Summary: Learn why Shlomit L. Metz became a government attorney, and what a typical day is like for her.
- Why did you decide to work as a government attorney?
Before I started law school I spent a decade studying and teaching the Holocaust. I realized that within the justice system, as a prosecutor, I would be able to give a voice to victims, to preserve memory, and to seek justice. This was very similar to the purpose of the Holocaust research and oral history projects in which I was involved. Although justice would not prevail for every victim of the Holocaust, preserving their memory and teaching the subject keeps the world from forgetting; and that is the one way we stand up against those who commit acts of evil against others. This is something, unfortunately, that I see every day at work, but in my pursuit of justice I know that I strive to right wrongs for my victims. That is why I became a prosecutor.
- What is the best part of working as a government attorney?
Seeing the system work for the victim or the defendant is the best part of being a prosecutor. Obtaining justice for a victim goes without saying. However, being a prosecutor also allows me to help defendants in need. We have an inordinate amount of power, but we must always be mindful of the fact that justice must tempered with mercy. Many defendants are in need of drug, alcohol or mental health treatment and I am proud that I work for a county that offers defendants the help they need.
- What is the worst part of working as a government attorney?
When the justice system fails a victim, that is very hard to accept. Fighting the good fight, knowing that a defendant is guilty of the crimes with which he or she is charged, but watching a jury be swayed by sympathy for a defendant, and hearing of an acquital in such a case is very painful. Of course, we must accept the jury's verdict, but it does not change the fact that in certain cases a defendant may be found not guilty, but it does not make him or her innocent.
- What advice would you give to others looking to become government attorneys?
This is a job for passionate people. If you love this type of work, are motivated by a need to help others, I believe this is one of the best careers to have in which we impact society as a whole. That is very rare, but exceptionally rewarding. You will never become wealthy doing it, but you will be rich with stories, experiences, and an amazing sense of accomplishment each and every day that you do what we call "G-d's work."
- What is a typical day like for you as a government attorney?
There is no typical day for a prosecutor. Every case is as different as each human being is in the world. There are ups and downs each day, and tremendous pressure, which often requires us to be available 24/7 at times. However, there is great quality of life. There is amazing comraderie "in the trenches," as we say. I have made life long friends here, both on the prosecutor's side and the defense's side. Unless I am on trial though, I start my day at a reasonable hour and go home to my family at a reasonable hour as well. I am currently supervising and training young assistants to prosecute, so that requires additional hours each day, but is worth every moment as I know I am investing in the prosecutors of tomorrow.
- How does your experience as a government attorney compare with your peers who chose other sorts of jobs?
We prosecutors always joke that we have the best stories to tell at any party. There is never a dull moment, and my quality of life is definitely better than some of my peers who work very long hours at law firms. For me, there is a sense of tremendous reward each day, which I do not sense from firm attorneys unless they complete a major project, or succeed after toiling for many months. It seems our rewards are constant, as there are so many opportunities each day to seek justice. The flip side is that we see the worst of man's inhumanity to man, and I think that creates a tougher skin as well as a very different view of the world, than those who work outside of law enforcement; some of which we cannot repeat in polite conversation! One must have a great sense of humor to survive in this line of work.
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