Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

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AllezOM
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby AllezOM » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:55 pm

jddt19 wrote:To the current LEO... one of my buddies as an ASA was a former LEO of decent rank. He went to law school after putting in his 20. He got hired (in large part) because he knew people who knew people- no shame in that, and I'm certainly in the same boat. I thought he was an excellent ASA and he had a kind of credibility with the police that other young prosecutors will never have (ie- he had no problem telling police he wasn't charging a case b/c their investigation was lazy or that they did terrible on the DUI SFSTs and he wasn't going to claim otherwise at trial. He could say these things in a way a junior prosecutor just can't. So, I think it can certainly be helpful having prior LEO experience. Though, as you probably know all too well in coming up as an LEO, who you know can often trump what you know. Best of luck!


Thanks for the insight!

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Pumpkin_Pie
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Pumpkin_Pie » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:56 am

Great info. Thanks everyone.

Burple
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Burple » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:56 am

My interview went okay. I probably should have been more prepared, but I figured I wouldn't get the job anyway, given my lack of trial experience. Oddly enough, this office didn't expect me to have trial experience. This is the first office I've interviewed with that did mostly misdemeanors.

I have another question. One of the DA's I interviewed with suggested that I get some felony trial experience, and he told me to contact another DA to get an internship in that DA's office. He said that after I had done that, he could definitely hire me. Anyway, I called this DA's office and spoke to his secretary. She said that they do hire interns, and she told me to send her my resume. I did. I waited a little over 2 weeks for a reply from her. She didn't reply, so I called and asked if she had gotten my information. She said that the DA had been in court the whole time and that she hadn't had a chance to ask him about the possible internship. Now, it's 5 or 6 weeks after I first contacted her. I still haven't heard anything from them. I've seen the DA posing for pictures online within that timeframe. I also find it hard to believe that he goes straight to court every day and never goes by the office. What do you think the deal is? Does this woman not want me to intern at their office or are DA's really that busy that you cannot ask them one simple question?

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Band A Long
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Band A Long » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:17 am

Thanks to all, great answers. I have a few questions of my own:

1. Sort of a culture-related question, but is it possible to hunt for more entry-level lower-population prosecutorial spots right out of the gate of law school? I'm personally not a big city-person and would love to work in criminal law but with more reasonable hours and potentially with access to more outdoorsy type of stuff (as silly as it sounds). Are county offices and the like very skeptical of that sort of thing?

2. Is it better (with respect to the above Q) to try to get experience in a big city DA office first if one's end-goal is to live in a more moderately-sized town?

3. How important, in your experience, are moot/LR/SBA in law school?

4. Is it worth taking clinics/extra courses related to criminal law?

5. I know this is vague but I gotta ask it since it's constantly on my mind... when you were deciding between law schools, did you go (generally speaking) for the higher rank + higher debt or lower rank + bigger scholarship angle? Is that sort of discussion useful in this context (i.e. did/do a lot of your coworkers come from high-ranked schools with lots of debt or more regional schools on scholarships?)

Thanks so much for any insight you can share!

Rootbeer
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Rootbeer » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:51 am

Burple wrote:My interview went okay. I probably should have been more prepared, but I figured I wouldn't get the job anyway, given my lack of trial experience. Oddly enough, this office didn't expect me to have trial experience. This is the first office I've interviewed with that did mostly misdemeanors.

I have another question. One of the DA's I interviewed with suggested that I get some felony trial experience, and he told me to contact another DA to get an internship in that DA's office. He said that after I had done that, he could definitely hire me. Anyway, I called this DA's office and spoke to his secretary. She said that they do hire interns, and she told me to send her my resume. I did. I waited a little over 2 weeks for a reply from her. She didn't reply, so I called and asked if she had gotten my information. She said that the DA had been in court the whole time and that she hadn't had a chance to ask him about the possible internship. Now, it's 5 or 6 weeks after I first contacted her. I still haven't heard anything from them. I've seen the DA posing for pictures online within that timeframe. I also find it hard to believe that he goes straight to court every day and never goes by the office. What do you think the deal is? Does this woman not want me to intern at their office or are DA's really that busy that you cannot ask them one simple question?


This must be an incredibly small office if the DA himself is going to court. I'm currently interning in an office with no paralegals, and even there the DA doesn't go to court. Considering that, I'm guessing it really is that busy and there isn't much in terms of help to deal with every case in the county.

Posing for pictures is also part of the job, so I wouldn't look too deep into that. It's also possible she just plain forgot. If she didn't want you to intern there she'd make some crap up like "We just don't have the resources at this time to take on interns this year." I'm skeptical she would try some passive aggressive shenanigans to get you to quit bothering the office...there are more efficient ways to achieve that goal. It might be a good idea just to follow up again. People get busy with stuff and forget things at DAs offices. Fussing about interns falls by the wayside sometimes.

Rootbeer
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Rootbeer » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:56 am

Band A Long wrote:Thanks to all, great answers. I have a few questions of my own:

1. Sort of a culture-related question, but is it possible to hunt for more entry-level lower-population prosecutorial spots right out of the gate of law school? I'm personally not a big city-person and would love to work in criminal law but with more reasonable hours and potentially with access to more outdoorsy type of stuff (as silly as it sounds). Are county offices and the like very skeptical of that sort of thing?

2. Is it better (with respect to the above Q) to try to get experience in a big city DA office first if one's end-goal is to live in a more moderately-sized town?

3. How important, in your experience, are moot/LR/SBA in law school?

4. Is it worth taking clinics/extra courses related to criminal law?

5. I know this is vague but I gotta ask it since it's constantly on my mind... when you were deciding between law schools, did you go (generally speaking) for the higher rank + higher debt or lower rank + bigger scholarship angle? Is that sort of discussion useful in this context (i.e. did/do a lot of your coworkers come from high-ranked schools with lots of debt or more regional schools on scholarships?)

Thanks so much for any insight you can share!


(Disclaimer: I'm only an intern and am still in law school, but I know a fair amount about these things anyway)

1. As far as I know, yes it is possible. It does, however, depend on the office. You'd have to ask around to figure out what each one's attitudes are. Some are skeptical, some aren't. Most don't hire pre-bar either way, though, so keep that in mind.

2. It depends on the office. Experience in the office you want to be in is usually best, but experience in big vs. smaller offices makes a difference and they have their own pluses and minuses. I think that working in an office that's similar in size/dealing with similar crimes to the one you want to work at is the best thing. Every single thing I mention depends on which particular office you're looking at, but big office experience can be good because you have to deal with a crazier environment, learn to be quicker on your feet, maybe deal with more interesting cases (if you're doing felony prelims), have the opportunity to observe or contribute to big cases (e.g. plenty of homicides or newspaper cases), maybe work in a specialized unit, and grow really thick skin. On the other hand, bigger offices tend to give interns the weeniest of cases, even in terms of felony prelims, because they don't trust you. This may result in you getting not many cases, depending on the office/unit you're in. Also, expect to receive a lot less help/feedback since the DAs/SAs won't have much time.

In smaller offices, they tend to trust the interns with more things and you may end up trying a wider variety of cases and take on things which bigger offices wouldn't dream of letting interns touch, like domestic violence cases with reluctant witnesses. They seem to want to give the interns more work since it is actually significantly beneficial for them to do so. Also, they will probably take more time to train you, give you more feedback, and be more willing to answer questions. On the other hand, you may just be doing DUIs all day if that's pretty much the only thing that happens in that district. Also, some smaller offices only trust you to do preliminary hearings (since you can re-file those if you screw up), but not misdemeanor trials or engage in negotiations.

Short answer: Maybe, maybe not...some offices might like that you were in a big office since they'll think if you can handle the craziness, you can handle their stuff. Some might like that you worked in a smaller office since you'll have a better idea of how they do business. I can tell you that you can't assume that you can jump into a new office knowing everything you need to because you've already worked in another office, big or small.

3. Not important at all unless you are in NYC or a few other gunner offices. There is a remote possibility that they could come in handy (moot court is the most likely to be useful, since you have to argue) or some nerd might care, but it's more likely they won't help you a damn bit in hiring or in doing the job. If you want to do appeals for the office they matter, but not if you want to do trials. I've gotten made fun of for bringing a Bluebook into a DA's office before.

4. Yes. Absolutely. Not taking clinicals is a dumb idea for prospective prosecutors. Also, there are some really good classes you should take that not only make you look good as a candidate, but are actually practical, like Crim Pro II, which is FAR more useful than Crim Pro I and Crim Law combined. Don't stop at Crim Pro I. It is mostly a bunch of dorkbaggery about search & seizure you will never use. Of course, you MUST know and will use the basics of 4th/6th amendment rights, but Crim Pro I wastes a lot time that would be better spent teaching a lot of what's taught in Crim Pro II (e.g. bail, preliminary hearings, discovery).

5. Me...no. I went to the school that has the best reputation for Trial Advocacy and clinical programs, knowing I wanted to be a prosecutor in the area my school is in. In most cases (NYC again is an exception), rank will not matter for the DA (still probably a good idea to avoid diploma mills, though). What will more likely matter is the work experience you can get during law school and if the school you go to is in the area of where you want to work.

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eav1277
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby eav1277 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:33 am

To the anonymous poster and OP (or anyone with knowledge on the subject), is the hiring as bad as everyone makes it out to be right now? I would love to go into a DA/PD position but the posts on here about PD/DA hiring are super discouraging. Esp the graduates working for free after graduation. Worth the risk (esp to the law student--rootbeer--who just posted)?

Anonymous User
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:46 am

say I want to transfer offices down the road, if I start out doing delinquency or dependency type cases, will having no jury trial experience really hurt my chances?

Void
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Void » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:46 am

eav1277 wrote:To the anonymous poster and OP (or anyone with knowledge on the subject), is the hiring as bad as everyone makes it out to be right now? I would love to go into a DA/PD position but the posts on here about PD/DA hiring are super discouraging. Esp the graduates working for free after graduation. Worth the risk (esp to the law student--rootbeer--who just posted)?


3L here. I will be working for free at a PD after graduation.

It is both as "bad" as it sounds and not actually that horrible. At least in my case, it sucks on one hand to be working for free, but on the other hand I know for sure that I will be hired one day. So I'd rather be volunteering and holding my place in line at the PD than doing some other type of legal work like at a small firm and hoping that I will get a PD interview later on.

PDs and DAs are government entities. The reality is that state (and federal) governments aren't generally doing very well these days, so it's tough to find a job. But if you are really dedicated and willing to make sacrifices (and if like me you're lucky enough to find a part-time, telecommuting legal research gig so you can scrape together some kind of rudimentary income) then you can make it in these fields.

But yeah, if you're asking whether you have a great chance at being hired right out of LS, the answer is unfortunately that you don't.

Rootbeer
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Rootbeer » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:43 pm

eav1277 wrote:To the anonymous poster and OP (or anyone with knowledge on the subject), is the hiring as bad as everyone makes it out to be right now? I would love to go into a DA/PD position but the posts on here about PD/DA hiring are super discouraging. Esp the graduates working for free after graduation. Worth the risk (esp to the law student--rootbeer--who just posted)?


It really depends on where you go and how far personal connections can take you in any given office. Void is a bit on the nose in saying, "It is both as 'bad' as it sounds and not actually that horrible." It's slowly getting better. In general, if you're looking to be a part of a class of new hires in a big city, a great deal of them are having budget issues and can't hire as many people as they would like or used to. If you haven't taken the plunge yet and don't have a compelling reason to do so right now at this moment in time, it might not be a bad idea to hold off law school and see where the economy is while using the time to forge relationships with people who work in the office you want to be in. I would advise that if being a DA is something you really have the passion for, then don't be afraid to go for it. But, make sure it's what you really want to do and do your research on the offices you want to be in.

I personally haven't secured a job yet, but my situation is a bit funky and I'll spare the details (if you really want to know, PM). With that said, I don't regret any of the time I've put in and every day I'm in court makes me a better/more marketable prosecutor. Everybody I know that really wanted to be a DA and did the work got a job somewhere. If you put in the time and don't bungle everything you won't go unemployed (unless you have your heart set on working in NYC or some CA districts). Of course, check back with me next year :D

In summary:
Do I personally think it's worth the risk? Yes. Is it as easy to get a DA/PD job as it used to be? No. Am I worried that I will be working at Starbucks after graduation? No.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:11 pm

I'll add that everyone I know who was gunning for PD/DA during law school got it, too. It's fairly common to have to work for free until you've passed the bar, because many govt entities can't/won't hire before you're admitted to a bar. Some people find this offensive, but it is what it is - plus, it's not generally indefinite; usually once you get your bar results you either get the job or leave. You do have to put in your time during law school - if you don't intern/do clinics you're not going to have a lot of luck getting one of these jobs. In that respect, they're not easy to get. And some offices may not be able to hire at particular times, or can't hire as many people as they really need/want to hire. So I agree that Void's description is apt.

I think one of the things that's tricky about PD/DA is that to have the best shot, you need to come in gunning for it from day 1 - the people I know who did it interned with them all through law school, did the crim law clinics, took the crim pro and trial ad courses, etc. I think it's tough to follow this route if 3L year you say, gosh, crim is kinda interesting, maybe I should consider that. (It's not impossible, but likely harder.)

(If you're thinking about the anecdote about the LA DA - yes, I'm sure that happens. But that's a 2 line comment by a friend of a friend on an internet discussion board - we really don't have a lot of info about what that actually means.)

adonai
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby adonai » Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:55 pm

I really think it is all about how long you are able/willing to hold out for a PD/DA job. Most everywhere in my state is on a hiring freeze. The longest I've ever heard about someone volunteering at a DAs office was two-years post-bar/grad (she eventually got a position). Most people aren't able to do that so they drop out and go to smaller private firms which are basically the only ones hiring right now. If you can find someone to support you or somehow support yourself while working full/part time at a DAs office, I'm sure you are bound to get in somewhere when there is an opening. This is the only time I think I am thankful for being single and growing up poor (I don't need much to subsist). I couldn't imagine someone with a wife and kids who wants to be a DA/PD doing this.

Void
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Void » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:59 pm

adonai wrote:I really think it is all about how long you are able/willing to hold out for a PD/DA job. Most everywhere in my state is on a hiring freeze. The longest I've ever heard about someone volunteering at a DAs office was two-years post-bar/grad (she eventually got a position). Most people aren't able to do that so they drop out and go to smaller private firms which are basically the only ones hiring right now. If you can find someone to support you or somehow support yourself while working full/part time at a DAs office, I'm sure you are bound to get in somewhere when there is an opening. This is the only time I think I am thankful for being single and growing up poor (I don't need much to subsist). I couldn't imagine someone with a wife and kids who wants to be a DA/PD doing this.


Yeah, this is the situation in my area. They certainly aren't hiring pre-bar, and I expect to have to put in significant time post-bar before I get a job. Basically the way it works here is that you volunteer as much as you can (full time is best) and if a job opens up, you apply for it like everyone else. Sometimes someone else gets it, even if they haven't been volunteering (e.g., because they are an experienced attorney with at least 3-5 years solid trial experience) but you're eventually going to get an offer if you can hold out long enough.

The one bright side though is that you're getting valuable and marketable experience while you're volunteering, and can keep applying to other PD/DA offices in other states. And (around here-ymmv) if you continue as a volunteer after you get sworn in, they will give you clients and an increasing caseload so you're basically getting the exact same experience as a full-time public defender- just without the paycheck. So I mean, although you have to dedicate yourself to one office and pray for a break, at least you are getting very valuable experience while you wait. Better than graduating jobless and deciding to just work at Starbucks and keep mass mailing firms, IMO.

Anonymous User
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:10 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:(If you're thinking about the anecdote about the LA DA - yes, I'm sure that happens. But that's a 2 line comment by a friend of a friend on an internet discussion board - we really don't have a lot of info about what that actually means.)


Prosecutor's offices are fairly unique in their hiring processes, in that prosecutors will often give BAD recommendations to law clerks they don't like. The reason is that they are so dependent on their partners in the courtroom, that they just don't have the luxury of giving good recommendations to bad clerks at the risk of that clerk actually getting hired and winding up as their partner.

Some DA law clerks think of their unpaid positions as a quid pro quo situation, thinking the office "owes" them a job if they work for free during law school. Others approach it like an audition; a way to demonstrate their talent and hard work outside of just what's on their resume. Guess which law clerks get hired?

the lantern
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby the lantern » Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:26 pm

eav1277 wrote:To the anonymous poster and OP (or anyone with knowledge on the subject), is the hiring as bad as everyone makes it out to be right now? I would love to go into a DA/PD position but the posts on here about PD/DA hiring are super discouraging. Esp the graduates working for free after graduation. Worth the risk (esp to the law student--rootbeer--who just posted)?


I wouldn't agree with many of the assessments here, although it likely matters most where you are geographically and who you have gotten to know during law school. I don't think obtaining post-grad employment is particularly difficult if you make the right moves. Approximately 15 of my classmates got jobs as PDs, and as far as I know, there isn't anyone on the "pd track" who didn't get a job as a PD. We are fortunate, though, in that we live in a state with a very large statewide system that hires 40-70 new PDs every year.

Personally, I would never work for free for a PD agency/DA office post-graduation, although I worked for free for a year during law school. I would consider working there on a temporary fellowship funded by my school, but thats it. I honestly think you would get better experience at a private firm, and you can just sign up to get appointed cases if you're lacking stand up experience.

Just personal opinion, but felt compelled to say something because I honestly don't think that PI hiring is that bad atm (clearly not great, but not terrible). If you are smart and work hard, you will find a job as a DA/PD (IMO). The problem is that way too many law students don't know what they want to do, don't put themselves on the right track, and then try to make up for it way too late.

Void
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Void » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:09 pm

the lantern wrote:
eav1277 wrote:To the anonymous poster and OP (or anyone with knowledge on the subject), is the hiring as bad as everyone makes it out to be right now? I would love to go into a DA/PD position but the posts on here about PD/DA hiring are super discouraging. Esp the graduates working for free after graduation. Worth the risk (esp to the law student--rootbeer--who just posted)?


I wouldn't agree with many of the assessments here, although it likely matters most where you are geographically and who you have gotten to know during law school. I don't think obtaining post-grad employment is particularly difficult if you make the right moves. Approximately 15 of my classmates got jobs as PDs, and as far as I know, there isn't anyone on the "pd track" who didn't get a job as a PD. We are fortunate, though, in that we live in a state with a very large statewide system that hires 40-70 new PDs every year.

Personally, I would never work for free for a PD agency/DA office post-graduation, although I worked for free for a year during law school. I would consider working there on a temporary fellowship funded by my school, but thats it. I honestly think you would get better experience at a private firm, and you can just sign up to get appointed cases if you're lacking stand up experience.

Just personal opinion, but felt compelled to say something because I honestly don't think that PI hiring is that bad atm (clearly not great, but not terrible). If you are smart and work hard, you will find a job as a DA/PD (IMO). The problem is that way too many law students don't know what they want to do, don't put themselves on the right track, and then try to make up for it way too late.


40-70 new PDs per year??? PLEASE PM me which state you live in.(Duh- now I see that you're in Colorado)

Edited to add: This post shows what a huge difference geography makes. In my area, this is absolutely not the case. I'll use myself as an example- I have dedicated myself entirely to being a PD- internships, classes, networking, etc. - since before I even started law school. Result: I am working for free after graduation, hoping to one day get an offer.

Probably would have been better if I had gone to law school in whatever PD wonderland the lantern lives in Colorado but I am tied to this area because of my spousal/family situation.

Rootbeer
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Rootbeer » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:44 pm

It's funny...right before this PD Wonderland talk, I had heard that a particular county in my home state was actually short on PDs at the moment :P

Void
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Void » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:49 pm

Rootbeer wrote:It's funny...right before this PD Wonderland talk, I had heard that a particular county in my home state was actually short on PDs at the moment :P


Oh wtf. I fucking hate my home state right now.

adonai
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby adonai » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:54 pm

Rootbeer wrote:It's funny...right before this PD Wonderland talk, I had heard that a particular county in my home state was actually short on PDs at the moment :P

Technically, every county is short on PDs at the moment. The question is whether they can hire :x :oops: :cry:

Void
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Void » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:59 pm

adonai wrote:
Rootbeer wrote:It's funny...right before this PD Wonderland talk, I had heard that a particular county in my home state was actually short on PDs at the moment :P

Technically, every county is short on PDs at the moment. The question is whether they can hire :x :oops: :cry:


Yeah well said. The PDs here are swamped, and desperately need more help, but the state budget is completely fucked.

Rootbeer
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Rootbeer » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:30 pm

Well yes, they all NEED more PDs but I was inferring that they were actually hiring.

caveman2
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby caveman2 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:27 am

caveman2 wrote:I'm a 2L at MSU trying to find a prosecution internship this summer. I interned with a smallish/medium DA in Pennsylvania last summer, but it was largely a huge waste of time because they never had anything for me to do about 95% of the time. I would ultimately like to end up in Utah (where I grew up) after graduation, or maybe a city like D.C. or Chicago, but would be willing to go almost anywhere. What offices would it be relatively easy for me to get an internship with this summer, especially this late in the year, where I could get some real practical experience? Are there offices where they take nearly everyone that applies, or at least ones that don't care about grades and place a higher value on good writing skills? I've heard Cook County takes tons of people, is that true? I'm just trying to get anything at this point that will provide relevant experience.


I'm going to repost this since I didn't really get an answer to the question I was asking. I would like to know where some offices are that I could easily get, if not be guaranteed, a summer internship. I am not asking where I should get an internship.

Rootbeer
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby Rootbeer » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:53 pm

^--- Unless you have some sort of personal hookup, not that I know of. In my area, every office was competitive for 2L. Your best bet is get in touch with your home office in Utah...I don't think there are a lot of people itching to work there.

jddt19
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Re: Entry level prosecution/ criminal defense work

Postby jddt19 » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:50 am

Just my anecdotal experience in terms of hiring... In the three years I was in the county, we lost to ASA and one PD slots. No one got fired, but people left and their positions just weren't replaced. We also lost a couple of staff as well. However, there was still hiring going on at the entry level; someone has to stand in the trenches and move cases. At least in my county, the SAO turned over a lot more then the PDs. Almost every single senior PD was one that I'd interned with when I was soph in undergrad. The PDs I practice with had all been years and years in lower level courts, while prosecutors moved up more quickly. Again, just my experience.




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