Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

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tk421991

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Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

Postby tk421991 » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:08 am

I was debating putting this in either this subforum or the law students forum, but I'm more interested in what practitioners have to say...

I have some questions about interning for my 2L into 3L summer at either a Federal or State PD:

1. I spoke to a professor who used to be a Federal Defender and she said that the difference between the two is that state PD interns are always in court, whereas Federal PD interns are mostly conducting research and writing with a little bit of second-chairing and interviewing clients in jails, etc. Can anyone comment about other differences for interns and APDs at each level?

2. For bigger Federal districts, i.e. District of Mass, are there sub-offices for the smaller courthouses (in Mass this would be Springfield and Worcester) or are all the Fed PDs based out of one office (in Mass, Boston)?

3. To clerk, or not to clerk: that is the question. Career Services informed me that the State PD (in my law school's state) prefers to hire law students fresh out of law school without clerkship experience. The professor I spoke to clerked Federally then became a Federal PD. Most of the Federal PDs in my state, however, were former State PDs.

4. State PD applications for 2L summer (at least NH, which I've applied to) mention that they offer jobs to interns for after law school. Does the Federal PD do the same? Put another way, my 2L summer is mostly about me securing a job after graduation. I care more about job security than about prestige because the salaries for State PDs where I am are acceptable (to me, anyways).

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Re: Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:20 am

Pretty certain the FPD doesn’t hire for right after graduation. The closest I’ve seen is one woman get hired into a very big office after clerking. NH, in particular, is tiny and I cannot imagine they would hire someone straight out of school as opposed to someone with experience (all their FPDs were state PDs before getting to the FPD).

The only thing I’ll add about the differences between state and FPD (because otherwise I think your prof has it right) is that I know FPDs who’ve come from the state system who get frustrated at how little/infrequent their “wins” are. Due to the differences in charging policies, state PDs are way more likely to get not guilty verdicts than FPDs are (I don’t mean that AUSAs always win and can’t lose ever...but they win a lot).

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Re: Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:32 am

I interviewed with the Dallas FPD and they said they interview and sometimes hire straight from law school. That's the exception rather than the rule, most are looking for experience or clerkships or both.

If you're just trying to maximize your chances of employment, I'd work for a large local PD office where you'd like to work after law school, or failing that, one which will let you appear in court the most (most local PDs will let their interns do a lot, even misdemeanor trials, while FPD interns will do research and visit clients in jail). All but the best-paying large state offices have lots of turnover, and generally are more than willing to hire fresh grads with demonstrated interest in PD work. A summer FPD internship is not a good way to secure a job with the FPD. I'd try to do an internship/externship during the school year with the FPD, if you're interested in that. Your summers should be spent doing things that will likely lead to a job.

andythefir

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Re: Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

Postby andythefir » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:48 am

I’d add that FPDs are GS, which means they all get paid better than AUSAs. I am fairly confident they are much tougher jobs to get than state PD jobs, but they are fairly sweet gigs.

tk421991

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Re: Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

Postby tk421991 » Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:13 pm

I applied to a public interest clinic for the spring semester and hopefully I'll get a spot at the local Federal PD. This way, I can spend next spring hopefully at the FPD and my 2L summer at the state PD.

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Re: Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:48 pm

FPDs are not on the GS-scale btw. But they are paid well.

nixy

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Re: Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

Postby nixy » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:FPDs are not on the GS-scale btw. But they are paid well.

Aren't they on the JS-scale, or something like that?

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anon sequitur

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Re: Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

Postby anon sequitur » Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:25 pm

They are payed according to the AD (administratively determined) scale, the same as AUSAs. But exactly how that works is somewhat unclear, I think FPDs usually enter the job with a lot more experience than AUSAs on average, and also stick around a lot longer, so they end up making more on average. But I haven't seen evidence that an average AUSA with X years experience makes more or less than an AFPD who also has X years.

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abogadesq

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Re: Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

Postby abogadesq » Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:55 pm

I believe by law AUSAs and AFPDs with the same experience earn the same, but I don’t know if that’s how it works in practice. I know one office where with 10 or so years experience you can expect to get paid around 150k. AFPDs get paid under the AD scale while legal writing and research attorneys are paid under the JS scale.

tk421991

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Re: Federal Public Defender vs State Public Defender

Postby tk421991 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:31 am

OP following up: I got in with a clinic program that can place me with the local Federal PD during Spring 2019. If not, I can preform the clinic with the state PD.



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