Class of 2009
The Public Defender Clinic was, without a doubt, the most valuable experience I had in law school. Not only did it lead me to my future career, but it also provided me with opportunities that no other class or extracurricular activity did.
As student attorney in the clinic, I reviewed police reports, met with clients to discuss the reports and plea agreements, interviewed police officers, orally argued a motion to suppress, conducted a preliminary hearing and co-counseled a bench trial. Throughout the entire process, Professor Jeff Roth challenged me to think about different aspects of a case from different perspectives, and he provided excellent guidance, constructive criticism and support.
The exposure to real clients and to actual courtroom interactions was invaluable to enhancing my client management and courtroom demeanor skills. And the seminar sessions with Professor Dan Lowrance gave me more opportunity to hone my oral advocacy skills without the pressure of being in a real live courtroom. Dan helped me to break my speaking patterns and nervous physical twitches that popped up when I spoke in public. The practice of direct and cross examinations along with closing arguments ensured that I would be better prepared for the real thing in the future.
My favorite part of the clinic was being able to apply what I learned in Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law and Evidence to actual cases with real clients. Working with the clients, Jeff, and the other students in the clinic and bouncing around ideas about cases allowed me to step outside of the world created by law school essay questions and really use the knowledge I had gained while studying at school. It was the first time I actually felt like a lawyer and could see what my future career would feel like.
The Public Defender Clinic confirmed my interest in criminal defense work. In fact, but for the clinic, I may not be a public defender with the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in this type of work.