federal public defender

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federal public defender

Postby enygma » Sat Dec 26, 2009 4:19 pm

Does anybody know anything about this line of work? there seems to be almost no information about it. there's not even a national website or anything, nor is there really a website for one of the districts i'd be interested in working in. maybe i'll have some more specific questions if it turns out anyone knows anything about this line of work.

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Re: federal public defender

Postby Lonagan » Sat Dec 26, 2009 4:33 pm

I don't really know a whole lot about it, but I did work for an attorney when I was in high school who performed the role.

He was a solo practitioner and ran a very diverse practice, ranging from simple torts and criminal defense to appellate work, etc. He was on some sort of roster with the federal court whereby he was assigned as counsel for federal defendants. I don't know if that is how it works everywhere; this was in Anchorage, Alaska. I don't know how he got on the list or what the requirements were, but for what it's worth he did work for DoJ earlier in his career (in the civil rights division.)

I would assume he got to choose how much federal defender work he accepted; I did not get the impression the court could or would just make him take as many cases as it wanted.

So, if that's the way it works, it seems like piece work. All in all his federal defendants were handled pretty much exactly like his private criminal defendants, except that the federal government wrote him the check for the fee instead of the defendant.

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Re: federal public defender

Postby ozarkhack » Sat Dec 26, 2009 4:38 pm

Dig: http://www.fd.org/

I don't know much else. Found that site only b/c it was linked to at the PD site in my district, which had a paralegal opening not too long ago that I sought and fell short of by just thiiiis much. The paralegal (ok,ok: paralegal assistant) job was paying at starting range of something like $40K-$51K. Attys surely make more.

Great benefits, for sure.

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Re: federal public defender

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:37 pm

From one of my friends who looked at this, its a pretty good deal if you can get it. The pay scale is set by law to match USAO pay scale, and you tend not to have the same resouce and huge caseload issues that people think of with state public defenders (or state DA's, for that matter...).

The catch is that these are not the sort of thing that you're highly likely to get right out of school even if you intern there. Most if not all of the people at the office my friend looked at had extensive private practice defense, state ADA, or state public defender experience. Everyone had a resume indicating that they were interested in this.

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Re: federal public defender

Postby Yimbeezy » Sun Dec 27, 2009 1:06 pm

I have met a few fpds thru relatives, and while I don't know much about salaries etc., all the guys I met loved their job. Lots of complex criminal work, rico, etc. A lot of the big cases go up the ladder as well from what I understand, and two of the three I met now do a lot of apellate work.

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Re: federal public defender

Postby smalltown » Sun Dec 27, 2009 1:11 pm

Federal public defenders have a unique role. They do have a far lesser case load than state offices, but they still work as hard. It's more quality than quantity. In most state systems, it's about getting guys through the system as best you can, and sometimes, as quickly as you can. In the fed system, there is more resources available to allocate to individual cases. Also, you don't have to be indigent to get an attorney appointed in the federal system, like several states. People can just request it.

At least in the office my father works in, they rarely go to trial. There are sentencing guidelines that pretty much lay out what you're guy is looking at, so they work a lot on mitigation. They present reasons why the client shouldn't get what the guidelines say. And almost all defendants "cooperate," because if you don't, they usually have a pretty solid case before they bring it and they can nail you to the wall. So it's always good if you have someone to roll on.

I also don't know of very many attorneys who walk in straight out of school. In the district where I live, which is separate from the one my father works in, most of the attorneys worked somewhere else prior to the federal PD's office. The district here encompasses the entire state, so it's a big office. A lot of the attorneys in that office, and this is just anecdotal, worked in the state office prior to making the jump.

Bottom line, it's like any other PI job. You can't do it well unless you're committed to the cause. The money is good, but not like what you could get at a firm with the same experience. You need to be committed to justice for all, and be prepared to work for that. As has been noted above, it's easy to spot those who are committed to the job, and those who are looking to coast in a good federal job.

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Re: federal public defender

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:28 am

Never heard to anyone getting this job straight out of school. Know for a fact that LA office only hires experienced attorneys.

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Re: federal public defender

Postby Tanicius » Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:33 am

Dream job. More than willing to put in the time at a state PD office to land this gig.

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Re: federal public defender

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:56 pm

The only FPD's office I know of that hires 3Ls to start as attorneys in the fall is in San Diego (S.D. Cal.). They only had 2 or 3 spots last year and 2 of them went to NYU 3Ls

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