Anonymous User wrote: Tanicius wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:While we all (well, most of us) wait for any news, can we have a lively discussion on the definitive ranking of PD office reputation? I know most of us actually have no idea what we're talking about, but I for one feel like beyond Bronx/PDS being the best, I don't know what falls into, say, the top 10
It's a meaningless exercise. Top 10 offices for what, exactly? Moving elsewhere across the country? Beyond a few offices -- less than even one handful -- employers aren't going to sit there stacking your pedigree like it's a mathematical equation. Actual demonstrated experience is far more important. If you took five violent felony cases all the way to trial in a super backwater, underfunded part-time-only office in Nowhere, Alabama your first two years as a public defender, you could be a lot more qualified than someone who wrote motions and took an open-bottle case to trial in their first two years as a PD at PDS. It totally depends on what kind of lawyer your new office wants and what kind of experience they value.
Maybe the new office wants experience with Spanish-speaking clients. That might bump your experience at Miami PD up to the top. But oh, also, they don't like theory-of-innocence approaches to litigation, so that bumps your Miami resume down some notches. But wait, you explain, to them -- that's just a generalization, you never litigated in that manner, and you prefer academic and reasonable-doubt approaches to litigation. Well, okay, they say, now you're going back up. But then they decide that they really don't want a big-city lawyer who will leave their office for a bigger city in their same state a few years down the road, so they nix you. See how the Miami line on your resume could have almost no impact on their decision?
It all depends on what you're looking to move to. Federal public defender offices heavily look at the quality of the PD office you worked at, and that's generally city specific (e.g. the federal public defender will know some of the more senior attorneys at the local PDs office and will have an idea of the type of representation that the office gives). Having worked at PDS is definitely a plus as just about any FPD office because they all know that PDS is really good (unlike the rural, under-funded Alabama position), and the FPD offices tend to want someone who is capable of lawyering the hell out of not so great (and often times complicated) cases. Even if you wind up with 5 felony trials in Nowhere, Alabama, you're not going to get the training there that you will at PDS. Also, PDS only handles the most serious felony cases in DC (almost all misdemeanors go to CJA attorneys), so the notion that you might be working on more serious cases in Nowhere, Alabama, but working on low end misdemeanors at PDS isn't very likely. However, the analysis is different if you're trying to move to a local PD's office in Nowhere, Alabama (it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't even know about PDS's reputation there), but in terms of career progression, I can't understand why anyone would move from a PD office like PDS to the local PD's office in Nowhere, Alabama.
Nobody's saying it's wise to pick an underfunded office without a lot of training over a famous office. I'm just illustrating how it's comparing apples and oranges to try to "rank" offices. What you are ranking totally depends on what your particular new employer is looking for. And it's not like law school where Harvard students are almost always going to have an edge over Georgetown students. There's no equivalent tier system where someone's gonna see you worked at Bronx and auto-choose you over the guy from San Francisco County. There are just a bunch of offices that carry name recognition, and that recognition will either register with your future employer or it won't. They're not sitting there splitting hairs thinking, "Well, Bronx is just better than New Orleans." A year out of school, employers care about what you did and what references can tell them about how you work with others. If you're trying to market yourself for a specific kind
of advocacy style, then fine, having an office known for that advocacy style will help you in the future if you want change offices. But to waste time thinking about whether PDS will be objectively more portable than Bronx or Miami five years into your career is stupid.
There's a huge tendency on this site to hierarchic-ize everything, and this just isn't a subject you can do it for. Cook County and Los Angeles County, for example, are two examples of offices that don't make headlines like SF or PDS or Bronx, but there are literally hundreds of amazing attorneys who work in those two county offices. The same holds true for cities like Oakland, Atlanta, Palm Beach, St. Louis, Houston/Dallas, and smaller cities like Indianapolis, Louisville, Oklahoma City, or San Antonio. An attorney from the Bronx could be either amazing or terrible at a more ramshackle environment like New Orleans -- the only way to know would be to get to know the individual person and what kind of worker they are. Without knowing more about an individual attorney, I would absolutely challenge anyone who assumed a PDS vet is going to be better in a vacuum than, say, a vet from Detroit, or Charleston.