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Career Advice

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 02, 2024 5:38 pm

Hello,

I'd love some help thinking out my career and would really appreciate any insight. Sadly, my mentor, who I would normally turn to, passed away about 6 months ago, so I'm just trying to think things through.

My ultimate goal is to become a state court judge (basically appointed in my state)- or, if I can't do that, to be SG of my state (AG is political here and I have no interest in doing campaigns/politics). I went to a T1 school and did decently (think Utah/AZ/A&M/Boulder) and practiced regional BL in Las Cruces/El Paso/Tucson/Provo/CO Springs type place for a few years. I then was able to transition to a fed agency (like DOL). I was at that fed agency for a couple years and really enjoyed it. Through random happenstance, I ended up meeting our state AG at an event. We got along really well, and she ended up offering me a job in the state's SG division as an ASG in PHX/Alb/Denver type place, and it was implied I'd be doing a lot of interesting work and get a lot of court time. So, I moved with my partner and young kid, for an exciting new adventure. So far, it has been kind of a mixed bag. I obviously don't work with the AG often (she's awesome) and do most of my work with the SG (he's really nice, but when working together, reminds me of the firm, where I have to predict things or do some guess work) and his deputy and a few other ASGs. I also have less independence here (which is something I didn't realize I valued so much until I no longer had it, ha).

I still much prefer this role to when I worked at my firm, but I do miss my time at the agency. I've only been here a little over 6 months and I've been in court 0 times. When discussing this role with my mentor, before she passed, she said that this role would be better ultimately for achieving my goals (shake hands with folks, work on more "sophisticated materials", etc.). I don't mind sticking out a career here, but it seems there are quite a few others ahead of me for the SG role (and, all the SGs in our state's history have clerked, which I have not-and am debating if I should attempt to, but most likely won't be able to get one and am not sure about the salary cut/relocating)- I also wouldn't mind sticking out my career at the fed agency either, and believe I'd prefer to be there rather than here; but maybe I need to give it more time.

If you've made it this far through my rambling story, I guess what I'm asking is if you all think that staying in my role would put me in the best position for my goals, or if my goals are ultimately too rare to try and plan a career around.

Anonymous User
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Re: Career Advice

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 02, 2024 6:42 pm

Becoming a state SG without a clerkship is highly unlikely, even in lower population states. If that is really your goal, you should try to clerk on your state’s Supreme Court or for a federal COA judge in your state (or both). You should also consider whether that’s what you really want.

If getting into court is your priority, have you considered shifting toward criminal trial work? Public defender, state DA office, AUSA, etc. …

Anonymous User
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Re: Career Advice

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 02, 2024 7:02 pm

People on this board mostly know how to get 2Ls into Kirkland and Weil, not so much about becoming a state SG

Anonymous User
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Re: Career Advice

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 02, 2024 7:58 pm

Not to out myself, but the fed agency work I did was fed crim. I did enjoy it. I left in hopes that my move would further fulfill my goals of becoming a judge or SG and to work on different issues, not just crim (love crim though, nothing against it at all and, as I said, would be fine going back and having my career there as a line member).

Also, every modern SG (last 5-10 years) seems to have clerked, and seems to be Fed COA. I could maybe secure fed district in my home state/surrounding areas, but that would still be tough, and I think there's close to a 0% chance at COA.
SG is not my main goal, being a judge is, but again, could just be foolish to have basically my hopes be a judge or sg, lol.

And thanks all, I appreciate the help. I get that TLS won't give me every nuance or anything, but it helps to just get an outside glean at times.

Anonymous User
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Re: Career Advice

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 02, 2024 11:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2024 7:58 pm
Not to out myself, but the fed agency work I did was fed crim. I did enjoy it. I left in hopes that my move would further fulfill my goals of becoming a judge or SG and to work on different issues, not just crim (love crim though, nothing against it at all and, as I said, would be fine going back and having my career there as a line member).

Also, every modern SG (last 5-10 years) seems to have clerked, and seems to be Fed COA. I could maybe secure fed district in my home state/surrounding areas, but that would still be tough, and I think there's close to a 0% chance at COA.
SG is not my main goal, being a judge is, but again, could just be foolish to have basically my hopes be a judge or sg, lol.

And thanks all, I appreciate the help. I get that TLS won't give me every nuance or anything, but it helps to just get an outside glean at times.
What kind of judge do you want to be? A state trial court judge? Look at state trial court judges in your state and see if there is any pattern in their backgrounds. In my state, most state trial court judges were former state prosecutors, former state public defenders, or trial litigators in the state AG office (tort division, etc.)

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Anonymous User
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Re: Career Advice

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Jul 03, 2024 10:18 am

I would not rule yourself out of COA in your state. An ASG with presumably (eventually) good connections to the local appellate bar is the sort of app to which typical clerkship advice does not apply. If you have connections who will vouch for you, T6 or not, you’re pretty likely to get it. I think you are also very, very likely to be able to get an SSC clerkship so long as your rep is good, and I might consider pairing one with a federal district court should COA not work out.

I think regardless you need to wait before leaving your current job, unless it’s for a clerkship. I’d reassess in 6-18 months or so.

You’re still young enough that not being next in line to be SG should not be a huge concern. There’s probably more stepping stones between there and here, whether in the SG’s office, in private practice, or in some other role. And there’s no reason you’d necessarily need to be SG to become a state court judge, though of course it would help.

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nealric

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Re: Career Advice

Post by nealric » Wed Jul 03, 2024 10:42 am

I think you really should be talking to someone who has a keen sense of the local politics. Are there forums where you can interact with state court judges (bar events, etc.)? They'd probably be some of the best to give advice on how to get to where they are.

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Re: Career Advice

Post by CanadianWolf » Wed Jul 03, 2024 3:52 pm

Really depends upon the state and which type/level of judgeship you are targeting.

Check the requirements for eligibility to become a judge in your state.

If you need to be on a list given to the governor for a position as an appointed judge, you need either a presence in the state bar or in politics or both.

If the type of judgeship you are seeking is elected, then you just need to file when the next election cycle occurs if there is a vacancy. Still should be an active member of the state bar association who knows how to make friends and how to avoid offending others.

But, as I wrote above, there are subtle differences from state to state, so it would be wise to Google every judge in your state who sits in your targeted position (such as state trial court judge, court of appeals, state supreme court, etc. as some states--like Texas--separate criminal & civil courts at the appellate level).

Research, socialize at bar events, ask questions, & be active in the state bar.

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Re: Career Advice

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jul 04, 2024 3:33 am

At the risk of stating the obvious...becoming a state judge seems far more feasible than becoming state SG. There's only ever going to be one SG at a time. By contrast, a state might have hundreds of state judges. Yes, judicial roles will take some degree of local politicking, i.e., getting involved with and building a good reputation with your local bar association—but that seems much more obtainable than becoming the singular lead appellate advocate of a state.

If you know that becoming a judge is your dream role (above and beyond SG), then why not focus on that? On the other hand, if you're serious about the SG potential, then I would guess that you'd need to do whatever it takes to make yourself a serious contender, including fighting for the COA/state SC clerkship(s).

To be more blunt, it's not that your goals are "too rare" to try for. It's just it doesn't sound like you're willing (at least right now) to roll up your sleeves and do the hard grind of what it takes to *try* to get to these positions. If you know being SG is a long shot, but that every SG in your state has clerked, then you've answered your own question about what you need to do to move your odds from 0% to 1%. So many of these opportunities come down to dumb luck, but you are in the best position to increase your changes of your luck actually working out by playing all the cards you have.

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