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JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:18 pm
by pd523
Been a lurker for a while but first time posting. I'm a former JAG, current CACD/EDNY/DC district court clerk, from a T2 school with OK grades. What are my chances of getting an AUSA gig or DOJ? I prefer CACD/EDNY/DC if AUSA, but also open to other locations. Thank you.

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:48 pm
by andythefir
Every applicant prefers those offices. If you’re only willing to go to CDCA or EDNY, your odds aren’t good. If you’re willing to go anywhere (specifically the border), your odds are much better. Some offices love JAGs to the point of not having been one is a barrier, others couldn’t possibly care less. Another concern is if you were 4 years in + 1 year clerkship you’ll start aging out of some offices in the near future. Also, nailing the landing on clerkship>USAO can be tricky because hiring is so convoluted and inconsistent, although having a security clearance should be a big help.

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:32 pm
by Anonymous User
DC is the biggest office in the country, so if you want to go to the DC USAO, then I think you're probably in good shape. Just go in with eyes wide open because its not a typical AUSA gig.

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:03 pm
by NoChainz
Talk to your judge - if they can go to bat for you in the district you are clerking your chances likely improve significantly.

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:22 pm
by pd523
andythefir wrote:Every applicant prefers those offices. If you’re only willing to go to CDCA or EDNY, your odds aren’t good. If you’re willing to go anywhere (specifically the border), your odds are much better. Some offices love JAGs to the point of not having been one is a barrier, others couldn’t possibly care less. Another concern is if you were 4 years in + 1 year clerkship you’ll start aging out of some offices in the near future. Also, nailing the landing on clerkship>USAO can be tricky because hiring is so convoluted and inconsistent, although having a security clearance should be a big help.


OP here. Yes, I'm afraid of that. That is my time frame. I would be 5+ years out of law school. Does it ever get to a point where I am "too senior" for an AUSA gig? Some people have recommended that I go biglaw (as if that is easier) right after my clerkship, in hopes of increasing my chance at a USAO. My concern then is that I would be even older (6+ years out of law school) and that it may hurt my chances to become an AUSA. Thoughts?

(Side note: I'm open to go to other offices near the CACD/EDNY/DC offices, but I know those can be competitive as well (NJ, VA, etc.).)

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:16 pm
by andythefir
The problem in giving intelligent advice is that there’s basically an anywhere and a somewhere for US Atty offices. If you’re willing to go anywhere, there are things you can do to maximize your odds. If you’re shooting for 1 Office in particular, then you’ll need info re that particular office.

If you’re shooting exclusively for cities and coasts, you’re going to need lights out credentials AND experience AND know someone AND get lucky. If you’re willing to go to flyover country (and then apply to a city once you’ve got experience), good credentials and experience may be enough.

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:04 am
by pd523
andythefir wrote:The problem in giving intelligent advice is that there’s basically an anywhere and a somewhere for US Atty offices. If you’re willing to go anywhere, there are things you can do to maximize your odds. If you’re shooting for 1 Office in particular, then you’ll need info re that particular office.

If you’re shooting exclusively for cities and coasts, you’re going to need lights out credentials AND experience AND know someone AND get lucky. If you’re willing to go to flyover country (and then apply to a city once you’ve got experience), good credentials and experience may be enough.


Thanks. Makes sense. I'm wondering, though, how helpful would it be if I apply to the same district where I am clerking in and the Judge makes a call and vouches for me. I'm hoping that would help. Or do I need to go and get biglaw experience after my clerkship prior to applying to the USAO?

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:34 am
by Anonymous User
Anonymous User wrote:DC is the biggest office in the country, so if you want to go to the DC USAO, then I think you're probably in good shape. Just go in with eyes wide open because its not a typical AUSA gig.


Could you/someone elaborate on this description of DC USAO? Are you suggesting it's less competitive generally because of its size, or that it tends to hire JAGs? Also, why is it not a "typical AUSA gig"?

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:20 pm
by andythefir
[quote="]

Thanks. Makes sense. I'm wondering, though, how helpful would it be if I apply to the same district where I am clerking in and the Judge makes a call and vouches for me. I'm hoping that would help. Or do I need to go and get biglaw experience after my clerkship prior to applying to the USAO?[/quote]

If you’re in a big city, the judge calling will push you from a no to a maybe. Dozens of people will have people calling for them. If you’re in the middle of nowhere and the only district judge in the city calls, that’s a big deal.

The problem with going biglaw is that you’ll need 3-5 years there to get a boost, and 9 years experience is a max salary. It’s not a no, but it’s still not likely. Again, if you’re holding constant a particular office, especially in a big city, your odds are very small. If you’re open to going to the border or other rural places, your odds increase dramatically.

https://www.justice.gov/usao/career-cen ... lan-charts

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:44 pm
by Anonymous User
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:DC is the biggest office in the country, so if you want to go to the DC USAO, then I think you're probably in good shape. Just go in with eyes wide open because its not a typical AUSA gig.


Could you/someone elaborate on this description of DC USAO? Are you suggesting it's less competitive generally because of its size, or that it tends to hire JAGs? Also, why is it not a "typical AUSA gig"?


It's essentially two different offices. There's the superior court division and they are really like a major state prosecutors office. They handle everything from misdemeanors to violent felonies in the District of Columbia. Within the superior court division, AUSAs rotate through various assignments. You might spend 6 months doing nothing but grand jury. You might spend a year or two doing misdemeanors. It takes a while before you're able to do more significant work like murders and violent felonies.

Then there's the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the AUSAs there handle what are classified as federal crimes (your more significant investigations and more complex cases). AUSAs doing this work are very lucky, but again, it takes a long time to be tapped for this assignment unless you get very lucky or are lateraling as an AUSA from elsewhere.

So they need a lot of prosecutors and I don't think they are as picky about people's backgrounds as a lot of other offices. They also prefer new AUSAs to come in very early - like 1-3 years post graduation because those prosecutors cost less money.

DC can be good (lots of courtroom time, rotations mean variety) but it can be pretty grueling from what I hear.

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:32 pm
by pd523
thanks for your advice everyone. it looks like i will be interviewing with cacd/dc/edny.

Re: JAG to Clerkship to DOJ/AUSA?

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:40 pm
by andythefir
Huh, congrats, looks like I don't know what I'm talking about.