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How do you become a civil/public defender?

When you want to specifically work as a state-appointed attorney are there any crucial differences between that path and becoming a firm lawyer? #lawyer
#attorney #law

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Jonathan’s Answer

In Florida law graduates go on to become an assistant states attorney work there for three years and move on to a criminal defense practice on their own or with a firm. You can go to the public defender’s office and then follow the same path. Becoming a federal prosecutor or US Attorney is more difficult and competitive
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Kim’s Answer

Hi Caitlin!

Are you wanting to specifically be a "civil" public defender? I ask, because the majority of public defenders do criminal law. Many leave after a few years and go into private practice, which can be quite lucrative.

There are some civil public defender positions. The ones I have heard of are in family law and education law. Let's say the state child protective services is trying to take away custody of a child, and the parents cannot afford an attorney. I believe one may be appointed for the parents, and, a separate one for the child. Or suppose a school is not giving a special needs child the proper education. I believe there can be lawyers appointed in those cases. Fair housing also might have court appointed attorneys. Suppose a person needs an apartment modified for a wheelchair and is having a fight with the landlord. I am not sure of other areas.

As you can see, many of these issues revolve around Federal Law and Civil Rights. Law school will give you some choices on the courses you take, so you might want to consider some that deal with these areas. You should also get the opportunity to do some law clinic work your 2nd or 3rd year, which will give you some hands-on experience.

I apologize for not knowing more. I did not want you to not have an answer to your question!

Thank you comment icon Thank you, I hadn't even considered that there were different situations where a civil attorney would be necessary; I do want to go into criminal defense. Law clinic sounds really cool, it's definitely something I can look forward to. And thank you for answering anyway, I appreciate it :D Caitlin
Thank you comment icon you are quite welcome! Good luck to you! Kim Igleheart
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