career in financial/business fraud or antitrust

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Haunt
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career in financial/business fraud or antitrust

Post by Haunt » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:26 pm

Hi all,

I wanted to ask how viable a career in investigating/prosecuting fraud/antitrust/other kinds of white collar crime would be, especially if I wasn't willing to move to DC and work for the federal government, and, if it were viable, how I should go about preparing for that career and how I should incorporate that interest/plan into the application process.

A little more about me/my process: I'm early thirties and transitioning to law from teaching history at the secondary and (community) college level. I just took the January LSAT, thinking/hoping (knock on wood) that I scored around high 160s/low 170s, with a UGPA of 3.45 and a PhD. My emerging plan is to try and go to a good/solid state school somewhere out west (maybe ASU, CU Boulder, UT Austin, UCLA/USC, etc.) with a significant scholarship, place high in my class, and then, as I said above, do something somewhere on the prosecutorial side of corporate fraud, antitrust, etc. etc. I'm a little nervous about litigating (therefore interested in paths that don't emphasize it) but I'm also pretty sure I could get over that. Of course I welcome feedback on the viability of this plan as well as advice re: my original question.

Finally, I'd also appreciate advice on how/whether/to what extent I should incorporate this nascent interest into my PS.

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Nony
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Re: career in financial/business fraud or antitrust

Post by Nony » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:27 pm

I’m sort of curious what paths to prosecution you envision that don’t involve litigation?

The jobs you’re looking at would be primarily a criminal AUSA or maybe working for a state attorney general’s office, and you wouldn’t have to move to DC, but you would need to be in a major city and probably couldn’t focus only on fraud etc. to start with. For criminal AUSA, best path is probably biglaw white collar defense; for state AG you’d probably work your way up from local prosecution. The latter is probably an easier path to attain, but will involve a lot of non-white collar stuff before/if you can specialize. The former is tougher coming out of a solid state school. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard to predict/guarantee.

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ymmv
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Re: career in financial/business fraud or antitrust

Post by ymmv » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:31 pm

FCPA work might be right up your alley. It's a fraud/bribery issue-focused practice consisting almost entirely of internal investigations, interviews, and negotiations with very little chance of ever actually going to trial or even making court filings.

Maybe take a look at this thread:
viewtopic.php?p=30539#p30539

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Slytherpuff
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Re: career in financial/business fraud or antitrust

Post by Slytherpuff » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:34 pm

Nony wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:27 pm
Yeah, in all honesty the people I know who do that type of work now started in big law doing defense-side work and then moved to the DOJ Antitrust Division or an AUSA's office when they had 4+ years of experience. Entry-level positions as an AUSA require DOJ Honors, and if you want that from the state schools you mentioned you would need to be at the absolute top of your class. Are you comfortable sitting this cycle out and retaking the LSAT to either (a) get to a school with better big law outcomes, (b) get to a school with a better LRAP (Loan Repayment Assistance Program) set-up for government jobs, or (c) get a full-ride at one of the schools you mentioned so that you aren't saddled with debt for a very slim chance at your dream job?
Yeah, the people I know who do that type of work now started in big law doing defense-side work and then moved to the DOJ Antitrust Division or an AUSA's office when they had 4+ years of experience. Entry-level positions as an AUSA require DOJ Honors, and if you want that from the state schools you mentioned you would need to be at the absolute top of your class. (Everyone goes to law school hoping to be the top of their class.) I would say to get comfortable sitting this cycle out and retaking the LSAT to either (a) get to a school with better big law outcomes, (b) get to a school with a better LRAP (Loan Repayment Assistance Program) set-up for government jobs, or (c) get a full-ride at one of the schools you mentioned so that you aren't saddled with debt for a very slim chance at your dream job.

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Nony
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Re: career in financial/business fraud or antitrust

Post by Nony » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:36 pm

Ymmv, that is a great thread and I always forget about that option. Do lots of firms have these practices and where are they mostly located?

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ymmv
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Re: career in financial/business fraud or antitrust

Post by ymmv » Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:41 pm

Nony wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:36 pm
Ymmv, that is a great thread and I always forget about that option. Do lots of firms have these practices and where are they mostly located?
It's a booming practice, yeah — my impression is the majority of large firms have one now, especially if they have international offices. DC is ground zero but I know people in FCPA practices in big cities all over the States. Regional US attorneys always hoping to hit the next big antibribery settlement, it seems, and of course companies are HQ’d all over.

Haunt
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Re: career in financial/business fraud or antitrust

Post by Haunt » Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:40 pm

Thanks a ton for all the advice/feedback.

I'd prefer not to take the LSAT again, but I guess it's not off the table. Similarly I'll apply this cycle but depending on what comes back waiting and applying again in the fall is an option. I guess I thought those numbers (obviously depending on what the score comes out to actually be) would be pretty competitive (IE, for good money) at some of those schools, or to at least to get in at lower T14s (if I applied at the beginning of the cycle). My hesitation about retaking is mainly that it doesn't seem I could expect much money from a T14 with that GPA (unless I basically aced the test, which doesn't feel that realistic) even if I scored a few points better(?), and between being older and having a family, I don't want to take on $200k of debt or whatever. If I were 24 and single, sure, but it doesn't feel prudent.

The work-up-towards-state-AG's-office sounds OK--would that be feasible from the state-school approach I suggested? I'm assuming the path to FCPA (which does sound good) is basically the same as that to the criminal AUSA. As far as that path/biglaw goes, my biggest hesitation is around having to move to NYC, basically. I could move pretty widely (do Denver and Phoenix count as major cities?), but the COL and being restricted to just a couple possible cities might be hard given a working spouse and of course all the debt I'd then have from school.

My heart isn't set on this, I'm just trying to explore at the early stages what kind of coherent professional goals I can work towards. Perhaps a "reach" goal of biglaw white collar defense --> AUSA with a fallback plan of doing local prosecution --> state AG would be a good balance of risk and security?

EDIT: I guess that thing you sometimes hear about re-taking not being worth it because all your past scores are reported is not true?

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pancakes3
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Re: career in financial/business fraud or antitrust

Post by pancakes3 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:56 pm

"they weigh all your scores" is apocryphal pre-2008 advice. read: no, it's not true. schools just care about reporting their incoming class's GPA/LSAT, bc that's what's required to be reported, and that's what the [USNWR] rankings use. and schools don't *really* care about your score, or rankings, other than that being able to boast elitism/exclusivity and a high ranking is a valuable recruitment tool.

if you don't think you can ace the LSAT, and your GPA/LSAT are around the medians of what your school admits, it goes to reason that you're going end up median at that school. but at the same time, if you're above the 75ths for GPA/LSAT, you can't assume that you'll be above the 75th percentile in grades while at LS. the point being is that you have to assume median grades coming out of LS because by definition that's the most likely outcome and there are no predictors that favor one student over another in terms of grade performance.

the calculus is pretty simple: what schools are you competitive for -> what jobs are available to you coming out of that school (at median), will that job service the debt you'll incur in attending, are you comfortable with that job.

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ggocat
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Re: career in financial/business fraud or antitrust

Post by ggocat » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:27 pm

My State's AG office seems to regularly hire newbies only for the child support division, but they sometimes have entry-level positions for medicaid fraud. I'm not sure what the entry-level work looks like, but I've seen some of the bigger cases involve small and mid-size companies who are defrauding patients and/or the State. I mention this because it's Texas, one of the places you are considering. UT-Austin would give you a good shot at many other opportunities in Texas, as well. Good luck with scholarships--I prefer your plan to limiting debt rather than chasing lower-end T14 at full cost.

I would only write your personal statement on the issue if you have a good story/explanation for why this interests you.

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