Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

availability of overflow PD cases in medium sized market

A friend of mine works in a mid western city (~2mil metro) a hillbillysophist06/14/17
yes, for conflict work, if area is not big enough to have a defensivelawyer06/14/17
No one makes a name for themself by pleading out petit larce trollfeeder06/14/17
Are you saying that all conflict cases are low level cases? hillbillysophist06/14/17
I have a buddy who gets assigned a lot of conflict work. He orange906/15/17
My state works slightly differently, but the idea is relativ thirdtierlaw06/15/17
Making a name for yourself through menial public defender re mrtor06/15/17
You'd be very surprised. Criminal law is one of the areas of thirdtierlaw06/15/17
Do you have experience taking these sorts of cases or is you hillbillysophist06/15/17
I am on the conflicts panel in Los Angeles. There is a wait corneroffice06/15/17
This was similar in San Francisco and the reason I exited to shitlawsf06/16/17
Hey I also make a living on conflict cases. I think you can bigbossman06/16/17
Federal panels do pay more, $ 132 per hour, by statute. You newyorkcity06/16/17
It requires you to be admitted for 3 years and then a sort o thirdtierlaw06/16/17
If earning $ 132 an hour is so easy, why are you wasting eve newyorkcity06/16/17
So the two options are either it is as hard to get on the pa thirdtierlaw06/16/17
@thirdtierlaw, thank you for your advice. I spoke with the hillbillysophist06/17/17
Review carefully: http://www.politicalstew.com/bb/vie wtopic. vohod06/17/17
Yeah, I've seen 4chan and the like before, whats your point? hillbillysophist06/17/17
"Strife" was also a normal adjusted JDU user here prior to h vohod06/17/17
Anecdotal. Yeah yeah I get it. LS and the legal field isn' hillbillysophist06/17/17
No PD contract is given in my area to gents under 6'5.5" vohod06/18/17
Your law school admissions dean sold you on the idea that co newyorkcity06/18/17
Did you read the entire post? Or just what you wanted to? hillbillysophist06/18/17
Anybody have any experience doing this in the Florida panhan oddis50006/18/17

hillbillysophist (Jun 14, 2017 - 12:34 am)

A friend of mine works in a mid western city (~2mil metro) and claims the local public defenders office has enough overflow work that any bar member can get 6 misdemeanor cases at a time at $600 a pop. He says he never took any because he had school loans to repay and could not afford the rate.

Anyone hear of this?

Ever heard of someone with no school debt making a name for themselves by successfully defending some of these cases?

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defensivelawyer (Jun 14, 2017 - 10:09 am)

yes, for conflict work, if area is not big enough to have a conflict pd office.

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trollfeeder (Jun 14, 2017 - 10:17 am)

No one makes a name for themself by pleading out petit larcenies from Wal-Mart. There are plenty of lawyers that live off of assigned work of this nature, but those people usually are thinking of what will be a method of making real money.

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hillbillysophist (Jun 14, 2017 - 11:42 pm)

Are you saying that all conflict cases are low level cases?

I am looking for the chance to get real courtroom time. I have no debt and can afford to work for peanuts. I am hoping that by taking conflict cases and putting forth effort, instead of just turning them over for a paycheck that I can gain experience and get to know members of the court (judges, DAs etc).

I would imagine no one starts out at the capital crime level, but low level drug offenses with multiple defendants might be more common.

I figure a few years of grinding could result in a decent solo practice with a good rep.

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orange9 (Jun 15, 2017 - 12:13 am)

I have a buddy who gets assigned a lot of conflict work. He uses it as a means to be in court as much as possible for exposure in order to get his own private cases. He also has enough trial experience from this that he qualified in my state to take the test to be certified as a criminal trial lawyer.
He has conflcit cases that pay him $60/hr to be in court (he may even have a trial coming up at that rate), but he also has cases that he charges $15-30k. So he is doing ok for himself.

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thirdtierlaw (Jun 15, 2017 - 6:06 am)

My state works slightly differently, but the idea is relatively the same.

If you can routinely get assigned cases at $600 a pop for retail thefts and low level misdemeanors it'll be extremely good practice. Other than juvenile court, I cannot think of a better way to get courtroom experience. The stakes are also super low so you avoid a lot of stress.

It's a great way to become known in the criminal law community. What is tricky is that crim law attorneys are typically approachable and willing to help new people out with questions, but they aren't known for referring cases.

So the referalls you'll get will come from your clients or court staff.

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mrtor (Jun 15, 2017 - 9:19 am)

Making a name for yourself through menial public defender referrals? Come on.

That being said, if you have a new or floundering solo practice and too much time on your hands, it could amount to some much needed revenue to keep the lights on. It may also help expand your network which could potentially increase referrals, although most public defender clients and their networks probably cannot afford to pay you market rate.

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thirdtierlaw (Jun 15, 2017 - 12:13 pm)

You'd be very surprised. Criminal law is one of the areas of law where you can tell quickly whether someone is going to be a good attorney or not. You can earn the respect of the judges, prosecutors, and other counsel milling around the courthouse churning out petty larcenies. The basic skill set is the same. It's just a difference in the scale of penalty, number of witnesses, and amount of discovery.

You'd also be surprised what types of referrals these cases can lead to. My largest private criminal case came to me from a referral. The referral came to me because I both have "a good reputation around the prison" and my client's cellmate who I was assigned to represent on a misdemeanor simple assault.

A lot of these clients are well connected in the drug scene. It's amazing how many of these "indigent" defendants are able to come up with $5k when they first meet a public defender that is useless.

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hillbillysophist (Jun 15, 2017 - 2:22 pm)

Do you have experience taking these sorts of cases or is your advice based on speculation?

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corneroffice (Jun 15, 2017 - 11:46 am)

I am on the conflicts panel in Los Angeles. There is a wait list for attorneys to join the panel. Once on the panel getting cases is hit and miss. It takes time and trials until you can move up from misdemeanors to life cases. If you can get on your local panel then do it. You gain invaluable experience, you get to know the judges, and the prosecutors.

I have gotten a lot of referrals from past clients and their friends The higher your grade level the higher the hourly rate. I am not a big fan of a flat rate. In my estimation it would get old real quick to do misdemeanor trials for $600 a pop. Absolutely, I have made a name for myself and built my practice on court appointed cases.

On a side note, in years past my private referrals was about 70% of my case load. Now its about 40%. Most folks can't afford to hire private counsel. Many of my friends, great trial attorneys, are scrapping by. I thank my lucky stars that I have court appointed work.

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shitlawsf (Jun 16, 2017 - 7:40 pm)

This was similar in San Francisco and the reason I exited to a PD's office.

My PD gig happens to be in another state. It's actually quite easy to get on the panel here and people do earn in the mid to high 5 figures in a super low cost of living area just on court appointments. And fortunately, people can also still count on a moderate level of retained cases to push their income above $100k.

Location is everything. The further in the sticks you get, the easier it is.

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bigbossman (Jun 16, 2017 - 10:56 am)

Hey I also make a living on conflict cases. I think you can build a reputation off them. In fact the powers that be here just referred some "new guy" to me that wanted to learn how to do them. I do believe they meant that person would be doing it for free at first. So if you have some basic criminal knowledge maybe you can start with some easier paid cases. They pay $100 an hour here and I have more work at that price than I can get done anytime soon.

All conflict cases are certainly not low level I have two dudes on death row I'm doing appeals for now, and that pays slightly more per hour. Federal panels pay even more still so if you get into that I think they are up over $130 an hour here.

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newyorkcity (Jun 16, 2017 - 1:23 pm)

Federal panels do pay more, $ 132 per hour, by statute.
You know who else gets paid more? Former U.S. Supreme Court law clerks.
Do you know how hard it is to get on a federal panel? Try several years of relevant experience. Good luck getting several years of relevant experience without any experience, and with a full time job and life time debt.

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thirdtierlaw (Jun 16, 2017 - 2:05 pm)

It requires you to be admitted for 3 years and then a sort of quasi apprenticeship where you work a case or two with someone on the panel for a reduced hourly rate.

It must depend dramatically on where you are located. I know my local federal court is constantly looking for people to join. It is a smaller population area so you could never get enough work to do it exclusively so many attorneys get tired of getting an assigned case in the middle of being busy with other private cases and having the feds drop 10,000 pages of discovery on their desk.

If you've been practicing criminal law in the State Court full-time you'll have plenty of experience.

To compare getting on the panel to being a U.S. supreme court clerk is absolutely absurd.

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newyorkcity (Jun 16, 2017 - 6:23 pm)

If earning $ 132 an hour is so easy, why are you wasting even one minute (or about $2) posting on JDUnderground?

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thirdtierlaw (Jun 16, 2017 - 7:10 pm)

So the two options are either it is as hard to get on the panel as it is to become a U.S. Supreme Court clerk or you have an unlimited number of panel cases assigned to you?

I said the reason attorneys leave the panel so often is because you do not get enough cases to only earn your income from a full-time job. You never know when they'll assign you a case. So you may be in a super busy time of year when a new case gets assigned to you. By the time the feds bring a case they almost always have it made. So let us say you get a new case. It'll take about 20 hours to work the case. So if you're already swamped with work, the extra $2,600 isn't worth the years it'll take off your life due to stress. Have you never passed on a case because you were already slammed with work?

Do you work in a position with billable hours? Does anywhere, except maybe biglaw, have an unlimited number of hours to bill at any moment?

I bill a lot more than $132/hour for my private clients. We get a monthly payment for my conflict contracts, so my hourly varies from month to month. I do not know a single good criminal defense or family law attorney who bills anywhere as low as $132/hour. Does that mean that those attorneys have the option to spend every waking moment billing? No.

I apologize if I offended you by pointing out that $132/hour isn't always worth an attorney's time. If the goverment could guarantee me 30 billable hours a week at $132/hour in panel cases, I'd jump on that in a heartbeat. If you're pocketing 100% of the $132/hour its a good rate. But that isn't how the panels work.

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hillbillysophist (Jun 17, 2017 - 7:54 pm)

@thirdtierlaw, thank you for your advice. I spoke with the admissions dean from my LS and he said conflict cases are a great way to gain experience. Of course I took his advice with a grain of salt and brought my question to the most bitter JDs that I know.

I am in my mid 30s and changing careers due to a back injury. I own my home outright and have no debt. I have been offered a scholarship from a T3 school that will result in me graduating without debt.

As a UG I always intended to go to law school, but I got myself in a little trouble and life got in the way. I have several extended family members that are attorneys, some in big law, so I do not have a romanticized idea of what lies ahead of me.

From having read this blog I seek the opportunity to have a similar life of the admin, to work as a solo and also have the time to "piddle around" as he puts it.

It seems as though the answer to my question is similar to many of life's questions, it depends. I live in a rural county roughly 1.25 hrs from the metro area that I speak of. The area of the country that I live in is designated by the DEA as a HIDTA.

I am hoping to start by taking conflict cases and developing a rep from there. Life is about the hustle, and that is one thing I am good at!

Thanks again.

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vohod (Jun 17, 2017 - 8:46 pm)

Review carefully: http://www.politicalstew.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=152341

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hillbillysophist (Jun 17, 2017 - 8:54 pm)

Yeah, I've seen 4chan and the like before, whats your point?

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vohod (Jun 17, 2017 - 8:57 pm)

"Strife" was also a normal adjusted JDU user here prior to his Law School Education.

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hillbillysophist (Jun 17, 2017 - 9:04 pm)

Anecdotal. Yeah yeah I get it. LS and the legal field isn't for the weak of heart. It'll make ya crazy!

I will take your advice with the same level of skepticism as the advice given to me by the admissions dean.

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vohod (Jun 18, 2017 - 10:15 pm)

No PD contract is given in my area to gents under 6'5.5"

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newyorkcity (Jun 18, 2017 - 7:59 pm)

Your law school admissions dean sold you on the idea that conflict panel work is "great"?
BTW, did this guy sell you anything else, like a quarter million dollars of debt to finance his job?

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hillbillysophist (Jun 18, 2017 - 8:18 pm)

Did you read the entire post? Or just what you wanted to? You have brought nothing more to this thread than a certain bias and refuse to consider the particulars of my situation.

Your opinion is of little value to me.

I wish you well.

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oddis500 (Jun 18, 2017 - 9:33 pm)

Anybody have any experience doing this in the Florida panhandle area? i might be looking at having to relocate there due to family.

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