Resigned to a 13.5 percent cut in pay, private attorneys from around the state who accept federal criminal cases seem willing to take one for the team if it helps save the beleaguered federal defender program from further budget attacks.

"The backbone of the federal defense bar is the federal defender office," said Kevin Luibrand, an attorney in the Northern District who does assigned defense work as part of a broad practice. "It supports in many ways the Criminal Justice Act panel as a resource, many times as cocounsel, and the expertise in that office is collectively better than any law firm within the district."

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