How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

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A'nold
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How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby A'nold » Thu May 12, 2011 5:53 pm

So, I am on the typical path to becoming a prosecutor. I have loaded up on criminal law classes my 2L year and have an internship with a county prosecutor's office where I will have my own caseload and be in court pretty much every day. I plan on working my butt off to make a good impression and gain tons of experience during my internship this summer.

The problem, however, as everyone is well aware, is that state governments are hiring little if any new prosecutors and when they do it is usually in response to turnover. I created this thread in the hope that we could all come together and suggest ways to make each other stand out and land one of these increasingly hard to get positions once we graduate (or hopefully even sooner).

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vanwinkle
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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby vanwinkle » Thu May 12, 2011 6:04 pm

I'm facing a similar problem with my interest in criminal defense. While the two tend to be diametrically opposite in terms of moral viewpoint, I think that the career paths are parallel enough that they can be discussed in the same thread.

Are you taking/have you already taken a trial advocacy course? Will you be able to practice as a 3L with a third-year practice certificate in your state? The more experience you can get the better, from what I understand.

DAs want practical experience and people who are prepared for the job from day one, since you're going to have to get to work right away. DAs don't have the budgets to spend months or years training you and babysitting you until you get it all right like law firms do.

I'd suggest shooting for a state clerkship. When you're done with it you'll be considered an experienced attorney and you'll have valuable litigation knowledge and perspective into a judge's viewpoint, which will make you more attractive to future DAs.

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Tanicius
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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby Tanicius » Thu May 12, 2011 6:15 pm

vanwinkle wrote:I'm facing a similar problem with my interest in criminal defense. While the two tend to be diametrically opposite in terms of moral viewpoint, I think that the career paths are parallel enough that they can be discussed in the same thread.

Are you taking/have you already taken a trial advocacy course? Will you be able to practice as a 3L with a third-year practice certificate in your state? The more experience you can get the better, from what I understand.

DAs want practical experience and people who are prepared for the job from day one, since you're going to have to get to work right away. DAs don't have the budgets to spend months or years training you and babysitting you until you get it all right like law firms do.

I'd suggest shooting for a state clerkship. When you're done with it you'll be considered an experienced attorney and you'll have valuable litigation knowledge and perspective into a judge's viewpoint, which will make you more attractive to future DAs.


I think that's good logic assuming getting clerkship is possible. It doesn't have to be a prestigious clerkship either, of course. Superior court is just dandy when the objective is observing trial work for a living.

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A'nold
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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby A'nold » Thu May 12, 2011 8:11 pm

vanwinkle wrote:I'm facing a similar problem with my interest in criminal defense. While the two tend to be diametrically opposite in terms of moral viewpoint, I think that the career paths are parallel enough that they can be discussed in the same thread.

Are you taking/have you already taken a trial advocacy course? Will you be able to practice as a 3L with a third-year practice certificate in your state? The more experience you can get the better, from what I understand.

DAs want practical experience and people who are prepared for the job from day one, since you're going to have to get to work right away. DAs don't have the budgets to spend months or years training you and babysitting you until you get it all right like law firms do.

I'd suggest shooting for a state clerkship. When you're done with it you'll be considered an experienced attorney and you'll have valuable litigation knowledge and perspective into a judge's viewpoint, which will make you more attractive to future DAs.

Great info, thanks for the contribution.

I was wondering whether or not a lower level state clerkship would be an "in" into an ADA position. I would also enjoy the work, IMO.

I am taking trial ad next year. What do you think about volunteering at a prosecutor's office during 3L year?

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Veyron
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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby Veyron » Thu May 12, 2011 8:19 pm

This thread is relevant to my interests.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby UCLAtransfer » Thu May 12, 2011 9:25 pm

A'nold wrote:I was wondering whether or not a lower level state clerkship would be an "in" into an ADA position. I would also enjoy the work, IMO.


I would imagine that if you were unable to secure a position as an ADA immediately upon graduation, a trial level state clerkship would almost be the absolute next best thing, as a HUGE part of being a prosecutor is knowing the ins and outs of being a trial attorney.

In the state(s) you would be looking at, are state trial-level courts separated into criminal and civil dockets, or are they combined?

A'nold wrote:I am taking trial ad next year. What do you think about volunteering at a prosecutor's office during 3L year?


I can only speak from experience regarding USAOs, but from my experience with two different major market offices, they have a strong preference in hiring people who have volunteered/interned there.

Would this be a different prosecutor's office than you will be working at this summer?

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vanwinkle
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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby vanwinkle » Fri May 13, 2011 1:51 am

A'nold wrote:I am taking trial ad next year. What do you think about volunteering at a prosecutor's office during 3L year?

I'm going to be doing a PD clinical during 3L. I think that the more places you work and the more experience you get, the better your odds of getting a job. Mine is an extreme case, but through ambition, geographic flexibility, and luck, I'll have worked for criminal defense organizations in five states by the time I graduate.

From what I understand, the most important factors in hiring are something like this:

1) Prior (positive) work experience for the hiring agency

2) Prior work experience for similar agencies

3) Demonstrated interest in the field/commitment to public service

4) Good grades/extracurriculars/etc.

Good grades can help you stand out among others with similar experience, but if you can give them other reasons to believe you'll be a competent attorney, that's what really seems to give you an edge up. Good grades matter when the job is so competitive that you're up against others who have good grades and the experience; but more experience is always better.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby joemoviebuff » Fri May 13, 2011 1:53 am

vanwinkle wrote:
A'nold wrote:I am taking trial ad next year. What do you think about volunteering at a prosecutor's office during 3L year?

I'm going to be doing a PD clinical during 3L. I think that the more places you work and the more experience you get, the better your odds of getting a job. Mine is an extreme case, but through ambition, geographic flexibility, and luck, I'll have worked for criminal defense organizations in five states by the time I graduate.


Do you plan on PDing or working at a firm? Both?

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vanwinkle
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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby vanwinkle » Fri May 13, 2011 1:58 am

joemoviebuff wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:
A'nold wrote:I am taking trial ad next year. What do you think about volunteering at a prosecutor's office during 3L year?

I'm going to be doing a PD clinical during 3L. I think that the more places you work and the more experience you get, the better your odds of getting a job. Mine is an extreme case, but through ambition, geographic flexibility, and luck, I'll have worked for criminal defense organizations in five states by the time I graduate.


Do you plan on PDing or working at a firm? Both?

I'm considering both. I'm splitting this summer between a firm and public service. We'll see how I like the firm this summer; I sure wouldn't mind a few years of experience at a firm, and my resume screams public service loudly enough that I doubt going to a firm for a couple years would be held against me later.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby jkay » Fri May 13, 2011 10:15 am

A'nold, how much do you care where you end up?

It seems like there are regular job postings in smaller, more rural county attorney's offices in the inter-mountain west...as long as you are willing to live in a small town.

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A'nold
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby A'nold » Fri May 13, 2011 2:38 pm

jkay wrote:A'nold, how much do you care where you end up?

It seems like there are regular job postings in smaller, more rural county attorney's offices in the inter-mountain west...as long as you are willing to live in a small town.

I am very open geographically and would love to live in a small town. I'm going to give first preference to jobs in the area where most of my family lives (PNW) but am primarily concerned with landing the first job.

As for what Van and UCLA said:

I like the idea of pursuing opportunities in as many offices as possible. I've been leaning towards doing that but after hearing your comments I'm almost sure I will attempt it.

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Verity
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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby Verity » Fri May 13, 2011 2:54 pm

vanwinkle wrote:I'm facing a similar problem with my interest in criminal defense. While the two tend to be diametrically opposite in terms of moral viewpoint, I think that the career paths are parallel enough that they can be discussed in the same thread.

Are you taking/have you already taken a trial advocacy course? Will you be able to practice as a 3L with a third-year practice certificate in your state? The more experience you can get the better, from what I understand.

DAs want practical experience and people who are prepared for the job from day one, since you're going to have to get to work right away. DAs don't have the budgets to spend months or years training you and babysitting you until you get it all right like law firms do.

I'd suggest shooting for a state clerkship. When you're done with it you'll be considered an experienced attorney and you'll have valuable litigation knowledge and perspective into a judge's viewpoint, which will make you more attractive to future DAs.



That's kind of cynical.

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Borhas
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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby Borhas » Fri May 13, 2011 2:58 pm

Verity wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:I'm facing a similar problem with my interest in criminal defense. While the two tend to be diametrically opposite in terms of moral viewpoint, I think that the career paths are parallel enough that they can be discussed in the same thread.

Are you taking/have you already taken a trial advocacy course? Will you be able to practice as a 3L with a third-year practice certificate in your state? The more experience you can get the better, from what I understand.

DAs want practical experience and people who are prepared for the job from day one, since you're going to have to get to work right away. DAs don't have the budgets to spend months or years training you and babysitting you until you get it all right like law firms do.

I'd suggest shooting for a state clerkship. When you're done with it you'll be considered an experienced attorney and you'll have valuable litigation knowledge and perspective into a judge's viewpoint, which will make you more attractive to future DAs.



That's kind of cynical.


maybe not moral, but DA and PD's seem to attract very different sorts of people despite doing fairly similar things

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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby Sentry » Fri May 13, 2011 3:01 pm

Borhas wrote:
Verity wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:I'm facing a similar problem with my interest in criminal defense. While the two tend to be diametrically opposite in terms of moral viewpoint, I think that the career paths are parallel enough that they can be discussed in the same thread.

Are you taking/have you already taken a trial advocacy course? Will you be able to practice as a 3L with a third-year practice certificate in your state? The more experience you can get the better, from what I understand.

DAs want practical experience and people who are prepared for the job from day one, since you're going to have to get to work right away. DAs don't have the budgets to spend months or years training you and babysitting you until you get it all right like law firms do.

I'd suggest shooting for a state clerkship. When you're done with it you'll be considered an experienced attorney and you'll have valuable litigation knowledge and perspective into a judge's viewpoint, which will make you more attractive to future DAs.



That's kind of cynical.


maybe not moral, but DA and PD's seem to attract very different sorts of people despite doing fairly similar things

I want to be a DA and could never see myself as a PD.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby Verity » Fri May 13, 2011 3:12 pm

Sentry wrote:
Borhas wrote:
Verity wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:I'm facing a similar problem with my interest in criminal defense. While the two tend to be diametrically opposite in terms of moral viewpoint, I think that the career paths are parallel enough that they can be discussed in the same thread.

Are you taking/have you already taken a trial advocacy course? Will you be able to practice as a 3L with a third-year practice certificate in your state? The more experience you can get the better, from what I understand.

DAs want practical experience and people who are prepared for the job from day one, since you're going to have to get to work right away. DAs don't have the budgets to spend months or years training you and babysitting you until you get it all right like law firms do.

I'd suggest shooting for a state clerkship. When you're done with it you'll be considered an experienced attorney and you'll have valuable litigation knowledge and perspective into a judge's viewpoint, which will make you more attractive to future DAs.



That's kind of cynical.


maybe not moral, but DA and PD's seem to attract very different sorts of people despite doing fairly similar things

I want to be a DA and could never see myself as a PD.


Well, the two jobs have their differences. But as far as morality is concerned, each side is part of the same system which is predicated upon fair representation and due process. Any prosecutor that sees a defense attorney as immoral just for being a defense attorney, or vice versa, should seriously reconsider their support for the American legal system. I'd be the first to admit that there are shady characters that use unfortunate techniques on both sides, but if you believe that the system is fair and morally acceptable, then there shouldn't be anything intrinsically immoral about either side. That sentiment seemed prevalent in vanwinkle's post.
Last edited by Verity on Fri May 13, 2011 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby Veyron » Fri May 13, 2011 4:02 pm

[/quote]

maybe not moral, but DA and PD's seem to attract very different sorts of people despite doing fairly similar things[/quote]
I want to be a DA and could never see myself as a PD.[/quote]

Well, the two jobs have their differences. But as far as morality is concerned, each side is part of the same system which is predicated upon fair representation and due process. Any prosecutor that sees a defense attorney as immoral, or vice versa, should seriously reconsider their support for the American legal system. I'd be the first to admit that there are shady characters that use unfortunate techniques on both sides, but if you believe that the system is fair and morally acceptable, then there shouldn't be anything intrinsically immoral about either side. That sentiment seemed prevalent in vanwinkle's post.[/quote]

This seems fair, although query whether a completely fair system would pay DAs more than PDs or give the former lighter caseloads.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Fri May 13, 2011 4:15 pm

I clerked for the largest DAs office in the state (65+ ADAs)where my UG is located. While I wasn't licensed (must be 2L+ and pass intern test here), my duties were almost exactly the same as interns in and out of law school. The only real difference was that I could not sign any binding docs or take cases (obvz). My primary duties were with the misdemeanor division but I floated between gangs, felony, white collar, and SVU. The unwritten policy (professed by the DA, ADAs,and my misdemeanor boss) was that ADAs were hired exclusively from the intern and clerk pool. If you aren't age eligible to pass the intern test, go volunteer/clerk and get to know the right people. They will be the ones hiring you.

Edit: Not much diametric opposition between prosecutors and defense. Sure, they go head to head in trial/pretrial but everybody is friends when the client and press aren't looking. Trial usually isn't the prosecutor in shining armor defending the state from immorality. In fact, many of the defense attorneys I had to exchange docs with were once ADAs in the very same office.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 13, 2011 4:27 pm

Having worked with/for PDs, Prosecutors, and Detectives, there is nothing so professionally, ethically, and personally rewarding as understanding that adversaries=/=enemies. To many PDs view all prosecutors as power-hungry, too many prosecutors view PDs as childish or evil, and everyone assumes the police are either idiots or incapable of discretion.

However, it did seem like the older and more successful they were, the less likely people were to be unconscionable dicks. I worked with two PDs, both semi-famous adjuncts in the field of trial advocacy and criminal/juvi law. Every prosecutor with more than a few years experience thought that the two adjuncts were the most professional and courteous people in the world, and a few of the detectives who would regularly testify would always send their regards.

In the end, wannabe PDs and wannabe Prosecutors may be enemies, but actual PDs and Prosecutors are colleagues and practically co-workers.

Side-note: Six out of the nine paid defense attorneys I know are former prosecutors, so the personality differences can't be too strong.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby tamlyric » Fri May 13, 2011 4:40 pm

Thanks for starting this thread, A'nold!

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Borhas
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Re: How to be a Prosecution Gunner?

Postby Borhas » Fri May 13, 2011 4:54 pm

Veyron wrote:This seems fair, although query whether a completely fair system would pay DAs more than PDs or give the former lighter caseloads.


I think it very well could

By the nature of the system PD's defend fewer types of cases than DA's prosecute so I could understand *some* DA's making more (like whoever had to prosecute Barry Bonds) but as for caseload... that's definitely unfair (if caseload=general work) not to PD's but to the accused.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Holly Golightly » Fri May 13, 2011 6:00 pm

I'm potentially interested in criminal work, but my resume (and grades) SCREAM civil lit. I feel like being undecided on exactly what type of law I want to practice is much more detrimental when it comes to criminal work, because I don't have any shown interest in it through jobs, etc. yet. Any tips?

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Borhas
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Borhas » Fri May 13, 2011 6:04 pm

Holly Golightly wrote:I'm potentially interested in criminal work, but my resume (and grades) SCREAM civil lit. I feel like being undecided on exactly what type of law I want to practice is much more detrimental when it comes to criminal work, because I don't have any shown interest in it through jobs, etc. yet. Any tips?


aren't you a 1L/rising 2L? I think a semester long clinic or internship is probably your best bet

also learn spanish
Last edited by Borhas on Fri May 13, 2011 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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joemoviebuff
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby joemoviebuff » Fri May 13, 2011 6:04 pm

Holly Golightly wrote:I'm potentially interested in criminal work, but my resume (and grades) SCREAM civil lit. I feel like being undecided on exactly what type of law I want to practice is much more detrimental when it comes to criminal work, because I don't have any shown interest in it through jobs, etc. yet. Any tips?


As a sort of corollary to this question, I too am both potentially interested in prosecution and a firm gig. Having heard that firms don't particularly care what classes you take as long as you get good grades in them (and assuming that's true, please tell me if it's not) would it be to my advantage to stock up on criminal classes to sort of cover the bases?

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Veyron
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Veyron » Fri May 13, 2011 6:42 pm

Borhas wrote:
Holly Golightly wrote:I'm potentially interested in criminal work, but my resume (and grades) SCREAM civil lit. I feel like being undecided on exactly what type of law I want to practice is much more detrimental when it comes to criminal work, because I don't have any shown interest in it through jobs, etc. yet. Any tips?


aren't you a 1L/rising 2L? I think a semester long clinic or internship is probably your best bet

also learn spanish


How does knowing Spanish help? Tons of people speak it and most Latinos now speak English or have kids who do.

seatown12
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby seatown12 » Fri May 13, 2011 7:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Side-note: Six out of the nine paid defense attorneys I know are former prosecutors, so the personality differences can't be too strong.

There's a pretty big ideological difference between private defense attorneys, many of whom were prosecutors, and PDs.

PDs and DAs are not enemies, and I don't think anyone is saying either side is "immoral" or making any kind of judgement, but my value system is pretty different from that of a person who would become a DA.

Veyron wrote:How does knowing Spanish help? Tons of people speak it and most Latinos now speak English or have kids who do.

what are you serious?




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