February 2006
Volume 2, Number 2
Table of Contents

The Top Five Reasons to Clerk for the Department of Justice, United States Attorney’s Office

By Cristen Dutcher

5. Teaming with Diligence and Experience

The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO), an arm of the Department of Justice (DOJ), employs only the most skilled and experienced attorneys for federal prosecution. Not only do clerks work for and learn from USAO attorneys, but we also frequently work with DOJ agency attorneys, who hold vast knowledge bases in specific areas of law. Both agencies' attorneys are the cream of the crop, and should be as Representatives of the United States of America.

4. The Department’s Distinguished Reputation

The excellence of USAO attorneys carries over into a widespread reputation of distinction for the entire office. Even low-level clerks receive high-level respect when dealing with outside parties, such as expert witnesses. Every type of correspondence outside the DOJ is met with warmth, cooperation, and willingness to help beyond expectation – any law clerk’s dream!

3. Excellent Clerking Conditions

As a USAO clerk, you are expected to “learn first, labor later.” That means the main focus of your job is to learn about the law, not just run around doing an attorney’s grunt work. In addition, the DOJ runs on normal office hours, and unless a trial is pending, everyone is expected to clear the office at quitting time. Observance of all federal and state holidays is a nice bonus too.

2. Required High Level of Ethics

Though a clerk holds a relatively small role in a DOJ office, clerks are expected to participate in what the DOJ calls “the discovery of truth.” On the first day of employment, a clerk is told that the DOJ is not interested in billable hours, clients, or winning every case. The DOJ wants to discover the truth, even if that means losing a few cases. Such a high ethic level garners the proper perspective for the practice of law within impressionable clerks.

1. “The Best Place to Work in the United States”

At the DOJ/USAO, every law clerk will enjoy a great experience, complete with networking, ethics training, and practical legal education. Such a clerkship encourages students to participate in the DOJ as future attorneys, not a bad idea, as it is a great place to work. In fact, the Department of Justice is “THE best place to work in the United States with a law degree” according to Kimm Walton in America’s Greatest Places to Work with a Law Degree.

Cristen Dutcher is a third-year student at Mercer University School of Law.


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