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So you’re in law school, ready to jump headfirst into that “irrationally exuberant” economy you keep reading about in the paper, right? For most, the answer is yes. But for many future lawyers, the answer will be a resounding “no!” For those who want to forego all the wining and dining that big law firm summer associate programs offer there are many public service options out there. One of the most exciting options — not to mention prestigious — is working with the United States Department of Justice. Where else can a lawyer enjoy humane hours and buckets of responsibility on front-page legal work from the first day at the office? Not to mention, the ability to walk into court and say, “I represent the United States of America” is pretty darn cool. And while the government cheese may not allow for an apartment on the swank side of town, for many freshly minted barristers, the aforementioned perks more than make up for the smaller paychecks. TALL ORDER One advantage for law students with DOJ aspirations is that alma mater is de-emphasized. According to Eleanor A. Barry, assistant director of the Office of Attorney Personnel Management for the DOJ, “We do not target specific law schools.” Instead, the DOJ treats “all ABA-accredited law schools” as a source for prospective hires. This doesn’t mean that anyone can stumble into this line of work; the DOJ serves an important role and won’t hire just anyone looking for a job — a law student needs to bring something to the table to get the DOJ’s attention. According to Barry, the department is looking for diverse, well rounded, and talented candidates who can illustrate a history of interest in a certain area. Hiring decisions incorporate “many factors, including commitment to public service, academic achievement, law review, moot court, clinical/volunteer and work experience which is related to the work of the division, and extra-curricular activities that demonstrate an applicant’s commitment to the work of an organization.” WHAT’S YOUR POISON? Seven departments within the DOJ formally participate in the summer internship program — including antitrust, civil rights, and immigration — and the “DOJ does take into consideration and makes every effort to accommodate interns’ interests/requests with respect to their assignments.” But take heed: interns tell Vault.com that future interns should not hold their breath waiting for their top choice. “Assignment is kind of funny. They ask for four groups you’d be interested in but honestly say ‘we may not do that for you.’ And generally speaking, they didn’t. Still, as a law student, you probably don’t know how prosecution works, so not getting what you asked for is not a big deal.” There is no formal department-wide training program, but interns do work closely with DOJ attorneys and receive “informal mentoring.” According to interns this training is hit or miss. “You work one-on-one or two-on-one with Assistant U.S. Attorneys. Mentoring depends entirely on who you’re paired with. It can be very good or very bad.” SOCIAL LIFE, GOVERNMENT STYLE Anyone looking for three-martini lunches and free baseball tickets probably should not intern with the DOJ — giving up the firm life comforts (and discomforts) is part and parcel with the job. Regardless, the DOJ does feature some perks that the Cravaths and Wachtells of the world could never match: access to high-ranking government officials. Every summer the DOJ hosts an event introducing its interns to the Attorney General’s Honors Program, the DOJ’s mechanism for hiring its fulltime attorneys. Scheduled to attend this year’s event: Attorney General Janet Reno and Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Each division also organizes its own informal events, including orientation, training, speakers, happy hours, and for a lucky few, attendance of Supreme Court hearings. PLENTY TO OFFER It’s clear that the DOJ summer program emphasizes what is unique about working for the government. No one signs on with the Department of Justice for the money; they are attracted by an invaluable and enriching professional experience. DOJ summers say if you’re looking for “incredibly interesting work that is often in the news,” the DOJ is the place to be.

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