Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Prosecutor interview

Have an interview to be an assistant district attorney for t fettywap03/12/17
I worked as an Assistant Attorney General, but for the Child kramer71603/12/17
I spent about 3.5 years as a line prosecutor (one and a half claptrap03/13/17
I've never worked as an ADA, but I don't think they negotiat guyingorillasuit03/13/17
What state? I have five years experience and have started i adamb03/13/17
I don't think he has a budget that high. I was hoping for at fettywap03/13/17
You aren't going to be able to negotiate your salary. Your pauperesq03/13/17
I found their pay scales online. They're all making like $80 fettywap03/13/17
Do you have criminal experience that is directly transferabl flharfh03/13/17
I do. I've done criminal jury trials and civil rights claims fettywap03/13/17
I negotiated my salary higher. adamb03/13/17
There's definitely some room in there for negotiation. I jus fettywap03/14/17
fettywap (Mar 12, 2017 - 4:21 pm)

Have an interview to be an assistant district attorney for the largest county in my state. The ad asked for experienced attorneys. What salary do you think I could ask for? I think a brand new just passed the bar lawyer starts at about $45,000. How many hours a week do you think this job requires? What questions will I likely be asked at the interview?

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kramer716 (Mar 12, 2017 - 11:34 pm)

I worked as an Assistant Attorney General, but for the Child Support Division, so take what I am about to tell you accordingly. I am not saying I am an expert, and people who follow this reply will have better answers for you, but I will try to offer you something.

You will probably be given a few hypotheticals. I would try to avoid going to the "Check with my supervisor" card if at all possible. Just lay out your thought process, so they can see that you come to your conclusion with some semblance of logic. I would also watch out for tripwire questions where there is a conflict between the interests of a victim of a crime and the interests of the State you represent. You always do what is best for the State even if it conflicts with the victim. Also, don't give any answer that goes against the Constitution. If you are given a hypo where your office or the Police did something unconstitutional even if that act made your case solid you have to point out what happened. Just common sense.

As for hours worked, I had a ton of friends in the office who were Prosecutors, and they came in between 8 to 8:30 and work till 5:30 to 6:00, but this was the general rule. If they had to prep for trial, then their hours would go up. They also had to fill in one time every few months and come in on the weekends to handle everyone who was arrested that Friday night.

Again, not saying I am an expert but thought I would try to offer you something. I would put more stock in the replies that follow. Good luck in your interview.

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claptrap (Mar 13, 2017 - 12:42 am)

I spent about 3.5 years as a line prosecutor (one and a half of those or so at the end doing felony work) in a mid-size county with pretty significant violent crime problems, and just started recently as a criminal AUSA in a different location. Still classify myself as a "baby lawyer" since I have less than five years of experience total, but I thought I'd offer what information I could in hopes that it would be helpful.

The AUSA spot was a significant pay bump, but I can tell you that when I left my job with the county I was making around $60k. County offices in my state are notorious at paying below-market for experienced trial attorneys, particularly for the demanding sorts of work that you end up doing as you get higher up on the felony foodchain (sexual assaults, homicides, robberies/deadly weapon assaults, gang cases, etc.).

I would guess that most prosecutor's offices are looking for someone who: 1) holds up well under pressure and thinks well on their feet; 2) has a strong moral compass and can make ethical decisions quickly, and largely correctly, under lots of the aforementioned pressure; and 3) is generally even-keeled and will use the power that comes with the position to do the right thing and not personalize the case. And believe me, there will be many cases that you will be tempted to personalize, particularly ones with sympathetic victims.

Remember, a prosecutor's job is to do the right thing, not to win cases. If you've got a crappy case, you've got a crappy case. Particularly in prosecution, cutting corners is a very, very slippery slope, and once you cross that line you're never coming back. Nothing is worth that. So if you don't have the facts or the evidence to sustain a conviction, the right answer is always to dismiss the case (or better yet, not file to begin with), period. Protect your integrity and the integrity of the system at all costs.

I would concur with kramer716, in that "consult with my supervisor" is probably not the answer they are looking for, since they are trying to figure out how you approach and solve problems. (Especially on the state side, when your supervisor will have his/her own crushing caseload and will generally not have the time to solve your dilemmas for you. As a state prosecutor you will eventually be mostly independent, so in large part your successes or failures will be on your shoulders alone.) As long as you look at every hypothetical they give you with a prosecutor's ethical obligations in mind, you should do just fine. Probably a distant second to that would be questions regarding trial techniques or the rules of evidence, and a very distant third would be general interview type questions ("where do you see yourself in five years?," etc.).

Also concur with kramer re: hours worked. For the most part it can be an 8:00-5:00 type job, with the exception that when a big trial comes up or you're working on an important motion, the hours can increase sharply (nights, weekends, etc.) until you finish.

Best of luck to you. Being a prosecutor is pretty much the best job in the world. Congrats on getting an interview!

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guyingorillasuit (Mar 13, 2017 - 12:33 am)

I've never worked as an ADA, but I don't think they negotiate salaries. My understanding is that they have a set salary based on things like tiers and steps. Many states and counties publish their pay scales on the internet.

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adamb (Mar 13, 2017 - 1:48 pm)

What state?
I have five years experience and have started in the $75-80k range.

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fettywap (Mar 13, 2017 - 2:07 pm)

I don't think he has a budget that high. I was hoping for at least $50,000, but would be very happy with $60,000. Very low cost of living state. He probably does have a max salary he's willing to pay, but I still expect to be asked what salary I need at the interview.

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pauperesq (Mar 13, 2017 - 3:21 pm)

You aren't going to be able to negotiate your salary. Your pay comes from tax dollars and the county/state has to stick to its budget each year.

EDIT: I guess I should say I doubt you'll be able to negotiate your salary. If the budget allows for 2 or more positions to be filled but they're only going to hire one, you might have some wiggle room. I highly doubt that though, as the surplus at year end will probably lead to a budget cut for the following year.

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fettywap (Mar 13, 2017 - 4:05 pm)

I found their pay scales online. They're all making like $80-$130K. Maybe I was thinking way too low.

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flharfh (Mar 13, 2017 - 5:04 pm)

Do you have criminal experience that is directly transferable? If so, try to find someone who was hired straight out of school and has been there for as many years as you have work experience, then ask for what that person makes or a little more.

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fettywap (Mar 13, 2017 - 5:15 pm)

I do. I've done criminal jury trials and civil rights claims against this county. I think $60,000 would be very doable.

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adamb (Mar 13, 2017 - 11:39 pm)

I negotiated my salary higher.

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fettywap (Mar 14, 2017 - 9:16 am)

There's definitely some room in there for negotiation. I just hate the question, because expecting too much could blow the whole interview. What I was thinking seems totally reasonable though.

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