Class of 2009
I chose the Public Defender Clinic because I had a strong feeling that I wanted to work in criminal law, but I was terrified of public speaking. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t being unrealistic about my career path.
During my time in the Clinic, I participated in almost every stage of criminal defense work. With the help of Jeff Roth and other clinic students, I conducted initial reviews of client files, interviewed clients, and attempted to advise them on their best course of action. I made appearances in front of judges including continuances, preliminary hearings, evidentiary hearings and even a real live bench trial.
I was amazed at how much I learned in the clinic. During the weekly seminar, Dan Lowrance had us practice opening and closing statements, direct and cross examinations, and voir dire to the point that I became comfortable standing up and talking in front of a group of people. Additionally, through those seminars, I got a taste for how to effectively address a jury or judge. I also learned to think like a trial lawyer by recognizing the difference between the law (which lawyers care about) and the facts (which the jury cares about). I was able to put myself in a juror’s shoes and try to anticipate how they would feel about each possible presentation of the facts in a case.
My favorite part of the clinic was the interaction with clients. It was sort of scary being responsible for the outcome of a client’s case, but it was awesome to see their gratitude for all your hard work, whether you won or not. I learned to relate to clients and talk to them in a way that made them feel comfortable, which was very rewarding.
Participating in the clinic reaffirmed that I want to work in criminal law. I would unequivocally recommend this clinic to anyone!