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Narrowing down an interest in criminal law

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:19 pm
by elransfo
Hi,

I am looking for general advice/ info on what different career paths in criminal law look like. What internships do aspiring DAs get for the summer after 1L? What path should you take for becoming a white collar criminal defense attorney? What about public defense? What's the difference in paths between state and DOJ/AUSA/Federal defender? What other options are there besides these?

If anyone is pursuing one of these paths and has already done internships: what is the day-to-day like?

I'd also love any sites/ resources that explain in detail these different paths.

Thanks for your input!

(also, because people are insanely mean on this forum: please do not join this discussion to shit on my lack of knowledge. If you know of a place where I can find this info by myself, I'd love that.)

Re: Narrowing down an interest in criminal law

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:01 pm
by Civilservant
I don't think it is any different than the path for any litigator, target firms or agencies that interest you. Also, clerking can also benefit you greatly. Federal positions are generally more difficult to obtain. I would suggest figuring out which side speaks to you more, as soon as you can, so you can narrow the scope of your search.

Re: Narrowing down an interest in criminal law

Posted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:25 am
by RCSOB657
Do you speak Spanish?

Re: Narrowing down an interest in criminal law

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:02 am
by elransfo
RCSOB657 wrote:Do you speak Spanish?


I do, yeah.

Re: Narrowing down an interest in criminal law

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:31 am
by shantideva
elransfo wrote:
RCSOB657 wrote:Do you speak Spanish?


I do, yeah.


This should be a major boost for public defender applications.

Re: Narrowing down an interest in criminal law

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:56 am
by WinterComing
Civilservant wrote:I don't think it is any different than the path for any litigator, target firms or agencies that interest you. Also, clerking can also benefit you greatly. Federal positions are generally more difficult to obtain. I would suggest figuring out which side speaks to you more, as soon as you can, so you can narrow the scope of your search.


This is bad advice. OP, the jobs you're talking about all have very different paths. For AUSA in major markets, people often work in Big Law first, although some AUSA offices hire from state DA offices. For state DA gigs, it's usually a good idea to intern at the office during law school; big offices in places like New York often hire large classes each year, with a standard application process. If you want to be a public defender, you need to show commitment to that cause during law school. Culturally, there is a strong divide between prosecutors and defense attorneys, and public defender offices especially will be very hesitant to hire someone who has interned for a prosecutor. So you might think about your values and decide which side you want to work on now, because switching sides later can be difficult. I would encourage you to reach out to people at your school who are on these different paths, because they can give you more specific advice about your interests.

Re: Narrowing down an interest in criminal law

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:29 pm
by elransfo
WinterComing wrote:
Civilservant wrote:I don't think it is any different than the path for any litigator, target firms or agencies that interest you. Also, clerking can also benefit you greatly. Federal positions are generally more difficult to obtain. I would suggest figuring out which side speaks to you more, as soon as you can, so you can narrow the scope of your search.


This is bad advice. OP, the jobs you're talking about all have very different paths. For AUSA in major markets, people often work in Big Law first, although some AUSA offices hire from state DA offices. For state DA gigs, it's usually a good idea to intern at the office during law school; big offices in places like New York often hire large classes each year, with a standard application process. If you want to be a public defender, you need to show commitment to that cause during law school. Culturally, there is a strong divide between prosecutors and defense attorneys, and public defender offices especially will be very hesitant to hire someone who has interned for a prosecutor. So you might think about your values and decide which side you want to work on now, because switching sides later can be difficult. I would encourage you to reach out to people at your school who are on these different paths, because they can give you more specific advice about your interests.


Thanks, this is really helpful.

When you say that people often work in big law first, is there an average amount of time they spend there?

Re: Narrowing down an interest in criminal law

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:22 pm
by RCSOB657
elransfo wrote:
RCSOB657 wrote:Do you speak Spanish?


I do, yeah.



Well, several jobs, including some federal public defender offices require Spanish.

Re: Narrowing down an interest in criminal law

Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:17 am
by WinterComing
elransfo wrote:
WinterComing wrote:
Civilservant wrote:I don't think it is any different than the path for any litigator, target firms or agencies that interest you. Also, clerking can also benefit you greatly. Federal positions are generally more difficult to obtain. I would suggest figuring out which side speaks to you more, as soon as you can, so you can narrow the scope of your search.


This is bad advice. OP, the jobs you're talking about all have very different paths. For AUSA in major markets, people often work in Big Law first, although some AUSA offices hire from state DA offices. For state DA gigs, it's usually a good idea to intern at the office during law school; big offices in places like New York often hire large classes each year, with a standard application process. If you want to be a public defender, you need to show commitment to that cause during law school. Culturally, there is a strong divide between prosecutors and defense attorneys, and public defender offices especially will be very hesitant to hire someone who has interned for a prosecutor. So you might think about your values and decide which side you want to work on now, because switching sides later can be difficult. I would encourage you to reach out to people at your school who are on these different paths, because they can give you more specific advice about your interests.


Thanks, this is really helpful.

When you say that people often work in big law first, is there an average amount of time they spend there?


I think it really varies. In the USAO office in the northeast where I worked my 1L summer, probably 3/4 of the lawyers had spent 3+ years in Big Law, while maybe 1/4 had spent around a decade or so as a state-level prosecutor.