Graduate: interviewing for both prosecutor and PD positions

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Anonymous User
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Graduate: interviewing for both prosecutor and PD positions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:26 pm

I'm a graduate who has interviews on both sides of the criminal process. I have a preference in mind, but I believe there is good work to be done on both sides. ITE I'd much rather be on the side of the criminal process that I "prefer less" than unemployed. My resume does not suggest a commitment to a particular side. I have specific reasons for my interest in the particular positions and offices in question.

My understanding is that it is very common to be asked about one's willingness to work for the "other side," and that acknowledging such willingness (let alone actually interviewing!) can be enough to derail one's application, especially on the defense side. I understand why a dedicated commitment to one side would seem attractive, but after listening to my AUSA/DA and FPD/PD friends explain why they "could never" work on the other side, I just don't share their views. Does anyone have advice on how to handle the (inevitable?) "Could you ever work as a [prosecutor/defender]?" question when the answer is "Yes." Has anyone given a nuanced variant of "Yes" and managed a job offer? If so, which side, and how did you handle it? (It'd be especially helpful if anyone had succeeded in doing this post-graduation, as I'm guessing that some offices might cut interviewing law students more slack. But any and all stories from people who have been in this situation are welcome.)

Anonymous User
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Re: Graduate: interviewing for both prosecutor and PD positions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:36 pm

I am still in school, but if I were in your shoes I would just lie to the interviewer the same way you probably would if asked "why do you want to live and work here in [shitty part of the country]?" In your case you have the advantage of having heard the opinions of friends who actual feel strongly one way or the other; I would just regurgitate one of those opinions. If you know that your lack of a preference for either side won't negatively impact your advocacy, then there isn't really any harm in telling someone what they want to hear in order to secure employment.

Anonymous User
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Re: Graduate: interviewing for both prosecutor and PD positions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am still in school, but if I were in your shoes I would just lie to the interviewer the same way you probably would if asked "why do you want to live and work here in [shitty part of the country]?" In your case you have the advantage of having heard the opinions of friends who actual feel strongly one way or the other; I would just regurgitate one of those opinions. If you know that your lack of a preference for either side won't negatively impact your advocacy, then there isn't really any harm in telling someone what they want to hear in order to secure employment.


If asked by side X, "Could you work for side Y?" and you say "No," within a couple of days of having had (or being about to have) an interview with side Y, that seems to me to fall below the minimum ethical standard that I have for myself. It's an immediate, unadulterated lie - to say that you could not work for a type of employer with whom you are immediately planning to interview. Do such lies happen within our profession? Undoubtedly. Do I want to be one of the liars? Not so much.

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A'nold
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Re: Graduate: interviewing for both prosecutor and PD positions

Postby A'nold » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am still in school, but if I were in your shoes I would just lie to the interviewer the same way you probably would if asked "why do you want to live and work here in [shitty part of the country]?" In your case you have the advantage of having heard the opinions of friends who actual feel strongly one way or the other; I would just regurgitate one of those opinions. If you know that your lack of a preference for either side won't negatively impact your advocacy, then there isn't really any harm in telling someone what they want to hear in order to secure employment.


If asked by side X, "Could you work for side Y?" and you say "No," within a couple of days of having had (or being about to have) an interview with side Y, that seems to me to fall below the minimum ethical standard that I have for myself. It's an immediate, unadulterated lie - to say that you could not work for a type of employer with whom you are immediately planning to interview. Do such lies happen within our profession? Undoubtedly. Do I want to be one of the liars? Not so much.


Yeah....maybe you'll just have to choose a side. If you applied for Defense then were asked this question by a prosecutor, you could maybe say that you so desperately want to be a prosecutor that if you were given no opportunity you would tough it out in defense just to try to get crim law experience so you could be the best prosecutor you could be. I don't think this would work the other way around though.

2LLLL
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Re: Graduate: interviewing for both prosecutor and PD positions

Postby 2LLLL » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:40 pm

General consensus from what I've heard is that telling a PD you're interested in prosecution is highly prejudicial to your chances, but telling a prosecutor you're interested in defense isn't a big deal, so long as you phrase your answer right.

Interested Observer
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Re: Graduate: interviewing for both prosecutor and PD positions

Postby Interested Observer » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a graduate who has interviews on both sides of the criminal process. I have a preference in mind, but I believe there is good work to be done on both sides. ITE I'd much rather be on the side of the criminal process that I "prefer less" than unemployed. My resume does not suggest a commitment to a particular side. I have specific reasons for my interest in the particular positions and offices in question.

My understanding is that it is very common to be asked about one's willingness to work for the "other side," and that acknowledging such willingness (let alone actually interviewing!) can be enough to derail one's application, especially on the defense side. I understand why a dedicated commitment to one side would seem attractive, but after listening to my AUSA/DA and FPD/PD friends explain why they "could never" work on the other side, I just don't share their views. Does anyone have advice on how to handle the (inevitable?) "Could you ever work as a [prosecutor/defender]?" question when the answer is "Yes." Has anyone given a nuanced variant of "Yes" and managed a job offer? If so, which side, and how did you handle it? (It'd be especially helpful if anyone had succeeded in doing this post-graduation, as I'm guessing that some offices might cut interviewing law students more slack. But any and all stories from people who have been in this situation are welcome.)


Variations of this type of question have been asked in the past on this message board. Not all people view a willingness to work for the other side a negative. There was an anonymous district attorney taking questions not too long ago on this message board who stated that his office likes to hire people who have worked at the public defender. I've talked to plenty of defense attorneys who recommend starting out as a prosecutor and then moving to the defense (whether private or public). When I interned with a public defender, we had attorneys who had been prosecutors in the past -- we even had an attorney who went back and forth from prosecutor offices to public defender offices.

I think whether you're interviewing for a prosecutor or public defender, you can always spin your experience on the other side (or interest in the other side) into a positive. At the end of the day, these guys want to see a commitment to the side you're interviewing for.

Anonymous User
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Re: Graduate: interviewing for both prosecutor and PD positions

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I am still in school, but if I were in your shoes I would just lie to the interviewer the same way you probably would if asked "why do you want to live and work here in [shitty part of the country]?" In your case you have the advantage of having heard the opinions of friends who actual feel strongly one way or the other; I would just regurgitate one of those opinions. If you know that your lack of a preference for either side won't negatively impact your advocacy, then there isn't really any harm in telling someone what they want to hear in order to secure employment.


If asked by side X, "Could you work for side Y?" and you say "No," within a couple of days of having had (or being about to have) an interview with side Y, that seems to me to fall below the minimum ethical standard that I have for myself. It's an immediate, unadulterated lie - to say that you could not work for a type of employer with whom you are immediately planning to interview. Do such lies happen within our profession? Undoubtedly. Do I want to be one of the liars? Not so much.


Bronston v. United States

BeautifulSW
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Re: Graduate: interviewing for both prosecutor and PD positions

Postby BeautifulSW » Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:35 pm

I've been hired and hired others on both sides over the years. I wish I could say that it doesn't matter, that your interest in criminal law is all that counts, but in my experience, that just isn't true.

DA and PD offices in isolated, rural areas will be less selective because they will have enough trouble recruiting anybody with a brain and a license. Their biggest concern will be whether you will stay for a while. But in medium size cities and up, it matters, especially on the PD side (where I spent many years).

Both sides often want True Believers. Now, not everyone who is hired is a True Believer but most lawyers in the criminal business pretty quickly decide that they are more comfortable on one side or the other. It is actually not too easy to switch even if the Other Side gives you a chance.

You have to decide for yourself where you come down but in VERY general terms, conservatives, especially religious conservatives, seem to gravitate to the prosecution side while atheists and agnostics with liberal to ultra-Left ideologies end up defending. There are ALWAYS exceptions, of course, and there is nothing scientific about my observations. But I have NEVER met a hard-Right Christian Republican making a career in the criminal defense bar. I've met plenty of them in prosecution, however.

You really have to sample both sides to be sure which you prefer, and which side prefers YOU.




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