Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

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Njdeh
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Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby Njdeh » Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:13 pm

Can any graduates or people who knows much about this topic shed some light on what the lifestyle of an ADA or prosecutor is like? My questions are directed towards hours, ADA vs. Big Law, salaries coming out of law school and which schools outside of HYS place well in DA offices, and specifically how does Columbia do?

Also if there's an article on TLS I'd be grateful for a link to it, but I couldn't find one.

Njdeh
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby Njdeh » Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:14 am

Bumping this hoping for an answer

jml8756
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby jml8756 » Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:31 am

Well there's this forum topic: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=155423 It's pretty long but probably has all the info you're looking for and more. But here's a couple highlights:

Hours: 9-5, maybe more if you're on trial.

Salary out of law school: Varies greatly depending on your location. Rural counties might be in the 30's, Some big cities might be in the 60's or 70's.

School placement: Prosecutor's offices don't put a ton of emphasis on school prestige, although it certainly doesn't hurt. I think a lot of offices will hire from regional schools, but that has to do more with students interning at the office - the importance of which cannot be overstated.

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contrapositive1
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby contrapositive1 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:47 pm

greats hours

RW65
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby RW65 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:42 am

In NYC you're looking at between $50K and $60K depending on the office.

NYC hours are definitely not 9-5, at least for the first few years. You'll be working more like 55-65 hours a week and sometimes coming in on Saturday or Sunday to get caught up for the week.

In terms of prestige, the outer boroughs don't care where you went to school. DANY has started to care more about prestige, but look at the other office's press releases when they hire a new class, almost nobody is from CLS. Whether that's a function of most CLS students getting Big Law, I don't know.

005618502
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby 005618502 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:42 am

RW65 wrote:In NYC you're looking at between $50K and $60K depending on the office.

NYC hours are definitely not 9-5, at least for the first few years. You'll be working more like 55-65 hours a week and sometimes coming in on Saturday or Sunday to get caught up for the week.

In terms of prestige, the outer boroughs don't care where you went to school. DANY has started to care more about prestige, but look at the other office's press releases when they hire a new class, almost nobody is from CLS. Whether that's a function of most CLS students getting Big Law, I don't know.


This is not the case in CA, 40 hours or less is very common unless you are in trial. If you are in trial you will obviously work many more hours for that time period, but definitely not something to complain about as it would be exciting. Starting pay in most SoCal offices is 70k. PM me if you have any other questions or want to know where my info comes from. Only have knowledge on CA though

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MCFC
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby MCFC » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:32 am

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Last edited by MCFC on Mon May 25, 2015 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jreg
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby jreg » Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:11 pm

As a Prosecutor in a large office in NYC I can tell you:

Hours: On average I am working about 50 to 55 hours a week. I get in around 8 and leave around 6 to 6:30. Take note this is because I am a relatively new ADA handling misdemeanors. The Felony ADA's typically have a 9 to 5, unless they are on trial and will leave around 6:30 to 7 (depending on how much they have previously prepped the case).

ADA vs. Biglaw: As an ADA you will be scrambling all day to work your cases (getting CW's in, talking to officers, getting necessary paperwork, responding to motions, conferencing cases, etc) . A majority of the People that work in the Office love it, because it is fast paced and exciting and you aren't tied to your desk all day researching and writing. You get to be in court standing on cases, making bail arguments, drafting cases, and when you are on trial, there is this rush of adrenaline that cannot be duplicated by any firm job. Most of my friends who work at firms, while they love their paychecks, find their work exceptionally boring and tedious with a underlying despair that they may get let go if they don't outperform their peers. DA's offices are not like that. Its an extremely collegial and almost family like atmosphere with everyone helping one another and being together. I came into the Job because of the job, but not only do i love my work i love the people that I work with.

Salaries Out of LSchool: Manhattan 60.5k, Qns: 58K, BX: 56.5K, BK: 50K. Most give a salary bump when you get admitted as well as yearly raises and small bonuses.

Schools that Place in Offices: My office has a range of schools that come in the new classes. My class had individuals from columbia, nyu, fordham, cornell, bklyn, cardozo, st. johns, pretty much every new york based school. But there have also been schools that aren't regional: Gtown, U Penn, St. Louis, Temple, Villanova. It doesn't depend on the school as much as it depends on the person. DA's offices are looking for hardworking, intelligent, passionate, and charismatic people who they think will perform well in front of a jury. people who are able to think on their feet, keep up with the fast paced nature of the office, who aren't intimidated easily by judges and defcounsel. They are looking at your grades, your activities in lscool (mock trial, moot court) and also looking at where you interned, and it is so competitive now, that if you havent interned somewhere to get prosecution experience, your SOL.

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howlery
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby howlery » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:08 pm

Speaking of charisma, what if you are shy and awkward? Every aspect of litigation outside of actually having to perform for a jury appeals to me.

Am I gonna have to take improv classes or something?

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bizzybone1313
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby bizzybone1313 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:15 pm

My friend works as a ADA in NYC. He works a lot of hours, but he likes it. He graduated from UT Austin. He is eventually going to get into politics, so this will serve as a good line on the resume. He gets a lot of vacation. I think it is like 20-25 days per year.

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:30 pm

jreg wrote:it is so competitive now, that if you havent interned somewhere to get prosecution experience, your SOL.


+1. Gotta intern if you want to get in after law school.

howlery wrote:Speaking of charisma, what if you are shy and awkward? Every aspect of litigation outside of actually having to perform for a jury appeals to me.

Am I gonna have to take improv classes or something?


You are going to do jury trials. Maybe an improv class could help you. I think you have a valid concern. Everyone in my office is relatively well spoken and can turn on the drama. Gotta be confident or be able to feign confidence really well.

jml8756 wrote:Hours: 9-5, maybe more if you're on trial.


Seems about right at the office I'm at.

jml8756 wrote:Salary out of law school: Varies greatly depending on your location. Rural counties might be in the 30's, Some big cities might be in the 60's or 70's.


In Colorado, the starting salaries range from 55k-60k. (per statement from Don Quick, DA in neighboring county. I know this is right for my area--front range-- but maybe Don is mistaken about what they pay out in the Mts.. No idea)

jml8756 wrote:School placement: Prosecutor's offices don't put a ton of emphasis on school prestige, although it certainly doesn't hurt. I think a lot of offices will hire from regional schools, but that has to do more with students interning at the office - the importance of which cannot be overstated.


+1 on the interning thing again.

jml8756
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby jml8756 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:11 pm

howlery wrote:Speaking of charisma, what if you are shy and awkward? Every aspect of litigation outside of actually having to perform for a jury appeals to me.

Am I gonna have to take improv classes or something?


Hmm it's a good question. I usually say that "shyness" is something that can be overcome with practice and by just putting yourself out there in situations that require speaking. Taking a lot of trial ad classes can help this, and can also help you figure out if it's something you want to do. The thing is, if every aspect of litigation appeals to you besides trials, being a prosecutor is probably a bad move. There are other fields where you can probably do a lot of litigation without having to do a lot of trials. D.A. is not one of them.

In terms of awkwardness, that might be harder to overcome. What do you mean by awkward? Body language? Physical appearance? Words that come out of your mouth? That might be more of a personality thing, and prosecutors tend to have a certain kind of confident, cool, and sharp demeanor that I'm not sure can be learned very easily.

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:You are going to do jury trials. Maybe an improv class could help you. I think you have a valid concern. Everyone in my office is relatively well spoken and can turn on the drama. Gotta be confident or be able to feign confidence really well.


I disagree with the "turning on the drama" part. Prosecutors are well-spoken, but if you're not the type to jump around and holler during closing argument, you don't have to do that to be effective. Some of the most compelling openings and closings I've ever seen came across like the prosecutor was telling me a story in a bar.

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howlery
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby howlery » Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:17 pm

Thats a bit frightening, but thanks for the answer. When I served on jury duty (as the foreperson or whatever its called 8) ) the ADA was very nervous, repetitive (though I felt like this was a part of the process at times), and even tripped over a microphone connected to a podium.

But s/he still "won" the case. Maybe its just something that takes getting used to.

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howlery
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby howlery » Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:17 pm

I typically avoid public speaking, though the occasional presentation as well as a political internship have had me do it quite a bit. Once I get rolling its really not that bad, but I still see it as a chore I'd rather avoid.

But re: non-jury litigation, care to share with me what other positions might be a better fit? I know I want to clerk at least once, preferably twice. What to do with those litigation skills beyond DA/PD is beyond me, since the likelihood of landing significant transaction experience (for example) is slim barring the Chancery court in Delaware.

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dr123
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby dr123 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:20 pm

Where are they called DA's? Is that only an NY thing? Everywhere I've lived the prosecuting attorney's office has been called the County Attorney and everyone under the county attorney is a deputy county attorney.
Last edited by dr123 on Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jml8756
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby jml8756 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:04 pm

howlery wrote:I typically avoid public speaking, though the occasional presentation as well as a political internship have had me do it quite a bit. Once I get rolling its really not that bad, but I still see it as a chore I'd rather avoid.

But re: non-jury litigation, care to share with me what other positions might be a better fit? I know I want to clerk at least once, preferably twice. What to do with those litigation skills beyond DA/PD is beyond me, since the likelihood of landing significant transaction experience (for example) is slim barring the Chancery court in Delaware.


I mean, almost any kind of civil litigation is going to involve significantly fewer trials than criminal litigation.

What was your reason for wanting to be a DA/PD? If it's merely that "litigation appeals to you (besides trials)," that's not going to be good enough for the hiring committees. You have to have a dedication to the work. For a DA position they're looking for a passion to advocate for crime victims, and for PDs you really have to want to do indigent defense. They're really looking for people with a calling, so if that's not you, definitely look elsewhere.

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: Life as an ADA/Prosecutor

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:48 pm

jml8756 wrote:
I disagree with the "turning on the drama" part. Prosecutors are well-spoken, but if you're not the type to jump around and holler during closing argument, you don't have to do that to be effective. Some of the most compelling openings and closings I've ever seen came across like the prosecutor was telling me a story in a bar.


Any good trial attorney can 'turn on the drama.' That doesn't mean every case calls for drama.

Also, to whoever said they saw a bad ADA who was nervous but still won-- yes, this is very common. new PD's/DA's are often awkward and nervous in their first 5-10 trials. Take that as good news.




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