” in their business cards do this when they’re clearly not attorneys.Instead be in the know on the GC process, be a known commodity with the GC shop to the point they realize you’ll be a good addition to their team. They got to recognize my work when I was basically the analyst responsible for drafting factual analysis portions of whatever brief or work product they needed to push out.

The GS thing (at least where I’m at) doesn’t matter from a hiring manager stand point because everybody becomes a 14/15 very quickly anyways.

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Re: Leveraging fed analyst into fed attorney

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:42 pm

Thank you for the reply. It's good to know others were able to make this transition.

I think I probably have more of an uphill battle than you, beyond passing the bar, because I really have had no interaction with my OGC beyond some occasional oversight/compliance training and their role in processing interagency MOUs for my department. As I suspected, my first step will probably need to be a transition to a role that has me interfacing regularly with OGC, most likely in a policy or IG office.

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Re: Leveraging fed analyst into fed attorney

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:21 am

OP here one more time:

I have the opportunity to take a federal job that is essentially classified document review for high-profile cases. This job would not be temporary and would carry typical federal benefits, but aside from that, it very likely would involve a lot of what I understand to be mind-numbing work that only marginally (if at all) grows me as a legal professional. The job also seems to have limited growth potential, i.e., its value to me would be as a an intermediate step only.

Based on what I've read around the internet, I would turn down a private-sector doc review job in a heartbeat, but there is definite appeal to being able to stay Fed (with benefits/longevity) while adding words like "legal" and "litigation" to my resume for (unfortunately) the first time.

Any thoughts on how much this type of position would improve my chances of finding employment as an Fed attorney post-bar?

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Re: Leveraging fed analyst into fed attorney

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:50 am

PP here. If it’s better than the status quo in terms of exposure (long and short term) sure go for it. But do you essentially serve attorneys as a paralegal or an analyst? That, IMO, would make a difference. As an analyst you’ll develop subject matter expertise where you’ll have actual substantive insight and be exposed to networking opportunities because of your insight. For example, lead attorney goes to a meeting with an internal client saying, “let me loop in John on this conversation cause he did the analysis for [insert case/dispute] and he might be familiar with the issue”. As a paralegal you’d just be seen as support staff in an administrative capacity.

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