Career change? Looking for advice

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Whatshouldidonext

Career change? Looking for advice

Post by Whatshouldidonext » Sun May 12, 2019 12:53 am

Background: I always thought I wanted to be a trial attorney. I admit a large initial contributing factor was the perceived cachet of trying cases before juries and actually doing something resembling what the public thinks lawyers do. (I know, lol...). When I was in law school, I interned at DA’s offices, did trial a ad clinic, interned for a judge, etc. And I genuinely enjoyed the experiences. I clerked for a trial judge after law school, too. I enjoyed all of the above.

I have been working at a DA’s office for about three years in a relatively medium-sized market. I took the job hoping to lateral to my town’s USAO. But after three years, I’m not sure trial work is for me.

I have found I don’t really like interviewing witnesses. I honestly am scared half the time of committing some ethical or prosecutorial violation. I don’t like doing the trench work of meeting people, calling them, subpoenaing them, trying to get them to court, keeping track of their inconsistent statements, etc. Scheduling and doing a victim or police interview is one of my least favorite things to do. If I could outsource the job to a reliable person, I would!

I really like actually standing up in court, giving openings and closings, crossing witnesses, and the actual trial. I even like the rare opportunity to write a brief to the court. But I hate the prep.

I am now seriously considering a career change. But I’m trying to figure out what kind of job I should do next that will allow me to have the things I like and not the things I dislike about my old job.

Has anyone felt the same way? If I go to the USAO will it be more of the same as my DA office? I am thinking of maybe doing appellate work—the record is pretty much already set, I get to do advocacy, but I don’t have to deal with witness interviews. The state AG’s office does our appeals. Maybe I should apply?

(I appreciate the opportunity I’ve had so far in this office. Being put in the ringer for three years and trying cases before juries is something that few lawyers get to do. I have definitely grown as an attorney through these literal and figurative trials. But I need to know if this negative feeling I have is just the job or is it me?)

Thanks for reading my rambling post. Any advice appreciated!

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CS1775
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Re: Career change? Looking for advice

Post by CS1775 » Tue May 14, 2019 12:42 am

Just a law student here but I know a few former prosecutors (including former state AGs), so hopefully I can be of some help and can push this along some.

Most former prosecutors I know become private practice criminal defense attorneys. Two former state AGs in my state opened a firm together (I've met one of them) and run a criminal defense practice, in addition to other prosecutors I know who moved on to private CD firms. This wouldn't get rid of the trial prep work problem for you but would hopefully allow you more freedom as to picking and choosing cases, working with one defendant and your team of witnesses rather than being handed a case from the cops, and you would "be your own boss." Might be a good idea to talk to some private practice defense lawyers you've met and developed a rapport with.

In regards to appellate practice with your state's AG office, have you made any connections with them? Do you have any law school friends who do appellate work that would be willing to meet up and let you pick their brains? Appellate oral arguments themselves are 10 minutes to give a spiel while answering a panel's questions, unlike a multi-day or multi-week trial. Same question with the USAO, have you met anyone from the office and made connections?

This is a bit off-topic, but do you enjoy criminal law? Put it this way, would you be open to taking your skills and working in another practice area?

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