CA3 today announced it plans to hire at least two staff attorneys to start next year. The announcement sheds some light on the key role staff attorneys play at the court:
Staff attorneys serve the court at large and are essential in furthering the disposition of matters before the Court. In the Third Circuit, the office has approximately twenty attorneys, plus a dedicated support staff. Staff attorneys work in a highly collegial work environment with experienced supervisory attorneys, career attorneys, attorneys with prior judicial clerkship or law firm experience, and recent law school graduates. The office has been a launching point for a wide range of careers nationwide, and many former staff attorneys have become leaders in public interest, private sector, and academic settings.
Primary staff attorney duties include:
• Developing expertise in habeas corpus, immigration, civil rights and constitutional law,
appellate jurisdiction, and federal civil and criminal procedure;
• Gaining familiarity with state and territorial laws of the Third Circuit;
• Drafting memoranda, per curiam opinions, and orders for the judges;
• Responding to questions from judges concerning individual cases, as needed; and
• Managing assigned cases.
I had thought staff-attorney positions were all career positions, but no:
[CA3] anticpates hiring two or more staff attorneys to serve one-year terms, from September 2015 through September 2016. A limited number of two year term positions and term extensions may be available.
So some staff-attorney spots are structured like clerkships. Advertised pay for entry-level attorneys is $61,857. Would that it were more.
CA3 has always had term staff attorneys; however, the percentage of the staff attorneys that are only serving for one or two years has increased dramatically over the past three years or so. The reason is that funding for the positions is no longer as stable as it once was. Especially after the mess that was sequestration, CA3 has decided to go with a larger percentage of short-term staff attorneys.
Also, another later opinion issued yesterday. One of the most important qualified immunity cases to come out in quite some time. I’d be shocked if the Appellants didn’t seek en banc review.
Thanks again for the opinion heads-up, John.
That’s interesting about the increasing use of term staff attorneys. That may be budget-driven, but I’m not sure it’s a bad thing. For judicial clerkships, I’ve always thought one-year clerks bring an energy and unjaded perspective you might lose with career clerks. I’d expect it to be the same with staff attorneys, especially with the case allocation between clerks and staff counsel. And circulating more young attorneys out into the profession with circuit expertise has a real benefit too. If I were hiring an associate, a former term staff attorney would get a long look from me.