Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
Stinson
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Stinson » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:58 pm

jkay wrote:
Stinson wrote:at the end of the day the functional aims of your efforts are allowing child molesters and rapists to escape incapacitation for what they did.


Wow. Just wow. I too am sorry for what you and your family experienced, but if you truly believe statements like this, maybe you should stick to the prosecutor threads.


That was badly stated. What I meant to get across is that the aim is the same - get your guy off - whether the person in question is guilty or not. I doubt very many, if any, people get into that line of work with the aim of putting bad people on the streets. But a prospective PD would have to be okay with knowing that winning might at the end of the day be very bad for someone they never met and who never did anything wrong.

As for the prosecutor threads, oh boy, I don't think so. I could produce a text wall of equal if not greater size on that topic. It would be flames within seconds.

FuturePD
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby FuturePD » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:19 pm

Stinson wrote:
jkay wrote:
Stinson wrote:at the end of the day the functional aims of your efforts are allowing child molesters and rapists to escape incapacitation for what they did.


Wow. Just wow. I too am sorry for what you and your family experienced, but if you truly believe statements like this, maybe you should stick to the prosecutor threads.


That was badly stated. What I meant to get across is that the aim is the same - get your guy off - whether the person in question is guilty or not. I doubt very many, if any, people get into that line of work with the aim of putting bad people on the streets. But a prospective PD would have to be okay with knowing that winning might at the end of the day be very bad for someone they never met and who never did anything wrong.


The functional aim, and the ethical duty, of every lawyer is the same: to get the best possible results for a client, according to that client's definition of "best." BigLaw attorneys often do work that has the functional aim of making it so that giant corporations can cause personal injury, environmental damage, or economic hardship to others at as little cost to themselves as possible. Family law attorneys often do work that has the functional aim of leaving the client's spouse impoverished and denying the client's co-parent access to her children. For that matter, doctors sometimes do work that has the functional aim of healing a drunk driver knowing that he can then go out and drive drunk again, or certifying that people who have hurt others should be released from mental institutions, knowing that they might hurt others again. A lot of jobs involve helping people (and some of those people might not be very nice), in ways that give them options they might not have otherwise had (and some of those options include being not very nice to other people). As a matter of moral philosophy, I just can't believe that it's wrong to help people because of the choices they might then make.

Do I feel for innocent victims of crime? Absolutely, I do. But unfortunately, when someone commits a crime, there's just no way to resolve it that doesn't result in someone feeling bad about it. Victims have families and loved ones, and so do accused criminals, both innocent and guilty. And I can feel for all of those people and still respect the fact that my job as an attorney is to advocate for my client's interests, and to get the best possible result for my client. And I don't feel guilty about that.
Last edited by FuturePD on Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jkay
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby jkay » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:34 pm

Stinson wrote:What I meant to get across is that the aim is the same - get your guy off - whether the person in question is guilty or not.


I don't know. Most of the PD-types I know would say that their aim isn't necessarily to get the bad guy off, but to make sure the state meets its burden.

Without PDs, the cops would run absolutely roughshod over each and every one of your civil rights. Bet on that.

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Tanicius
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Tanicius » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:58 pm

OP asked DF what kind of system he would have. Guilt without defense? I would ask a similar question. How would you have incapacitation without punishment? Make prisons nicer places maybe, focus more on rehabilitation and less on long sentences. But PD's don't do that. They don't fix prisons or work with convicts to rehabilitate them. They work to stop people who should be incapacitated from being incapacitated. That's the whole job. That is the plain and simple truth, which is why when it was brought up the PD's here reached immediately for their grab bag of facile hand-washes.


I would be perfectly happy to exchange our current system for one where prisons are genuinely benevolent and look out for the inmate's rehabilitative interests. Those prisons don't exist here in the U.S. like they do in Scandinavia. I look at the political state of this country and do not think I would have the power to change policy on any meaningful level. What I do have the power to do, though, as a PD, is prevent people from being unjustifiably tortured in an American prison. Until the prisons change, I have not only the power but the moral obligation to keep terrible child molesters out of that even worse environment.

jf112
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby jf112 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:49 pm

Let me first start by saying I've never really used a forum before, so I apologize if I'm breaching all of the unwritten rules of Internet etiquette. I found this thread to be extremely helpful and wondered if some of you folks who are more experienced with the PD hiring might be willing to provide me with some advice.

I'm a current 3L, and I've not even considered applying for a job other than a public defender. My friends are of course starting to get offers from their summer clerkships, and with a little bit of anxiety starting to set in, I'd appreciate any reassurance that I actually do have a shot at getting a PD job (or, if not, some frank advice to look into something else!).

Well, here are my qualifications, in a nutshell. I go to a low-tier 1 school. I'm in the top 10% of the class, and an editor on the Law Review. I've taken criminal classes, one of which I booked. This is my third consecutive semester working in our law school's clinic representing indigent clients. During the first two, I was able to represent folks in administrative hearings, some of which I actually won. The clinic I'm doing this semester is post-conviction representation. I also work at a local state agency part-time, because it pays (not much) and I need the money, but it has nothing to do with indigent folks. Before getting that job, I volunteered at a legal services organization. I don't sleep much.

Here's the problem: I've never actually worked in a PD's office, because under my state's practice rule, it's difficult for students to get cleared to represent clients in court (no such limitation for administrative hearings) and for various reasons, I don't qualify. I know that pretty much everyone else who gets these jobs has PD externships on their resume, and that's something I just don't have. I wasn't able to go to another state to do a summer at a PD office, because I have to make money to pay rent, eat, etc. (hence the agency job).

I want to be a public defender, and I'm willing to move wherever I need to go to do it. If I can't become a public defender, I think I have a decent shot at some legal services/public interest nonprofit-type jobs (I wouldn't never consider a job that didn't involve fighting for poor people). The problem is, a lot of PD hiring doesn't really start until later in the year, and I'm worried that I might be putting all my eggs in that basket and passing up other, potentially more realistic opportunities. Moving "home" and "taking time off" while looking for a job aren't options for me, because I'm damn near 30 and have to support myself. That being said, I'll go back to working construction before selling out.

I would appreciate any advice anyone might have! Thank you!

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:16 pm

Stinson wrote:If nothing else, I would encourage our future PD's to be introspective, and to try to take pride in their conduct. The skeptical attitude about the justice system can lead, in my personal experience, to ends-justify-the-means conduct of which I, as an attorney, would not be proud. Convinced all the world is arrayed against them, it leads once well-meaning people to say things they know are untrue, to lash out at families who have done nothing wrong, and to confuse zeal with the truth. Absolutely bring your enthusiasm, but do not leave your honor behind.


Nailed it. Nice.

Void wrote:For me, it's about doing my part to preserve the model of fairness our society has chosen to put into practice. We have agreed that every killer, rapist, thief and thug deserves a rigorous defense.


No. We agree that criminal defendants have a right to counsel. . . That's it. The PDs can choose to lie about the victims families, the victim, the facts surrounding the case, all in a public trial, all to put on a "rigorous" defense, but that is on them. No one is requiring them to do that; our justice systems works just fine when they don't.

I've seen a lot of good PDs and a lot of bad ones. Key is to to avoid drinking all the Kool-aid.

Void
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Void » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:25 pm

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
Stinson wrote:If nothing else, I would encourage our future PD's to be introspective, and to try to take pride in their conduct. The skeptical attitude about the justice system can lead, in my personal experience, to ends-justify-the-means conduct of which I, as an attorney, would not be proud. Convinced all the world is arrayed against them, it leads once well-meaning people to say things they know are untrue, to lash out at families who have done nothing wrong, and to confuse zeal with the truth. Absolutely bring your enthusiasm, but do not leave your honor behind.


Nailed it. Nice.

Void wrote:For me, it's about doing my part to preserve the model of fairness our society has chosen to put into practice. We have agreed that every killer, rapist, thief and thug deserves a rigorous defense.


No. We agree that criminal defendants have a right to counsel. . . That's it. The PDs can choose to lie about the victims families, the victim, the facts surrounding the case, all in a public trial, all to put on a "rigorous" defense, but that is on them. No one is requiring them to do that; our justice systems works just fine when they don't.

I've seen a lot of good PDs and a lot of bad ones. Key is to to avoid drinking all the Kool-aid.


Dude, wtf are you even talking about? Lying about victims' families? And what is the right to counsel without a rigorous defense? Do you think defendants should just have a passive law librarian?

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midwest17
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby midwest17 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:29 pm

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
Void wrote:For me, it's about doing my part to preserve the model of fairness our society has chosen to put into practice. We have agreed that every killer, rapist, thief and thug deserves a rigorous defense.


No. We agree that criminal defendants have a right to counsel. . . That's it.


Model Rules of Professional Conduct wrote:As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system.

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:33 pm

Void wrote:
Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
Stinson wrote:If nothing else, I would encourage our future PD's to be introspective, and to try to take pride in their conduct. The skeptical attitude about the justice system can lead, in my personal experience, to ends-justify-the-means conduct of which I, as an attorney, would not be proud. Convinced all the world is arrayed against them, it leads once well-meaning people to say things they know are untrue, to lash out at families who have done nothing wrong, and to confuse zeal with the truth. Absolutely bring your enthusiasm, but do not leave your honor behind.


Nailed it. Nice.

Void wrote:For me, it's about doing my part to preserve the model of fairness our society has chosen to put into practice. We have agreed that every killer, rapist, thief and thug deserves a rigorous defense.


No. We agree that criminal defendants have a right to counsel. . . That's it. The PDs can choose to lie about the victims families, the victim, the facts surrounding the case, all in a public trial, all to put on a "rigorous" defense, but that is on them. No one is requiring them to do that; our justice systems works just fine when they don't.

I've seen a lot of good PDs and a lot of bad ones. Key is to to avoid drinking all the Kool-aid.


Dude, wtf are you even talking about? Lying about victims' families? And what is the right to counsel without a rigorous defense? Do you think defendants should just have a passive law librarian?


You have a hard time with complexity, eh? Hmm maybe somewhere in between law librarian and scumbag defense attorney..

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:34 pm

midwest17 wrote:
Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
Void wrote:For me, it's about doing my part to preserve the model of fairness our society has chosen to put into practice. We have agreed that every killer, rapist, thief and thug deserves a rigorous defense.


No. We agree that criminal defendants have a right to counsel. . . That's it.


Model Rules of Professional Conduct wrote:As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system.


Correct. Problem is radical PDs create the client's position, they don't represent it.

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:37 pm

Also I'm just going to tap out of this one now before it gets ugly. I've basically done the equivalent of walking into church and saying this is made-up bullshit.

Void
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Void » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:38 pm

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
midwest17 wrote:
Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
Void wrote:For me, it's about doing my part to preserve the model of fairness our society has chosen to put into practice. We have agreed that every killer, rapist, thief and thug deserves a rigorous defense.


No. We agree that criminal defendants have a right to counsel. . . That's it.


Model Rules of Professional Conduct wrote:As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system.


Correct. Problem is radical PDs create the client's position, they don't represent it.


It sounds like you dislike shitty unethical lawyers, rather than public defenders in general. Have you ever met a prosecutor?

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midwest17
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby midwest17 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:38 pm

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
midwest17 wrote:
Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
Void wrote:For me, it's about doing my part to preserve the model of fairness our society has chosen to put into practice. We have agreed that every killer, rapist, thief and thug deserves a rigorous defense.


No. We agree that criminal defendants have a right to counsel. . . That's it.


Model Rules of Professional Conduct wrote:As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client's position under the rules of the adversary system.


Correct. Problem is radical PDs create the client's position, they don't represent it.


Huh? What does this even mean? Most clients' positions are "the state can't prove me guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," and the lawyer asserts that position unless the client says they want to plead guilty.

Void
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Void » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:40 pm

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:Also I'm just going to tap out of this one now before it gets ugly. I've basically done the equivalent of walking into church and saying this is made-up bullshit.


Yeah, you're right- it is the equivalent of saying something controversial without bothering to explain your position.

Void
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Void » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:56 pm

jf112 wrote:Let me first start by saying I've never really used a forum before, so I apologize if I'm breaching all of the unwritten rules of Internet etiquette. I found this thread to be extremely helpful and wondered if some of you folks who are more experienced with the PD hiring might be willing to provide me with some advice.

I'm a current 3L, and I've not even considered applying for a job other than a public defender. My friends are of course starting to get offers from their summer clerkships, and with a little bit of anxiety starting to set in, I'd appreciate any reassurance that I actually do have a shot at getting a PD job (or, if not, some frank advice to look into something else!).

Well, here are my qualifications, in a nutshell. I go to a low-tier 1 school. I'm in the top 10% of the class, and an editor on the Law Review. I've taken criminal classes, one of which I booked. This is my third consecutive semester working in our law school's clinic representing indigent clients. During the first two, I was able to represent folks in administrative hearings, some of which I actually won. The clinic I'm doing this semester is post-conviction representation. I also work at a local state agency part-time, because it pays (not much) and I need the money, but it has nothing to do with indigent folks. Before getting that job, I volunteered at a legal services organization. I don't sleep much.

Here's the problem: I've never actually worked in a PD's office, because under my state's practice rule, it's difficult for students to get cleared to represent clients in court (no such limitation for administrative hearings) and for various reasons, I don't qualify. I know that pretty much everyone else who gets these jobs has PD externships on their resume, and that's something I just don't have. I wasn't able to go to another state to do a summer at a PD office, because I have to make money to pay rent, eat, etc. (hence the agency job).

I want to be a public defender, and I'm willing to move wherever I need to go to do it. If I can't become a public defender, I think I have a decent shot at some legal services/public interest nonprofit-type jobs (I wouldn't never consider a job that didn't involve fighting for poor people). The problem is, a lot of PD hiring doesn't really start until later in the year, and I'm worried that I might be putting all my eggs in that basket and passing up other, potentially more realistic opportunities. Moving "home" and "taking time off" while looking for a job aren't options for me, because I'm damn near 30 and have to support myself. That being said, I'll go back to working construction before selling out.

I would appreciate any advice anyone might have! Thank you!


Sorry this got obscured by the troll attack. I can't offer much advice or consolation without more details. Feel free to PM me. (That means send me a private message- not sure how familiar you are with forum lingo)

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:50 pm

Rigor=/= lying or otherwise being unethical.

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Tanicius
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Tanicius » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:41 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Rigor=/= lying or otherwise being unethical.


And presenting alternative explanations and narratives for a crime isn't the same thing as lying or being unethical either. It's one thing to put the defendant on the stand and knowingly help him perjure himself, but it's perfectly within the confines of ethics and a defense attorney's job description to present other ways that a crime happened and demand that the prosecutor disprove them.

Mount Elbrus
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Mount Elbrus » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:16 am

I deal almost exclusively with Federal cases so what I say may not be accurate for those dealing with State level cases. I think there is a misconception that a defense attorney can get a guilty guy off through chicanery and fancy lawyer tricks. This is almost always not true. We can do things like win a suppression motion, which may mean the case goes away, but this is not trickery. Rather, this is simply ensuring that the rights afforded under the constitution are applied equally to all people.

Many people, myself included, are not particularly likely to be accused of a crime we did not committ. But it does happen, take a look at the innocence project and look at the number of people who were actually convicted, found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, who were in fact innocent. For most it is hard to imagine that this could happen to you because you are not poor and black (which is the overwhelming majority of the cases). If you can, imagine this happening to you or someone you love. Imagine being branded a rapist or a murderer and being locked away for 20+ years, or even put to death, even though you are innocent. This should never happen, but it does. This is a big reason I do the work I do, not to allow the guilty to go free, but rather to protect the innocent. This may seem all puppy dogs and fairy tales, but to me it is genuine.

FuturePD
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby FuturePD » Thu Sep 05, 2013 4:41 pm

jf112 wrote:Let me first start by saying I've never really used a forum before, so I apologize if I'm breaching all of the unwritten rules of Internet etiquette. I found this thread to be extremely helpful and wondered if some of you folks who are more experienced with the PD hiring might be willing to provide me with some advice.

I'm a current 3L, and I've not even considered applying for a job other than a public defender. My friends are of course starting to get offers from their summer clerkships, and with a little bit of anxiety starting to set in, I'd appreciate any reassurance that I actually do have a shot at getting a PD job (or, if not, some frank advice to look into something else!).

Well, here are my qualifications, in a nutshell. I go to a low-tier 1 school. I'm in the top 10% of the class, and an editor on the Law Review. I've taken criminal classes, one of which I booked. This is my third consecutive semester working in our law school's clinic representing indigent clients. During the first two, I was able to represent folks in administrative hearings, some of which I actually won. The clinic I'm doing this semester is post-conviction representation. I also work at a local state agency part-time, because it pays (not much) and I need the money, but it has nothing to do with indigent folks. Before getting that job, I volunteered at a legal services organization. I don't sleep much.

Here's the problem: I've never actually worked in a PD's office, because under my state's practice rule, it's difficult for students to get cleared to represent clients in court (no such limitation for administrative hearings) and for various reasons, I don't qualify. I know that pretty much everyone else who gets these jobs has PD externships on their resume, and that's something I just don't have. I wasn't able to go to another state to do a summer at a PD office, because I have to make money to pay rent, eat, etc. (hence the agency job).

I want to be a public defender, and I'm willing to move wherever I need to go to do it. If I can't become a public defender, I think I have a decent shot at some legal services/public interest nonprofit-type jobs (I wouldn't never consider a job that didn't involve fighting for poor people). The problem is, a lot of PD hiring doesn't really start until later in the year, and I'm worried that I might be putting all my eggs in that basket and passing up other, potentially more realistic opportunities. Moving "home" and "taking time off" while looking for a job aren't options for me, because I'm damn near 30 and have to support myself. That being said, I'll go back to working construction before selling out.

I would appreciate any advice anyone might have! Thank you!


Hey, feel free to PM me if you want to discuss in detail. But from what you've said here, I think you need to focus your applications on the practical work experience you do have. Write your cover letters and focus your resume on your clinical work and legal services. No one cares about your grades or your journal editorship, and they especially don't care that you booked a crim class. But you have some good, relevant experience, so I'd focus on those things.

thecactus
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby thecactus » Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:11 pm

Hi,

So I'm a 2L and pretty committed to being a PD. I did my first summer at a local PD's office and really really loved it.

I think the biggest red flag on my resume is that I've worked as a rape crises counselor before coming to law school. IMO this doesn't compromise my dedication to becoming a PD in the slightest, but I know it will come off that way. Every interview I've had, I've been asked about it. So far I think I've been okay at spinning that experience positively, but I need a killer answer. I have a number of different answers I give when asked about it, and I was wondering if I could get some feedback on which of the following answers would be the strongest to use in an interview:

1) A lot of criminal defendants have themselves been abused or assaulted at some point in their lives, so having counseling experience would be effective in bringing up these issues and presenting them effectively in front of a judge or jury.

2) Even if I have a client accused of sexual assault, counseling experience gives me the sensitivity to deal with a complaining witness without looking like a douche in front of a judge or jury. Also, that sensitivity makes it easier for me to detect if a complaining witness might be exaggerating or lying. (I have an anecdote about a trial I watched this summer where I felt right off the bat that the CW may not have been 100% truthful -- turns out, the judge thought the same way and granted a motion for acquittal right after the state's case-in-chief.)

3) For my 1L summer, I worked on habeas petitions for paroless who were registered sex offenders. Just as I think it's important that sexual assault survivors to be humanized, I also think it's important to re-humanize criminal defendants who have been accused of sexual assault. (I have several anecdotes about the parolee clients I interacted with. I got along with them great.)

4) From my experience, DA's say they're "all about the victims," but I don't think this is true. A lot of DA's are pretty patronizing and condescending to DV victims and sexual assault survivors.

Sorry if this is kinda long. Any feedback is appreciated!

FuturePD
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby FuturePD » Fri Oct 04, 2013 3:33 pm

thecactus wrote:I think the biggest red flag on my resume is that I've worked as a rape crises counselor before coming to law school. IMO this doesn't compromise my dedication to becoming a PD in the slightest, but I know it will come off that way. Every interview I've had, I've been asked about it. So far I think I've been okay at spinning that experience positively, but I need a killer answer.


How long did you have the job, and under what circumstances? Because if it was anything other than your full-time, paid job for several years, I'd just leave it off your resume. If it was while you were in school, or part-time, or for less than a year or two, just leave it off your resume and don't tell anyone about it. Your resume is not a list of everything you've ever done in your life; it's a marketing document designed to highlight the things you have done that most qualify you for the job to which you are applying. This does not fall into that category, so unless it's going to create a suspicious gap in your experience, just don't tell anyone.

Because honestly, while it's something you can get around with a clever answer, it's always going to be a liability. It's always going to be a negative that you have that other candidates don't.

If you have to leave it on because it would create a huge gap, I'd say something about how you thought you wanted to work with victims, but when you got into the family court system, you realized that it's all a huge mess with no clear victims or perpetrators, and you want to fight for the people everyone else thinks are the bad guys, the underdogs, rather than the folks everyone already feels sympathy for. I wouldn't try to spin it as valuable PD experience; it's not, and that sounds like an excuse or a rationalization. Just acknowledge that it was something different from what you thought it would be, and that it won't get in your way.

But honestly, if you can avoid it altogether, do that. In my experience, no one will ask about any gap in your resume less than two years or about any time in college or before college when you weren't working.

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TheJanitor6203
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby TheJanitor6203 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:46 am

FuturePD,

First, thanks for doing this. I've already found tons of helpful info here.

I'm a 0L and I will be leaving my current job in January so I'm going to have some time before starting LS. I found out that my local PD office hires non-LS interns so I'm applying and I was hoping you could give me some advice. I found some great materials for the cover letter and resume through the HLS and UVA websites but I also need to provide a writing sample. Since I'm an 0L and I don't have a brief or something like a typical LS would use, what do you suggest I submit? I was considering using my personal statement from my applications.

I also need to submit a photo with my application. Is this typical? I'm just not sure what I should do for this. I'm probably not going to send them a selfie off my phone but on the other extreme should I go to the portrait studio at Wal-Mart? Would a suit be appriopriate? I just don't want to look like an ass.

Thanks for your help.

THE_U
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby THE_U » Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:26 pm

FuturePD,

I'm currently a 2L and have pretty much wanted to do nothing but criminal defense since entering law school. I worked at the PD office in my hometown this past summer, doing the usual research/writing memos & motions. My grades for the most part have not been good since I have been in law school. I know that the general theme of this thread has been that experience/dedication is more important than things like grades; with that said, do you think that the experience I already have coupled with a certified internship the next two summers (where I would be arguing motions, questioning witnesses at trial, etc.) would outweigh my grades and allow me to get a job as a PD down the line? I know that I would do fine in an interview and absolutely have the dedication and desire but sometimes get paranoid because of my grades.

Thanks

dafullwood0624
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby dafullwood0624 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:14 pm

[quote="FuturePD"]1) I don't have moral qualms. Maybe I'm unusual (or naive--I'll accept that possibility), but I actually don't believe there's much of any moral gray area, even when it comes to "truly gruesome" crimes. Our criminal justice system is an abominable institution that, at best, puts human beings in cages like animals, breaks up families, and ruins people's ability to participate in society for the rest of their lives. At worst, it tortures and kills people. There is nothing a person can do that, in my mind, justifies sending them to an American prison as they currently operate. And as a law clerk/intern, when I've worked on particularly grizzly homicide or sexual assault cases, I still believed that those clients were being subjected to punishments that couldn't be justified by any crime they may have committed. Do I think it's appropriate to physically segregate some particularly dangerous people from society so that they can't hurt people and can get appropriate help for their problems? Sure. But that's nowhere close to what our system actually does.

If I were a doctor, no one would ask how I deal with the moral complications of treating people who may not be very nice and who may, after I treat them, use their new-found good health to do bad things. Similarly, when the government proposes to engage in massive human rights violations in our name, I think we're morally obligated to intervene, no matter who the person is whose rights are being violated. The system is wrong, and it's hurting people, and it needs to be stopped. And my job is to stop it, at least with regard to each client who comes to me for help.

Wow, that was more of a screed than I had originally set out to write. Can you tell that I get this question a lot, and that I get sort of indignant about it? Sorry. But that's how I feel. I can't speak for my colleagues. But in my mind, if you don't believe that everyone has an absolute moral right to your help, no matter what they may have done, this probably isn't the profession for you. /rant

This is amazing. Thank you.

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Mroberts3
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Re: Future Public Defender (I start next month) taking questions

Postby Mroberts3 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:52 pm

Stinson wrote:
There are people standing behind the "public anger" OP so quickly dismisses. Violent crimes happen every day wholly unmarked by the public at large, but behind every one there is a victim or a family that is not merely vaguely angry at a mugshot on television, but at a real, living person who has done them irreparable wrong. Whatever its faults, the justice system is the only recourse society offers this group. In my case, we met often with the prosecutor and went over the case. We sat behind here for the entire trial, and we hugged it when it was done. We had no illusions that the prosecutor was our attorney - she was the state's - but she was still fighting for us.


This whole thing was a brilliant post. Especially so because you do not try and waive away the problems the criminal justice system faces.

As someone who works for the prosecution, I don't dislike PDs as such. In fact, I genuinely respect those who fight hard because they believe in the process and of putting us (the prosecution) to our proof.

But then you get PDs like those in this thread who hold moral views that I find so problematic that I can't really delve too deeply in lest this turn into a 30 page post. Suffice it to say, prosecutors defend the victim and the community and PDs defend and protect those who do harm. That is a fact. What matters morally is WHY the PD is willing to do that. If he/she does so because the justice system requires it, and thus they aim to serve something higher than their one client, then bravo. If they do it because they somehow think that the rapist is more deserving of protection and advocacy than the victim, then...well, I really don't know what to say.

I was particularly shocked by the comment that someone would get dinged at a PD office for helping rape victims because it was "too much like helping the prosecutors." What. The. Fuck.




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