Big city prosecutor, taking questions

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
eav1277 wrote:If you want DA/PD, what do you view as most important to securing a position? How would you rank in order of importance prestige/ranking of school, dedication to the field, grades, experience, moot court (please include any other factors I'm missing if important, alumni network?

sorry the the million questions. Is the hiring market as bad as everyone says? Thanks for doing this


OP

I know this answer isn't very helpful, but it really depends a lot on the office. Most offices don't care much about prestige/rank, but DANY is beginning to consider that as a pretty strong factor the last few years. If I had to generally rank the factors they consider in hiring it would be:

Dedication to public service (not just to prosecution)
Prosecution internships/externships/clinics
Other work experience (public service/volunteer work/clinics)
Ability to communicate quickly, concisely, and thoroughly
Grades
School

The problem with ranking the above factors is that they're completely fluid. Someone who had no experience working in a prosecution office but had a ton of volunteer experience and a clear dedication to public service might have just as good a shot as someone who interned at a prosecutor's office and was on moot court. Overall, I think you're a package and you need to have a clear reason for wanting to be a prosecutor, and a proven track record displaying that reason.

In terms of the hiring market, it is certainly competitive, but my office is hiring pre-2008 numbers again, so things are looking up.


I was thinking about this today. Being able to not take things personally, both when a judge is in a bad mood, or when your supervisor gives you a hard time for something you didn't even know you had to do. A lot of times you don't know what you don't know until you mess something up.

Also, you need to have an opinion, and being willing to back it up and stand by it. Everyone, judges and defense attorneys, are going to try to get you to back down, make lower offers and things like that. It is important that you're able to recognize when they're right, and when you're right and act accordingly. Some defense attorneys are in court all the time and know what a case is worth before you even open your file. Those are the ones you need to take advice from when negotiating a plea. Others will say anything to get their client a better offer. You need to know the difference. The only way to know the difference without a lot of experience is to trust yourself. This is why they test you using hypos during the interview process. They want to see if you'll back down, and when.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Are you eyeballing what exit options are a viable? Primarily with the DOJ or other, more lucrative careers? Where do you hear about your colleagues going?


OP here.

Most people that leave the office do so to go to small firms or to hang a shingle. I haven't heard of many people going to DOJ or BigLaw; however, I haven't been here that long and I don't know too many felony level prosecutors. My guess is that those are the people leaving for better options.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:03 pm

eav1277 wrote:I am currently set to do TFA. Would that be seen as dedication to public service? I am doing it regardless of any boost I might receive but just curious.

How are the hours? do you get a lot of responsibility from the get go or do they start you on the smaller/more menial work?

Thanks for the info.


OP here.

Hours vary but this is a typical day for me:

7:45 - Get to the office, bs with co-workers, check emails and voicemails.
8:00 - Work on motions and other docs, line up what I'm going to try to get done for the day.
9:15 - If I'm assigned to a court part I'm there from 9:15 to 5:00, while still trying to do everything below.
9:15 - If I'm at my desk I'm working on motions, speaking with police officers, prepping for upcoming trials, speaking with complainants, putting out fires.
12:30 - Lunch. I take lunch earlier than most and usually eat at my desk while browsing the internet. Sometimes I'll read through a file or questions that I've prepped for trial.
1:00 - Back to work. I call most of my complainants in the afternoon since that's when most are available, sometimes I'll have them come in to prep for trials etc.
3:30 - Review my cases that are on for the next day, get offers from supervisors.
5:00 - Try to get the rest of my list done, which never happens btw.
6:30 - Head home (if it is an early night). Some nights I stay until 7:30-8, but only if I'm behind on my work.

I usually work a few hours every other Saturday, just catching up on stuff, organizing my files, and responding to motions.

I'd say on average I put in 60 hours a week. It definitely isn't a 9-5 job, and that's fine with me. The more time you put in, the easier the job is. The work doesn't go away, you have your cases and stuff needs to get done, so either you spend time and get it done or you don't ,and your cases go nowhere.

I currently have a caseload of approximately 150 cases. I have a wide variety of cases from assaults to DWI's and everything in between. Supervisors take my suggestions when putting offers on cases, but ultimately it is their decision. As I said in another post, I'm also responsible for making copies, sending letters, answering my phone, and all of that, so we do have some "menial" tasks that we have to do.

One of the best things about this job is the freedom you have. If you want to leave at 5 one day, you can and nobody will say anything to you. Same if you want to come in at 9. If it becomes an everyday thing that's a different story, but as long as it isn't, you have complete control over your schedule.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby adonai » Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:45 pm

Are your hours typical for most DAs? When I volunteered for a major DA office (one of the ones you listed that you may possibly be at) as an undergrad, DAs were out the door by 4 M-Thu and 3 on Fri. I always left at 5 as an intern and NO one was there (the lights were off in the entire office). Just wondering whether you are staying late on purpose because of the learning curve/establishing your rep?

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:41 pm

adonai wrote:Are your hours typical for most DAs? When I volunteered for a major DA office (one of the ones you listed that you may possibly be at) as an undergrad, DAs were out the door by 4 M-Thu and 3 on Fri. I always left at 5 as an intern and NO one was there (the lights were off in the entire office). Just wondering whether you are staying late on purpose because of the learning curve/establishing your rep?


It definitely has to do with the learning curve. It takes a long time to realize what needs to be done, and how to do it efficiently. That's one of the most frustrating things about the job, for me at least. From what I know about other bureaus, most ADAs don't stay past 5-5:30 unless they're on trial. The nature of my bureau and the caseload basically forces us to put in the hours. Are there some that don't? Sure. But the vast majority of my colleagues, in my bureau at least, work similar hours.

I don't think anybody leaves before 5, ever.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:49 pm

Are minorities well represented in your office.

Do you have a mentor or are you pretty much on your own.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Are minorities well represented in your office.

Do you have a mentor or are you pretty much on your own.


Minorities are pretty well represented in my office. My class was about 25% minorities.

I don't have a specific mentor, but I do have certain supervisors that help me with any questions I have.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:25 am

Did you intern at the office that you are in now, or in another office in the same state?

As far as recommendations, did you go with professors or past supervisors?

I've heard the rumor that da offices look down on people who interned at pd's and vice versa. Any truth to this?

Do you speak another language (spanish) and would it be worth learning to get an edge in hiring. I heard that it's important as a pd but less so as an ada.

Thanks for the insight.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Did you intern at the office that you are in now, or in another office in the same state?

As far as recommendations, did you go with professors or past supervisors?

I've heard the rumor that da offices look down on people who interned at pd's and vice versa. Any truth to this?

Do you speak another language (spanish) and would it be worth learning to get an edge in hiring. I heard that it's important as a pd but less so as an ada.

Thanks for the insight.


I did not intern with the office I'm working at. In fact, I didn't intern with any DA's office before or during law school. I am by far the exception, rather than the rule. Almost everyone in my class interned at a DA's office, and maybe half interned at my job.

Recommendations are good from either, but go with someone who has seen you work. Someone who knows how you work, how you interact with people, and how diligent you are will certainly help. Also, if either a supervisor or professor would be willing to write you a recommendation, and make a call for you, I'd go with them.

Speaking another language won't give you an edge, at least for my office. It would certainly be useful and there are many times where I need an interpreter when it would be so much easier if I just spoke Spanish.

Hope this helps, good luck!

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:50 pm

Clearly your an excellent interviewer. How was the interviewing process? Anything we should def know going in?

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Jimbola » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:25 pm

Thanks for all the info thus far OP!

Do you think it is better to intern with the office you want to work for over the summer or during the year? I would think that it is harder to get the summer gig so it might have more "prestige" points or whatever, but if you intern during the semester you may be one of a few rather than one of many and may be able to make your presence better known at the office. Also, at least for NYC, I think the summer gig pays and the semester one doesn't.

Thanks in advance!

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby 20160810 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:45 pm

I'm guessing you're in Miami just because I've never seen it mentioned in the same breath as New York, Chicago, and LA. Obviously that's not terribly important though; this is a good thread.

My impression has always been that I would probably prefer the work as a prosecutor but prefer my coworkers as a public defender. Any comment there? For some reason I have the idea that ADAs are all the kids who used to volunteer to be hall monitors.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby iShotFirst » Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:02 pm

SBL wrote:I'm guessing you're in Miami just because I've never seen it mentioned in the same breath as New York, Chicago, and LA. Obviously that's not terribly important though; this is a good thread.

My impression has always been that I would probably prefer the work as a prosecutor but prefer my coworkers as a public defender. Any comment there? For some reason I have the idea that ADAs are all the kids who used to volunteer to be hall monitors.


Really? My career services refers to the 'big four' prosecution offices as the OP described. Maybe its because we're in the southeast?

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby 20160810 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:20 pm

iShotFirst wrote:
SBL wrote:I'm guessing you're in Miami just because I've never seen it mentioned in the same breath as New York, Chicago, and LA. Obviously that's not terribly important though; this is a good thread.

My impression has always been that I would probably prefer the work as a prosecutor but prefer my coworkers as a public defender. Any comment there? For some reason I have the idea that ADAs are all the kids who used to volunteer to be hall monitors.


Really? My career services refers to the 'big four' prosecution offices as the OP described. Maybe its because we're in the southeast?

It could be that in terms of criminal prosecutions Miami just has a higher per-capita volume than other cities of its size, but I think if you were going to pick a fourth major US city after NY/LA/Chi, it would be DC, Houston, Philadelphia or SF. In any event, this is a pretty big derail in a decent thread, so forget I mentioned anything; I'm talking out of my ass anyhow.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:05 pm

Miami SAO is the 4th largest office in the country and is one of three offices (Manhattan and Chicago being the other two) that higher an incoming class of new prosecutors in the range of 25+. I'm pretty sure only Manhattan eclipsed Miami's hiring in the good years. I've heard Manhattan only accepted 25-30 spots this year while Miami is still going strong at around 40ish.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:14 pm

OP here.

SBL wrote:My impression has always been that I would probably prefer the work as a prosecutor but prefer my coworkers as a public defender. Any comment there? For some reason I have the idea that ADAs are all the kids who used to volunteer to be hall monitors.


I really enjoy the majority of my coworkers and they're not at all the hall monitor type. Most are into sports, going to happy hour, fantasy baseball/football/brackets and generally having a good time while at work.

Jimbola wrote:Thanks for all the info thus far OP!

Do you think it is better to intern with the office you want to work for over the summer or during the year? I would think that it is harder to get the summer gig so it might have more "prestige" points or whatever, but if you intern during the semester you may be one of a few rather than one of many and may be able to make your presence better known at the office. Also, at least for NYC, I think the summer gig pays and the semester one doesn't.

Thanks in advance!


The only summer internship in an NYC DA's office that is paid is DANY. I don't think it matters much whether you intern during the year of over the summer, but I do think you make a valid point about face time being more accessible during the semester. In terms of prestige, nobody GAF.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby adonai » Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:50 pm

What are your thoughts about personal safety? Have you ever been threatened, or know someone in your office who has been threatened? How does your office usually deal with these kinds of matters? I only ask because of the recent DA killings in Texas. Obviously, if I were a DA this would shake me up a bit.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby jddt19 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:47 pm

As to the personal safety question... I did both criminal defense and prosecution. I had my life threated several times as a defense attorney. Got yelled at plenty as an ASA, but never to the level of direct threats (just general 'you'll pay for this' idiocy). Believe me, you're much more vulnerable as defense counsel- you're frequently alone with a defendant in holding cell (or, you're in there with him and 20 other defendants) and he blames you that the state isn't dismissing the charge. When the client starts yelling, you learn to move towards the door. I honestly kept up with lifting weights in part because I wanted clients to know that I wasn't an easy mark.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby adonai » Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:33 pm

jddt19 wrote:As to the personal safety question... I did both criminal defense and prosecution. I had my life threated several times as a defense attorney. Got yelled at plenty as an ASA, but never to the level of direct threats (just general 'you'll pay for this' idiocy). Believe me, you're much more vulnerable as defense counsel- you're frequently alone with a defendant in holding cell (or, you're in there with him and 20 other defendants) and he blames you that the state isn't dismissing the charge. When the client starts yelling, you learn to move towards the door. I honestly kept up with lifting weights in part because I wanted clients to know that I wasn't an easy mark.

Seems like when they know your address and kick in your door its fair game at that point...
Do you ever find yourself looking over your shoulder twice outside of work?

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby jddt19 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:19 pm

Honestly, not really. Most of my clients could be dangerous because they were both violent and impulsive. They wouldn't think past taking a swing at me in a holding cell or my office if they were angry, forget the consequences. To actually planning to stalk/ ambush me outside of my home... that would require a lot more drive/ discipline/ self-control then they could've mustered.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:59 pm

OP here.

I've never felt personally threatened or unsafe, and I haven't heard of any work related issues with anybody from my office. That being said, I handle misdemeanor cases, and I'm sure when you become a felony level ADA and begin handling more serious cases, the chances of a threat increase.

ETA: I've heard what JDDT said from a few defense attorneys. It is an experience getting grilled in court by some defendant with a mile long rap sheet.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby jddt19 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:47 pm

To OP: thanks for backing me up. I started on the defense side of the ledger. Trust me, the stuff in court is the least of it. Wait till you're in a holding cell in Maywood, Cook Co. It holds about 10 inmates comfortably and there are about 25 crammed inside. Two inmates are pissing in the urinal and another is taking a dump on the toilet, about 7 feet away. You're explaining the offer to your client (and it's damn good, since he's staying on county time and not going to state prison). He's yelling at you about some idiocy that some jailhouse lawyer told him about (in that case, the option to be sentenced as an 'addict,' an option that ended in the 70s). All the other guys in the holding cell are getting jacked up and starting to yell because... well, why not, their lawyer was out to fuck them, and here's this lawyer trying to do it to their buddy. I glanced at the door window and there's the 300 lb female deputy who can't figure out how to operate the damn door, let alone fend off the prisoners inside. At that point, it does get a real :)

Hey, I always wanted to be a PD :) Just something for you new folks to consider

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:12 pm

2L about to summer at a big city DA's office.

We have the option of expressing assignment preferences. Long-term, I'd love to do white-collar work, and we have the option of asking for the unit that handles white-collar, organized crime, and other long-term complex investigations. We can also ask for the trial division. I'm more interested in the content of the former, but I feel like that latter (the trial division) will make me more marketable--I'd be doing more of the kind of stuff that new ADA's do. Any thoughts on this, OP (or anyone else)?

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:18 pm

SBL wrote:I'm guessing you're in Miami just because I've never seen it mentioned in the same breath as New York, Chicago, and LA. Obviously that's not terribly important though; this is a good thread.

My impression has always been that I would probably prefer the work as a prosecutor but prefer my coworkers as a public defender. Any comment there? For some reason I have the idea that ADAs are all the kids who used to volunteer to be hall monitors.


I'm a Miami Prosecutor, and I can assure you that he is not at Miami. The terminology and schedule he's describing are different from what I deal with. I'll also chime in and help answer questions too.

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Re: Big city prosecutor, taking questions

Postby akili » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:50 pm

All I want to do is be a prosecutor but I'm really worried about jobs. I'm open to working anywhere that'll hire me. Do DA's look for connections in the same way that firms seems to?

How did you deal with taking the Bar and applying for jobs? Any strategies you'd recommend?




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