Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:CPCS guy here. I don't really have a good perspective on your question because I have only practiced in one county in Massachusetts. Checking out crime stats is an interesting idea, but office cultures also vary widely between counties, just based upon individual personalities. I know that CPCS is always looking for attorneys who want to work out in western mass and (maybe to a lesser extent) southeastern mass- the majority of applicants want to be in or around Boston, so it could help you stand out as an applicant if you want to work in the less-popular areas. It's also worth noting that the base starting pay is the same statewide, so if you take cost of living into consideration, it's actually easier to stretch a paycheck the further you get from Boston.
CPCS guy, thanks for taking the time to answer our anxious questions. A few of my own:
1. I saw the governor's budget a few weeks ago level-funded CPCS - is that good / bad / indifferent for hiring generally, do you think?
2. What's the demand like for additional staff attys in Lowell and Worcester? Are those good courts with good CPCS office cultures, in your opinion?
3. With solid performance, about how long does it take before you're ready to "graduate" to Superior Court? (By that I don't mean when do you actually GET to Superior Court, which I understand can be a fickle and unpredictable occurrence, but about how long does it take to have enough competence & fluency to be *ready* for it?)
4. If I don't make the cut, any recommendations for private firms / practitioners in the metro Boston area that do a lot of appointed / bar advocate work and might be good places to "apprentice"?
CPCS guy again. No problem. Here are my answers:
1. Every year, the budget is a hot topic in the agency and the source of much anxiety and email writing. This is basically because the same thing happens every year: the Commonwealth will not give us the funds we need in order to increase salaries for staff attorneys and compensation for the private bar. It's basically just a given at this point that Massachusetts does not pay its public defenders (or prosecutors, who have even worse salaries) anywhere near enough, AND Massachusetts has no plan in place to change this trend. CPCS staff sometimes go years without any raise at all. (There was/will be no raise for us this year) and unlike many other states there is no actual upward mobility- if you stay 10 years you will probably make more than you made when you started, but there really isn't any guarantee.
And to be real, here's the numbers we are talking about for starting (and sometimes long-lasting) salaries:
District Court Public Defende Divison: $40k
Youth Advocacy Division (known as "YAD", this division does delinquency cases in juvenile court): $40k
Superior Court Public Defender Division: $45k
Children & Family Law Division ("CAFL" handles child welfare/TPR cases in juvenile court): $45k
So yeah. The budget sucks. As a result, there is a lot of turnover. And that turnover creates job openings. So no, I don't think the budget will necessarily negatively affect the number of vacancies there are.
2. Can't really speak to the specific demands of any particular office because it depends on caseloads and turnover, but my guess would be that Worcester is a bigger office and therefore generally does more hiring. I've been through both offices and both have cool people working in them, but I haven't worked in either so I don't know much about culture. Worcester sort of has a reputation for being a "tight ship," if you know what I mean.
3. You can't get to Superior from District for at least two years, because no new attorney can apply for an interagency opening until they've completed 2 years of service. After that, you apply for a superior gig just like you would if you were a private lawyer, and go through the same interview process. Obviously putting in solid work in District and getting a good reputation can give you a leg up on the completion, but there isn't really a guarantee that District lawyers "graduate" to Superior. There are some in the agency who would frown on that aspiration altogether- plenty of lawyers stay in District because that's where they want to serve.
4. Don't know/can't answer.