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NJ Hiring Unpaid 'Special Assistant US Attorney' Positions

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on July 20, 2011 6:42 AM

The great state of New Jersey is now hiring for some "Special" Assistant U.S. Attorneys (a.k.a. SAUSAs).

What makes them so special?

The position comes with an extra perk: no salary! 

If an attorney lands the gig, they'll have to go without compensation for up to a year. And, they may not be hired after their year of free service, but they can apply for an Assistant U.S. Attorney position after they're done with their year of free labor. (Can't anyone apply?)

If that's not enough, it seems that the government is intent on forcing you into taking an oath of poverty if you become a SAUSA.

For one, SAUSAs cannot engage in "compensated practice of law" outside of the office, and since you won't be "compensated" for your "practice of law" while being an SAUSA, you're kind of out of luck.

And, you cannot serve as an SAUSA if you've been deferred by a law firm and are receiving a stipend, or any form of payment from the firm during your deferral.

It seems that the SAUSA positions may be perfect for attorneys who are either desperate for some experience, really interested in public service, don't mind dipping into their savings, or have just won the lottery and want to spend the year working for the government.

Given the state of the legal employment market, maybe finicky attorneys should not easily dismiss working for free. After all, a little experience may go a long way in landing that dream job further down the road. And, who needs something like a salary when you'll be well fed with that feeling of doing some good and prosecuting some criminals.

While you're out hunting for those paid jobs, just remember that these Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys are out there. And, working for free - for the government - is surely the dream of law school graduates who shelled out $50,000 a year for tuition.

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