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Careers in Government Law

Wednesday, Nov 16, 2011

 Employer panel offers practical advice

-By Kelsey Schreiberg; photos by Lori Craig

The timing was just right for the Government Law Organization’s (GLO) most recent event. As the Dec. 1 deadline to submit applications for federal judicial internships nears, the “GLO Employer Panel” on Nov. 9 provided students with practical career advice and insight from three government professionals.

2011 GLO Event
 USC Professor and former Deputy California Attorney General Arthur Auerbach, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Klein, and the Hon. Patrick J. Walsh

The panelists included The Hon. Patrick J. Walsh, magistrate judge of the United States District Court, Central District of California; Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Klein; and USC Professor and former Deputy California Attorney General Arthur Auerbach. Each gave informative and thoughtful advice to students looking to pursue careers in government.  
Given the competitive job market, the panelists agreed it’s crucial for students to distinguish themselves from the rest of the applicant pool—whether through Moot Court, Law Review, researching for a professor or working at a law firm.

Strong writing skills also are key.

”You have to be good at writing,” Walsh said. “A clerkship can help with this, but if you’re not an effective writer, you cannot practice in federal court,”

After years of working as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in both civil and criminal divisions, Walsh was appointed as magistrate judge in 2001.

“It’s a tough market and you have to be creative,” Walsh said. “There are so many lawyers and law students in Los Angeles that sometimes you need to look outside the city to make yourself more competitive.”

Klein echoed this sentiment and encouraged students to apply for externships in both the criminal and civil divisions.

“Last year, we had 4,000 applications and took 12,” Klein said. “We’re looking for someone who can do the work and engage with colleagues.”

The externship provides students the chance to meet with witnesses, work on opening statements, and write motions.

2011 GLO Event
 2011 GLO Employer Panel

Although government sector work can be rigorous, “take advantage of opportunities and go out and get experience,” Auerbach said. “It’s a diverse practice and there are a lot of opportunities because there are a lot of people in prison.”

As the event wrapped, a student asked how emotions play into the everyday work of a lawyer. No one could deny that it’s often difficult to separate oneself from the case.
”You wouldn’t be human if it didn’t affect you and you didn’t take it home sometimes, but by being part of this system, we’re able to do something about the problems we see and make changes,” Walsh said.

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