How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

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

Postby adonai » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:00 pm

Can any current prosecutors and/or PDs comment on whether there is a hazing process in some offices for newbies? Examples: defense counsel/prosecutor will make objections they otherwise wouldn't make because they know you're new, judges will sustain objections they otherwise wouldn't to see you squirm/react, colleagues/supervisors will purposely ignore or show disinterest in you because you're the rookie type of stuff. Is this legit, or is it all in my mind?
Last edited by adonai on Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:12 pm

BlueLotus wrote:Are tattoos/non-ear piercings OK for PD/Legal Aid?


Local PD's offices and legal aid tend to not get the greatest attorneys during good economies (like now), and its not like the clients at these places can be particularly picky (and most of them have things like tattoos on their faces, etc.), so you can get away with it at PD's office and legal aid. However, it's not professional, and it would be advisable to hide these things the best you can during the interview process.

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

Postby Tanicius » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:37 pm

adonai wrote:Can any current prosecutors and/or PDs comment on whether there is a hazing process in some offices for newbies? Examples: defense counsel/prosecutor will make objections they otherwise wouldn't make because they know you're new, judges will sustain objections they otherwise wouldn't to see you squirm/react, colleagues/supervisors will purposely ignore or show disinterest in you because you're the rookie type of stuff. Is this legit, or is it all in my mind?


It's not about hazing, but taking advantage of weak opponents. I'm already experiencing it just one week into my work with clients. I've been in a training group at a PD office for the past month and a half and got to know a few of the prosecutors by face, and as soon as I appeared on the record they went right for the jugular. Common tactics: interrupting me, talking over me, unnecessarily correcting me on the record, not making eye contact, not joking around with me like they do the more experienced PDs. I can't say I blame them really (they're making a fair judgment that it will be better for their case to take advantage of me), but it strikes me as risky on their part because they are liable to alienate me and my other entering classmates right out of the gate. Why do that over such simple, petty cases when you don't have to?

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:41 pm

I was only an intern this summer but I know there was an incident where the judge made a new attorney come to a hearing for some b/s reason. I didn't fully understand it but it was something like she didn't ask for a continuance in the appropriate time but it was only because the prosecution gave her evidence like the day before trial or something. It was apparently really stupid and people were annoyed saying that he is just doing that to sort of flex on her (and that he has pulled shit like that before).

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:48 pm

adonai wrote:Can any current prosecutors and/or PDs comment on whether there is a hazing process in some offices for newbies? Examples: defense counsel/prosecutor will make objections they otherwise wouldn't make because they know you're new, judges will sustain objections they otherwise wouldn't to see you squirm/react, colleagues/supervisors will purposely ignore or show disinterest in you because you're the rookie type of stuff. Is this legit, or is it all in my mind?

I have not experienced this at all with my colleagues/supervisors at all (my office is super-supportive and my supervisor very hands-on and open-door and willing to answer my questions wherever). I mean, I have some super-senior colleagues that I rarely talk to just because our caseloads don't overlap, but I don't think it's purposeful (it's a big office).

Nor have I encountered this with judges - one made some kind of joke of asking my name/where I was from at least the first 3 times I appeared before him, but I think he genuinely forgot he'd met me in between each of them. I really don't see any of the judges ruling differently on anything because I'm new. I could see them ruling against me because I screw something up because I'm new, and I could even see them maybe testing me a little (in the sense of making me explain the basis for a ruling where they might otherwise just rule - a friend of mine tells of one of her early trials when she asked the court to invoke "the rule" [of exclusion], which keeps witnesses out of the courtroom during testimony, and instead of doing so, the court said, "And what rule is that, Ms. Doe?" Since she'd only ever been told to invoke "the rule," it threw her).

A lot of the judges here are actually very good about cutting you a bit of slack when you're new - not in the sense of ruling in your favor, but helping you out logistically if you're a bit confused about what to do next. (A newbie friend of mine has a story of the judge looking pointedly at her and saying, "Would counsel like to [do something routine, I don't remember, but my friend hadn't been in the situation before]?" while nodding ever so slightly.)

Opposing counsel do sometimes push things because I'm new - for instance, they'll e-mail/call to say something like "I've NEVER seen [whatever thing I've just done] before!", and I go talk to my supervisor and find out, duh, what I just did is totally normal practice (which it would be, since it's not like I just go off and make up what to do on my own at this point). But some of them are just like that anyway. The only ones who've been real dicks to me are just plain dicks to everyone.

(That said, I'm on the older end of law grads, and while I'm new to my office, most people in my office come in with experience and I tend to be vague about the fact that I'm new. If someone asks me what I did before this, I tell them, but I don't advertise. So that may change the dynamic.)

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

Postby adonai » Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:09 am

Tanicius wrote:
adonai wrote:Can any current prosecutors and/or PDs comment on whether there is a hazing process in some offices for newbies? Examples: defense counsel/prosecutor will make objections they otherwise wouldn't make because they know you're new, judges will sustain objections they otherwise wouldn't to see you squirm/react, colleagues/supervisors will purposely ignore or show disinterest in you because you're the rookie type of stuff. Is this legit, or is it all in my mind?


It's not about hazing, but taking advantage of weak opponents. I'm already experiencing it just one week into my work with clients. I've been in a training group at a PD office for the past month and a half and got to know a few of the prosecutors by face, and as soon as I appeared on the record they went right for the jugular. Common tactics: interrupting me, talking over me, unnecessarily correcting me on the record, not making eye contact, not joking around with me like they do the more experienced PDs. I can't say I blame them really (they're making a fair judgment that it will be better for their case to take advantage of me), but it strikes me as risky on their part because they are liable to alienate me and my other entering classmates right out of the gate. Why do that over such simple, petty cases when you don't have to?

Yeah, the only reason I labeled it hazing is because I assume all of the seasoned attorneys who do these types of things have been at my stage at one point and had it done to them. Also as the other poster said "in order to flex," to show you that they've been in that courthouse 20+ years and you're the rookie. I see absolutely no strategic advantage for them doing some of the stuff they do, so I just assumed it was hazing. And yeah it is alienating, because now I just think they're douchebags and have no intention on creating a relationship with them. I'm really glad they get to feel like they're seniors in high school again.

And ditto to prosecutor anon above about some judges cutting rooks slack. But it's just that sometimes you'll notice subtleties during hearings with their defense bar buds that they've known for 20 years. That's when you know they're messing with you just because they can. And contrary to what you said about judges not ruling against rookies just cause they're rookies, I remember during law school a PD argued the search was pretextual during a suppression hearing against me and WON. I was absolutely floored. Everything was in my favor, and it was a cannot lose motion. Even the PD was like :shock: Supervisor later tells me the judge was most likely pulling my chain and picking on me because I was a student. Everyone just kind of chuckled and had a bruhaha because it was a "useless" drug case. I couldn't believe stuff like that could actually happen. So maybe I just answered my own question.
Last edited by adonai on Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:19 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:15 am

gdane wrote:This isn't an argument dude. Sure you'll find one ex cholo PD that might have visible tattoos, but it's still something that you don't want to go overboard with. keep them hidden as best as you can during the interviewing process.


I have a tattoo on my forearm, but it is easily concealable with a dress shirt / suit jacket. It's certainly been visible later on in summer jobs as we've all gotten more comfortable, but there hasn't been a single interviewer of mine who has ever seen it.

In other words, be smart about it, but once you're hired and comfortable, no one really gives a sh*t about it.

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

Postby Displeased » Wed Oct 08, 2014 8:05 am

Opposing counsel do sometimes push things because I'm new - for instance, they'll e-mail/call to say something like "I've NEVER seen [whatever thing I've just done] before!", and I go talk to my supervisor and find out, duh, what I just did is totally normal practice (which it would be, since it's not like I just go off and make up what to do on my own at this point).


This is particularly common in my experience, opposing counsel love to act like a newbie PD "just doesn't get it" whenever we do anything aside from enter guilty pleas.

Its tough when you are first starting out, my first felony trial was against a Commonwealth's attorney who had been trying cases longer than I'd been alive (though I actually won that case, so nyah). I was inexperienced, I'm still inexperienced, and sometimes, your inexperience will be on display for a full courtroom to see.

You should be insecure. You don't know what you're doing and your client's lives are on the line. But prosecutors love to prey on that insecurity and make you scared to do anything.

You can't be scared to look stupid. You'll look stupid no matter what you do. Just go out, do it, and if you the prosecutor sends you a snippy email, consider it a victory. If you were really being an idiot, they'd just let you be an idiot without trying to correct you.

Its a tough job. You CANNOT be thin skinned. There will be days when the prosecutor criticizes you, the judge (subtly) criticizes you, all your clients get lengthy prison sentences, and you miss a motions deadline. You just need to get up the next day and do it again for the next set of clients.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 08, 2014 8:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:
gdane wrote:This isn't an argument dude. Sure you'll find one ex cholo PD that might have visible tattoos, but it's still something that you don't want to go overboard with. keep them hidden as best as you can during the interviewing process.


I have a tattoo on my forearm, but it is easily concealable with a dress shirt / suit jacket. It's certainly been visible later on in summer jobs as we've all gotten more comfortable, but there hasn't been a single interviewer of mine who has ever seen it.

In other words, be smart about it, but once you're hired and comfortable, no one really gives a sh*t about it.


My experience as well--I have three tattoos. Also, now that the weather is cooler, my clothes cover them automatically anyway.

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

Postby farfromthetree » Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:44 am

0L thinking about applying this cycle. I'm currently volunteering a bit of my time at a legal aid clinic that provides social security advocacy for disabled homeless and will am feeling confident I got another volunteer gig with a much larger legal aid clinic that works on advocacy for basic human needs, life after prison, supporting working families, and children/youth.

I'm already thinking about how to prepare my path to be a PD. My hope is that this work (especially since it's pre-law school, showing a real dedicated interest) will demonstrate my commitment to working with indigent clients. I'm having a really hard time finding any volunteer opportunities with PD offices, so I figured legal aid was my next best bet. Does this sort of work I'm doing matter to PD offices?

Oh, and to comment on the tattoo talk, I think all of the attorneys and the paralegal I've worked with have visible tattoos... but then again, they work entirely with the homeless.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:41 am

farfromthetree wrote:0L thinking about applying this cycle. I'm currently volunteering a bit of my time at a legal aid clinic that provides social security advocacy for disabled homeless and will am feeling confident I got another volunteer gig with a much larger legal aid clinic that works on advocacy for basic human needs, life after prison, supporting working families, and children/youth.

I'm already thinking about how to prepare my path to be a PD. My hope is that this work (especially since it's pre-law school, showing a real dedicated interest) will demonstrate my commitment to working with indigent clients. I'm having a really hard time finding any volunteer opportunities with PD offices, so I figured legal aid was my next best bet. Does this sort of work I'm doing matter to PD offices?

Oh, and to comment on the tattoo talk, I think all of the attorneys and the paralegal I've worked with have visible tattoos... but then again, they work entirely with the homeless.


This thread is not for 0Ls. Post here instead: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=220431

But the short answer is--yes, this sort of work you're doing matters for PDs offices, as does any work with indigent clients. Just stay away from DV/SA advocacy--that may raise some red flags. Also, take some time to learn Spanish, as it is highly valued by PD/Legal Aid. GL!

jabberwock12
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby jabberwock12 » Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:01 am

So in my jurisdiction I have not been able to find email addresses to most pd offices. When you guys send applications through snail mail do you just address it to the Public Defedner and hope it gets acknowledged? I keep thinking someone will see it and immediately throw it in the garbage :(

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:26 am

jabberwock12 wrote:So in my jurisdiction I have not been able to find email addresses to most pd offices. When you guys send applications through snail mail do you just address it to the Public Defedner and hope it gets acknowledged? I keep thinking someone will see it and immediately throw it in the garbage :(


Just call them and ask who is in charge of hiring and address it to that person.

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

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:57 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:Are tattoos/non-ear piercings OK for PD/Legal Aid?


Local PD's offices and legal aid tend to not get the greatest attorneys during good economies (like now) [...]


LOL, in what universe is this a good economy? :P

I mean, we're in a better position than the "lost generation" of the poor 2009-2011 grads, but damn, it's still rough out there!

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

Postby spleenworship » Sat Oct 11, 2014 6:23 pm

I'm a new PD. At my office everyone is super supportive and helpful. About half the DAs are trying to take advantage of us by offering shitty plea deals and trying to talk over us during arguments. Talking over is easily dealt with. The plea deals part kinda sucks. Still waiting for a good case that I can be all "fuck you then, let's go to trial then." Shouldn't be long now, considering our volume, and that should hopefully take care of the problem. I think they think we're afraid of trial. With one exception, we aren't though. Should be entertaining. As for the Judges, 80% are cool. The others are just second prosecutors sitting on the bench, and they tell me I'll eventually figure out how to deal with them. Appealing a shitton of stuff is apparently an option.

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

Postby Displeased » Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:37 pm

spleenworship wrote:I'm a new PD. At my office everyone is super supportive and helpful. About half the DAs are trying to take advantage of us by offering shitty plea deals and trying to talk over us during arguments. Talking over is easily dealt with. The plea deals part kinda sucks. Still waiting for a good case that I can be all "fuck you then, let's go to trial then." Shouldn't be long now, considering our volume, and that should hopefully take care of the problem. I think they think we're afraid of trial. With one exception, we aren't though. Should be entertaining. As for the Judges, 80% are cool. The others are just second prosecutors sitting on the bench, and they tell me I'll eventually figure out how to deal with them. Appealing a shitton of stuff is apparently an option.


Only way to get better plea deals is to do well in court. The prosecutor is holding all the cards, in many cases they have no real incentive to offer a deal at all. You need to make trying the case either a risk for the prosecutor (aka you might actually win), or just such a hassle that they don't want to deal with it (filing motions, being an insufferable twit). In a sense, even a straight up loss at trial is a win, because if you get a rep for taking cases to trial and not caving to mediocre offers, the prosecutors will sweeten the offers a little bit.

And of course, if you do get a sweet deal, that usually means something is up. Every time I get an offer to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor, I freak out and wonder what the hell I missed.

Appealing isn't always a reasonable option, at least if your jurisdiction's appeals are anything like our appeals. Too time-consuming. An appeal to the Court of Appeals requires research, a decent amount of writing, and a lot of time spent following procedural niceties. Its a lot of work considering only a tiny fraction of appeals are heard by the court, and only a tiny fraction of those wind up being a win for the defendant. An appeal to the Circuit Court is an automatic trial de novo, so its not as much of a hassle, but sometimes your client winds up doing worse on appeal than they did in the lower court.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby spleenworship » Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:45 pm

My dept. starts only with misdos. Our DVs and DWIs aren't de novo, only anything else. But everything else is handled only by cops, so it's pretty easy to get them to dismiss or give the deal you want. They avoid trial like the plague - they don't know the rules of evidence, and they know it.

So for us, appeals will work on the judges. Especially since we have a dedicated appeals department.

I'm guessing what you are saying is absolutely true for our people handling felonies though.

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Karl123456 » Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:17 am

adonai wrote:Can any current prosecutors and/or PDs comment on whether there is a hazing process in some offices for newbies? Examples: defense counsel/prosecutor will make objections they otherwise wouldn't make because they know you're new, judges will sustain objections they otherwise wouldn't to see you squirm/react, colleagues/supervisors will purposely ignore or show disinterest in you because you're the rookie type of stuff. Is this legit, or is it all in my mind?


For the first week or so opposing counsel made weak objections just to see how I would do. Knocked it out of the park and the objections were overruled (the BS ones). Just trying to probe your defenses and see your strength - nothing wrong with that. Judges do this as well - they will grill you on the law to make sure you know your shit. My first week I was doing bail hearings - judge questioned me lengthily in front of a full courtroom.

Where it really comes into play is in plea bargaining - PDO will make really weak counteroffers and tell you "the other prosecutors do it all the time". "You should dismiss X, that was the old prosecutors policy". And when I check - nope sauce.

I've seen defense attorneys (mainly PDO) do some shady shit, but they do that to everyone. Don't think it was hazing.

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

Postby Displeased » Tue Oct 14, 2014 7:24 pm

Karl123456 wrote: Judges do this as well - they will grill you on the law to make sure you know your shit. My first week I was doing bail hearings - judge questioned me lengthily in front of a full courtroom.


This is very common. Depends on the judge, some coddle more than others, but many judges love to haze the new attorneys. And sometimes its not hazing, sometimes the judge just doesn't like your face and there's not much you can do about it.

If you think your Torts professor was cruel, irrational, and egotistical, wait till you meet a judge who dislikes you. You'll long for the days of cold calling and the Socratic Method.

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

Postby tearoftheclouds » Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:58 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:Are tattoos/non-ear piercings OK for PD/Legal Aid?


Local PD's offices and legal aid tend to not get the greatest attorneys during good economies (like now) [...]


LOL, in what universe is this a good economy? :P

I mean, we're in a better position than the "lost generation" of the poor 2009-2011 grads, but damn, it's still rough out there!


LOL, for real (says 2011 grad). "Not as bad as rock bottom" doesn't mean good!

DayTripper1967
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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby DayTripper1967 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:48 pm

3L here. My friend and I are considering moving out to Denver and starting up our own criminal defense firm after graduation.

How bad of an idea is this?

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Re: How to be a Prosecution/PD Gunner?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:55 am

usually you'd want some local connections to start, but if you sign up with the alternate defender and give yourself an advertising budget, that should keep you afloat at the beginning. i'd ask people at the denver bar association-- I think they have a section devoted to new solo practitioners.

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

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:56 am

tearoftheclouds wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:Are tattoos/non-ear piercings OK for PD/Legal Aid?


Local PD's offices and legal aid tend to not get the greatest attorneys during good economies (like now) [...]


LOL, in what universe is this a good economy? :P

I mean, we're in a better position than the "lost generation" of the poor 2009-2011 grads, but damn, it's still rough out there!


LOL, for real (says 2011 grad). "Not as bad as rock bottom" doesn't mean good!


Have you gotten a jerb since graduating in 2011?

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

Postby Displeased » Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:01 pm

DayTripper1967 wrote:3L here. My friend and I are considering moving out to Denver and starting up our own criminal defense firm after graduation.

How bad of an idea is this?


Virtually malpractice. You just don't know what you're doing, you aren't qualified to handle much more than a traffic ticket. Even if you've spent even summer and semester interning at the Colorado/Denver Public Defender office, I just don't think you could handle a case independently without an actual experienced attorney to help you out.

Besides, I sincerely doubt you'd get any/enough business to keep you afloat. The court probably isn't going to appoint two complete unknowns to handle cases off the appointed list, and they definitely aren't going to appoint you to anything serious after they see you in court. And I don't know how you sell yourself to clients effectively, considering you'd have absolutely no selling points aside from rock bottom rates (I assume).

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

Postby spleenworship » Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:45 pm

I don't have as negative an opinion as Displeased, but I will say that it would be an incredibly uphill battle, with loads of mistakes and many many lean months at first - and that's a good scenario. It's entirely possible you'd end up bankrupt and sued within your first three years. I strongly recommend working for someone else for your first two years.




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