Anonymous User wrote: Anonymous User wrote: Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hey everyone,
I work at the Nassau County Legal Aid Society, and we have a wave of people leaving. There are open positions NOW, and we'll also hopefully hire a bigger-than-usual class to start in the fall (by which I mean 6-7 rather than 4-5). Selling points: you can live in NYC, many of your co-workers will be pretty great, you can get more litigation than in the city, and you'll have more of an opportunity to push for systemic change than you would at other PD offices (basically because both the courts and the office itself have significant problems that NEED to be addressed).
I get that it's not anyone's first choice -- it certainly wasn't mine -- but we're in dire need of new hires who are committed to PD work. Seriously, our next crop of attorneys could determine whether we can force our office and the courts to get their shit together, or whether we'll remain forever complicit in injustice.
Anyway, I thought I'd put Nassau on everyone's radar as options start to dry up (isn't it an awful feeling?), and I'd be happy to talk with anyone who is at all interested in applying.
I'm definitely applying! Would you be open to share your experience working in the office via PM?
Yeah, definitely. I'm pretty sure I can't PM an anon, though, right?
Not the same poster you were replying to, but I'd also be very interested in learning some of your experience there. Mind sharing a few details with the thread?
My specific questions are about the workload, type of work, culture at the office, etc. General stuff. Thanks!
First, there's a very particular structure to an entry-level job at Nassau. We commit to the office for three years, and about 97% of us get fired after those three years. The lucky (*cough*) few who don't get fired move up to felony court, and the rest of us do all misdemeanors all the time. The three-and-out system has some very perverse effects: it makes it hard for us to organize to change the office; it creates a disincentive for training and support; and overall contributes to an attitude that misdemeanor attorneys are just interchangeable parts, performing certain functions in a machine designed and controlled by management. A lot of how we operate is still very horizontal. Misdemeanor court is at least beginning to aspire to verticality, but a lot of times we're covering other people's cases and other people are covering ours. We staff courtrooms first, and have caseloads second.
So on to your questions:
Workload varies. An established misdemeanor attorney will have 150-200 cases at a time, but for some people it's a 9-5 job and for others it's 12-hour days and work on the weekends. Some people work VERY hard, and some people coast. (Management doesn't reward the former nearly as much as you'd hope.)
In terms of types of cases, we have a lot of drug possession, DWIs, other traffic bullshit, petit larceny, and assault, and then an assortment of other things. Right now, DWIs end up in litigation and trial most often because the DAs almost never give offers on them. Later in the three years everyone gets assigned to a specialty courtroom, and your workload will shift in that direction (DV, vets, drugs, mental health, sex work, etc.).
Culture-wise, almost everyone believes deeply in the work, and there's a general recognition that the status quo in Nassau County is not okay. Some people are very committed to pushing for systemic change; some want to tinker around the edges; others want to fight for their clients but aren't interested in the bigger fight (even if they recognize the problems). Overall, misdemeanor court is a pretty tight-knit group for a workplace, because we're all in court together every day and we all have the same frustrations, but inter-bureau socializing is rare.
The office is definitely changing (for better or worse depends on who you ask). For years management has been locked into the way things have always been in Nassau, but now more people are coming in from outside who have seen public defense done right and aren't okay with just being part of the plea-bargaining assembly line. So, honestly, even though there are a lot of issues with the office, there are also lots of opportunities for improvement, and I think it's an exciting time to be here.