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I'm a Public Defender AMA

senoritascully
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by senoritascully » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:31 am

Eurapoopin wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:31 pm
senoritascully wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:46 pm
Hi! Incoming 1L here. What are the best options for my 1L summer if I'm interested in being a PD? My school isn't highly ranked but places well in its area.
I interned with a local PD office for my 1L summer. So you can obviously do that. 1L summer is less important than 2L summer though, even for PDs. So if you have any inclination to explore other fields at some point, 1L summer could be a good time to do that as well.

Most states also have a lot of nonprofit organizations that either do criminal defense work of some sort or generally serve indigent populations. Shouldn't be difficult for you to find a good organization, so focus on your courses and just keep up with public interest fairs or whatever your school does to promote those kinds of things.
Thanks! Appreciate the advice.

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abyss
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by abyss » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:08 pm

Thank you to Borhas and Cal Trask for the Colorado info. Just accepted an offer with them recently and excited to get started.

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Eurapoopin
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by Eurapoopin » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:17 pm

abyss wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:08 pm
Thank you to Borhas and Cal Trask for the Colorado info. Just accepted an offer with them recently and excited to get started.
I'm also free to answer any CO questions. I got hired with the most recent crop who started back in August. Definitely not the authority that Borhas or Cal are, but more than happy to help you or anyone else with questions in the future.

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bojack93
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by bojack93 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:12 pm

1L here applying for summer positions. I was wondering if anyone could speak to the difference between working in a federal PD's office vs. local PD. I'm hoping to go into public defense and do another PD internship next summer. I know I'm not likely to get a federal PD job straight out of law school, so would it make more sense to get as much local/state experience as possible? Is there any benefit to seeing things at the federal level?

Also, would the federal PD's office have the same background check process as DOJ/USAO?

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CS1775
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by CS1775 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 5:21 pm

bojack93 wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:12 pm
1L here applying for summer positions. I was wondering if anyone could speak to the difference between working in a federal PD's office vs. local PD. I'm hoping to go into public defense and do another PD internship next summer. I know I'm not likely to get a federal PD job straight out of law school, so would it make more sense to get as much local/state experience as possible? Is there any benefit to seeing things at the federal level?

Also, would the federal PD's office have the same background check process as DOJ/USAO?
I actually just went through this decision triage myself recently. I had offers to intern with either a county PD or a Federal PD for Spring 2019 and chose the county for post-grad employment reasons (I'm a 2L).

1) Each state handles public defender offices differently, however there's a large degree of commonality. Generally, the Feds break down PD offices by Federal District Court, but some regions share a hierarchy - for instance, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island are all run by the Federal PD in Boston. More on this later.

2) State PDs typically want law students with a practical background because state PDs expect law students to interview clients, appear in court, and write with less supervision. You're going to need classes like Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Trial Advocacy, Legal Practice/Methods/Writing, and ConLaw. Some law schools give 1Ls ConLaw, mine did not. State prosecutors tend to bring more cases that aren't cut and dry, so State PDs experience more wins.

3) The Feds may have you second chair a trial and interview clients, but you won't be able to actually represent a client even if you're a 2L or 3L. Interns for the Fed PDs conduct more research and gain less "trial lawyering" experience. This can result in interns simply having less work to do, especially because US Attorneys typically only bring suit when they know they have a slamdunk case up their sleeve, so Fed PDs experience fewer wins. However, because Federal PD offices may be coordinated, like say Rhode Island answering to Boston, you could split time between courthouses. If, for example, you mainly interned in Rhode Island and things were going slow, your supervisor might send you to second chair a big trial in Boston.

4) I suppose the advantage of interning with the Feds would be twofold: first, it would be a good place to get your feet wet and see if you like working with indigent clients, or with litigation in general (assuming you have zero interest in prosecution - these two sides are mutually exclusive once you get one on your resume). Second, because you won't be in court, which you can't do as a 1L in most jurisdictions, you'll be working on more academic, research-based projects.

5) You should consider the size of each office you're applying to. The Federal PD in my state has three attorneys - not three supervisors, not three head attorneys, just three total and a secretary. While you would be in a more close-knit environment, you have to think about whether or not you'll enjoy being so close and would get quality training. Most state PD offices are larger.

I think spending your 1L summer at a Federal PD would be fine. That being said, I spent my 1L summer with a state supreme court justice, whereas most PD gunners in my school went straight for the state PD. If a state PD office likes you, they will absolutely want you back - I have seen this at networking events. I would suggest applying to both the state and Fed PD and just picking the one that you gives you the best vibe, now that you know the pros and cons of each. As a 1L intern, you won't be able to appear before a court to represent a client, so that's really moot for you right now.

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Eurapoopin
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by Eurapoopin » Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:21 pm

bojack93 wrote:
Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:12 pm
1L here applying for summer positions. I was wondering if anyone could speak to the difference between working in a federal PD's office vs. local PD. I'm hoping to go into public defense and do another PD internship next summer. I know I'm not likely to get a federal PD job straight out of law school, so would it make more sense to get as much local/state experience as possible? Is there any benefit to seeing things at the federal level?

Also, would the federal PD's office have the same background check process as DOJ/USAO?
1L summer you can do just about anything you want. For hiring purposes local PDs will obviously give you an advantage. Hard to quantify how much of an advantage. If you already know you want to be a PD, I would encourage you to try something else 1L summer. Whether that be Fed PD or something entirely different, just make sure it's not a DA's office or anything like that. Burnout is very real in this line of work so I think experiencing different things 1L summer can be a good thing. Especially if you do a clinic and a 2L internship with a local PD, doing something different 1L summer should have a negligible effect on your employment prospects.

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bikeflip
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by bikeflip » Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:37 pm

abyss wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:08 pm
Eurapoopin wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:17 pm
abyss wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:08 pm
Thank you to Borhas and Cal Trask for the Colorado info. Just accepted an offer with them recently and excited to get started.
I'm also free to answer any CO questions. I got hired with the most recent crop who started back in August. Definitely not the authority that Borhas or Cal are, but more than happy to help you or anyone else with questions in the future.
asking you both for the 1Ls and 2Ls

Did you intern with the Colorado Public Defenders office in your 2L year or have an externship with them? What about interning with another office? What was your interview process like? If you interned in Colorado or elsewhere, what did you do as an intern? Have you subscribed to the CCDB listserv and immediately regretted the number of emails?

And congrats to you both!

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Eurapoopin
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by Eurapoopin » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:03 am

bikeflip wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:37 pm
abyss wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:08 pm
Eurapoopin wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:17 pm
abyss wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:08 pm
Thank you to Borhas and Cal Trask for the Colorado info. Just accepted an offer with them recently and excited to get started.
I'm also free to answer any CO questions. I got hired with the most recent crop who started back in August. Definitely not the authority that Borhas or Cal are, but more than happy to help you or anyone else with questions in the future.
asking you both for the 1Ls and 2Ls

Did you intern with the Colorado Public Defenders office in your 2L year or have an externship with them? What about interning with another office? What was your interview process like? If you interned in Colorado or elsewhere, what did you do as an intern? Have you subscribed to the CCDB listserv and immediately regretted the number of emails?

And congrats to you both!
I interned exclusively in Missouri. My background was pretty weird tbh. I interned with a super rural office in the Stl area my 1L summer. Loved it. Did a indigent tax clinic my 2L year. Worked with a random PI firm my 2L summer. Did a crim justice clinic fall of 3L where I did PD work with a St. Louis-area office and then did an externship with another St Louis area PD office my 3L semester. I had some soft connections to CO but the BIGGEST difference maker is I used my clinic professor to network and get as many connections in as many places as possible. By January of my 3L year I parlayed those connections into multiple offers nation-wide and ultimately chose CO due to my soft connections and the fact that Colorado has such a strong reputation and is a great state to live in.

The interview process for me was, again, weird. I applied pretty late in the game, like December. Again, I played up my networking and connections big time. I had a Skype interview at the tail end of December. Told my interviewer point blank that I would accept CO if offered. Did really well in this interview (at this point I had interviewed with many PD office and learned a lot from bombing miserably with New Orleans and other offices). Was given an offer like, two days later. Accepted it within 24 hours. I had my job locked down before my Spring 3L semester started. This was great.

I don't know what CCDB is so no regrets there. I do hate emails.

Ultimately, my biggest piece of advice is of course, get as much experience as possible, but play up your connections. If you interned with PD offices you definitely know someone who knows someone just about anywhere in the country and you can get your foot in the door that way. I made the horrible mistake of interning with some random ass firm my 2L summer. I do not recommend doing this. But I got enough experience working with indigent clients that it really didn't matter. I was also super nice to everyone I've worked with and made it a point to be social and get along with people along the way. This is difficult for me, as I am heavily introverted, but I made an honest effort and it paid off. So network, network, network. It's important in the PD world too, not just for firms.

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CS1775
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by CS1775 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:45 pm

Eurapoopin wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:03 am
I interned exclusively in Missouri. My background was pretty weird tbh. I interned with a super rural office in the Stl area my 1L summer. Loved it. Did a indigent tax clinic my 2L year. Worked with a random PI firm my 2L summer. Did a crim justice clinic fall of 3L where I did PD work with a St. Louis-area office and then did an externship with another St Louis area PD office my 3L semester. I had some soft connections to CO but the BIGGEST difference maker is I used my clinic professor to network and get as many connections in as many places as possible. By January of my 3L year I parlayed those connections into multiple offers nation-wide and ultimately chose CO due to my soft connections and the fact that Colorado has such a strong reputation and is a great state to live in.

The interview process for me was, again, weird. I applied pretty late in the game, like December. Again, I played up my networking and connections big time. I had a Skype interview at the tail end of December. Told my interviewer point blank that I would accept CO if offered. Did really well in this interview (at this point I had interviewed with many PD office and learned a lot from bombing miserably with New Orleans and other offices). Was given an offer like, two days later. Accepted it within 24 hours. I had my job locked down before my Spring 3L semester started. This was great.

I don't know what CCDB is so no regrets there. I do hate emails.

Ultimately, my biggest piece of advice is of course, get as much experience as possible, but play up your connections. If you interned with PD offices you definitely know someone who knows someone just about anywhere in the country and you can get your foot in the door that way. I made the horrible mistake of interning with some random ass firm my 2L summer. I do not recommend doing this. But I got enough experience working with indigent clients that it really didn't matter. I was also super nice to everyone I've worked with and made it a point to be social and get along with people along the way. This is difficult for me, as I am heavily introverted, but I made an honest effort and it paid off. So network, network, network. It's important in the PD world too, not just for firms.
Thanks for mentioning that, I'm naturally not a "people person", so it's good to know that introverts can hack it in the PD world. I have also been working on opening up to people.

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abyss
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by abyss » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:32 pm

bikeflip wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:37 pm
abyss wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:08 pm
Eurapoopin wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:17 pm
abyss wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:08 pm
Thank you to Borhas and Cal Trask for the Colorado info. Just accepted an offer with them recently and excited to get started.
I'm also free to answer any CO questions. I got hired with the most recent crop who started back in August. Definitely not the authority that Borhas or Cal are, but more than happy to help you or anyone else with questions in the future.
asking you both for the 1Ls and 2Ls

Did you intern with the Colorado Public Defenders office in your 2L year or have an externship with them? What about interning with another office? What was your interview process like? If you interned in Colorado or elsewhere, what did you do as an intern? Have you subscribed to the CCDB listserv and immediately regretted the number of emails?

And congrats to you both!
I never interned with CSPD. My 1L year I interned with the appellate division of a PD office. It was a good experience, although there was virtually no interaction with the clients. Basically I was handed two cases from my supervising attorney and was set free to comb the record, research issues, and then write the appellate briefs. The spring of my 2L I interned w/ the local PD office. That was all work in the misdemeanor court. Did a prelim hearing, lots of client interviews, plea negotiations, etc. My 2L summer I interned with a rural PD office from another statewide PD system. It was an awesome experience as I was given a lot of responsibility and was in court very often. I did jail visits, client interviews, wrote motions, did arraignments, bail hearings, CoP hearings, PTRP hearings, etc. I also second-chaired a felony trial (did some of voir dire, cross-examined one of the state's witnesses, and directed one witness), but I missed by a week being able to first-chair a misdemeanor trial.

The interview process with CSPD was laid back. My first interview with them was at EJW, and it was a standard PD interview w/ no hypos. Second interview was a couple weeks later with the head of one of the offices. Was done over facetime, was pretty standard, and conversational. No hypos in the second interview either. A couple days after the second interview, I received an offer.

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Eurapoopin
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by Eurapoopin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:44 pm

Also, for CO one thing to note is the guy who used to do a bulk of the interviews out of the state office has been moved out of the state office and no longer conducts the interviews. He was really chill and was my interviewer. I've had good experiences with the woman who replaced him as the main person at the state office to conduct interviews. However, I never interviewed with her and have heard rumors from some of the interns that she has a slightly more difficult interview style than the previous guy. A lot is changing in Colorado right now as we have a new head of the system and a lot of the hiring practices seem to be going through transitions.

Also, a lot of my class of incoming PDs failed the bar this year. This puts the system in a big bind and I wouldn't be surprised if Colorado made adjustments to the hiring process based on this fact as well. Still, out of the PD systems that have a serious national draw, my experience with Colorado was easily the most laid back.

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bikeflip
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by bikeflip » Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:02 pm

Eurapoopin wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:44 pm
A lot is changing in Colorado right now as we have a new head of the system and a lot of the hiring practices seem to be going through transitions.
Any insight into how the Ring administration will differ from the Wilson one? And can I borrow all your motions because I lost a bunch of mine?

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Eurapoopin
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by Eurapoopin » Sat Dec 08, 2018 2:35 pm

bikeflip wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:02 pm
Eurapoopin wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:44 pm
A lot is changing in Colorado right now as we have a new head of the system and a lot of the hiring practices seem to be going through transitions.
Any insight into how the Ring administration will differ from the Wilson one? And can I borrow all your motions because I lost a bunch of mine?
As long as you have no qualms about going to Bergerud hearings, be my guest.

It's early yet with regard to Ring vs Wilson. In terms of hiring, I know Ring wants to focus more on lateral hires from out of state, which I guess was something the Wilson administration tried to avoid doing. It also seems like Ring is trimming the fat at the state office a bit and trying to buy into technology more. On that note, Jeff Co got fancy new touch screen laptops that are supposedly pretty neat. So I'm thinking the system is looking to buy into technology more and more.

Here's the thing about any system as big as Colorado though. The people in the state office are just never going to be completely in touch with what happens on the ground. Every individual office, shit even every individual courtroom in every district is going to vary so widely in terms of motions practice, sentencing, etc etc. The idealistic directives that come down from the state office are great and all, but in practice a lot of them can really be inapplicable at times. I always try to stick by the book as much as I can, but sometimes the book and what's best for my client come to a head and you always have to side with your client. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm sure a lot of the messages and directives coming from the state office will change. Some redistricting may also come down the pipeline. But on a day to day level, especially for us newbies, not a whole lot is really going to change in terms of how we practice.

Do you have any thoughts on the change?

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bikeflip
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by bikeflip » Sat Dec 08, 2018 2:50 pm

I kinda hate the no former DA rule under Wilson. I hope that changes. I found out pretty quick that I didn't like asking that poor people go in jail.

I'd also like it if they trained PDs to not hog the podium when all I need for my client is a setover.

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Eurapoopin
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by Eurapoopin » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:31 pm

bikeflip wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 2:50 pm
I kinda hate the no former DA rule under Wilson. I hope that changes. I found out pretty quick that I didn't like asking that poor people go in jail.

I'd also like it if they trained PDs to not hog the podium when all I need for my client is a setover.
But the letters PD are literally in the word podium. Pretty much means it belongs to us.

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bikeflip
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Re: I'm a Public Defender AMA

Post by bikeflip » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:49 pm

I will hunt you down and scold you.

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