At the risk of talking myself out of a job or two, let’s clear something up immediately: Even though it doesn’t apply to me (because as long as I’ve practiced law, I’ve always been a private attorney), I hate the phrase “Public Pretender.”
I hate that people use it; I hate to hear it. It’s pointless, usually slanderous, and in almost all cases — except perhaps in Kings County, California, where it is said contract attorneys will lose their contracts if they upset the
prosecutors in their black robes judges – unwarranted.
I’ve never been a public defender. But when people ask, “Are you an attorney, or a public pretender?” my reaction is “a what?! what’s that?” I know exactly what they mean, of course, but I ask it in a tone that (I hope) communicates that I’m wondering if it’s some street performer, maybe a homeless actor or comedian.
And that I’m quite amused that there’s a name for such persons.