Deputy DA: Tough gig to get out of LS? Pay?

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iamluke20
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Deputy DA: Tough gig to get out of LS? Pay?

Postby iamluke20 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:24 pm

Just curious, does anyone have any idea how hard/easy it is to get a job with a DA out of law school?

How much does it pay? (Generally, I am sure it varies per location).

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scribelaw
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Re: Deputy DA: Tough gig to get out of LS? Pay?

Postby scribelaw » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:27 pm

As I'm interested in this career as well, I've done a little research. Depending on city, pay could vary from $38-40k to $55k.

These jobs are competitive. To land a DA job, you need to demonstrate a commitment to it during law school, i.e. do it for your 1L and 2L summers. You can't plan on being a DA as a backup in case you miss BigLaw.

iamluke20
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Re: Deputy DA: Tough gig to get out of LS? Pay?

Postby iamluke20 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:56 pm

scribelaw wrote:As I'm interested in this career as well, I've done a little research. Depending on city, pay could vary from $38-40k to $55k.

These jobs are competitive. To land a DA job, you need to demonstrate a commitment to it during law school, i.e. do it for your 1L and 2L summers. You can't plan on being a DA as a backup in case you miss BigLaw.



That is what I figured.

Coming into law school Crim was last on my list, but it gets more intriguing every day.

Another Question: Does working for a DA mean sweatshop hours?

cake
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Re: Deputy DA: Tough gig to get out of LS? Pay?

Postby cake » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:19 pm

iamluke20 wrote:
scribelaw wrote:As I'm interested in this career as well, I've done a little research. Depending on city, pay could vary from $38-40k to $55k.

These jobs are competitive. To land a DA job, you need to demonstrate a commitment to it during law school, i.e. do it for your 1L and 2L summers. You can't plan on being a DA as a backup in case you miss BigLaw.



That is what I figured.

Coming into law school Crim was last on my list, but it gets more intriguing every day.

Another Question: Does working for a DA mean sweatshop hours?

I spoke with an ADA and Asst. Solicitor a few months back, and they both worked close to 40 hours a week, with the former doing more around trial time.

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kalvano
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Re: Deputy DA: Tough gig to get out of LS? Pay?

Postby kalvano » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:48 pm

scribelaw wrote:As I'm interested in this career as well, I've done a little research. Depending on city, pay could vary from $38-40k to $55k.

These jobs are competitive. To land a DA job, you need to demonstrate a commitment to it during law school, i.e. do it for your 1L and 2L summers. You can't plan on being a DA as a backup in case you miss BigLaw.



How competitive?

I mean, is there generally work available if you have shown that is something you want to do, not a back-up plan?

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vanwinkle
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Re: Deputy DA: Tough gig to get out of LS? Pay?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:58 pm

I interned with a public defender over winter break and have heard a couple prosecutors who came to talk at my school about how to get into these kind of positions, and I can make a few points about it:

1) It's true what's been said already: They want to see some kind of existing interest in it. You can't just go "oh well, I didn't get a paid BigLaw internship, I'll go do crim law instead". You'll be at the back of the line behind the people who have shown an interest and done internships and during-the-year pro bono work, and there are quite a few of those (including me).

2) The competitiveness varies depending on the city. So does the pay, and the prestige. Public defender and prosecutor in NYC starts at $45-55K but these are jobs that lots of people want, prosecutors especially. Sonia Sotomayor went to Yale, was LR editor, and clerked for COA, and then did Manhattan DA as her first job. That is how competitive the hottest criminal law jobs are, you're competing with people with those kind of credentials. Not all of them will have that, but you get the idea. It's a lot easier to get a job in Bumfuck County, AR than it is in NYC or other big popular cities. The flipside of that is that easier-to-get rural gigs pay less and have far less prestige; some local city/county prosecutor jobs pay $30-35K to start.

3) The rule used to be that you needed to intern one summer doing this to show your interest, but honestly that was before the economy bottomed out. Now there are a lot of lawyers with experience who are laid off and looking for any kind of work they can get, and you're competing with them too these days. If you really wanna do criminal work, it seems like spending both summers doing a crim-related internship will be worth it for the additional experience and networking opportunities, even though it'll be an unpaid gig. I'm not sure this is entirely necessary, it's just what I think will help you the most in what's an uncertain market.

4) The hours appear to not be terrible at all. The public defender I interned with typically does 40-hour weeks, with mornings dedicated to court appearances and afternoons spent doing research/depositions/drafting motions for later court dates/anything else he needs to get done. He shows up around 9 and leaves by 5 on most days, unless something major has come up and he has to put the additional evenings/weekends in. He was an associate at a law firm for a couple years before switching over to public defense, and told me that he enjoys both the amount of work and type of work he's doing now a lot more.

5) The work can be grueling. As a public defender you will have to mount a defense for despicable and horrid people you believe or know are guilty, and you will have to witness the convictions of people you truly believe are innocent. The flipside, I'm sure, is true for those who try becoming prosecutors. It's good work, and still work that I want to do, but having experienced it personally, it's certainly something to think long and hard about before committing yourself to. It's not for everyone.

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Deputy DA: Tough gig to get out of LS? Pay?

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:55 pm

Right now, it's very difficult in a lot of states because of the state budget crisis. Due to civil service rules, you get blanket hiring freezes. Some states have things like preferred pools where good PD/ADA apps will be the first to get called if a position is funded, but it's very different from private practice. No position simply means no position no matter what, and you've had situations where positions are being eliminated.

There are a number of people who I know who wanted to do the ADA route and did prosecution internships and other criminal coursework but who have absolutely no shot because of this.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Deputy DA: Tough gig to get out of LS? Pay?

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:57 pm

ScaredWorkedBored wrote:Right now, it's very difficult in a lot of states because of the state budget crisis. Due to civil service rules, you get blanket hiring freezes. Some states have things like preferred pools where good PD/ADA apps will be the first to get called if a position is funded, but it's very different from private practice. No position simply means no position no matter what, and you've had situations where positions are being eliminated.

There are a number of people who I know who wanted to do the ADA route and did prosecution internships and other criminal coursework but who have absolutely no shot because of this.

:shock:

Shit, I hadn't thought about that at all. I used to work for a transit agency and they were hit by hiring freezes because of a budget crisis, but it hadn't occurred to me that'd affect DA's and PD's offices too. Now you've got me worried.




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