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Working As A Public Defender

  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $130,001

    Average Salary

What Does A Public Defender Do At Fort Bend County

* Interviews clients, collects and completes required eligibility documentation, determines eligibility for social services assistance and monitors client progress and usage of assistance.
* Refers clients to clinical, other social service, education and/or health agencies as needed.
* May make home visits on an as needed basis for clients unable to come to the service site.
* Conducts Jail visits.
* Provides basic needs counseling and problem-solving assistance or case management services for clients.
* Conducts assessment of client needs; develops casework/service plans, monitors progress and follow-up.
* Provides social services related to crisis intervention.
* Coordinates with other service agencies, organizations, and vendors to provide appropriate services and information for clients as well as referrals.
* Services as an advocate on behalf of client.
* Interprets eligibility requirements, policy, and procedure to clients, other agencies, vendors, and government entities.
* Assists clients with appointments to probation, doctors or housing.
* Assist with hospital admission when necessary.
* Participates in activities and duties related to emergency management during a local state of disaster as directed by appropriate county managers

What Does A Public Defender Do At Fort Bend County

* Conducts client and/or family psychosocial and/or resource needs assessment and obtains maximum benefit from all available sources.
* Develops and implements client/family service plans and monitors progress.
* Conducts periodic and final assessments to determine progress, client barriers, follow-up needs and client outcomes.
* Provides brief counseling and crisis intervention to individuals and/or their Families to increase their ability to overcome and prevent crisis and promote progress toward self-sufficiency and health and well-being.
* Reviews case matters as well as gathers necessary medical information for proper representation to the court; Intervenes for competency matters, compliance with CCP, psychiatric referrals and evaluations.
* Provides short or long-term case management and service coordination to ensure maximum self-sufficiency and non-institutional living.
* Utilizes community resources to assist client in learning to live as a self-sufficient member of the community, including but not limited to medical resources, local, state and federal agencies, community-based agencies and other resources.
* Participates in community collaboration for resource development and elimination of duplication of services.
* Provides client/family education, training and advocacy; Serves as advocate for defendant.
* Maintains current knowledge about resource availability, service costs, and budgetary parameters and remains fiscally responsible in carrying out all case management functions and activities.
* Participates in evaluative and quality assurance activities designed to monitor the appropriateness and effectiveness of both the service delivery system in which case management operates as well as the case manager s own management services.
* Ensures full professional accountability.
* Writes informational reports, compiles data/information in accordance with professional standards and policies.
* Participates in case reviews involving client/family and other service providers.
* Refers citizens to appropriate agency or program.
* Participates in activities and duties related to emergency management during a local state of disaster as directed by appropriate county managers

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How To Become A Public Defender

All lawyers must have a law degree and must also typically pass a state’s written bar examination.

Education

Becoming a lawyer usually takes 7 years of full-time study after high school—4 years of undergraduate study, followed by 3 years of law school. Most states and jurisdictions require lawyers to complete a juris doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). ABA accreditation signifies that the law school—particularly its curricula and faculty—meets certain standards.

A bachelor’s degree is required for entry into most law schools, and courses in English, public speaking, government, history, economics, and mathematics are useful.

Almost all law schools, particularly those approved by the ABA, require applicants to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This test measures applicants’ aptitude for the study of law.

A J.D. degree program includes courses such as constitutional law, contracts, property law, civil procedure, and legal writing. Law students may choose specialized courses in areas such as tax, labor, and corporate law.

Licenses

Prospective lawyers take licensing exams called "bar exams." When a lawyer receives their license to practice law, they are "admitted to the bar."

To practice law in any state, a person must be admitted to the state’s bar under rules established by the jurisdiction’s highest court. The requirements vary by individual states and jurisdictions. For more details on individual state and jurisdiction requirements, visit the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Most states require that applicants graduate from an ABA-accredited law school, pass one or more written bar exams, and be found by an admitting board to have the character to represent and advise others. Prior felony convictions, academic misconduct, or a history of substance abuse are just some factors that may disqualify an applicant from being admitted to the bar.

Lawyers who want to practice in more than one state often must take the bar exam in each state.

After graduation, lawyers must keep informed about legal developments that affect their practices. Almost all states require lawyers to participate in continuing legal education either every year or every 3 years. 

Many law schools and state and local bar associations provide continuing legal education courses that help lawyers stay current with recent developments. Courses vary by state and generally cover a subject within the practice of law, such as legal ethics, taxes and tax fraud, and healthcare. Some states allow lawyers to take their continuing education credits through online courses. 

Advancement

Newly hired attorneys usually start as associates and work with more experienced lawyers. After several years, some lawyers may be admitted to partnership of their firm, which means they become partial owners of the firm.

After gaining a few years of work experience, some lawyers go into practice for themselves or move to the legal department of a large corporation. Very few in-house attorneys are hired directly out of law school.

A small number of experienced lawyers are nominated or elected to judgeships. Other lawyers may become full-time law school faculty and administrators. For more information about judges and law school faculty, see the profile on judges and hearing officers and the profile on postsecondary teachers.

Other Experience

Law students often gain practical experience by participating in school-sponsored legal clinics, in a school’s moot court competitions, in practice trials under the supervision of experienced lawyers and judges, and through research and writing on legal issues for a school’s law journals.

Part-time jobs or summer internships in law firms, government agencies, and corporate legal departments also provide valuable experience. Some smaller firms, government agencies, and public interest organizations may hire students as summer associate interns after they have completed their first year at law school. Many larger firms’ summer internship programs are only eligible to law students who have completed their second year. These experiences can help law students decide what kind of legal work they want to focus on in their careers, and these internships may lead directly to a job after graduation.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Lawyers help their clients resolve problems and issues. As a result, they must be able to analyze large amounts of information, determine relevant facts, and propose viable solutions.

Interpersonal skills. Lawyers must win the respect and confidence of their clients by building a trusting relationship, so that clients feel comfortable enough to share personal information related to their case.

Problem-solving skills. Lawyers must separate their emotions and prejudice from their clients’ problems and objectively evaluate the matter. Therefore, good problem-solving skills are important for lawyers, to prepare the best defense and recommendation.

Research skills. Preparing legal advice or representation for a client commonly requires substantial research. All lawyers need to be able to find what applicable laws and regulations apply to a specific matter.

Speaking skills. Clients hire lawyers to speak on their behalf. Lawyers must be able to clearly present and explain their case to arbitrators, mediators, opposing parties, judges, or juries. 

Writing skills. Lawyers need to be precise and specific when preparing documents, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.

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Public Defender jobs

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Public Defender Demographics

Gender

  • Female

    56.5%
  • Male

    41.7%
  • Unknown

    1.8%

Ethnicity

  • White

    78.9%
  • Hispanic or Latino

    11.8%
  • Asian

    6.4%
  • Unknown

    2.1%
  • Black or African American

    0.8%
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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

    48.9%
  • French

    8.5%
  • Russian

    8.5%
  • German

    4.3%
  • Arabic

    4.3%
  • Portuguese

    2.1%
  • Vietnamese

    2.1%
  • Chinese

    2.1%
  • Mandarin

    2.1%
  • Turkish

    2.1%
  • Hebrew

    2.1%
  • Lingala

    2.1%
  • Armenian

    2.1%
  • Greek

    2.1%
  • Hindi

    2.1%
  • Urdu

    2.1%
  • Italian

    2.1%
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Top Skills for A Public Defender

CriminalDefendantsFelonyOffensesMisdemeanorCasesMisdemeanorJuryTrialsLegalResearchIndigentClientsPreliminaryHearingsCriminalDefenseAttorneyCounselCriminalCasesMentalHealthFelonyCasesPleaAgreementsOralArgumentsCourtAppearancesChildAbuseLegalDocumentsProsecutorsLegalIssuesIndigentDefendants

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Top Public Defender Skills

  1. Criminal Defendants
  2. Felony Offenses
  3. Misdemeanor Cases
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Represented indigent criminal defendants in Superior Court.
  • Represented indigent defendants charged with felony offenses.
  • Litigated complex felony and misdemeanor cases from DUI's to murder.
  • Performed all aspects of criminal defense litigation, including felony preliminary hearings, and felony and misdemeanor jury trials.
  • Conducted legal research, analyzed statutes, case law, evidence and other relevant information in order to develop case strategies.

Top Public Defender Employers