Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

(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.
eric922
Posts: 311
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:05 pm

Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby eric922 » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:36 pm

Here and elsewhere I've seen some posts that mention that if want to go into biglaw, but don't have the grades after law school one of the best ways is to get on with the DA and get some trial experience and then apply for a biglaw job. However, the DA always seems to be the example I've seen and never public defenders. So I was just wondering do firms have more respect for DAs than they do public defenders?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273340
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:28 am

Is DA -> biglaw really a feasible route outside of a handful of high profile locales -- and "handful" is probably an exaggeration? I mean, I worked for several years in a litigation group at one of Kirkland/Sidley/Mayer Chicago and didn't know a single former Cook County SA.

AUSAs? Sure. Several of those. That seems like a good route. But if you don't have the credentials for biglaw, good luck getting an AUSA gig. State AGs? One or two of those as well, especially in regulatory-specific fields. So if you're OK making $60k for ten years while you build up a base of very specific knowledge in the off chance a firm needs an of counsel in that area, this is probably a good plan. (I'm actually being serious in this regard -- it really is a good career path if you are patient.) But DAs or state's attorneys? Didn't know anyone.

Folks, there are no shortcuts. The places that pay shocking amounts of money for twenty-somethings do so because there are signals that those twenty-somethings are reaaaaaallllly smart and hard-working. That means good grades from a great school (T14), great grades from a good school (maybe top 30 or so), or top-of-the-class grades from everywhere else. You can't cheat this basic fact of life by going and slumming it in the KC district attorney's office or whatever.

User avatar
Borhas
Posts: 4855
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 6:09 pm

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby Borhas » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:40 am

I think you got some bad advice.

User avatar
dingbat
Posts: 4976
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:12 pm

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby dingbat » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:45 am

eric922 wrote:Here and elsewhere I've seen some posts that mention that if want to go into biglaw, but don't have the grades after law school one of the best ways is to get on with the DA and get some trial experience and then apply for a biglaw job. However, the DA always seems to be the example I've seen and never public defenders. So I was just wondering do firms have more respect for DAs than they do public defenders?

If you want to get biglaw and miss the boat, your chances become very small. Your best bet is to go out there and make something of yourself. Maybe, just maybe, you can then get into biglaw, after you're successful.

User avatar
Borhas
Posts: 4855
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 6:09 pm

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby Borhas » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:48 am

But if you are successful there is no reason to go to big law

anon168
Posts: 920
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby anon168 » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:50 am

eric922 wrote:Here and elsewhere I've seen some posts that mention that if want to go into biglaw, but don't have the grades after law school one of the best ways is to get on with the DA and get some trial experience and then apply for a biglaw job. However, the DA always seems to be the example I've seen and never public defenders. So I was just wondering do firms have more respect for DAs than they do public defenders?


Yes. In fact, just about everyone has more respect for prosecutors than they do for PDs.

User avatar
AreJay711
Posts: 3406
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby AreJay711 » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:52 am

Borhas wrote:But if you are successful there is no reason to go to big law


Yeah. The thing is, if you are able to be good enough to make yourself attractive to these big firms you are probably good enough to stand on your own or at a relatively small firm and make just as much money and handle the same quality of cases (even if they are smaller in scope). I don't know why someone would willingly entangle themselves with a biglaw firm if they could do the same work outside it.

eric922
Posts: 311
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:05 pm

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby eric922 » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:54 am

Thanks for the answers everyone. I wasn't planning on doing this. I'm not in law school yet so my goal is to get the grades necessary for biglaw, granted it's probably much easier said than done. My main reason for posting this thread was the question regarding DA v. public defenders in terms of respect among the legal profession. Looking over my original post I can see how that might be unclear.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273340
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:58 am

I'm a prosecutor and I think it's a shame but its true. The public and judges tend to hold prosecutors in a higher regard than public defenders for a whole host of reasons. None of them particularly good ones, in my view.

User avatar
Tanicius
Posts: 2957
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:54 am

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby Tanicius » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:20 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a prosecutor and I think it's a shame but its true. The public and judges tend to hold prosecutors in a higher regard than public defenders for a whole host of reasons. None of them particularly good ones, in my view.



Yeah, I think there's two camps of people - those who respect PD's for what they do and recognize that they have a really, really hard job that needs doing for the betterment of everyone, and those who just shit on them because they don't understand or care for our 6th Amendment right to counsel.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273340
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:34 am

Nevermind. TMI.

Myself
Posts: 1372
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:36 pm

.

Postby Myself » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:37 am

.
Last edited by Myself on Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:07 am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11725
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby kalvano » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:54 am

The general public is typically unable to separate an attorney doing his or her job from the client they are representing. They equate a PD defending an alleged murderer with his or her condoning the action, or as some sort of "liberal nut" who doesn't think anyone should go to jail. DA's put bad guys away and PD's set them free. That's the perception, fair or not.

The public in general seems to have a lot of issues with legal ideas, such as representing a client you hate, or presenting alternate theories in a brief or motion, or that representing a client means you endorse their viewpoint.

User avatar
Lwoods
Posts: 1484
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:27 am

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby Lwoods » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:21 pm

Depending on the locality, prosecutors' offices may be more of a career than PD. For at least a period of time in my hometown, all of the public defenders worked part time. There were maybe one or two part-time prosecutors, too, but most were full time. I'm not sure if that's a small city phenomenon (bigger cities obv have FT PDs) or unique to my specific hometown, but I've always seen being a prosecutor as more of a career and public defender as either a side "do good" job or a job an experienced attorney takes when they want a better work/life balance.

Curiosity13
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:27 pm

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby Curiosity13 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:06 pm

It really depends on where you are and what the career progression is that you're seeking. The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia for example is extremely well-respected and probably has a better reputation than most district attorneys offices around the country. The same goes for the San Francisco Public Defender Office, The Bronx Defenders, and The Miami Defenders. The offices I mentioned are all extremely well-respected, super competitive and hire "biglaw" caliber candidates. The reason that you don't see PD to Biglaw is that most PDs never wanted to do biglaw in the first place so they don't try to lateral. Most PDs, believe it or not, actually have dreams of sitting on the bench. Surprisingly, a lot of them realize their dream too. You wouldn't believe how many judges in Boston, MA were former public defenders.

User avatar
prezidentv8
Posts: 2821
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:33 am

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:15 pm

kalvano wrote:The general public is typically unable to separate an attorney doing his or her job from the client they are representing. They equate a PD defending an alleged murderer with his or her condoning the action, or as some sort of "liberal nut" who doesn't think anyone should go to jail. DA's put bad guys away and PD's set them free. That's the perception, fair or not.

The public in general seems to have a lot of issues with legal ideas, such as representing a client you hate, or presenting alternate theories in a brief or motion, or that representing a client means you endorse their viewpoint.


I heard a very derpy rant on our local crazy right ring talk radio station (listening because of the derp, not because I am crazy right winger) that basically went something like this:

DERP wrote:IF OBAMA HAS HIS WAY AND TAKES AWAY THE SECOND AMENDMENT THEN BIG GUBMINT WILL ALSO EVENTUALLY TAKE AWAY THAT 4TH AMENDMENT THAT LIBRULS LOVE SO MUCH AND THOSE LIBRUL PUBLIK DEFENDERS - WHO BY THE WAY ARE CRIMINALS - WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO USE THE 4TH AMENDMENT TO KEEP CRIMINALS ON THE STREETS. THOSE SO CALLED CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYERS ARE CRIMINALS AND SHOULD BE LOCKED UP! THEY'RE MENACES TO SOCIETY!

Anonymous User
Posts: 273340
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:37 pm

Curiosity13 wrote:It really depends on where you are and what the career progression is that you're seeking. The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia for example is extremely well-respected and probably has a better reputation than most district attorneys offices around the country.

This is true, but it also makes it very highly selective.

I'm from a T6 and starting at a V20 this fall and I couldn't get PDS. I had a good PI oriented resume I interned for Legal Aid in 1L, I had other pro bono work, and nothing. I couldn't get an unpaid internship with them for 2L summer so I took a BigLaw SA offer instead. I'm hoping to get some white-collar experience and pay down my loans and then try again.

PDS is hard to get even for people who really want it. It's not a backup plan for anyone.

Curiosity13
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:27 pm

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby Curiosity13 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:38 am

To the anonymous user directly above me:

You are right, PDS is highly selective and extremely competitive. It's really interesting because I had the exact opposite experience of you. I didn't have the grades for biglaw (never wanted to do biglaw anyway so it wasn't really saddening). I, however, not only got a 2L internship with them but just got an offer for post-graduate employment with them this week. I go to a top-30 school. PDS is shifting a bit in what they are looking for. If you like, I'd be more than happy to speak with you and talk about the application/interview process and what I believe they're looking for.

dixiecupdrinking
Posts: 3142
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:39 pm

Re: Are prosecutors more respected than public defenders?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:06 pm

The only answer to this question, of course, is "more respected by whom?"




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.