Nothing lined up post-clerkship. Staff Attorney?

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Nothing lined up post-clerkship. Staff Attorney?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:47 pm

District clerk striking out with firms and judges. What's next? Looks like there's some COA staff attorney positions. Would this be career suicide?

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Re: Nothing lined up post-clerkship. Staff Attorney?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:47 pm
District clerk striking out with firms and judges. What's next? Looks like there's some COA staff attorney positions. Would this be career suicide?
I've seen plenty of former clerks (district and COA) that tack on a couple of years as a COA staff attorney after their clerkship. That experience has been highly valued in some of the public sector positions I've seen those individuals subsequently enter into. It may be difficult to go from a staff attorney position to BigLaw, if that's what you're going for, but then again, it sounds like that's not exactly in the cards at the moment anyway.

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Re: Nothing lined up post-clerkship. Staff Attorney?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:20 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:47 pm
District clerk striking out with firms and judges. What's next? Looks like there's some COA staff attorney positions. Would this be career suicide?
I've seen plenty of former clerks (district and COA) that tack on a couple of years as a COA staff attorney after their clerkship. That experience has been highly valued in some of the public sector positions I've seen those individuals subsequently enter into. It may be difficult to go from a staff attorney position to BigLaw, if that's what you're going for, but then again, it sounds like that's not exactly in the cards at the moment anyway.
Thanks for the reply. Does the biglaw calculus change if I've already worked in biglaw? I left previous firm with an offer to return, but obviously circumstances have changed.

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Re: Nothing lined up post-clerkship. Staff Attorney?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:35 pm

At the end of the day, job > no job. It's a really tough time for clerks who are offboarding now because firms don't want to dish out $50k clerkship bonuses, and there are also more people applying for clerkships than usual. Your prospects after a stint as a staff attorney might not include biglaw, but public sector and small/midsize firms would be well within your reach. It's hard to say whether your old biglaw firm (or other biglaw firms) would still take you on after being a staff attorney.

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Re: Nothing lined up post-clerkship. Staff Attorney?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:33 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:20 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:47 pm
District clerk striking out with firms and judges. What's next? Looks like there's some COA staff attorney positions. Would this be career suicide?
I've seen plenty of former clerks (district and COA) that tack on a couple of years as a COA staff attorney after their clerkship. That experience has been highly valued in some of the public sector positions I've seen those individuals subsequently enter into. It may be difficult to go from a staff attorney position to BigLaw, if that's what you're going for, but then again, it sounds like that's not exactly in the cards at the moment anyway.
Thanks for the reply. Does the biglaw calculus change if I've already worked in biglaw? I left previous firm with an offer to return, but obviously circumstances have changed.
Prior BigLaw experience would probably help, but that will still be a nontraditional route and thus you may have to work harder to find a firm willing to think outside the box in terms of fitting you into their structure. But again, if bigger firms aren't biting right now, you're going to be looking at a nontraditional path back to BigLaw no matter what you do. I don't think there's a scarlet letter attached to taking a COA staff attorney position. They can be good and interesting gigs that offer unique appellate experience. I suspect that they might be more competitive than usual right now, given the number of people who may be in your position.

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Re: Nothing lined up post-clerkship. Staff Attorney?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:36 pm

It seems really silly - and unfair - that BigLaw employers would have the attitude of "well, you're not coming right off the clerkship and therefore it loses its luster as a credential" why would it lose its value one year, two years out? I can understand if you're applying for a job 10 years from now that it might not have the same impact, but within 2-3 years, it really should still have IMO the "brass ring" effect

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Re: Nothing lined up post-clerkship. Staff Attorney?

Post by polareagle » Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:36 pm
It seems really silly - and unfair - that BigLaw employers would have the attitude of "well, you're not coming right off the clerkship and therefore it loses its luster as a credential" why would it lose its value one year, two years out? I can understand if you're applying for a job 10 years from now that it might not have the same impact, but within 2-3 years, it really should still have IMO the "brass ring" effect
It's not that the clerkship loses its luster, it's that you've been in the workforce for several years doing something that's not really relevant to the work the firm does. Even if you go into an appellate practice at a biglaw firm, you won't generally be handling the sort of routine employment discrimination and 1983 appeals that make up the bread and butter of a COA staff attorney's docket.

If you could get the firm to hire you as a second year (as if you just came off the clerkship), maybe that would alleviate this concern, but firms can be bureaucratic places, and I know some of them place you solely based on your graduation year.

To speak to the original question, it's certainly not career suicide to work as a COA staff attorney. And I agree with the poster above that job > no job. (And personally I'd see COA staff attorney as a being better than doc reviewer, although doc review is far, far more relevant to bigalw litigation.)

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Re: Nothing lined up post-clerkship. Staff Attorney?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:51 pm

OP here. Thanks for the replies, all. I'm glad to hear it's not a scarlet letter, even if it's not really a plus. My credentials are pretty solid at the moment. Hopefully (for all of us, not just me) future employers will remember that for most of 2020 there was a global pandemic and that basically every firm in the country put hiring on hold.

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Re: Nothing lined up post-clerkship. Staff Attorney?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:54 pm

I think (but am not sure) that you could still go to a firm in a couple years, but I also think you might need to be willing to take a class cut--- so, you may come in as a third year, instead of fifth (or whatever).

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