Strange seeing so many people on here discussing Public Defender (PD) jobs.
PD offices are laying off people left and right, budgets getting slashed, etc: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/us/pu ... d=all&_r=0 http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/budget ... -1.1527554
PD offices are "ripe" for budget slashing since the cuts are politically painless. 99% of criminals are nailed dead-to-rights anyway and all the PD does is haggle with the prosecutor over sentencing or charge downgrades. It's not going to be like Law & Order- believe it or not, that is actually a fictional program with actors who portray attorneys- not a documentary of a typical "day in the life" of a prosecutors and PD's.
You'd be better off and earn more $$$ just giving up on law altogether and becoming a postal worker, corrections officer, or cop (all of whom earn far more than PD for a lot less work and aggravation). I also recommend vo-tech programs in the licensed trades (electrical, plumbing, etc). It's highly doubtful any of you will realize a sufficient income as attorneys to support yourselves in the traditional middle-class sense, as the industry is in severe decline and suffers an astronomical over-saturation problem.
Imagine working at a PD office in some small city/town, going to work everyday walking past the high-school educated security guard who makes 2 X what you do, working a long 12 hour day, going home to some crappy shared apartment with a pile of Sallie Mae delinquent notices overflowing from the mailbox, etc.
The smartest thing to do at this point is get away from law altogether and focus on finding employment in other areas. Law as a "career" is pretty much over. Even Biglaw needs to get a LOT smaller: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/20 ... ot-smaller
Betcha by mid to late 2014 another round of layoffs, no-offers, rescinded offers, etc will come crashing down. What will be interesting is whether a lot of 1 and 2 L's decide to just drop out if Biglaw suffers another 2008-09 style downturn. No point at all in going to lawschool unless you get Biglaw, since below that level salaries are at GED/unskilled laborer levels when student loan debt is subtracted from salary.