Best path to AUSA in NYC?

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Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:20 pm

Hey everyone. What is in your opinion the best path towards an AUSA position for someone not at all interested in BigLaw? In other words, lots of people say BigLaw "feeds" into AUSA positions but for someone who wants to work in government right away what is the best path? I.e. Clerking > ADA or NYC government legal job > AUSA? I want to stay in NYC because I am from here.

Thanks all!

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby misterjames » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:27 pm

There's no definitive answer on this. Both SDNY and EDNY are extremely competitive. I mean the "best path" would probably look something like HYS --> Prestigious A3 Clerk --> AUSA. Outside of that though, it's kind of a crap shoot.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:54 pm

misterjames wrote:There's no definitive answer on this. Both SDNY and EDNY are extremely competitive. I mean the "best path" would probably look something like HYS --> Prestigious A3 Clerk --> AUSA. Outside of that though, it's kind of a crap shoot.


What if you don't have the HYS but you have the SDNY/EDNY/2nd Cir clerkship? How much of a ding is it to have a non-T14 school at that point?

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:07 pm

I used to work at SDNY and can tell you that if you don't have Biglaw experience, you would be in the overwhelming minority there.

The traditional route (meaning that probably 95% of the AUSAs at SDNY) is:

1. HYS, Columbia, NYU, Rest of T14s, Fordham (top of your class) ----> 2. Clerkship in 2nd Circuit or SDNY District Court ---------> V20-------> SDNY AUSA

If you don't attend a T14, you already have an incredibly difficult road ahead of you. So if you don't do Biglaw on top of that, I can't imagine how much more difficult (close to impossible) it would be for you.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby justanotherlurker » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:16 pm

are you opposed strictly to biglaw? Would you consider a smaller firm?
If so, there are a lot of lit boutiques that focus on white collar litigation and internal investigations.
Needless to say, many are very competitive. But if you've clerked in SDNY/EDNY/CA2, you'd probably be in the running, and that would be a good experience/credential to make the jump over to a USAO.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:51 pm

justanotherlurker wrote:are you opposed strictly to biglaw? Would you consider a smaller firm?
If so, there are a lot of lit boutiques that focus on white collar litigation and internal investigations.
Needless to say, many are very competitive. But if you've clerked in SDNY/EDNY/CA2, you'd probably be in the running, and that would be a good experience/credential to make the jump over to a USAO.


Maybe to an AUSA somewhere, but i think you're underestimating how extremely difficult it is for even someone that went to HYS, clerked in SDNY, and worked in Biglaw to get an AUSA position in SDNY.

You're basically saying, "not taking the LSAT can get you into a law school," when OP was asking if not taking the LSAT can get him/her into Yale.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby justanotherlurker » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
justanotherlurker wrote:are you opposed strictly to biglaw? Would you consider a smaller firm?
If so, there are a lot of lit boutiques that focus on white collar litigation and internal investigations.
Needless to say, many are very competitive. But if you've clerked in SDNY/EDNY/CA2, you'd probably be in the running, and that would be a good experience/credential to make the jump over to a USAO.


Maybe to an AUSA somewhere, but i think you're underestimating how extremely difficult it is for even someone that went to HYS, clerked in SDNY, and worked in Biglaw to get an AUSA position in SDNY.

You're basically saying, "not taking the LSAT can get you into a law school," when OP was asking if not taking the LSAT can get him/her into Yale.


I may be underestimating it, but I had the sense that working at a place like Lankler Siffert and Wohl, Kobre & Kim, Morvillo, etc. could be a viable launching point for SDNY or EDNY, no?

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:24 pm

Hey, original OP here. I am not opposed to a smaller firm or even a smaller salary (70k or so) if it means three things:

1) NOT BigLaw hours
2) A real launching point to an ASUA position in the future or a clerkship
3) I can gain signifivant experience in white collar/securities/antitrust (I would be happy in any of the three)

What is an indicative salary for a first year associate in a small, specialized firm like the above?

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:42 pm

lol. "not biglaw hours." You're in for a real rude awakening if you somehow end up at SDNY.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:56 pm

Pretty sure you know what I mean; there was no need to be rude. There is absolutely zero work life balance in BigLaw.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Traynor Brah » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey, original OP here. I am not opposed to a smaller firm or even a smaller salary (70k or so) if it means three things:

1) NOT BigLaw hours
2) A real launching point to an ASUA position in the future or a clerkship
3) I can gain signifivant experience in white collar/securities/antitrust (I would be happy in any of the three)

What is an indicative salary for a first year associate in a small, specialized firm like the above?

this isn't a thing that exists

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Pretty sure you know what I mean; there was no need to be rude. There is absolutely zero work life balance in BigLaw.


There really isn’t at SD/EDNY either and you don’t have the big ass salary to pay for luxuries that make your life livable or palatable (like laundry or maid or dog walker or whatever the fuck). Unless you’re Supreme Court clerking, you just cannot ever plan on making it to those two offices. I have many/all of the characteristics that this thread is telling you, along with 4 years of biglaw white collar and haven’t even got a sniff from them. I’ve got one big office interview based on a connection. Two smaller offices interviews on luck. I’m not even getting interviews in like Milwaukee (or hell, Birmingham Alabama or Omaha, seriously).

Not trying to take the wind out here but I have all of this and connections are as close as I can get. Any firm with as many people who have very close ties to the office and people that are still there is the best way and it’s one in a million.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:21 pm

I'll echo what everyone else has said. I often think that people on this forum are overly pessimistic or speak without knowledge, but this isn't one of those times. AUSAs in EDNY and SDNY work as hard as biglaw associates, or harder, because they frequently have trials and have a huge amount of responsibility.

And they get there through a very narrow path, its hard a thing to count on for well regarded associates in V10 firms in the market who clerked in the district. If you want this, you have to think hard about: why, whether it is realistic, and what you'll do if it doesn't work out...and then you need to do what it takes.

There are a million good reasons not to work in biglaw, but if your reason is work life balance, you are not going down this path. That's not to say you need to work at a place where everyone is miserable all the time, my experience is that there are plenty of places in New York biglaw that are not like that. But there are no 9-5s and there will be months where all you do is work (e.g. before a trial or during a big investigation). That would be true at times as an ADA as well or as a law clerk with certain judges or anything else that is competitive in this profession. And here, you are talking about one of the most competitive things that you could hope to do.

I say this to help you, be honest with yourself and if you want it, do what it takes and I hope you get it.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:49 am

justanotherlurker wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
justanotherlurker wrote:are you opposed strictly to biglaw? Would you consider a smaller firm?
If so, there are a lot of lit boutiques that focus on white collar litigation and internal investigations.
Needless to say, many are very competitive. But if you've clerked in SDNY/EDNY/CA2, you'd probably be in the running, and that would be a good experience/credential to make the jump over to a USAO.


Maybe to an AUSA somewhere, but i think you're underestimating how extremely difficult it is for even someone that went to HYS, clerked in SDNY, and worked in Biglaw to get an AUSA position in SDNY.

You're basically saying, "not taking the LSAT can get you into a law school," when OP was asking if not taking the LSAT can get him/her into Yale.


I may be underestimating it, but I had the sense that working at a place like Lankler Siffert and Wohl, Kobre & Kim, Morvillo, etc. could be a viable launching point for SDNY or EDNY, no?


You're absolutely right that those firms could be viable launching points. However, those firms aren't exactly what OP is looking for, since those firms require biglaw hours, pay biglaw money, and handle biglaw cases.

OP, you seem to not know how EDNY/SDNY operate if you think that AUSAs there are enjoying 9-5 jobs. It is very much normal to be working 80 hours every week including weekends, and much more if you're on trial.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby 1styearlateral » Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:50 am

Stop watching Billions.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Lincoln » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:43 am

A year ago, the entire incoming SDNY AUSA class was from WLRK, which tells you something about the path to get there.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby jd20132013 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:Pretty sure you know what I mean; there was no need to be rude. There is absolutely zero work life balance in BigLaw.


do you know any Ausas at those offices bro

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:07 am

As people have said, there's no path to SDNY or EDNY. I would caution you that if your goal is to go to SDNY, but not do biglaw, you probably do not want to do SDNY. I interviewed at both SDNY and EDNY, and I can tell you from what I learned SDNY is biglaw equivalent for the government. Very long hours, very intense pressure, very tough personalities, and a very unforgiving culture.

Also, mot people who want to be AUSAs believe in the mission and are willing to move. Although SDNY is highly prestigious, its lost some of its prominence in recent years. In fact, I think EDNY and SDNY are equally prestigious at this point as are several non-NYC offices like NDCAL and EDVA. So you might want to think about casting your net wider if you truly want to be an AUSA.

While biglaw is a big feeder to SDNY, there are assistants there who lateraled from Main Justice (so honors program could be a pathway), ADA (generally DANY), and boutiquies (Morvillo, for example, comes to mind).

Finally, there are ways to increase your chances of getting an SDNY offer: (1) apply for the civil division (which is in a different building from the criminal AUSAs); (2) agree to do your first 3 years in White Plains, which is technically SDNY but the press rarely covers anything that isn't Manhattan related.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:02 am

Lincoln wrote:A year ago, the entire incoming SDNY AUSA class was from WLRK, which tells you something about the path to get there.


How is that possible? If you had said entire class came from V20 firms I would have believed it, but this seems wrong...

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:02 am

Thank you for your reply!

Also, sorry for the previous typos. Was on phone and I type like an idiot on my phone. :mrgreen:

I have taken everyone's advice into consideration. I think I will just do what makes me happy--looking for a clerkship and then working for municipal city government in an ADA's office (preferably Manhattan simply because of the exit options). Then, if I get enough experience and want to switch I will put feelers out for AUSA jobs all over New York, not just the five boroughs. I am totally fine with moving as long as I stay in state (or even nearby states like Philly, Jersey and DC). I'm just not going to stress it. I came to the legal field because I loved law, not because I need prestige or money. My wanting to stay in NYC is because I am from here and because the cases they do interest me.

I now realize that being an AUSA at SDNY or EDNY will not be as stress-free compared to BigLaw as I had thought. Still, I like the fact that you represent the U.S., no billable hours, greater good and all that. I know ADA > AUSA is not a commonly walked path, but I also know that I'd be happy as an ADA for quite some time if I never can make the leap and then maybe I'll just work for a city agency or, if I network well enough, maybe for a federal agency like the SEC (which, even more than being an AUSA is my absolute dream job). I feel confident enough that with the right connections and experience, one could parlay that into something else if wanted. I would be more than happy working in White Plains or elsewhere--I just know that I do not want the "gunner" culture of BigLaw.

Thanks everyone for helping, and for making me see that I had miscalculated a bit. I appreciate all the help and wish everyone the best of luck!

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Lincoln wrote:A year ago, the entire incoming SDNY AUSA class was from WLRK, which tells you something about the path to get there.


How is that possible? If you had said entire class came from V20 firms I would have believed it, but this seems wrong...


Its a bit of an exaggeration, but they hired a good chunk from WLRK.

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:04 pm

What are the chances of a former JAG/current SDNY clerk?

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Re: Best path to AUSA in NYC?

Postby howell » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:13 am

Anonymous User wrote:What are the chances of a former JAG/current SDNY clerk?

I'd be interested in this as well. I'd also be interested in your story if you care to PM me.



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