Public Defender

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bartleby
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Public Defender

Postby bartleby » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:22 pm

hi all, my grades are shit. i think i have a decent chance of bringing them back up but how hard is it to become a public defender? i know prosecution is where everyone wants to be but i'm really, really interested in being a public defender

a few months ago an acquaintance got raided/arrested all that kind of stuff, lived w/ his immigrant family, no money, no real knowledge of what to do. got a public defender and today had some terrible plea bargain where he had to testify and serve hard time. i know he deserved it and all but i felt more for his 'rents and the people who get shit on by the system.

is it hard to become a public defender? i don't really care about the $ that much because i'll be close to debt free and my fiancee is making okay dollars. i know i won't be dealing with sympathetic people 90% of the time but is there any upward mobility (assuming it's not hard to be a p.d. to begin with)

thanks

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MrPapagiorgio
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Re: Public Defender

Postby MrPapagiorgio » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:31 pm

PD jobs shouldn't be seen as something to fall back on because of the unglamorous/low-paying nature of the job. Believe it or not, there are people with high grades who want PD positions.

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FlanAl
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Re: Public Defender

Postby FlanAl » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:34 pm

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=155423

depends on the state. I've only really researched California and its really not easy to get. New grads can get an unpaid clerkship with offices for a year, at the end of the year you might get hired, a fair number work unpaid for the year and get told to try and find something else.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Defender

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:36 pm

In GA, they don't really look at grades for regular PDs. You just need to have demonstrated interest and interview well.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Defender

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:38 pm

PD jobs in major cities are incredibly difficult to get, esp in this economy where most offices are not hiring or hiring very few people. They are intensely competitive positions that require a demonstrated commitment to the area. Public interest is not a fallback career. That said, I think in suburbs and country these jobs are more widely available and easier to get.

bartleby
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Re: Public Defender

Postby bartleby » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:47 pm

alright, good to know. i know nothing in this economy is a freebie but just trying to get an understanding of the market. yeah i saw that thread also, and figured it was just prosecution gunners (which is obviously a much more desirable job)

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FlanAl
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Re: Public Defender

Postby FlanAl » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:19 am

bartleby wrote:alright, good to know. i know nothing in this economy is a freebie but just trying to get an understanding of the market. yeah i saw that thread also, and figured it was just prosecution gunners (which is obviously a much more desirable job)


depends again on where you are. a lot of places the pay, advancement etc. is the same.

bartleby
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Re: Public Defender

Postby bartleby » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:29 am

mmm, i was thinking more along the lines of "i'm harvey dent" and "i'm doing the right thing" v. defending someone who you might not like and raped two girls or something.

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MrPapagiorgio
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Re: Public Defender

Postby MrPapagiorgio » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:34 am

bartleby wrote:mmm, i was thinking more along the lines of "i'm harvey dent" and "i'm doing the right thing" v. defending someone who you might not like and raped two girls or something.

If you want to do PD, you're gonna get those clients.

bartleby
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Re: Public Defender

Postby bartleby » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:37 am

MrPapagiorgio wrote:
bartleby wrote:mmm, i was thinking more along the lines of "i'm harvey dent" and "i'm doing the right thing" v. defending someone who you might not like and raped two girls or something.

If you want to do PD, you're gonna get those clients.


which i'm 100% cool with - i was just saying that's why i thought it would be a much less desirable job than ada in training

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MrPapagiorgio
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Re: Public Defender

Postby MrPapagiorgio » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:50 am

bartleby wrote:
MrPapagiorgio wrote:
bartleby wrote:mmm, i was thinking more along the lines of "i'm harvey dent" and "i'm doing the right thing" v. defending someone who you might not like and raped two girls or something.

If you want to do PD, you're gonna get those clients.


which i'm 100% cool with - i was just saying that's why i thought it would be a much less desirable job than ada in training

Fair enough, but it's still great litigation experience and is a good way to start developing client relation skills. That, when coupled with the urge to help the underprivileged, is what draws many people at top schools with top grades to PD jobs.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Defender

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:55 am

bartleby wrote:
MrPapagiorgio wrote:
bartleby wrote:mmm, i was thinking more along the lines of "i'm harvey dent" and "i'm doing the right thing" v. defending someone who you might not like and raped two girls or something.

If you want to do PD, you're gonna get those clients.


which i'm 100% cool with - i was just saying that's why i thought it would be a much less desirable job than ada in training


I never really got the impression that ADA positions were much more desirable than PD positions, especially considering the mentality of law students.

bartleby
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Re: Public Defender

Postby bartleby » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:55 am

good points - i had no idea. i thought P.D. was really bottom of the barrel for people who wanted to do that kind of stuff. mostly because i assumed (from tv and stuff) that P.D. do not give a shit and that's why a bunch of poor people are in jail. i'm not sure if this should be anonymously posted or not but i can't see why it should be.

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Birdman
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Re: Public Defender

Postby Birdman » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:12 am

At least for big city public defenders, they are very hard jobs to get in CA.

Put it this way... in SD starting pay is 60k, followed by step increases and promotions, within 10 years you'll likely be making over 100k (just in time to have your debt discharged through IBR, hooray!), with your salary maxing out in the 150s (if you get management).

In SF the STARTING salary is 100k (small office tho). Something similar in Santa Clara as well.

Good pay, great benefits, actual vacations that you are allowed to use... and you get to help underprivileged poor people.

Its a great career choice, and it appears law students are catching on bc they are super competitive to get.

OP, if you want to work for the public defender, the number one thing to do is to intern for an office as much as you can.

Void
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Re: Public Defender

Postby Void » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:18 am

Around here it's harder than getting a big private firm job. Plenty of people specifically go to really good law schools to become Public Defenders. It's definitely not the fall-back position for burnt-out drunks it might have been in like the early 70s, or as it's represented in Hollywood. In fact, the ironic thing is that if you need a criminal defense attorney, you're more likely to end up with the burnt-out drunk if you go with private counsel. Public Defenders are most commonly people who really want to be doing what they're doing, and are also really great at what they do. Your friend and his " 'rents " probably got a better deal than you think.

rad lulz
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Re: Public Defender

Postby rad lulz » Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:That said, I think in suburbs and country these jobs are more widely available and easier to get.

I dunno about that. There are barely any PD jobs in the country.

Norwood
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Re: Public Defender

Postby Norwood » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:48 pm

externed for a judge last summer and met a lot of DAs and PDs. the PDs said they have a VERY tiny office and all of them have been there or plan to be there long term. There simply isn't a budget to expand an office. they mentioned that there is definitely a huge luck component in being hired, like someone retiring or leaving the moment you send in your resume. also, they said their two latest hires worked biglaw/clerked prior to joining them. so getting PD is far from a fall back.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Public Defender

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:54 pm

PD jobs are available in many rural areas, especially close to NA reservations.

Although competitive, demonstrated interest & strong interviewing skills are more important than grades/class rank.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Defender

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:50 pm

That last post is spot on. If you're willing to work outside of a big city, there are PD jobs to be had. PD jobs in major cities though are usually harder to get than top firm jobs.

bartleby
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Re: Public Defender

Postby bartleby » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:05 pm

doc reviewwwwww

goodolgil
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Re: Public Defender

Postby goodolgil » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:17 pm

Hard to get, but they don't really care about grades at all. Care about school prestige to a greater extent than grades, but still not on the level of biglaw.

Demonstrate a commitment early (as in, 1L summer or in-semester internship with local office)

seatown12
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Re: Public Defender

Postby seatown12 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:39 am

OP, the first step is convincing the office you are passionate about defending people accused of crimes. This is how they screen the first round of applicants, and it sounds like you are going to have a tough time getting through that round.

It's not harder to get a DA job than a PD job, so if you think being a DA is more desirable just do that. Neither make decisions based on grades.


Anonymous User wrote:That last post is spot on. If you're willing to work outside of a big city, there are PD jobs to be had. PD jobs in major cities though are usually harder to get than top firm jobs.

This is true, but to get one of those rural jobs you will have to convince the office you want to live in that area long term.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Public Defender

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:43 am

May or may not be accurate about pledging to stay long-tern in a rural area. Some systems offer transfer options after a few years in order to attract young attorneys to rural areas. depends upon the state & the PD system within that particular state or jurisdiction.

seatown12
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Re: Public Defender

Postby seatown12 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:20 pm

If you are hired in a state that has a state-based system you may be able to transfer out of the rural area, but obviously not if you are hired by a county PD.

This report (LinkRemoved) shows which states have state-based systems and which have county-based.

Anonymous User
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Re: Public Defender

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:31 pm

In the Bay Area DA jobs tend to be easier to get in that fewer T14 grads are going to them compared to PD jobs.




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