Prosecutors & Public Defenders

Starting at $40K, FL Jobs a Stepping-Stone

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Young attorneys working as assistant prosecutors and public defenders in South Florida make only about $40,000 annually when they first start work. So, within five years, most have moved on to other jobs.

In Broward and Miami-Dade counties, roughly 20 percent a year depart for greener work assignments elsewhere, and 80 percent leave within five years, reports the Miami Herald. Money, of course, isn’t everything, but it does make a difference: “Lawyers fresh out of law school make less than $40,000 with the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, and $42,000 with the Miami-Dade public defender’s office,” the newspaper reports. “Top private firms in Miami have starting salaries of $130,000 or more.”

Although the Florida governor is calling for budget cuts because of reduced tax revenue, it appears that the offices of prosecutors and public defenders in the Miami area may be spared during a special legislative session later this year. Otherwise, everyone interviewed for the newspaper article seems to agree, the public can expect fewer prosecutions and longer waits for trial.

“Some of the attorneys are looking for jobs in other areas, which means cases are delayed,” says Carlos Martinez, Miami-Dade chief assistant public defender. “When cases are delayed, innocent people who are in jail stay in jail.”

Meanwhile, ”if you have fewer prosecutors, you prosecute less crime,” says Mark M. Dobson. A former prosecutor, he is now a law professor at Nova Southeastern University.

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