Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

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mickey0004

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Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

Postby mickey0004 » Mon May 13, 2019 2:58 pm

I'm looking to take a sabbatical from biglaw and planning to volunteer at a public interest organization for a couple months before either going back to firm life or look for a different position elsewhere.

I am in litigation and would like to find something that allows for me to handle small cases by myself (from drafting briefs to arguing motions, maybe even trial work). I'm thinking something like landlord tenant court or public defender's office. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

albanach

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Re: Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

Postby albanach » Mon May 13, 2019 4:07 pm

Those areas would be my first thoughts. For PD, unless the office really needs help, you risk only getting minor cases and watching a great many of those plea out. For landlord/tenant, far more is going to be resolved in advance if you have forewarning and often if there's no forewarning the tenant has already created circumstances that make eviction certain. However, for someone facing eviction, there's little if anything to lose, so it might be easier to get some of those cases to trial.

JOThompson

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Re: Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

Postby JOThompson » Tue May 14, 2019 3:50 pm

You can look at city/county prosecutor offices too. My office takes trial fellows for a few months from biglaw occassionally. Typically though, I believe the law firm pays their biglaw salary while they work here. They work on felony level cases, including arraignments, case settings, motions, and jury trials.

Generally speaking, public defender offices will be more willing to take on the work for a term-limited period. Speaking from experience there, I was a public defender for awhile. There are usually fewer bars to entry, but in bigger markets, the public defenders are often more selective than ADA offices, i.e. are you a true believer and why aren't you changing careers permanently? So I'd be prepared for those types of questions in any interview.

You may also want to explore legal aid organizations. Landlord-tenant can be an aspect, but they also often provide services for battered spouses, such as protection orders.

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Re: Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 14, 2019 9:59 pm

I tried 30 jury trials in two years as a prosecutor in a major city. Combination of substantive misdemeanors and felonies (but no silly traffic violations or things like public intoxication).

objctnyrhnr

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Re: Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

Postby objctnyrhnr » Wed May 15, 2019 9:33 am

State prosecutor definitely seems like the credited response here.

albanach

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Re: Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

Postby albanach » Wed May 15, 2019 9:53 am

objctnyrhnr wrote:State prosecutor definitely seems like the credited response here.


Possibly. Though from my experience in law-school and pro-bono, most folk who expressed an interest in PD work or landlord tenant, typically were not looking for a prosecutorial role post-graduation unless that was in some sort of regulatory enforcement area.

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mickey0004

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Re: Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

Postby mickey0004 » Thu May 16, 2019 1:55 pm

What about organizations like ACLU or battered women organizations? Would those provide a meaningful experience? This is definitely a short term thing, since I have no plans to stay in public interest. My main goal would be to gain substantive courtroom experience outside of biglaw litigation.

LBJ's Hair

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Re: Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

Postby LBJ's Hair » Thu May 16, 2019 5:32 pm

mickey0004 wrote:What about organizations like ACLU or battered women organizations? Would those provide a meaningful experience? This is definitely a short term thing, since I have no plans to stay in public interest. My main goal would be to gain substantive courtroom experience outside of biglaw litigation.


Prominent civil rights orgs like the ACLU are very selective and (likely) aren't interested in hiring random BigLaw lawyers for term-limited positions. People build entire careers around trying to get those gigs.

Reach out to orgs representing indigent plaintiffs/defendants in kinda boring cases---low-level criminal or civil work. They're the ones who (1) need people, and (2) would be willing to take you on for a short period of time. I'd ping Legal Aid, for starters.

nixy

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Re: Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

Postby nixy » Thu May 16, 2019 5:36 pm

I also don’t think impact lit is going to give lots of opportunities for courtroom experience (for a short-term volunteer anyway) since they have to be so strategic about the cases they take. On the other hand, legal aid services do DV stuff and will be in court a lot, and I know people who’ve volunteered for them because they never have much money so like volunteers.

But really PD or ADA are probably going to have the highest volume of courtroom stuff.

QContinuum

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Re: Public interest with lots of courtroom opportunities

Postby QContinuum » Thu May 16, 2019 10:38 pm

nixy wrote:I also don’t think impact lit is going to give lots of opportunities for courtroom experience (for a short-term volunteer anyway) since they have to be so strategic about the cases they take. On the other hand, legal aid services do DV stuff and will be in court a lot, and I know people who’ve volunteered for them because they never have much money so like volunteers.

But really PD or ADA are probably going to have the highest volume of courtroom stuff.

This is TCR. ACLU (or equivalent) is not going to let some short-term BigLaw refugee first-chair the next Obergefell. Those coveted oral argument opps don't even come around often enough for all of their ambitious career attorneys. Even if OP managed to land an ACLU (or equivalent) gig, the best they could reasonably expect would be a chance to help out with "back-office" legal research/brainstorming.



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