Civil to Criminal

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Civil to Criminal

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:11 pm

I saw a post about switching from civil not-for-profit to criminal defense work, but it looks like it was taken down. I'm in the same boat - I graduated in 2015, I'm doing housing work, and I'm interested in switching into a public defender's office. (If I was at LAS, that would be easy I hear, but I'm not.)

My question is, after doing 3 - 5 years of civil work in housing, immigration, or family court, will a public defender ever consider starting you as a new attorney? They obviously can't start you as an experienced attorney. Any insight would be appreciated, and if anyone has made the switch, I'd love to know.

criminaltheory

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Re: Civil to Criminal

Postby criminaltheory » Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:00 am

You may get some service credit, but specifics will depend on the office. They'll start you in misdemeanors, or wherever they stick the first years.

Bla Bla Bla Blah

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Re: Civil to Criminal

Postby Bla Bla Bla Blah » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:01 am

It's all about the impression you can make on the people who hire, in my opinion. Usually there isn't a whole lot more than putting a suit in a courtroom for those hiring in public defender offices. It is more of a question of whether you come off as someone who respects what they do (to get you in the door for an interview) and whether they like you (and can see enjoying commiserating with you over the many losses on clear Constitutional violations during a happy hour... man I drank a lot when I was in public defense).

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Re: Civil to Criminal

Postby andythefir » Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:06 am

There’s a perception that civil folks can pick up criminal but criminal folks can’t pick up civil. I’ve personally participated in hiring someone for a criminal job that had exclusively housing court experience. Not impossible, but might be hard to swing in an office with lots of applicants. And you’ll definitely start in misdemeanors at the bottom of the totem pole if the office knows what it’s doung.

It’s also baffling to me that people will only consider PDs offices. DAs and PDs do extremely similar work, biggest difference is DAs do more logistics and legal pleading while PDs spend more time hanging out in jails.

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Re: Civil to Criminal

Postby nixy » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:37 pm

andythefir wrote:It’s also baffling to me that people will only consider PDs offices. DAs and PDs do extremely similar work, biggest difference is DAs do more logistics and legal pleading while PDs spend more time hanging out in jails.

I absolutely get what you mean by this and I know a lot of people who’ve done both, but you can’t tell me you don’t understand that for a lot of other people there’s a fundamental moral difference between trying to put people in jail and trying to keep them out. (I personally see DAs and PDs as part of the same system but it’s not at all baffling to see them as diametrically opposed.)

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Re: Civil to Criminal

Postby andythefir » Wed Sep 19, 2018 5:51 pm

nixy wrote:
andythefir wrote:It’s also baffling to me that people will only consider PDs offices. DAs and PDs do extremely similar work, biggest difference is DAs do more logistics and legal pleading while PDs spend more time hanging out in jails.

I absolutely get what you mean by this and I know a lot of people who’ve done both, but you can’t tell me you don’t understand that for a lot of other people there’s a fundamental moral difference between trying to put people in jail and trying to keep them out. (I personally see DAs and PDs as part of the same system but it’s not at all baffling to see them as diametrically opposed.)


I certainly get the idea, especially considering how warped the depictions were in my law school, but in practice today’s good-guy-defendant is tomorrow’s bad-guy-jail informant for PDs; today’s innocent and virtuous victim of DV is tomorrow’s bad guy DUI defendant for DAs. I think it’s totally fair to have a preference between the 2, but to write off one side, especially as part of a transition, doesn’t make sense to me. For me, I’m a prosecutor who would take a PD gig in the geographic location I’d like to be.

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Re: Civil to Criminal

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My question is, after doing 3 - 5 years of civil work in housing, immigration, or family court, will a public defender ever consider starting you as a new attorney? They obviously can't start you as an experienced attorney. Any insight would be appreciated, and if anyone has made the switch, I'd love to know.


Not a criminal defense lawyer or public defender, but if you have done any criminal contempt petitions in family law, that should be helpful I would think, and I would try to lean towards that along with any trial experience in general.

nixy

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Re: Civil to Criminal

Postby nixy » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:10 pm

andythefir wrote:
nixy wrote:
andythefir wrote:It’s also baffling to me that people will only consider PDs offices. DAs and PDs do extremely similar work, biggest difference is DAs do more logistics and legal pleading while PDs spend more time hanging out in jails.

I absolutely get what you mean by this and I know a lot of people who’ve done both, but you can’t tell me you don’t understand that for a lot of other people there’s a fundamental moral difference between trying to put people in jail and trying to keep them out. (I personally see DAs and PDs as part of the same system but it’s not at all baffling to see them as diametrically opposed.)


I certainly get the idea, especially considering how warped the depictions were in my law school, but in practice today’s good-guy-defendant is tomorrow’s bad-guy-jail informant for PDs; today’s innocent and virtuous victim of DV is tomorrow’s bad guy DUI defendant for DAs. I think it’s totally fair to have a preference between the 2, but to write off one side, especially as part of a transition, doesn’t make sense to me. For me, I’m a prosecutor who would take a PD gig in the geographic location I’d like to be.

Sure, but for the PD true believers it doesn’t have anything to do with whether their client is “good” or “bad.” Have you actually not come across true-believer PDs? I don’t agree with them, but it’s not baffling.



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