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I want to end up working white collar crimes. What can I do before I start law school?

Hey all. :)

I am just about to start prepping for the LSAT. I have known for many years that I want to work in white collar/financial crimes in NYC, where I am from. However, I don't want to work for the private sector---I want to work for the state or federal government.

What can I do in terms of internships and classes I can take to make this into a reality? I would like to end up at the SEC, FDIC, FinCEN, or similar. Thanks.

Comments

  • lsatplaylistlsatplaylist Alum Member
    5244 karma

    Are you in NYC? Various departments, often in undergrad, put internship site information on their websites--Police Science and Social Work are examples of ones that overlap with your interests. If you're a student, it'll be easier to intern, but it's also possible to volunteer as a non-student if the organization agrees to host you. For government work, you'll want to find out your GS rating and start a USAJobs application. There are various paralegal-type opportunities (might be called clerk or similar) that a pre-law student could look into. What was your college major?

  • a.l.defalcoa.l.defalco Member
    edited February 2018 17 karma

    Hi there, thanks! I am in NYC and want to stay here (born and raised) or at most work in D.C. I could do Philadelphia or Chicago too. I am not against clerking either!

    I double majored in jurisprudence/political science.

    Essentially, I want to know how I can end up working white collar and financial crimes without doing the BigLaw thing first. If I get a decent enough LSAT score, my GPA is high enough that BigLaw is not out of the question for me, but professionally it's just not my goal. I'd even be happy with a simple municipal NYC law department job if I knew after 5+ years I could work BigFed. I'm not motivated by a large salary of a big firm; I really don't want to be in the private sector.

    Thanks for your help so far :)

  • westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
    3788 karma

    Hey to be realistic, your biggest chance of being able to work for those Big Fed agencies would be to maximize your LSAT score and gain acceptance to a T14 school. BigFed jobs depend heavily on the pedigree of your law school and not where you interned before law school.

  • a.l.defalcoa.l.defalco Member
    17 karma

    Thanks! That's the goal. :)

    What about being an ADA? Does it logically follow that a state prosecutor can become a federal prosecutor after a good amount of experience?

  • westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
    3788 karma

    @"a.l.defalco" said:
    Thanks! That's the goal. :)

    What about being an ADA? Does it logically follow that a state prosecutor can become a federal prosecutor after a good amount of experience?

    I did hear some anecdotes about ADA's eventually becoming a federal prosecutor or working for the DOJ after experience :)

  • xtinextinextinextine Alum Member
    edited February 2018 856 karma

    There are lots of opportunities for students and recent grads on USAjobs.gov for government work. Some of them are Student Volunteer positions which are unpaid but might be more flexible because of that (if you need to balance LSAT prep). But there are some paid positions, too, typically as a Student Trainee or something.

    Being in NYC is great because there tons of agencies with field offices there. I would say don't limit yourself to just those agencies you named right now. Get your foot in the door with whatever you can. Focus on getting a GS level now if that's where you see yourself ending up. (Edit: idk when you want to enter law school but I would keep in mind that most fed agencies require a background check for clearance and that might take a couple of months.)

    Since you know you want to work white collar crime, are you interested in becoming a Special Agent or similar with a federal agency? Or are you more interested in the courtroom action? Or both? (There are agents who are lawyers, too.)

  • a.l.defalcoa.l.defalco Member
    17 karma

    Hi there! What a lovely and thorough response, so thanks. :)

    I am interested in anything--litigation, enforcement, compliance, etc.--that has to do with white collar and financial crimes. I'm still in undergrad right now and will take some time off to study for the LSAT. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of being able to do an unpaid internship before starting law school though.

    What are some other positions which could lead to working for the federal government but which are not private sector firms? Low pay is not an issue--I want to gain experience and love my job.

  • pasu1223pasu1223 Alum Member
    109 karma

    I interned for the Federal Reserve in their Supervision and Risk Management division and we actually did a lot of enforcement/ compliance with banks. Not exactly "white collar crimes" of individuals but in terms of financial enforcement we did red lining and other consumer protection enforcement. The Office of the Comptroller of Currency also does financial consumer protection.

    Not sure how that breaks down on the prosecution side of things but those are two other institutions to look at if you're interested in financial protection/ crime.

    I've looked at the SEC internships and I would say maybe try to brush up on your accounting skills. Accounting is super useful and if you can master that dry subject doors will fly open for you, at least on the accounting/finance side of things. I can't say I have any experience with enforcement beyond bank rating and examinations.

  • xtinextinextinextine Alum Member
    856 karma

    @"a.l.defalco" said:
    Hi there! What a lovely and thorough response, so thanks. :)

    I am interested in anything--litigation, enforcement, compliance, etc.--that has to do with white collar and financial crimes. I'm still in undergrad right now and will take some time off to study for the LSAT. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of being able to do an unpaid internship before starting law school though.

    What are some other positions which could lead to working for the federal government but which are not private sector firms? Low pay is not an issue--I want to gain experience and love my job.

    Hi! No problem! :smile: So since you're still in undergrad, I highly suggest looking at Student Trainee positions on USAjobs. Also look for any Pathways Program internships. These are paid internships for current students. I did one while I was still in undergrad and got offered a job when I graduated, which is helping me save up while I study for the LSAT.

    If that's something you're interested in, I would check asap since many agencies are looking for students to start this summer (and roll into next school year). For white collar enforcement, I'd suggest looking into FBI or Secret Service for experience.

    I also second the post above that mentioned accounting. Even if you take one accounting class as an elective, that could be good for exposure as well. I would also say any experience with computer science is a bonus, too.

    Alternatively, you could work for a bank for a bit. Probably not exactly what you're looking for, but if you're doing white collar as a lawyer for a fed agency, you're going to be working closely with individual bank fraud departments

    Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions about the Pathways internship!

  • a.l.defalcoa.l.defalco Member
    17 karma

    Thank you so much for your help, everyone!

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