A Summer Romance

At the Federal Courthouse with the law clerks after their first appearance in court!

Sacramento is an ideal location for a summer internship. Working at the Federal Public Defender’s Office provides me with the legal experience that I crave, but also with the political atmosphere that keeps things interesting. The Federal Public Defender’s office puts me in contact with a range of individuals in the legal field from law clerks to prosecutors, making networking not only possible but incredibly helpful and thought-provoking. In addition, its close proximity to the Capitol allows me to attend many political events and engage in discussions over issues such as education and voting.

Aside from the great location, I’ve completely fallen in love with the office ambiance; I feel that my ideas are valued and taken into account. I’m perfectly comfortable reaching out to just about anyone in the office for help or to simply discuss a case. Every day has been a bit different, from going to court hearings, to sitting in on client interviews; I can honestly say there’s never a dull day. Even on the days that I’ve been stuck in an office reading case files all day, I’ve caught myself being completely engrossed in the material. The deeper I get into a case, the more questions I pose, the more I challenge myself to look at it from various angles: Why did the defense attorney choose this particular argument? Why did I or did I not find it compelling? Where is the prosecutor coming from in their response? What is problematic about this? And the list goes on and on… 

Three weeks into my internship, and I’m fairly certain that I’ve found the type of work I want to do for the rest of my life. Criminal law is incredibly fascinating, particularly because the clients are incredibly diverse and the circumstances of the crimes seem to vary heavily. Not to mention, the integrity of the attorneys, investigators, and paralegals that I’ve met at this office have completely inspired me to pursue this line of work. While Public Defenders have various limitations in how they can help their clients, as I’m coming to see, the individuals at this office hold themselves to a very high standard, with the best intentions for the clients in mind.

I have a little more than a month until the end of this internship. I will continue to immerse myself in the experience, to learn as much as I can, to challenge myself and my pre-conceived notions about the justice system, and also to take hold of all of the amazing opportunities that are right in front of me.