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Faced with budget cuts and fewer resources, the Brooklyn district attorney has turned to some of New York City’s largest law firms for help. In addition to relying on college and law school interns, District Attorney Charles J. Hynes has reached out to law firms to lend his office promising mid-level litigation associates for several months to help handle the caseload. In return, the young lawyers get solid courtroom experience, starting with calendar calls and misdemeanor cases, and building up to felony trials. Last week Hynes welcomed three law firm associates, one each from Debevoise & Plimpton; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and Dewey Ballantine. This is the third round of associates who have interned with the prosecutor’s office. They continue to be paid by their law firms. A similar program is employed by the Corporation Counsel’s Office. Paul Burns, the executive assistant district attorney supervising the Brooklyn prosecutor’s program, said the response among the assistants has been positive. Hynes called the arrangement a “win-win-win,” adding that he hopes to expand the program to provide two interns for each of the five trial zones within his jurisdiction. “Everything we thought the program would produce is happening,” Hynes said. “It relieves some of the burden on my assistants, who do an incredible job.” The seeds of the partnership were planted several years ago by Robert B. Fiske Jr., a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell and a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who suggested the idea to Mr. Hynes. After budget cuts reduced the prosecutor’s staff by 200 attorneys two years ago, Hynes called Fiske. “Partners in Prosecution” modeled on a program operated by the prosecutor in Dallas, was launched in March 2003, when Davis Polk loaned the Brooklyn district attorney’s office then fifth-year associate Tracy Timbers for about four months. “From our point of view, our associates get active in-court experience that they would have a hard time getting here, and also it provides them an opportunity to get some public service,” Fiske said. Timbers said the high point for her was trying a case before a jury. She has new confidence in her abilities, she said, as well as knowledge about how to take a case to trial. In February 2004, three associate interns, one each from Davis Polk, Debevoise and Dewey Ballantine joined the district attorney’s office for six months. Davis Polk did not send any associates to the prosecutor’s office this season, said Fiske, but it plans to send young litigators in the future. He said his firm has also participated in a similar program with the corporation counsel. Those joining the Brooklyn district attorney this fall are Margaret Dundon, a fourth-year associate with Debevoise & Plimpton; Christine Pepe, a third-year associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and Brian McGrath, a fifth-year associate with Dewey Ballantine. “I really want to have the autonomy of thinking on my feet, and taking witnesses’ testimony,” Pepe said. All three said the selection process for the program was competitive. Seth Farber, a partner at Dewey Ballantine and co-chairman of the firm’s pro bono committee, said about 25 percent of the firm’s 40 litigation associates applied. Together with two leaders of the litigation department, Farber selected someone who had practiced for a few years and would most benefit from the experience. He said the opportunity is considered “something of a reward for people who have done well and show real promise.”

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