Federal public defender

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timbs4339
Posts: 2733
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:19 pm

Federal public defender

Postby timbs4339 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:39 am

So I'm a 2L who received an offer to work at a federal public defender's office this summer. It's supposedly a very highly regarded office in the PI community. The problem is I'm not quite sure I want to do PI work or criminal work specifically (although I haven't ruled it out). I've worked with criminals before through a clinic, the cases sound interesting, and people have told me I would get a ton of really good experience. I know I want to do some type of litigation.

If I applied to private firms that do primarily commercial litigation my 3L year, would they look favorably on this type of experience, or at least not unfavorably? Part of me thinks they would just see it as any other kind of litigation focused entry-level work, a lot of research, writing, and document reviewing. Another part thinks they would look on it unfavorably (as opposed to interning for a small private firm for 15/hr or something) because it doesn't touch on any of the work they would be doing.

I guess my question is: which is more likely?

And if anyone has an info on federal public defender's offices in general, that would be great.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273317
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Federal public defender

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:16 pm

timbs4339 wrote:So I'm a 2L who received an offer to work at a federal public defender's office this summer. It's supposedly a very highly regarded office in the PI community. The problem is I'm not quite sure I want to do PI work or criminal work specifically (although I haven't ruled it out). I've worked with criminals before through a clinic, the cases sound interesting, and people have told me I would get a ton of really good experience. I know I want to do some type of litigation.

If I applied to private firms that do primarily commercial litigation my 3L year, would they look favorably on this type of experience, or at least not unfavorably? Part of me thinks they would just see it as any other kind of litigation focused entry-level work, a lot of research, writing, and document reviewing. Another part thinks they would look on it unfavorably (as opposed to interning for a small private firm for 15/hr or something) because it doesn't touch on any of the work they would be doing.

I guess my question is: which is more likely?

And if anyone has an info on federal public defender's offices in general, that would be great.


Not sure about the federal public defender’s office, but attorneys at a typical county public defender’s office do virtually no research and writing (or document review). I volunteered at the local PD’s office last semester, and my supervising attorney had a total of one motion to quash that had to be written in the entire four months I was there. However, I have heard (from federal public defenders) that the federal public defender’s office is slightly more research and writing orientated. Although, I still doubt it is anything like the type of research and writing experience you would get at a law firm – although smaller firms can be a complete crapshoot as well with their “law clerk” positions because a lot of them will just use law clerks to do bullshit filing and administrative work, and they will just use the law clerks because they earn the firm a decent profit (i.e. they will bill their clients $80 /hour for the work you do, but pay you something like $15 /hour, and the firm will want you to bill an hour for every hour you are there). If you can somehow still get into a successful small firm that does commercial litigation this summer, then I imagine that experience would be a positive one. There aren’t a ton of successful small firms practicing in actual commercial litigation (although a ton advertise that they practice commercial litigation, but then there representative matters will all be shit like personal injury, lol). The actually successful small firms practicing in actual commercial litigation typically do decently well, and they start their associates off with decent salaries (typically nothing like biglaw, but typically not terrible like insurance defense firms).

seatown12
Posts: 614
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:16 pm

Re: Federal public defender

Postby seatown12 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:02 am

Internships with the federal defender are not similar to state or county public defenders and involve much more research and writing. I think it will definitely be a better experience than working for some random small firm, and I don't think either will look significantly better on your resume. I'd take the offer.

If you also have a small firm offer on the table you could ask each specifically what your job will entail and decide based on what you find out.

User avatar
vamedic03
Posts: 1579
Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:50 am

Re: Federal public defender

Postby vamedic03 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:33 am

timbs4339 wrote:So I'm a 2L who received an offer to work at a federal public defender's office this summer. It's supposedly a very highly regarded office in the PI community. The problem is I'm not quite sure I want to do PI work or criminal work specifically (although I haven't ruled it out). I've worked with criminals before through a clinic, the cases sound interesting, and people have told me I would get a ton of really good experience. I know I want to do some type of litigation.

If I applied to private firms that do primarily commercial litigation my 3L year, would they look favorably on this type of experience, or at least not unfavorably? Part of me thinks they would just see it as any other kind of litigation focused entry-level work, a lot of research, writing, and document reviewing. Another part thinks they would look on it unfavorably (as opposed to interning for a small private firm for 15/hr or something) because it doesn't touch on any of the work they would be doing.

I guess my question is: which is more likely?

And if anyone has an info on federal public defender's offices in general, that would be great.


Summer starts in a few weeks. Unless you have another option, you should probably take the Federal Public Defender's job.




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