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Author Topic: Public Defender Work  (Read 643 times)

gibbsale

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Public Defender Work
« on: June 28, 2006, 07:45:00 PM »
 I was hoping someone had some insight into how difficult it is to hire into a public defenders office [state or fed, although obviously the latter is more difficult]. I am leaning towards working in this area and I think I will be fairly competitive during OCI  (around top 10%, good grade in Crim, taking Crim Pro and Evidence next year, and maybe advanced crim pro in the Spring). I know that the DA hires a lot of students and grooms them for positions during law school, but I have no real interest in working as a prosecutor. I would really like to get a position at a PD office next summer and hopefully hire in somewhere when I finish with school in '08.

 I would appreciate any insight.

jacy85

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Re: Public Defender Work
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2006, 08:16:42 PM »
  I know that the DA hires a lot of students and grooms them for positions during law school, but I have no real interest in working as a prosecutor. I would really like to get a position at a PD office next summer and hopefully hire in somewhere when I finish with school in '08.


You shouldn't have too much of a problem with the P.D.'s office.  Not all D.A. offices groom students to hire; it depends entirely on the specific office.  The P.D. might be the same depending on the county you're in, but your career services office or some alums will know for sure.

gibbsale

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Re: Public Defender Work
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2006, 10:41:31 PM »
Thanks. Follow-up question: I noticed that a lot of job openings, especially in the West (which, of course, is where I am) consider Spanish language a major plus. I have no Spanish experience, apart from testing into an intermediate course when I was in undergrad (considerable French language experience and some Latin probably helped out there). Do you think it would be worth it to take Spanish lessons on the side, as part of a career development move? Obviously while in law school I cannot devote a lot of time to learning Spanish, but I can probably put in a little time, especially during breaks.

J D

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Re: Public Defender Work
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2006, 11:05:14 PM »
Learning another language, especially one which is the preferred (or only) language of many of your potential clients, is always a wise investment.  And with your romance-language background, I can't imagine that it would be too difficult to pick up Spanish.  In many ways, the pronunciation is easier than French (usually, the big challenge for non-native speakers is the rolled or trilled r); the grammar is somewhat similar to French (and much easier than Latin; no worrying about nominative vs. accusative, etc.). 

The only thing is that, since more of the letters are vocalized, speaking Spanish might require a bit more foretthought at first than with French.  In French, I found that usually, the verb sounded exactly the same even when conjugated for different persons (e.g., "parle," "parles," "parlent"); in Spanish, the pronunciation of the verb will almost always be different depending on the person it's conjugated for.  A similar sort of difficulty presents itself for things like the plural form (in French, the plural and the singular sound the same, the articles merely change; in Spanish, both change, and in the plural you use different articles for masculine and feminine).

Short answer: go for it.
"I never think of the future.  It comes soon enough."--Albert Einstein

gibbsale

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Re: Public Defender Work
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2006, 11:38:18 PM »
Thanks. Yeah, I think it is impractical to live in California without some Spanish background anyway, and picking up Spanish enhances your prospects quite a bit. For the languages I have attempted to learn (to varying degrees), Latin has been hands down the most difficult. Saying quite a bit, since Thai is included in that list.

 I've attempted the rolled R a handful of times when being given mini lessons by friends. That will definitely be the major challenge.

J D

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Re: Public Defender Work
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2006, 12:12:18 AM »
Thanks. Yeah, I think it is impractical to live in California without some Spanish background anyway, and picking up Spanish enhances your prospects quite a bit. For the languages I have attempted to learn (to varying degrees), Latin has been hands down the most difficult. Saying quite a bit, since Thai is included in that list.

 I've attempted the rolled R a handful of times when being given mini lessons by friends. That will definitely be the major challenge.

It just takes practice; it's not even that big a deal anyway, though it can alter the meaning of similar-sounding words, like "caro" (expensive) and "carro" (automobile), but usually context will make it clear which one you mean.
"I never think of the future.  It comes soon enough."--Albert Einstein

reverendlex

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Re: Public Defender Work
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2006, 07:39:15 AM »
A few of my graduating friends got hired by the Philly PD this year, and the NJ OPD encouraged me to apply. If I remember my conversation with the recruiting attorney, they are looking for dedication, good litigation & people skills. Additional languages are a bonus.

Both the Philly and NJ OPD prefer previous interns- it both shows dedication and knowledge about what goes on. All of us had worked our 2L summer with a PD's office.

One other useful fact- the larger offices do OCI and are more competitive. Smaller PD offices don't have the time to go to schools to get people, but if you take the initiative to contact local offices you can get  a summer clerkship if they like you. If you offer to work for free (ot them), you're even more interesting. Your school may offer to pay the contribution so you can get work-study funds (not much, but it can cover some expenses).

After graduation, smaller, more rural offices are less competitive, but generally prefer to hire after you pass the bar. Larger offices hire before the bar, but either give you one chance or walk you out if you fail.

I really value my experience with the OPD. I learned more there than anywhere else during my law school  career.  Unfortunately, I got an offer that I couldn't refuse, so I'll be working elsewhere.