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Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?

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My career counselor is encouraging me to apply for an internship with the federal public defender's office. I'm interested because it's geographically convenient and I love litigation. But I'm a little concerned about what employers, particularly judges, district attorneys, and government agencies think of the defender's office.

Any thoughts?


big - fat - box:
Worthwhile? Yes. If so, no one will look down on it. Getting the internship in the first place will probably be tougher than you think.

The Fed Public Defender Offices are actually quite prestigious. The only problem you might have is with DA's offices. Some DA's offices don't like people who've worked for PD Offices. Some PD's offices are just as bad in their treatment of people who did DA work. If you're trying to get a 2L summer internship, I'd think hard about whether you lean more toward being a DA or PD and go with the one that feels right in terms of what you want to do post grad. Another tactic would be to split your summer - say, 5-6 weeks at the DA, then 5-6 weeks at the PD. If you're going to try this, it's probably going to be a lot easier if you do it in two different states. Doing it in one state can create all sorts of ethical and conflict of interest issues.

I agree on the defense-prosecution conflict and potential hiring bias.  However, remember that the Federal Public Defender's counterpart is the U.S. Attorney's Office--not the district attorney.  DA=state, USAtty=federal.

And, FWIW, my understanding is that anything federal is more prestigious and, therefore, competitive than its state counterpart. 

FWIW, I interned at an Office of the Federal Public Defender during my 1L summer and really enjoyed my experience there. It has not hurt me at all this fall during 2L OCI/callbacks. PM me if you have any specific questions.

Slumdog Lovebutton:
Yep, it's prestigious and highly selective.  I've heard that you get to do a lot of litigation, although it's a lot of low-level drug offenders.


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