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Greetings. I hope that this is the proper forum to find some advice for landing an entry-level prosecutor position. I passed the bar exam back in November and have even been looking for positions even before that. I have managed to land a couple of interviews, and I have also failed to make the interview list at some offices. I am concerned that my strategy consists of submitting my resumes + cover letters and then simply crossing my fingers.

I'm not really sure whether the career services office at my law school knows what a district attorney's office is, so I am posting here hoping to find some advice. Specifically, I am wondering if anyone has input on the following:

* Once I have submitted a resume in response to a
vacancy posting, what can I do to help get my
name on the interview list?

* Would showing up in person and asking to speak
with the attorney(s) in charge of filling the
vacancy be seen as ambitious or obnoxious?

* Is it realistic to focus solely on the DFW
metropolitan area and surrounding counties? If
I want a job by summertime will it be necessary
to start expanding my search geographically?

* While I have a non-legal part-time job, I feel
like I should be doing something law-related
during my job hunt. The DA offices that I have
contacted have turned down volunteer work and I
am not sure where else I can get relevant
volunteer experience. Would it pay dividends to
volunteer on the defense side?


I could really use something to intensify my effort, I just don't know what that something should be. I would certainly appreciate any thoughts or advice that people would be willing to share.
 
Posts: 2 | Location: Dallas, TX | Registered: January 19, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you have time and can afford the cost of courthouse parking, go watch trials. Take notes. During breaks, introduce yourself to the prosecutors.

Expand your search beyond DFW. The metroplex job market seems very "tight" right now. You're probably competing against attorneys who have 2-5 years' experience by limiting yourself to the DFW area. There are jobs out there, if you're willing to move.

Ask a friend (maybe a former English teacher or other a non-lawyer) to conduct an honest critique of your resume. Pay attention to both content and layout design.

Befriend a cop. (A cop got me the interview for my first Texas job.) Ask her/him where the good DA's offices are and what it takes to work in such places.

Don't give up. As anyone who feels "called" to this work will tell you, it feels good knowing that you're doing something to make Texas a better, safer place.
 
Posts: 218 | Location: Victoria, Texas | Registered: September 16, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I agree with everything that has been said so far but I think the best suggestion is to be flexible geographically if you can. Get off the beaten path and check out some of the DA/CA offices out in the hinter land. The smaller shops will get you experience and connections and who knows�you might even like it out in the boon docks like Bastrop County.
Another thing to be aware of is the election cycle. DAs and CAs move in and out in January and many are looking for staff and it may be a good time to have a well timed resume on someone�s desk. Good Luck
 
Posts: 130 | Location: Hempstead, Texas, USA | Registered: March 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hit up the job bank here, and keep a close eye on other sources of openings (Bar Journal, LawCrossing, etc.). When one pops up, apply. Write an individualized cover letter explaining your strengths and desire to join the profession.

Also, you ARE going to have to broaden your search. I sat unemployed for months when I restricted the geographical location of my search. I opened it up to include other areas and had a job within a month or two, a job that I love. You might surprise yourself with how much fun you can have as a prosecutor outside your target area.

-L.
 
Posts: 11 | Registered: July 21, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by KTT:
I'm not really sure whether the career services office at my law school knows what a district attorney's office is


That made me laugh out loud. Did you go to UT Law School too? Wink
 
Posts: 2418 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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For those law students still in school: do an internship with a DA's office. If your law school doesn't have such a program, ask them to start one.
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I echo the suggestions above. In addition, I would sing the praises of the persistent applicant. Our office has hired more than one lawyer who applied again for a subsequent opening even though we didn't select him or her the first time they applied here. Don't assume that an initial rejection (particularly if you interviewed) means the door is permanently barred. Speaking only for myself as an employment decision-maker, I will say that a measure of persistence in the face of past adversity tends to impress me.
 
Posts: 1233 | Location: Amarillo, Texas, USA | Registered: March 15, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I agree on the persistence. We had an intern who wanted to work here but didn't have enough felony court experience. Went to another, larger office, and got the experience and then re-applied. Has worked out well.

It is a very difficult market right now, though, for young lawyers. We recently filled two positions and had some of the most experienced, highest qualified applicants I have seen in years. Some of that is movement that has occurred in offices with new DA's. Some of that is movement in offices where prosecutors aren't happy. Whatever, the availability of experienced prosecutors was welcome.
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Is your mind made up that you WILL be working in a DA's office somewhere, it is just a matter of where?

That was my attitude when I came out of law school. I believed it and I said it during my interviews. I think it helped separate me from the candidates who were just looking for a job.
 
Posts: 245 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: July 08, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wow! I truly appreciate all of these responses.

Shannon, I’m not sure who is watching so I’ll just say that I went to school out-of-state Smile .

Scott and JB, I do plan to reapply for any new positions at each place that did not result in a job offer. I am wondering if anyone has ballpark figures for how often I can expect openings in offices with 50-100, 100-150, and 150+ attorneys.

Boyd, I am completely determined to become a prosecutor. I interned at an appellate court writing opinions for felony appeals after my first year and used a limited practice license during my third year in a district attorney’s office. I think I have truly found my calling. I have even been applying for city prosecutor positions. At this point, I will prosecute parking violations Monday through Friday if that is what it takes to eventually get me a position at a district attorney’s office.

Again, thank you all for the responses. This website has been a godsend!
 
Posts: 2 | Location: Dallas, TX | Registered: January 19, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm just going to echo the comments to expand your search. I interviewed at literally a dozen different offices when I graduated law school two and a half years ago. From East Texas to El Paso, Amarillo to Kingsville, and including a few the offices run by several contributors of this board (no hard feelings, guys!) I ended up in an office where I was the only assistant, and it worked out absolutely perfectly. Now I've been able to move jobs to an office with more responsibilities that's closer to home. What you're embarking on is a *career*. You just need to find a jumping off point, and if this is what you want to do, then you need to find that starting job.

The job bank here is a fabulous resource, but misses several opportunities. I know, for instance, that the Dallas DAs office does not post openings here. I believe the same to be true of Ft. Worth and Corpus Christi as well. I don't think I've ever seen anything from San Antonio or Houston, either. Those places usually post jobs through their city employment websites. The Texas Municipal League also has a job site which includes positions for city prosecutor jobs.

There's two other things you should investigate that will at least earn you some money and keep your resume current. First, look into the city attorney's offices near where you are currently living. Some smaller towns simply hire a local attorney on a contract basis to prosecute their traffic tickets. That kind of experience can be helpful, and will also put you in touch with an office that may be able to help your search. Additionally, inquire into getting on the criminal appointment wheel for a few misdemeanor courts. I found it very helpful as a newly-graduated law student to be able to at least talk about a few cases I had handled on my own, even if they were on the other side of the bar. That's probably a better idea than volunteering. As one of the defense attorneys told me when I first started: "Don't pay for training out of your own pocket when you can get someone to pay you out of theirs." It might also turn into a job in the county you're practicing in.

Finally, don't limit yourself to a large office. My first job was as the only assistant in a County Attorney's office, and it worked out *perfectly*. My boss told me what needed to be done and then got out of the way and let me do it. The amount of training you get in a smaller office might not be as much, but the level of responsibility you have and what you can do with it more than makes up for it.

Good luck, and keep going!
 
Posts: 394 | Location: Waco, Tx | Registered: July 24, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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A few years ago another law student asked the same question, which lead to a thread with a lot of first class answers. You might take a look at this thread because I'd say the advice given then is just as valid now.

http://tdcaa.infopop.net/eve/forums?q=Y&a=tpc&s=347098965&f=157098965&m=5211063611&p=1
 
Posts: 686 | Location: Beeville, Texas, U.S.A. | Registered: March 22, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I was asked who changes the oil in my car during an interview with one DA. Be prepared for anything and just go with it. Flexibility and a sense of humor go a long way.
 
Posts: 1089 | Location: UNT Dallas | Registered: June 29, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Fred Edwards:
The smaller shops will get you experience and connections and who knows�you might even like it out in the boon docks like Bastrop County.

Good Luck


You're a funny boy, Freddy.

But being flexible to apply to smaller offices will get you a job, ultimately, and experience that will take you into the next job.
 
Posts: 2578 | Location: The Great State of Texas | Registered: December 26, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Come on, Gretchen, don't leave KTT hanging. What was your answer to the question: who changes your oil? And did you get the job? He needs to know these things in case he gets asked the same question.
 
Posts: 686 | Location: Beeville, Texas, U.S.A. | Registered: March 22, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Haha - OK. At that time, my husband changed my oil. My response was that my husband changes my oil and we disposed of our oil properly. I added that extra bit, just in case. Yes, I got the job, but I don't think that question necessarily had anything to do with it. It was clearly my wit and charm. Wink
 
Posts: 1089 | Location: UNT Dallas | Registered: June 29, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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