Life of a Prosecutor

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Life of a Prosecutor A prosecutor is a type of lawyer that could be federal, state, or just local. They represent the government in all types of court cases. The main job of a prosecutor is to be able to provide research, and have investigative skills to bring to the court room. A prosecutor must be able to handle a very large amount of stress and possibly some emotional difficulties. This job may also come with tiring nights and a lot of work to be done in a short period of time. When looking at a job as a prosecutor one must take in the many factors and responsibilities associated with this career path (Tronshaw, 2014). With choosing this as your career comes quite a bit of extraneous school work. After graduating high school you must attend either a two year or four year college. Eventually working to get your bachelors. Although it doesn’t matter what you get your bachelors in, it’s highly looked upon that you obtain a degree in either criminal justice or public administration.

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The most important thing to do is to get college credits that will transfer over to either the next school your transferring to, or more importantly, law school (Tronshaw, 2014). You must attend a school accredited by the American Bar Association. While in whatever law school you choose to go too, there will be many types of classes you’ll be required to take. A few of these classes are things such as; Property Law, Legal Writing, and Interactive Activities. Interactive Activities are a very important part of becoming a powerful prosecutor because it gives you an early chance to learn how the system works and what kinds of listening or verbal skills you’re going to need. Moot Court Competitions are a great way to get interactive in an early stage. A Moot court is a stimulated court where they will draft briefs. This will make you feel more comfortable when you have to go in front of the court room. Another very good interactive activity is the legal clinics. The clinics are basically just practice trials for law students after their first semester (Tronshaw, 2014). Now, before even being able to take the bar test after law school you must take an exam called the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam).

This test is basically used to see if you’re mentally competent and aware of the responsibility you’re about to take on. This test will ask you questions based on disciplinary rules, the codes of conduct and some of the questions will see if you can lead state and federal cases (Tronshaw, 2014). Now, after completing this exam and passing, you must take the Bar Exam. The Bar exam is an extensive, 12 hour exam split up into two days. This exam covers all types of state and federal laws. This test is offered the last Tuesday and Wednesday of each February and July. The first part of this test is specific to NY. There are five essay questions, 50 multiple choice and an MPT. You must sit in a room for a total of 6 hours with a 45 minute break for lunch. The first half of this day you’re going to have to complete 3 essay questions and all 50 multiple choice questions. After returning from your lunch break you then will have to complete the remaining two essay questions and also the MPT. The MPT will take up 90 minutes of the remaining three hours to test you on “legal analysis, fact analysis, problem solving, resolution of ethical dilemmas, organization and management of a lawyering task, and communication”(“THE NYS BAR EXAM,” n.d.).

Finally on the last day you will have 200 multiple choice questions split up into 100 question increments. This test will cost you a whopping 250.00 every time you have to take it (“THE NYS BAR EXAM,” n.d.). Either while you’re in school, or after you get out there is plenty of internship opportunities. Most internships are done during school though. There is roughly 800 internships in the US during the academic year and 1000 internships during the summer (“Organization, Mission & Functions Manual: Attorney General, Deputy and Associate | DOJ | Department of Justice,” n.d.). This is a great thing and it is so beneficial to young students that really want to get their foot in the door. This can help many students and aspiring prosecutors to see what it’s like first hand and to gain court room experience. Many of these internships even turn into course credits! But, in order to apply for an internship one must go to each individual office and see what they need or how it works (“Organization, Mission & Functions Manual: Attorney General, Deputy and Associate | DOJ | Department of Justice,” n.d.).

If you’re lucky, you can get an internship that pays you as well. There is an internship program called SLIP (Summer Law Internship Program). There is very competitive recruitment but, what you get to learn and experience is worth it and that’s why. The best thing about this program is you get to watch how the Department of Justice runs first hand. This opportunity is very diverse, interesting and they accept students from many different law schools. This particular internship has taken mostly students in their second and third year of law school. In order to apply you must have at least one full semester completed. SLIP looks for students who have shown commitment to government services, academic achievement, Moot court experience and extracurricular activities (“Organization, Mission & Functions Manual: Attorney General, Deputy and Associate | DOJ | Department of Justice,” n.d.). After going through all that schooling, and hopefully some internships you’re most likely going to be able to start working. Before even applying for any prosecutor jobs, one must make sure they have every single acquired skill in order to be a proficient prosecutor. As a prosecutor you must be there to serve justice, not just throw people in jail whenever you feel like it. Another thing is, when you’re in the court room, you have to look at the case as a whole and enjoy the process of trial. Listening skills and talking skills are essentials in becoming a prosecutor, especially when you have to really look in-between the lines of what someone is saying (“D.A. Confidential: What makes a good prosecutor?,” 2009).

Be sure to take in the account of your future. Once you’re a prosecutor and you’ve gone through a few cases don’t get cocky and don’t even think about falling back on your work ethic. Both of those could really hurt your reputation, which is something you always have to think about. On top of hurting your reputation, one slip up, or missed document could send a criminal back on the street where someone else will be hurt because of your mistake. That is something no one ever wants to live with. There are many different types of prosecutors in the criminal justice system. The lowest type of prosecutor is the District Attorney. He/she deals with it all from big too small (felonies to misdemeanors). The District attorney gathers all the research, put criminals in jail, talk to the victims and process having a life. A little higher up on the prosecutor scale is the independent counsels. This men and women work closely with the high government officials, stemming from cocaine use to perjury by the president.

The independent counsel promises public confidence while these well-known people are going through investigations and trials. Some independent counsels have been criticized for taking a lot of time, spending a lot of money, and getting into criminalizing things other prosecutors wouldn’t do. The highest type of prosecutor you could be, next to an Attorney General, is the US Attorney. They oversee administrators and handle the bulk of the work that the Attorney Generals would typically do. U.S. attorney general, who is the chief law enforcement officer in the United States and the head of the Department of Justice, has responsibility over U.S. attorneys. The 94 U.S. attorneys and nearly 2,000 assistant federal prosecutors intently investigate violations of federal laws, such as white Acollar crime, drug trafficking, and public corruption (“Types of Prosecutors,” 2014). District Attorneys have a lot on their plates at all times. DAs work really long- extended hours, late nights, and weekends. They spend roughly 100 hours per murder case, 8 hours for non-homicide and 3 for juvenile crimes. A lot of the time prosecutors do have enough time to manage their cases but last minute pre-trial motions and or negotiations make that difficult.

The days before trial are really hard though. These days consist of a lot of over time, making constant phone calls and making sure everything is ready. During busy times at the court house a prosecutor can be put on call in case they need them for something such as talking to a police officer, needing to watch a crime scene. Another important thing a prosecutor may be on call for is to get a search or arrest warrant during non-working hours (Reid, 2014). A day in the life as a district attorney is very busy and hectic. They can constantly hold feelings of fear and failure or emotional stress around the time of all types of trials. There is no such thing as a normal day when you’re a prosecutor. There’s a million different things you could be doing with 1,000 different types of cases. In a “normal” day at work in NYC you would have to prepare for grand jury right when you got there, worked real hard the day before to make sure that you have all things associated with getting the suspect indicted. There’s usually a morning meeting or some type of conference you need to go too. Down in NYC they can have around 400 attorneys hired at once and with each one of them having about 100 cases. It’s impossible for each attorney to stand on every case alone so once a month there is a meeting held to go over everyone’s cases (Honowitz, 2012).

By reading these blogs it shows a clear example of how stressful a day in the court house can get especially with more than one case going on. The stress pays off with the money you make. In order to retire comfortable the average prosecutor will work about 30-40 years. This table below shows the different types of salaries for each type of prosecutors for New York City: Federal: $93,000 Criminal: $98,000 County: $96,000 Public: $87,200 An average prosecutor in NYC will start at roughly $60,000 but they can get up to $130,000 (“Prosecutor Salary in New York, NY – Prosecutor Salary,” n.d.). Overall I believe that this would be a very ideal job for me. I really like this career path because it’s something that you really have to work for. Also, I like that even though what you do each day may be very similar each case is different and can have different outcomes. A prosecutor has many different tasks and responsibilities to keep in mind. I hope that one day I will be out in this field helping out the criminal justice system.


D.A. Confidential: What makes a good prosecutor? (2009, November 17). Retrieved from Honowitz, S. (2012, July 12). Life as a Prosecutor | Stacey Honowitz. Retrieved from Organization, Mission & Functions Manual: Attorney General, Deputy and Associate | DOJ | Department of Justice. (n.d.). Retrieved from Prosecutor Salary in New York, NY – Prosecutor Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Prosecutor’s Discretion: Day in the Life of an ADA – NYC Edition. (2012, May 29). Retrieved from Reid, S. (2014). The Average Working Hours of a Prosecuting Attorney. Retrieved from THE NYS BAR EXAM. (n.d.). Retrieved from Tronshaw, O. (2014). Requirements to Become a Prosecuting Lawyer – Woman. Retrieved from Types of Prosecutors. (2014). Retrieved from

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Life of a Prosecutor. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved August 8, 2022 , from

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