Law School Discussion

How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?

Hi, I was wondering how difficult it is to get a summer job or internship working for a public defender or prosector? I go to a T2 and think it would be good experience for my desired Criminal law field. Do these kinds of jobs require high grades or do grades not really matter for these types of jobs (I've heard, although I'm not sure that it's pretty easy to get a summer job working for public defender etc even with bad grades).

mecarr

Re: How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2006, 08:28:51 AM »
Public Defenders take students from college and even highschool. I worked in one when I was in college and it was pretty cool. They are so understaffed that I do not think it will be difficult at all to get into one.

wardwilliams

Re: How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2006, 08:39:39 AM »
can you do a 1L summer intern with the PD and DA without having taken Criminal Law?

kmpnj

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Re: How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2006, 10:22:29 AM »
I would imagine so, as long as you've had the legal writing and research classes, because (having no practical knowledge to back this up, mind you) that's probably what we'll all be doing, research and writing.  I could be completely wrong though.

Re: How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2006, 07:02:27 PM »
Be sure you want to do defense work before you intern with the PD's office.  It's pretty typical that if you've done work with either the PD or DA's office, the other one won't touch you.  So if you want to end up being a prosecutor, but don't think you have the grades to get an internship, do not turn to the PD's office.  It may end up killing you in the long run.

Re: How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2006, 07:15:47 PM »
I second that ... make sure you've "picked a side," because it will be very difficult to switch from one to the other.  My good friend took an internship with the US Atty's office last summer.  She didn't know whether she preferred defense or prosecution work before taking the internship, but now that she's worked for the US Atty., she's found that she's pretty unattractive to PD's offices.


Budlaw

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Re: How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2006, 08:18:02 PM »
That makes no sense unless she has horrible grades. Most people that end up at the PD of DA's office aren't the best of students. It seems to me that if you have decent grades and you've worked at the other's office then they'd take you. Simply because you know the other side.

What is your "friend's" grades like. If they suck then I would understand why the PD doesn'twant them.


I second that ... make sure you've "picked a side," because it will be very difficult to switch from one to the other.  My good friend took an internship with the US Atty's office last summer.  She didn't know whether she preferred defense or prosecution work before taking the internship, but now that she's worked for the US Atty., she's found that she's pretty unattractive to PD's offices.



jacy85

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Re: How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2006, 10:07:29 PM »
Be sure you want to do defense work before you intern with the PD's office.  It's pretty typical that if you've done work with either the PD or DA's office, the other one won't touch you.  So if you want to end up being a prosecutor, but don't think you have the grades to get an internship, do not turn to the PD's office.  It may end up killing you in the long run.

Absolutely NOT true for PDs.  The nature of PD work means that qualified attorneys are hard to come by.  If you're willing and able, and you can show some kind of commitment to the job, having prosecutorial experience will not hurt you at all.  In fact, knowing how the other side "works" first hand can be seen as an asset.

It is more true on the prosecution side of things.  Prosecutors tend to be a special breed of lawyer, and may be more likely to question your commitment coming from the PD's office.  Having said that, I highly doubt one internship over the summer is going to kill your chances.  Everyone needs some leeway to figure out what they want to do with their degree.

Re: How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2006, 10:27:33 AM »
That makes no sense unless she has horrible grades. Most people that end up at the PD of DA's office aren't the best of students. It seems to me that if you have decent grades and you've worked at the other's office then they'd take you. Simply because you know the other side.

What is your "friend's" grades like. If they suck then I would understand why the PD doesn'twant them.



Her grades are acceptable -- well within the top half of the class at a T1.  So it's not the grades.  She got interviews with several PD's offices, but all they wanted to know in the interview was why she was "switching sides."  They saw working for the US Atty as a huge liability, a huge black mark on the resume that must be overcome.

This fall, I interviewed with one of the nation's largest PD offices.  They ask every interviewee whether he or she has considered doing prosecution or is currently investigating job opportunities with prosecutors.  They freely admitted that if you say yes, you're sunk and are not going to get an offer.

It's not like it's impossible to jump from defense to prosecution and vice versa, but many PD's and prosecutor's offices are suspicious of your dedication if you've worked for the "other side."  And you'll have to confront that in interviews, and probably even in cover letters to overcome that suspicion.

Re: How hard is it to get a summer job/internship for public defender?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2006, 06:33:59 PM »
Be sure you want to do defense work before you intern with the PD's office.  It's pretty typical that if you've done work with either the PD or DA's office, the other one won't touch you.  So if you want to end up being a prosecutor, but don't think you have the grades to get an internship, do not turn to the PD's office.  It may end up killing you in the long run.

Absolutely NOT true for PDs.  The nature of PD work means that qualified attorneys are hard to come by.  If you're willing and able, and you can show some kind of commitment to the job, having prosecutorial experience will not hurt you at all.  In fact, knowing how the other side "works" first hand can be seen as an asset.

It is more true on the prosecution side of things.  Prosecutors tend to be a special breed of lawyer, and may be more likely to question your commitment coming from the PD's office.  Having said that, I highly doubt one internship over the summer is going to kill your chances.  Everyone needs some leeway to figure out what they want to do with their degree.

The head of the Colorado PD's office actually told us at an informational meeting that they view working for the DA as a huge black mark.  While he didn't say it would be an automatic disqualification, he did state that there was no PD he knew that could even consider being a prosecutor.