Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

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Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:43 pm

Hi everyone!

I am applying to extern with a Federal Public Defender next semester. I'm a 3L who would be certified to practice. Can anyone share their experiences at the FPD? Is there a lot of hands-on, trial work? Or is it mainly research and writing? Any help is appreciated!

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Re: Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:09 pm

I'm a 0L but work at a federal pd's office.

Your caseload largely depends where you work. Although, almost all of your cases will be plea bargained. There are few trials throughout the year but when there is one it's all hands on deck. In my office (major metro area), a lot of the externs are responsible for drafting motions, sentencing memos, and research. Some of them represent federal misd. clients in court. Hope this helps.

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Re: Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:02 pm

I've worked in two offices in two different circuits. Workload and responsibility will vary based on where you work, who your supervisor is, and to which magistrate or judge a cases have been assigned. Some federal defender offices have three attorneys, others have staffs of sixty. Cultures vary widely. How experienced you are is also a factor. In my experience, arraignments are more complicated than at the state level. You could do a direct examination in a suppression hearing.

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Re: Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:06 pm

Ok thanks! I'm applying for a 20 hour externship. With me being on site a lot, do you all think I will see a lot of court time? Or meeting clients, drafting motions, etc at least? I know that research and writing are large components of the job, but will I see some litigation at least 30% of the time? I just dont want to be writing and researching most of the time. What else have you all seen in different offices?

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Re: Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:05 pm

I did a 3L externship with a small office, it was a good experience, but not really great. If they have an established system for externs (out office did, but not all do), it should be fine. If they don't, it could be great, or could be meh, depending on how cool your supervisor is and how much of a self-starter you are. You could end up just following people around going to court for initial appearances, bond hearings, the odd motion hearing, or do jail visits, or just end up doing research and writing the whole time. Just depends.

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Re: Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

Postby RCSOB657 » Tue Nov 07, 2017 10:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi everyone!

I am applying to extern with a Federal Public Defender next semester. I'm a 3L who would be certified to practice. Can anyone share their experiences at the FPD? Is there a lot of hands-on, trial work? Or is it mainly research and writing? Any help is appreciated!


Which experience do you want?

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Re: Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:24 am

I haven't personally externed at a fed PD office but I have friends who have and they've all reported that it's pretty slow, trials are rare, and they're mostly research/writing. Mayhaps that is changing though...

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Re: Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:03 pm

OP Here. Ahh I see. I would like more hands-on, trial work. My last 2 internships have been plagued with sitting at a computer all day and I'm trying to avoid that at all costs.

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Re: Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

Postby RCSOB657 » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP Here. Ahh I see. I would like more hands-on, trial work. My last 2 internships have been plagued with sitting at a computer all day and I'm trying to avoid that at all costs.


Then intern with a local court. You'll get more court time with misdemeanors if it's a decent sized place.

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Re: Thoughts on Federal Public Defender 3L Externship?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:30 pm

Sweet thanks!



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