Private practice after being a PD

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Private practice after being a PD

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:59 pm

I'm currently a public defender at a major city in the south east USA, and am considering transitioning to private practice. I've been a PD for about 1.5 years now (graduated law school in 2015), and feels that it's time to move on. Although great experience (about 10 trials under my belt), the stress is starting to take a toll on me.

I graduated from a top 5 law school (not Yale), and my undergraduate degree is from the flagship state university. No law review, journals... average grades. I have about $200k in debt, and would like to get it paid off ASAP. My fiance is also an attorney and he's willing to help me pay these down for the next couple of years.

To what type of law firms should I be applying to? Should I consider a head hunter?

All suggestions are welcomed!
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:07 am, edited 3 times in total.

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kalvano

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Re: Private practice of being a PD

Postby kalvano » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:29 am

If you're looking to pay off debt fast, that likely means Biglaw. However, if stress is an issue, then Biglaw may not be the right place for you.

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LaLiLuLeLo

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Re: Private practice of being a PD

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:30 am

Clerk for a year and do white collar defense in biglaw? Might be the best option financially.

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Future Ex-Engineer

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Re: Private practice of being a PD

Postby Future Ex-Engineer » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:41 am

Anonymous User wrote:
To what type of law firms should I be applying to? Should she consider a head hunter?


So are you both the PD and the finance?

If you were top 5 school and still have significant debt, why not stay in a public role so you can utilize their LRAP?

Edit: accidental anon...still learning how to use these boards

Anonymous User
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Re: Private practice of being a PD

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:04 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
To what type of law firms should I be applying to? Should she consider a head hunter?


So are you both the PD and the finance?

If you were top 5 school and still have significant debt, why not stay in a public role so you can utilize their LRAP?

Edit: accidental anon...still learning how to use these boards


Anon here.

I'm the PD. My fiance is in private practice. Sorry for the confusion.

Regarding the stress.... it's not the amount of work that is stressful per se, it's the pressure of knowing that my clients freedom is at stake everyday. I have about 10 -12 cases set for trial a week, combined with the fact that the cases are inherently shitty, causes the stress.

For those that recommended big law.. How do I go about applying for those jobs?

Civilservant

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Re: Private practice after being a PD

Postby Civilservant » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:16 am

I am not sure how you would alleviate your stress given your skill set. You would presumably spin your experience to say that you're a trial attorney, but meanwhile even if you are doing plaintiff side civil litigation, there are still considerable high stakes. I would think that transactional work would be more your jam, but that's a major change.

Having known a lot of pd's (I use to be one), I don't know many that have moved on to big law. Before this administration, I would have said federal pd, but who knows anymore with that. With the skillset, I would say if you could get hooked up with a good med mal trial attorney, you can parlay your skills and make good money. But given your stress, I would say a good long term plan would be to try to transition to a county attorney job for a year or two, and then transition to a firm that handles municipal contracts.

CanadianWolf

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Re: Private practice after being a PD

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:22 am

Contact your law school career services office to get their input.

It's hard to offer constructive advice without knowing a great deal more information about you. From the scant info. posted, it seems clear that you need a change because "you don't enjoy the fight". Your focus on your clients' freedom is admirable, but a sure path to burning out quickly. Most PDs seek extensive trial experience before moving on to the Federal PD's office or private practice in a very small firm handling criminal defense matters.

dixiecupdrinking

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Re: Private practice after being a PD

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri Feb 03, 2017 10:03 am

How about non profit work - either impact litigation or legislative / policy advocacy regarding criminal justice issues? Keep your LRAP, don't have to worry about putting people in prison every single day if you mess up.

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Toni V

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Re: Private practice after being a PD

Postby Toni V » Fri Feb 03, 2017 10:21 am

Given that you graduated from a top tier LS and now have experience, reach out to a couple headhunters. They'll fix you up.

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abogadesq

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Re: Private practice after being a PD

Postby abogadesq » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:57 pm

Honestly, with that much debt, I'd consider staying in the public sector. At this point you already have experience as a PD, and that can help you get into a different public interest/government law practice. I also worked as a Public Defender and sympathize with you on the stress part, but that experience also helped me move on to a better paying and less stressful public sector work that allows me to still take advantage of the loan forgiveness. I say hang in there and find a better public sector job before jumping into private, which could be just as stressful.

RaceJudicata

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Re: Private practice after being a PD

Postby RaceJudicata » Fri Feb 03, 2017 10:10 pm

Is your fiance in big law? How much debt does he have?

If he has no debt, 200k between the two of you isn't horrible at all. If he also has 200k (or close), then your options are more limited without more experience.

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deadpanic

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Re: Private practice after being a PD

Postby deadpanic » Fri Feb 03, 2017 10:48 pm

abogadesq wrote:Honestly, with that much debt, I'd consider staying in the public sector.


As unhelpful as it may be, I would echo this. Not just for repaying your loans, but in private practice, obviously you will have less trial work, but the stress will be just as high, if not higher, with more hours (including billable hours, which you don't have now). Not to mention, if you are working at a big firm, sure your caseload will be lighter, but IMO the stakes are much higher. You don't want to piss off and disappoint a big high net worth client. If you lose a case with an indigent client with bad facts, the repercussions are not there, as bad as that sounds (and excluding any moral feelings).



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