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Author Topic: Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?  (Read 6672 times)

mr_stiles

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Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?
« on: September 23, 2009, 01:20:29 PM »
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?

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big - fat - box

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Re: Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2009, 08:04:19 PM »
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.

DirkDiggler

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Re: Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2009, 08:31:30 PM »
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. 

jalex519

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Re: Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2009, 09:38:05 PM »
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.
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Slumdog Lovebutton

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Re: Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2009, 01:09:48 PM »
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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EarlCat

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Re: Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2009, 08:43:32 PM »
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.

I'm not sure this is the case.  I've heard too many stories of people who have left the AUSA's office to be a PD or vice versa.

Slumdog Lovebutton

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Re: Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2009, 09:46:51 PM »
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.

You are thinking of state court. AUSA's don't waste their time dealing with low-level drug offenders. They only choose to prosecute cases with large amounts of drugs and dealers higher up in the distribution chain. They will sometimes choose to step in if there is a gun involved where the defendant has a history of drug and gun offenses. Other than that, if it's not crossing state/USA borders or on Federal property, then AUSA's (and therefore Fed. Pub. Def.) don't deal with it. They leave it to the states.

I interviewed for a 1L position with the federal defender, and they told me that they deal with a lot of low-level drug offenders.

This was in a large metropolitan city, though, so the case may be different where you live.
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big - fat - box

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Re: Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2009, 06:35:00 PM »
Low level drug dealers go to federal court all the time in big cities. The reasons 1) they are repeat offenders, and 2) they have guns to protect their drug stash.

armyjag

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Re: Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2009, 05:03:41 PM »
I interned during 1L summer in a very busy Division.  While a love of litigation is important, be ready to explain why you want to rep. indigent defendants.

I wouldn't say low-level drugs were our specialty, but guys coming over the border with hundreds of pounds.  Also, a lot were felon in possession of a firearm.  We also had a lot of illegal reentry charges, but those are cut and dry and usual go to CJA attorneys.
That said, I did a lot of work on suppression of evidence, prison conditions, wiretaps, and fraud against the government.  It was interesting, but I didn't spend nearly any time in court.  If you just want to sit in court, a judge might be better.  Also the US atty might be better too.  They required security clearances in my town and while the people were waiting to get approved they had nothing to do but sit in civil and criminal trials.
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Terrance

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Re: Federal Public Defender - worthwhile?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2011, 10:42:08 AM »
I agree that the Fed PD would be a great internship for you, if that's the direction that you want to go in. However, if you are wanting to go into the prosecution side of thing, this can potentially work against you. Furthermore, if this is the case, you would be better off finding a internship with the DA, since this would be more applicable to your desired field, and you would get a lot more valuable real world experience.