Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

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Anonymous User
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Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 04, 2010 2:01 pm

Hi
I am a college graduate but not yet a law student.
I have 2 offers to intern at either the public defender or state attorney's office (not in any particularly prestigious district).

What should my considerations be for picking either? How would either internship affect my chances at big law?
If i never want to work for the govt/as a DA then should I not to the DAs office?
Is either more (relatively) prestigious than the other?

Other personal considerations: I have a particular start date so whoever is more accomodating, I will pick that one and I want a particular division, so whoever gives it to me I may pick that office.

Thanks for the responses so far. Honestly I don't plan on working at either during my law school summers.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed May 05, 2010 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

reverendt
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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby reverendt » Tue May 04, 2010 3:48 pm

If you mean a 0L internship, none of it is going to matter in the least.
Getting good grades in law school and doing something productive (and law related) with your 1L summer will matter. Not what you did before law school. No one will care.

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McBean
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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby McBean » Wed May 05, 2010 11:48 am

The only way it would matter is if you plan on doing either one of those during your 1L summer. PDs, from my experience, do not like to see DA on your resume. I don't know if it works the same in reverse. You could always spin it in the cover letter/interview anyways, i.e. "During my internship at the XYZ DA's Office I was horrified at the injustice I saw on a daily basis"; or "During my internship at XYZ Public Defender's Office, I gained a lot of respect for the opposing attorney's and grew to admire their sense of justice; finding it more in line with my own than the defense attorney's I was working with."

No one else will care, especially Big Law.

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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 05, 2010 2:03 pm

McBean wrote:The only way it would matter is if you plan on doing either one of those during your 1L summer. PDs, from my experience, do not like to see DA on your resume. I don't know if it works the same in reverse. You could always spin it in the cover letter/interview anyways, i.e. "During my internship at the XYZ DA's Office I was horrified at the injustice I saw on a daily basis"; or "During my internship at XYZ Public Defender's Office, I gained a lot of respect for the opposing attorney's and grew to admire their sense of justice; finding it more in line with my own than the defense attorney's I was working with."

No one else will care, especially Big Law.


Seconded. I don't know if it is universal amongst all public defender departments or not, but the one I worked at last summer (and will be working at this summer) said that it would be very difficult for someone who worked for the DA to subsequently get a job with them. They did mention a scenario involving the spin, but they made it seem as if the spin would have to be extremely good.

reverendt
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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby reverendt » Wed May 05, 2010 10:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Seconded. I don't know if it is universal amongst all public defender departments or not, but the one I worked at last summer (and will be working at this summer) said that it would be very difficult for someone who worked for the DA to subsequently get a job with them. They did mention a scenario involving the spin, but they made it seem as if the spin would have to be extremely good.

That seems ridiculous!!! (Not that I'm suggesting you're wrong...I'm sure you're not....but the rational is crazy!)
The arguments are identical between PD & DA. If anything it seems like it might be useful to have experience on the other side of the issues.

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Jarndyce
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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby Jarndyce » Thu May 06, 2010 11:43 am

Just to second what quite a few people have said, public defenders can be a little bit... different. A buddy of my interviewed on campus with one who, in the interview, stated the following: "I think all judges and all prosecutors are corrupt and the only honest lawyers are defense attorneys."

Even with that, I imagine that having the DA's office on your resume would probably be a little more prestigious. And pre-law experience can matter- before coming to law school, I had worked at various corporate-type places. The law firm I am working for this summer asked me extensive questions about my prior experience, and, since they are a business-focused firm, I genuinely believe that my background helped me quite a bit.

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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 06, 2010 2:33 pm

From OP:

I want to focus on doing something substantial with my time. After talking to people it seems like I would have more in-depth experience at the PD office. I will be speaking to them today and if they say I can be placed in the division I want, then I think that's what I'm choosing.

(Still open to advice though! Thanks everyone)

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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 13, 2010 4:13 pm

What if they had substantial work experience at a DA's office. I've been working full-time at my local DA's office inbetween graduation and law school for around 7mnths, while I'm not second chairing felony cases, I do work in the white collar crime and fraud division and handle defendants and such daily. Would this give any boost to my 1L summer search, ex. if I wanted to do something with the US Attorneys??? Or Fed PD ????

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vanwinkle
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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby vanwinkle » Thu May 13, 2010 5:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What if they had substantial work experience at a DA's office. I've been working full-time at my local DA's office inbetween graduation and law school for around 7mnths, while I'm not second chairing felony cases, I do work in the white collar crime and fraud division and handle defendants and such daily. Would this give any boost to my 1L summer search, ex. if I wanted to do something with the US Attorneys??? Or Fed PD ????

Experience with a DA's office might help with USAO. Experience with a DA's office will pretty much condemn your chances with the Fed PD, or many other PD's.

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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu May 13, 2010 5:11 pm

Interesting thread. My understanding is that having experience as a public defender will kill chances of working in a DA's office. Does anyone have experience either way with respect to my impression?

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vanwinkle
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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby vanwinkle » Thu May 13, 2010 5:15 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Interesting thread. My understanding is that having experience as a public defender will kill chances of working in a DA's office. Does anyone have experience either way with respect to my impression?

From what I've gathered DAs are less prejudiced against PDs than vice versa in general, but it depends on the office. If you're talking about actual job experience (post-graduation, not just internships) as a PD, you can jump from being a PD to being a DA in a lot of places if you've got a good record. They know your experience is valuable and you know how defense lawyers think, and you can use that to their advantage.

This is based on PDs and ADAs I've had conversations with, anyway, including an ADA who is a former PD. He was one of many to caution me that it's a lot easier to go from PD to DA than the other way around.

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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby OperaSoprano » Thu May 13, 2010 6:52 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What if they had substantial work experience at a DA's office. I've been working full-time at my local DA's office inbetween graduation and law school for around 7mnths, while I'm not second chairing felony cases, I do work in the white collar crime and fraud division and handle defendants and such daily. Would this give any boost to my 1L summer search, ex. if I wanted to do something with the US Attorneys??? Or Fed PD ????

Experience with a DA's office might help with USAO. Experience with a DA's office will pretty much condemn your chances with the Fed PD, or many other PD's.


From a friend who did public defense work, this is 100% credited. If they saw anything to do with a DA's office on someone's resume, that resume got thrown out. I see myself more as a defense than a prosecution type person, and I would hate working for a DA's office, but I do feel that a lot of students don't really understand what either position entails. I don't know that it's fair to penalize someone who might simply have taken an available opportunity. I have a friend who was hired right out of UG to work with management in labor disputes. She hated it, and by the time she got to law school she had definitely switched sides, and now does pro union work. Nothing could ever make me want to become a DA, but I do feel strongly that people should try things out and learn by experience what matters to them.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Pre-Law student internship - Public defender or DA?

Postby vanwinkle » Thu May 13, 2010 7:51 pm

Just to add to this, they're among the harshest out there so don't think this is representative of everyone, but I have heard from multiple law students that the DC Public Defender Service asks you if you've ever even interviewed to work for a DA, and that they'll hold it against you if you have. Yes, this is serious.




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