Cook County State's Attorney's Office

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mrtoren
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Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby mrtoren » Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:41 pm

I'm looking to apply to law school this summer for admittance in Fall 2012. After interning with a local State's Attorney's Office near my undergraduate campus, I have really taken an interest in this area of law. However, I live up near Cook County and I also feel that a larger office like Cook would provide greater opportunities. My dilemma arises in selecting a school that will place me in a competitive hiring position while still being affordable. Public sector lawyers earn meager salaries at best; I know McLean County starts their prosecutors at $36k and Cook is around $55k I believe. I don't want to place myself into financial hardship if I can avoid it. Even if my debt would be wiped in ten years...that's ten long years of not being able to easily start a family or buy a house.

With my stats (158/3.22), I'm not a candidate for big scholarships from any of the private schools. John Marshall may be an exception, but their stipulations tend to be strict from what I have seen on these forums. I could probably get into DePaul, but I would likely be looking at $40k/year sticker price. NIU seems to be one of the final options. Its definitely not ideal and it has no national presence, but once I find work with a State's Attorney's Office I will probably never change jobs again. It seems to place well in the upper half of Illinois and they put a substantial number of their graduates into government work. Additionally, it was named a top 20 best value law school by the National Jurist and has a higher bar passage rate than U of I. Its also dirt cheap at $17k/year. Considering the 25/50/75 LSAT scores are 150/153/155 according to NIU's most recent data, I would probably get a substantial portion of my tuition waived. I would also be in a position to potentially graduate at a higher rank than I could at other schools.

So does anyone know if the Cook County State's Attorney's Office actively recruits from NIU Law? Is there a reputation that follows it at regional prosecutors' offices?
Last edited by mrtoren on Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mrtoren
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby mrtoren » Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:23 pm

Bump.

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El_Gallo
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby El_Gallo » Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:35 pm

mrtoren wrote:Public sector lawyers earn meager salaries at best; I know McLean County starts their prosecutors at $36k and Cook is around $55k I believe.


I don't have a response to your question but dang..$55 bucks an hours does not sounds like a meager living to me! Is that per hour or per billable hour? Do public sector attorneys even have billable hour?

bearsfan1
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby bearsfan1 » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:24 pm

El_Gallo wrote:
mrtoren wrote:Public sector lawyers earn meager salaries at best; I know McLean County starts their prosecutors at $36k and Cook is around $55k I believe.


I don't have a response to your question but dang..$55 bucks an hours does not sounds like a meager living to me! Is that per hour or per billable hour? Do public sector attorneys even have billable hour?


Did you not see the K after the 55? K's = thousands. So he would be living on $55 thousand a year, which would be tough to do in Cook County.

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mrtoren
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby mrtoren » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:16 am

bearsfan1 wrote:Did you not see the K after the 55? K's = thousands. So he would be living on $55 thousand a year, which would be tough to do in Cook County.

Agreed. I don't come from an exceptionally wealthy family, so maximizing my school debt-to-job prospects ratio is essential. I talked to an attorney with the McLean County State's Attorney's Office who applied with Cook County and was rejected because he did not clerk with them while in law school. So experience with Cook County before graduation is a must; I'm just eager to know if it is reasonable to assume I will have a chance coming from NIU Law.

Like I said earlier, it has no national presence. However, it is the only public law school in the greater Chicago area and seems to employ its grads decently.

bearsfan1
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby bearsfan1 » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:01 pm

Honestly, NIU probably isn't a bad choice for you if that's really what you want to do. Even if you can't clerk with Cook County, you shouldn't have a problem finding a similiar job in a surrounding area or even more down south (such as Peoria, Bloomington, Decatur, or Springfield).

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mrtoren
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby mrtoren » Sun Apr 03, 2011 11:46 pm

bearsfan1 wrote:Honestly, NIU probably isn't a bad choice for you if that's really what you want to do. Even if you can't clerk with Cook County, you shouldn't have a problem finding a similiar job in a surrounding area or even more down south (such as Peoria, Bloomington, Decatur, or Springfield).

I appreciate the support, that seems to be rarer and rarer now days. I'm also looking into Rutgers and Michigan State. Rutgers is more expensive at $25k/yr in tuition, but it carries a stronger name and Essex County looks like a decent area to practice criminal prosecution in. If I interned with Cook for the next two summers and clerked with them during my law school years, I may even be able to come back out this way too. I will be visiting in May. As for Michigan State, its also pricier at $33k/yr. However, it sounds like they give students a lot of scholarship money and it also carries a stronger name than NIU. Cook County recruits from this university too.

If I chose either of my other two considerations, debt would be a concern. Can anyone explain the loan repayment programs for public sector lawyers? I've heard of IBR and different LRAP programs, but I don't know very much about them. From the little I do know, it sounds like they still leave you destitute for ten years.

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kapital98
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby kapital98 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:03 am

El_Gallo wrote:
mrtoren wrote:Public sector lawyers earn meager salaries at best; I know McLean County starts their prosecutors at $36k and Cook is around $55k I believe.


I don't have a response to your question but dang..$55 bucks an hours does not sounds like a meager living to me! Is that per hour or per billable hour? Do public sector attorneys even have billable hour?


I worked at a Public Defender's office in NY. There are no billable hours. The payscale is a large grid based on years on the job and department. The year pay increase maxed out at 10 years and there was ~10 different level of promotions. 60/61 of the lawyers were hired and promoted. However, the Public Defender was an appointment by an elected politician. The pay ranged from ~$50,000 - ~$125,000. People start doing town court and slowly make their way up to violent felonies promotions wise. 2 of the lawyers were purely administrative (Public Defender + 1st assistant Public Defender) and the rest were always defending clients.

However, it's not a free ride. As a public defender you're expected to come in a minimum of 9-5pm. New hires work in town courts. They have to work at night 3 days of the week and 2 days during the day. Unless you put in the effort you will never be promoted. By putting in the effort I mean; 1) being good at your job, and 2) putting in as much time as it takes. It is common for PD's to work after 5pm or during the weekend.

I assume the same is true of District Attorneys but I can't say for sure.

P.S. Having billable hours would create very perverse incentives for Public Interest workers. The attorneys barely know their clients and have to spread scarce resources very thin. If the poor actually received the amount of attention they deserved the costs to the county would skyrocket.

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mrtoren
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby mrtoren » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:09 am

kapital98 wrote:I assume the same is true of District Attorneys but I can't say for sure.

From the guys I have talked to, this is absolutely true. I'm interning with the major traffic division and the guys typically work a couple hours every other night to catch up and try to get ahead on the weekends. As one climbs the ranks, the case load obviously drops. There are far fewer drug cases than DUI's so the felony guys have easier hours. The work is enjoyable to me though and I look forward to it after law school.

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kapital98
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby kapital98 » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:03 pm

mrtoren wrote:
kapital98 wrote:I assume the same is true of District Attorneys but I can't say for sure.

From the guys I have talked to, this is absolutely true. I'm interning with the major traffic division and the guys typically work a couple hours every other night to catch up and try to get ahead on the weekends. As one climbs the ranks, the case load obviously drops. There are far fewer drug cases than DUI's so the felony guys have easier hours. The work is enjoyable to me though and I look forward to it after law school.


That's what's so great about working at the PD's office. A wide variety of cases come your way. The higher your rank the more interesting they become! :)

Also, most of the lawyers I worked with had court almost every day. They would spend 1/2 of the day in court and the other 1/2 doing research and meetings. This seems much more interesting to me than being in an office all day doing legal research.

barry
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby barry » Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:09 pm

Go to John Marshall over niu. It's more recognized in the city/county and will give u more opportunities during the school year to gain experience

Edit: if u can retake u should u have to realize a large portion of your classmates will be competing for the same prosecutor positions especially cook county ones

bearsfan1
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby bearsfan1 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:51 am

barry wrote:Go to John Marshall over niu. It's more recognized in the city/county and will give u more opportunities during the school year to gain experience

Edit: if u can retake u should u have to realize a large portion of your classmates will be competing for the same prosecutor positions especially cook county ones


OP, I disagree. A law degree from John Marshall is no better than one from NIU. Since you aren't shooting for a high paying job, minimizing your debt should be your top priority. NIU is really pretty cheap (assuming you're an Illinois student) so I would definitely go there. Plus, I would argue that John Marshall is not even more recognized in the city. In fact, I hadn't even heard of John Marshall until about six months ago when I really began to research law schools.

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mrtoren
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby mrtoren » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:51 pm

bearsfan1 wrote:
barry wrote:Go to John Marshall over niu. It's more recognized in the city/county and will give u more opportunities during the school year to gain experience

Edit: if u can retake u should u have to realize a large portion of your classmates will be competing for the same prosecutor positions especially cook county ones


OP, I disagree. A law degree from John Marshall is no better than one from NIU. Since you aren't shooting for a high paying job, minimizing your debt should be your top priority. NIU is really pretty cheap (assuming you're an Illinois student) so I would definitely go there. Plus, I would argue that John Marshall is not even more recognized in the city. In fact, I hadn't even heard of John Marshall until about six months ago when I really began to research law schools.

I've been doing more and more research on the IBR program to help expand my choice of schools. However, it sounds relatively new and I'm worried about its longevity with all of the current government cuts. Does any one have any incite on this program? Can you live a comfortable life while making payments with the IBR program?

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kapital98
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby kapital98 » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:46 pm

mrtoren wrote:I've been doing more and more research on the IBR program to help expand my choice of schools. However, it sounds relatively new and I'm worried about its longevity with all of the current government cuts. Does any one have any incite on this program? Can you live a comfortable life while making payments with the IBR program?


viewtopic.php?f=2&t=152228&start=50

IBR loans are here to stay and you shouldn't really worry about them disappearing after you have already signed up. However, if your thinking about paying off loans through loan subsidies you should really look at LRAP. Not every school has one but they are much more helpful than IBR. If you have LRAP you can use that in conjunction with IBR.

With both IBR and LRAP you should seriously examine the fine print to make sure you qualify. If you plan on making $30,00-$50,000 starting out in PI and then gradually move up then these programs will considerably alleviate your debt load. Without the debt you could have a nice middle class standard of living. However, if your going to make $70,000+ starting out or quit PI after a few years and never go back you could be in considerable trouble.

LRAP and IBR make it possible for students with major school debt take lower paying PI jobs.


SouthernMiss
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby SouthernMiss » Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:15 pm

Can anyone from this thread answer questions about interning over the summer at CCSAO? If so: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=225245&p=7518939#p7518939

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midwest17
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby midwest17 » Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:01 pm

How is there not a bigger push to retake in this thread?

OP, if your emphasis actually is on maximizing job prospects and minimizing debt, you absolutely must put in however much time studying it takes to retake for the high 160s at least. The time you put into studying will pay way better than a job you can expect from any of those schools. Study, retake, then pursue your dreams.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Cook County State's Attorney's Office

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:10 pm

There's no bigger push to retake because the thread is originally from 2011.




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