3L Public Defender Applications

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I got an email from LAS today saying they are waiting until after April 1 to make the rest of their hiring decisions. Just an fyi

my favorite part was when they cc'ed everyone and we all got to see who our competition is and that there are 76 of us.


for how many spots?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
iShotFirst wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Has anyone been rejected by CO? I applied long ago, back when people were all in a tizzy about 'Shake it Off.'


I applied a long time ago as well I just assumed that not hearing from them for so long = rejection.


I could be wrong but I think they were wrapping up their interviews back in Dec. I'm assuming they probably extended offers already.



I don't know if they are still making offers but I didn't hear from them until the beginning of January for my 2nd interview after EJW. Had a skype interview the last week of January and received an offer a week later.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 24, 2015 2:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I got an email from LAS today saying they are waiting until after April 1 to make the rest of their hiring decisions. Just an fyi

my favorite part was when they cc'ed everyone and we all got to see who our competition is and that there are 76 of us.


for how many spots?


I heard they already hired 15 in Jan so probably only hiring about 10 in April. 10 spots out of the 76 is pretty awful odds : (

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 24, 2015 3:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I got an email from LAS today saying they are waiting until after April 1 to make the rest of their hiring decisions. Just an fyi

my favorite part was when they cc'ed everyone and we all got to see who our competition is and that there are 76 of us.


for how many spots?


I heard they already hired 15 in Jan so probably only hiring about 10 in April. 10 spots out of the 76 is pretty awful odds : (



Where'd you hear that?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do you have any idea about the differences between the district courts? As someone who has not wandered far beyond Boston, I am curious if any of the offices stand out as good places to start / have more of a certain kind of cases. I have been doing research online (demographics, crime stats, etc.), but would love to hear any insights you may have!



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.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:50 am

Anyone send an application to Alaska?

Know when would be a good time to follow up since they said they were in the middle of their legislative session?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:44 pm

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"?

Thanks again

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:13 pm

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"?

Thanks again


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.

User avatar
XxSpyKEx
Posts: 1741
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:48 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby XxSpyKEx » Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
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"?

Thanks again


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.


How do you make ends meet with $40k /year in a place like Boston? When they created the PD system in Mass, was the goal to recruit people who are independently wealthy (e.g. people made a lot of money in private practice and now looking to "give back") and people who have someone who can support them? I was reading an article about Mass. PD salaries the other day. Apparently you guys make the same amount of money as janitors in the Massachusetts court system, and quite literally everyone else makes more (switch board operators, secretaries, sessions clerks, bailiffs, probation officers, and court reports--which make twice your salary). I realize people don't become PDs for money, but isn't it demoralizing that you make the same salary as the janitors in the Mass. court system, and half what court reporters make (both jobs are such that don't require 7 years of school plus hundreds of thousands in debt). Do PDs and DAs in Massachusetts ever switch gears and become courts reporters, probation officer, etc.?

See: http://abovethelaw.com/2014/05/in-what- ... osecutors/ ; http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/201 ... story.html

Also, how many decent quality attorneys actually remain in the Mass. court system as DAs or PDs (percentage-wise)? Imagine it must be very difficult to get anything done there if pretty much everyone leaves within a couple years of being there (so pretty much when they actually have just enough skills to be valuable anywhere else, since pretty much every other legal employer is going to pay more than $40k /year to an attorney with a couple years of quality experience); although, I guess retention is probably less of an issue if you're mostly recruiting attorneys who have a lot of wealth (or otherwise have someone who can support them).

Sorry if my post is a little harsh; I was just very shocked when I read that ATL article the other month. I mean it would take a DA or PD roughly 4.5 years to make the same amount of money a 1st year associate in biglaw makes. Even in the public interest realm, it seems like most employers start around $50-60k (which is still closer to 1.5 times the salary Mass pays), but quickly increase pay to more like $70-75k /year within 5 years.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:27 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
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"?

Thanks again


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.


How do you make ends meet with $40k /year in a place like Boston? When they created the PD system in Mass, was the goal to recruit people who are independently wealthy (e.g. people made a lot of money in private practice and now looking to "give back") and people who have someone who can support them? I was reading an article about Mass. PD salaries the other day. Apparently you guys make the same amount of money as janitors in the Massachusetts court system, and quite literally everyone else makes more (switch board operators, secretaries, sessions clerks, bailiffs, probation officers, and court reports--which make twice your salary). I realize people don't become PDs for money, but isn't it demoralizing that you make the same salary as the janitors in the Mass. court system, and half what court reporters make (both jobs are such that don't require 7 years of school plus hundreds of thousands in debt). Do PDs and DAs in Massachusetts ever switch gears and become courts reporters, probation officer, etc.?

See: http://abovethelaw.com/2014/05/in-what- ... osecutors/ ; http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/201 ... story.html

Also, how many decent quality attorneys actually remain in the Mass. court system as DAs or PDs (percentage-wise)? Imagine it must be very difficult to get anything done there if pretty much everyone leaves within a couple years of being there (so pretty much when they actually have just enough skills to be valuable anywhere else, since pretty much every other legal employer is going to pay more than $40k /year to an attorney with a couple years of quality experience); although, I guess retention is probably less of an issue if you're mostly recruiting attorneys who have a lot of wealth (or otherwise have someone who can support them).

Sorry if my post is a little harsh; I was just very shocked when I read that ATL article the other month. I mean it would take a DA or PD roughly 4.5 years to make the same amount of money a 1st year associate in biglaw makes. Even in the public interest realm, it seems like most employers start around $50-60k (which is still closer to 1.5 times the salary Mass pays), but quickly increase pay to more like $70-75k /year within 5 years.


CPCS guy again. Your questions aren't harsh- they are the right questions to be asking.

First, take the big law comparison off the table immediately. Big law is for people who want to maximize income above all else, at the expense of job satisfaction, job security, and any semblance of free time. Public defense is not even in the same universe and to discuss the two is really apples:oranges.

But yeah, I have no idea how people survive in Boston on $40k. Personally, I live in a much quieter and cheaper area, make (a little) more than the base salary, and also have a working spouse. Not independently wealthy by any means but our household income is 90ish. I know on TLS that's like $0, but believe it or not it's actually above average in our country.

I have loans but also IBR and plan to get full forgiveness through PSLF.

And I get to do what I went to law school to do. I'm in court every day. I get to tell police officers to stop talking to my clients, in a somewhat rude tone. Later, I get to cross examine them. I help people who have completely run out of options, and I get to feel like I'm making a difference.

If I wanted to make lots of money, I would have gone to business school, where they literally teach classes on how to make lots of money. Instead, I wanted to be a lawyer, so I went to law school and now actually do trial work that matters to human beings. That's why I stay.

But to be honest it's hard to resist looking at PD jobs in other states where I could earn a halfway decent wage for doing the same work.

User avatar
XxSpyKEx
Posts: 1741
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:48 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby XxSpyKEx » Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
CPCS guy again. Your questions aren't harsh- they are the right questions to be asking.

First, take the big law comparison off the table immediately. Big law is for people who want to maximize income above all else, at the expense of job satisfaction, job security, and any semblance of free time. Public defense is not even in the same universe and to discuss the two is really apples:oranges.

But yeah, I have no idea how people survive in Boston on $40k. Personally, I live in a much quieter and cheaper area, make (a little) more than the base salary, and also have a working spouse. Not independently wealthy by any means but our household income is 90ish. I know on TLS that's like $0, but believe it or not it's actually above average in our country.

I have loans but also IBR and plan to get full forgiveness through PSLF.

And I get to do what I went to law school to do. I'm in court every day. I get to tell police officers to stop talking to my clients, in a somewhat rude tone. Later, I get to cross examine them. I help people who have completely run out of options, and I get to feel like I'm making a difference.

If I wanted to make lots of money, I would have gone to business school, where they literally teach classes on how to make lots of money. Instead, I wanted to be a lawyer, so I went to law school and now actually do trial work that matters to human beings. That's why I stay.

But to be honest it's hard to resist looking at PD jobs in other states where I could earn a halfway decent wage for doing the same work.


Well, or federal PD jobs, which pay between double and triple what you're making, assuming you have 4-5 years of experience. Not to mention fed benefits and pension. Seems like DAs and PDs who would stay in the Mass court system with a few years of experience are likely the ones who aren't competitive to find anything better (e.g. if you went to a terrible law school, are a terrible writer, etc.), which sucks for both the victims of crimes and indigent people in Mass.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:45 pm

"I heard they already hired 15 in Jan so probably only hiring about 10 in April. 10 spots out of the 76 is pretty awful odds."

I have it on good authority that LAS did not make offers to their top picks in January while waiting to make others in April as they have done in at least some past years. What they have been doing is making offers on a case-by-case basis when people get competing offers. I know a couple of people who have leveraged other offices to go to LAS (in February or March not January) but I would be surprised if it was as many as 15.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:54 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
CPCS guy again. Your questions aren't harsh- they are the right questions to be asking.

First, take the big law comparison off the table immediately. Big law is for people who want to maximize income above all else, at the expense of job satisfaction, job security, and any semblance of free time. Public defense is not even in the same universe and to discuss the two is really apples:oranges.

But yeah, I have no idea how people survive in Boston on $40k. Personally, I live in a much quieter and cheaper area, make (a little) more than the base salary, and also have a working spouse. Not independently wealthy by any means but our household income is 90ish. I know on TLS that's like $0, but believe it or not it's actually above average in our country.

I have loans but also IBR and plan to get full forgiveness through PSLF.

And I get to do what I went to law school to do. I'm in court every day. I get to tell police officers to stop talking to my clients, in a somewhat rude tone. Later, I get to cross examine them. I help people who have completely run out of options, and I get to feel like I'm making a difference.

If I wanted to make lots of money, I would have gone to business school, where they literally teach classes on how to make lots of money. Instead, I wanted to be a lawyer, so I went to law school and now actually do trial work that matters to human beings. That's why I stay.

But to be honest it's hard to resist looking at PD jobs in other states where I could earn a halfway decent wage for doing the same work.


Well, or federal PD jobs, which pay between double and triple what you're making, assuming you have 4-5 years of experience. Not to mention fed benefits and pension. Seems like DAs and PDs who would stay in the Mass court system with a few years of experience are likely the ones who aren't competitive to find anything better (e.g. if you went to a terrible law school, are a terrible writer, etc.), which sucks for both the victims of crimes and indigent people in Mass.


CPCS guy again.

Annnnd now you've crossed the line into asshole territory.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
Well, or federal PD jobs, which pay between double and triple what you're making, assuming you have 4-5 years of experience. Not to mention fed benefits and pension. Seems like DAs and PDs who would stay in the Mass court system with a few years of experience are likely the ones who aren't competitive to find anything better (e.g. if you went to a terrible law school, are a terrible writer, etc.), which sucks for both the victims of crimes and indigent people in Mass.


CPCS guy again.

Annnnd now you've crossed the line into asshole territory.


+1. Quite disrespectful. Also naive. Most FD shops won't even look at you until you've had years of state PD experience. And I've spoken with several current FDs who, while happy with the better pay and resources (except, of course, when there are shutdowns or sequestration), miss the work they did in state court - they felt they made more of a difference there.

Thanks, CPCS guy, for the perspective on turnover generally, Lowell and Worcester, and District court practice. Hope we'll be (anonymous) colleagues someday.

User avatar
XxSpyKEx
Posts: 1741
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:48 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
Well, or federal PD jobs, which pay between double and triple what you're making, assuming you have 4-5 years of experience. Not to mention fed benefits and pension. Seems like DAs and PDs who would stay in the Mass court system with a few years of experience are likely the ones who aren't competitive to find anything better (e.g. if you went to a terrible law school, are a terrible writer, etc.), which sucks for both the victims of crimes and indigent people in Mass.


CPCS guy again.

Annnnd now you've crossed the line into asshole territory.


Doesn't mean I'm not right, though. My post wasn't intended as an insult towards you in anyway--you even said that you're considering moving to another PDs office for better pay and mentioned the high turnover in the Mass court system. The only reasons I can think of that anyone would willingly stick around as a Mass DA or PD after having 4-5 years of experience, besides the ones I listed (i.e. the person doesn't have better options), are is if money isn't an issue (independently wealthy, spousal support, etc.) or the person for some reason is geographic confined to Mass (which probably relates to a spouse and his/her income). I mean why else would someone stick around in an office that merely pays $40k /year when he/she could work somewhere else doing the same work for close to twice that (as a local PD), or between twice and triple that (at a Fed PD)? The high turnover seems to suggest that many people who work as DAs and PDs in the Mass court system are thinking similarly (even you said you're considering trying to move to a different state where you can earn a more reasonable salary), which is a problem because it's bad for both the victims of crimes and indigent people in Mass.

Anonymous User wrote:+1. Quite disrespectful. Also naive. Most FD shops won't even look at you until you've had years of state PD experience.


4-5 years of state PD experience is sufficient for most federal PDs offices.

Anonymous User wrote:And I've spoken with several current FDs who, while happy with the better pay and resources (except, of course, when there are shutdowns or sequestration), miss the work they did in state court - they felt they made more of a difference there.


It all depends on the person and what exactly they are doing at the FD's office. Can't imagine there's too many PDs who wouldn't jump ship for the better pay, better resources, more challenging cases, etc., while still getting to do similar work. The better resources thing is pretty big one, and probably has a lot to do with the generally higher quality representation that's given at the federal level (i.e. you simply can't provide the same level of representation when you have 150 cases and are spending an average of 8 minutes on a case that can if you only have 30 cases and have the time to really work up your cases).

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:09 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
Well, or federal PD jobs, which pay between double and triple what you're making, assuming you have 4-5 years of experience. Not to mention fed benefits and pension. Seems like DAs and PDs who would stay in the Mass court system with a few years of experience are likely the ones who aren't competitive to find anything better (e.g. if you went to a terrible law school, are a terrible writer, etc.), which sucks for both the victims of crimes and indigent people in Mass.


CPCS guy again.

Annnnd now you've crossed the line into asshole territory.


Doesn't mean I'm not right, though. My post wasn't intended as an insult towards you in anyway--you even said that you're considering moving to another PDs office for better pay and mentioned the high turnover in the Mass court system. The only reasons I can think of that anyone would willingly stick around as a Mass DA or PD after having 4-5 years of experience, besides the ones I listed (i.e. the person doesn't have better options), are is if money isn't an issue (independently wealthy, spousal support, etc.) or the person for some reason is geographic confined to Mass (which probably relates to a spouse and his/her income). I mean why else would someone stick around in an office that merely pays $40k /year when he/she could work somewhere else doing the same work for close to twice that (as a local PD), or between twice and triple that (at a Fed PD)? The high turnover seems to suggest that many people who work as DAs and PDs in the Mass court system are thinking similarly (even you said you're considering trying to move to a different state where you can earn a more reasonable salary), which is a problem because it's bad for both the victims of crimes and indigent people in Mass.

Anonymous User wrote:+1. Quite disrespectful. Also naive. Most FD shops won't even look at you until you've had years of state PD experience.


4-5 years of state PD experience is sufficient for most federal PDs offices.

Anonymous User wrote:And I've spoken with several current FDs who, while happy with the better pay and resources (except, of course, when there are shutdowns or sequestration), miss the work they did in state court - they felt they made more of a difference there.


It all depends on the person and what exactly they are doing at the FD's office. Can't imagine there's too many PDs who wouldn't jump ship for the better pay, better resources, more challenging cases, etc., while still getting to do similar work. The better resources thing is pretty big one, and probably has a lot to do with the generally higher quality representation that's given at the federal level (i.e. you simply can't provide the same level of representation when you have 150 cases and are spending an average of 8 minutes on a case that can if you only have 30 cases and have the time to really work up your cases).


I wonder if you have worked in a federal defender's office? I have experience with both state and federal PDs and I can tell you that while you're absolutely right about the better pay, better resources, and lower caseloads on the federal level, there are still a lot of reasons why a qualified person would choose to stay at the state level. For one, as already identified, many people believe they can have more of an impact on the state level. With federal sentences as high as they are (and still so constrained by the Guidelines), almost no one risks going to trial on the federal level; you're in trial maybe once or twice a year if not less. Some people love the excitement of going to trial and being in court all the time. And it feels a hell of a lot better to actually win at trial as compared to just getting a decent plea deal.

And the range of crimes you see on the federal level is inherently much more narrow than at the state level. That can vary too depending on which region you're in, but in a lot of federal offices they see the same few crimes over and over, and they're often crimes that are considered less interesting and/or harder to defend against (for example, criminal re-entry in the border districts, computer child porn in Seattle, fraud and felon-in-possession almost everywhere).

I had the opportunity to go to a federal defenders; I turned it down to go to a state PD and get paid about half as much. Maybe that calculus will feel different in a few years when I'm thinking about having a kid or buying a house. But I think you're really selling state PDs unfairly short -- plenty of people stay at that level by choice.

User avatar
XxSpyKEx
Posts: 1741
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:48 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
Well, or federal PD jobs, which pay between double and triple what you're making, assuming you have 4-5 years of experience. Not to mention fed benefits and pension. Seems like DAs and PDs who would stay in the Mass court system with a few years of experience are likely the ones who aren't competitive to find anything better (e.g. if you went to a terrible law school, are a terrible writer, etc.), which sucks for both the victims of crimes and indigent people in Mass.


CPCS guy again.

Annnnd now you've crossed the line into asshole territory.


Doesn't mean I'm not right, though. My post wasn't intended as an insult towards you in anyway--you even said that you're considering moving to another PDs office for better pay and mentioned the high turnover in the Mass court system. The only reasons I can think of that anyone would willingly stick around as a Mass DA or PD after having 4-5 years of experience, besides the ones I listed (i.e. the person doesn't have better options), are is if money isn't an issue (independently wealthy, spousal support, etc.) or the person for some reason is geographic confined to Mass (which probably relates to a spouse and his/her income). I mean why else would someone stick around in an office that merely pays $40k /year when he/she could work somewhere else doing the same work for close to twice that (as a local PD), or between twice and triple that (at a Fed PD)? The high turnover seems to suggest that many people who work as DAs and PDs in the Mass court system are thinking similarly (even you said you're considering trying to move to a different state where you can earn a more reasonable salary), which is a problem because it's bad for both the victims of crimes and indigent people in Mass.

Anonymous User wrote:+1. Quite disrespectful. Also naive. Most FD shops won't even look at you until you've had years of state PD experience.


4-5 years of state PD experience is sufficient for most federal PDs offices.

Anonymous User wrote:And I've spoken with several current FDs who, while happy with the better pay and resources (except, of course, when there are shutdowns or sequestration), miss the work they did in state court - they felt they made more of a difference there.


It all depends on the person and what exactly they are doing at the FD's office. Can't imagine there's too many PDs who wouldn't jump ship for the better pay, better resources, more challenging cases, etc., while still getting to do similar work. The better resources thing is pretty big one, and probably has a lot to do with the generally higher quality representation that's given at the federal level (i.e. you simply can't provide the same level of representation when you have 150 cases and are spending an average of 8 minutes on a case that can if you only have 30 cases and have the time to really work up your cases).


I wonder if you have worked in a federal defender's office? I have experience with both state and federal PDs and I can tell you that while you're absolutely right about the better pay, better resources, and lower caseloads on the federal level, there are still a lot of reasons why a qualified person would choose to stay at the state level. For one, as already identified, many people believe they can have more of an impact on the state level. With federal sentences as high as they are (and still so constrained by the Guidelines), almost no one risks going to trial on the federal level; you're in trial maybe once or twice a year if not less. Some people love the excitement of going to trial and being in court all the time. And it feels a hell of a lot better to actually win at trial as compared to just getting a decent plea deal.

And the range of crimes you see on the federal level is inherently much more narrow than at the state level. That can vary too depending on which region you're in, but in a lot of federal offices they see the same few crimes over and over, and they're often crimes that are considered less interesting and/or harder to defend against (for example, criminal re-entry in the border districts, computer child porn in Seattle, fraud and felon-in-possession almost everywhere).

I had the opportunity to go to a federal defenders; I turned it down to go to a state PD and get paid about half as much. Maybe that calculus will feel different in a few years when I'm thinking about having a kid or buying a house. But I think you're really selling state PDs unfairly short -- plenty of people stay at that level by choice.


I'm surprised you turned down the Fed PD job for a state PD job (I really don't think that's very common), given the salary and resources difference. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. But I do want to add to your point re: being able to make a larger impact at the state level. The work's just different at the federal level than it is at the state level. I mean you're right that you're probably never going win trials at the federal level due to the amount of money the government spends on each case that they bring. But the reason you can win some state level cases is because local prosecutors do their fly-by-night criminal prosecutions. Those cases should have been built a lot stronger or not brought at all (and in the latter case, it was a giant waste of tax payer dollars). The amount of trials you do also largely related to where you practice. There's definitely PDs offices where you won't do more than 1-2 trials per year at the local level. Moreover, the work in the federal side is more on related to sentencing by trying to find any and all mitigation that applies to a particular case to reduce the sentence a particular person receives, rather than to get an acquittal (which doesn't happen very frequently on the local levels either). This can sometimes make a pretty big difference in a convict's life. There's also a lot of large drug cases and major fraud cases (and white collar cases, depending on what you consider white collar and the particular office you work for) at the federal level, which is something that's pretty limited at the state level. Also, btw, child porn's big everywhere in the federal system (not just Seattle). The DoJ decided to make child porn this this big thing like a decade ago or so, and they've been prosecuting those cases heavily everywhere.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:36 pm

Don't want this thread to get too sidetracked but for the people who look at this at the beginning of their application cycle I think some stuff should get straightened out. Also, good luck to all of the 3L's here.

- Pretty sure the pay increases with experience at CPCS, it sounds like the assumption is that it stays at a flat $40k even when you're 5 years in. I doubt thats the case but I work at a different PD so I'm not sure.

- Don't mean to be a CPCS apologist here, but PD's in Florida apparently start out in the 30's and legal aid is in the high 40s with NYC prices. People become PD's like people who decide to teach in the inner city.

- Also, New Englanders seem to have a tendency to want to stay put more than other folks, I'd guess thats part of CPCS's retention.

- Aren't most Fed Defenders private non-profits with contracts? This negates all of the "federal" benefits like pension etc.. Not to say that the non-profits don't have good benefits but it's not the same as being a federal employee.

- Fed defenders obviously do all kinds of stuff but from what I know, its mostly dealing with immigration and child porn stuff, not a lot of variety usually.

Void
Posts: 857
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:56 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Void » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:40 pm

This thread is getting dumb. The law student who doesn't know wtf he's talking about should shut up so that the actual attorneys can offer actual information to people who actually want to be public defenders.

User avatar
XxSpyKEx
Posts: 1741
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:48 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:- Aren't most Fed Defenders private non-profits with contracts? This negates all of the "federal" benefits like pension etc.. Not to say that the non-profits don't have good benefits but it's not the same as being a federal employee.


It depends on the office, but the overwhelming number of federal PD offices are federal employers. Basically, the federal community defenders and such are nonprofits (this includes PDS), but the "federal public defender" offices are federal offices, and employees get full federal benefits. The only major difference at the nonprofits is that they don't offer pension (which is a big), but the salary and other benefits seem like they are similar (they get funded pretty well, since it's Congress that funds them).

Anonymous User wrote:- Fed defenders obviously do all kinds of stuff but from what I know, its mostly dealing with immigration and child porn stuff, not a lot of variety usually.


Depends on office. Border offices have a ton of immigration cases. All offices have a lot of child porn cases. All offices have a ton of drugs and guns cases, along with ton of fraud/white collar cases. Many local crimes are also federal offenses and can be charged as that, so you definitely get cases like murders, criminal sexual assault, etc. on the federal side, but a lot less of them.

Void wrote:This thread is getting dumb. The law student who doesn't know wtf he's talking about should shut up so that the actual attorneys can offer actual information to people who actually want to be public defenders.


I am an actual attorney who's been practicing for years (just look at my join date on TLS--I'm probably one of the oldest active accounts on TLS), and I have a great deal of knowledge about PD offices (particularly in the federal realm). I'm not posting anonymously, so I don't really want to out myself by explaining my experience, who I've talked to, or why I know what I do. But it sounds like you would rather just have this thread be more or less about where interviews have happened and what PD offices have made offers, so I'll stop posting on here.

Best of luck with your search.

Void
Posts: 857
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:56 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Void » Fri Mar 27, 2015 8:52 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:
I am an actual attorney who's been practicing for years (just look at my join date on TLS--I'm probably one of the oldest active accounts on TLS), and I have a great deal of knowledge about PD offices (particularly in the federal realm). I'm not posting anonymously, so I don't really want to out myself by explaining my experience, who I've talked to, or why I know what I do. But it sounds like you would rather just have this thread be more or less about where interviews have happened and what PD offices have made offers, so I'll stop posting on here.

Best of luck with your search.


You are neither an aspiring PD nor a PD. You do not have a great deal of knowledge about PD offices, as exemplified by the sweeping generalizations and ignorant assumptions in your posts. I'm not sure why you thought your perspective was valuable here.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:27 pm

and now for something completely different (from this unproductive flame war):

Has anyone yet been contacted by CPCS for a third round interview (the one after the panel)? Just curious. Would assume those are starting to happen, or happening maybe early April, but who the hell knows.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:and now for something completely different (from this unproductive flame war):

Has anyone yet been contacted by CPCS for a third round interview (the one after the panel)? Just curious. Would assume those are starting to happen, or happening maybe early April, but who the hell knows.


There isn't necessarily a third round interview for all candidates after the panel. They're also insanely behind on their interviewing because of all of the snow storms during February, since interviews were mostly held on Mondays and Tuesdays. From what I hear, the earliest they'll be making offers is towards the middle of April.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 28, 2015 11:23 am

Does anyone know how many LAS JRP they are interviewing or hiring? Apparently they are doing final round interviews in mid-April and make offers but they hire some in October too. Has anyone heard anything yet?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273044
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Public Defender Applications

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 28, 2015 5:09 pm

Has LAS JRP scheduled the final round interviews yet? A friend and I both had second-round interviews in late 2014 and are waiting to hear something from them.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.