Why do some positions have experience ceilings?

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Why do some positions have experience ceilings?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Aug 30, 2020 12:33 pm

Feel free to move this if it doesn't fit here. I was browsing honors positions at a federal agency and one of the requirements was one year or less experience in private practice after graduating from law school. What's the reasoning here? Why would having more experience than very recent graduates (given that I would be willing to accept a paycut) matter? It seems like it would be a plus to me (proves that I'm able to survive in a fast-paced and stressful environment and work on complex legal issues). Any perspectives/insights would be welcomed.

nixy

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Re: Why do some positions have experience ceilings?

Post by nixy » Sun Aug 30, 2020 12:57 pm

Honors programs are specifically intended as entry-level positions, I think historically to snag top-level new grads and funnel them directly into government service (historically, I think the honors programs also used to hire more people “funneled” directly from the summer programs than they do today). I think the goal is to find/create lifer government attorneys and train them up from day 1; it’s not really about experience so much as it’s about potential.

It’s just one approach to hiring and it’s probably a little bit of a historical artifact from a time when law wasn’t so incredibly oversaturated. But it’s also a very small percentage of any federal agency’s hiring - most agencies hire much more heavily from laterals.

LBJ's Hair

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Re: Why do some positions have experience ceilings?

Post by LBJ's Hair » Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:03 pm

Probably a mix of:
  • Purpose of the program is grow/develop/mentor sharp young grads and "growth from within," not to bring in the most effective/efficient person Day 1. (Same reason BigLaw firms don't bring in experienced attorneys as first year associates -- they hire fresh law grads with good grades from good schools.)
  • "Overly qualified" hires might find position too easy/boring/whatever and quit/have a bad attitude. (Same reason a McDonald's franchisee isn't gonna hire a Harvard Law grad to work the register.)

nixy

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Re: Why do some positions have experience ceilings?

Post by nixy » Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:12 pm

LBJ's Hair wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:03 pm
Probably a mix of:
  • Purpose of the program is grow/develop/mentor sharp young grads and "growth from within," not to bring in the most effective/efficient person Day 1. (Same reason BigLaw firms don't bring in experienced attorneys as first year associates -- they hire fresh law grads with good grades from good schools.)
  • "Overly qualified" hires might find position too easy/boring/whatever and quit/have a bad attitude. (Same reason a McDonald's franchisee isn't gonna hire a Harvard Law grad to work the register.)
From what I know of the honors programs that exist, the latter isn’t the case. Honors program people do the same work that laterals do when brought into the agency (they just might need more training/guidance to start). (One exception is probably some of the honors programs that are structured as clerkships, like with immigration law judges, but they’re also not permanent positions.)

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Re: Why do some positions have experience ceilings?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:54 pm

nixy wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 12:57 pm
Honors programs are specifically intended as entry-level positions, I think historically to snag top-level new grads and funnel them directly into government service (historically, I think the honors programs also used to hire more people “funneled” directly from the summer programs than they do today). I think the goal is to find/create lifer government attorneys and train them up from day 1; it’s not really about experience so much as it’s about potential.

It’s just one approach to hiring and it’s probably a little bit of a historical artifact from a time when law wasn’t so incredibly oversaturated. But it’s also a very small percentage of any federal agency’s hiring - most agencies hire much more heavily from laterals.
OP here. Thanks for the response. I understand the basic point here. However, I don't understand why someone with the grades/law school to get into these positions initially would be barred because of additional experience. If I went to a good law school and have good grades (which, for sake of argument, let's assume would satisfy the position's requirements), why would it matter if I'm two years out of law school rather than one or below? It makes no sense to me. Obviously, agencies and the like can have whatever employment requirements they like (subject to applicable legal restrictions), but it still doesn't make much sense to me.

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nixy

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Re: Why do some positions have experience ceilings?

Post by nixy » Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:12 pm

Because someone 2 years out of law school isn't entry level. They don't want to train you out of the bad habits/private sector inclinations you've picked up during that time.

Also, to be clear, although the requirement is "1 year experience or below," in practice the idea is that honors attorneys have no prior practice experience. The intended schedule is that either 1) you graduate, study for the bar, and start the honors gig in fall; or 2) you graduate, study for the bar, start clerking in the fall (for 1-2 years), then finish your clerkship and go straight into the honors gig when your clerkship is done. It's "1 year or below" so as not to disadvantage people who [have to] work while studying for the bar, or maybe someone who has a weird clerkship schedule and works for a few months between the clerkship and the honors gig. You can't take a year after graduation to work for a firm and then do an honors gig; it's just not set up that way.

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cavalier1138

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Re: Why do some positions have experience ceilings?

Post by cavalier1138 » Sun Aug 30, 2020 3:59 pm

I'm deeply confused by this post. Why would you specifically browse for honors program positions if you didn't know what the honors program was?

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Re: Why do some positions have experience ceilings?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:23 pm

Honors is specifically entry level hiring. If you are experienced, you can apply as a lateral attorney through a vacancy posting (and those postings usually are explicitly *not* available to entry-level candidates: a lot of government jobs require a certain number of years' experience). It's not that government agencies won't hire experienced people; those jobs are just via a different hiring path.

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Re: Why do some positions have experience ceilings?

Post by hdr » Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:29 pm

OP here. Thanks for the response. I understand the basic point here. However, I don't understand why someone with the grades/law school to get into these positions initially would be barred because of additional experience. If I went to a good law school and have good grades (which, for sake of argument, let's assume would satisfy the position's requirements), why would it matter if I'm two years out of law school rather than one or below? It makes no sense to me. Obviously, agencies and the like can have whatever employment requirements they like (subject to applicable legal restrictions), but it still doesn't make much sense to me.
You're not barred from these positions; the overwhelming majority of legal openings at every agency are for experienced attorneys. But some agencies also maintain a small and selective hiring program for law students who are public service oriented. Maintaining such a program would be impossible if they didn't segregate entry-level hiring from normal hiring.

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