This summer, my PILP stipend allowed me to volunteer with the Alaska Public Defender Agency (APDA) in Ketchikan, Alaska. The APDA is a statewide agency created by Alaska statute to serve the needs of indigent criminal defendants throughout Alaska. Attorneys at the APDA in Ketchikan represent every kind of criminal defendant throughout southeast Alaska. Because Alaska is so remote, the job entails traveling through Southeast Alaska’s island communities. I had an amazing experience with the APDA.
Over the course of the summer, I represented more than sixty clients in a variety of misdemeanor cases. I conducted initial interviews with new clients, regularly attended court appearances, and performed investigative work on many of my cases. My most valuable experiences was regularly attending court hearings.
Working at the APDA allowed me both to put my legal skills to work and to develop new practical skills I could not have obtained in the classroom. I became much more comfortable communicating both with clients and opposing counsel, as well as with the criminal legal system and courtroom processes in general.
The APDA not only taught me about the law, it showed me the need for public defenders in order to create a fair and balanced criminal legal system. The APDA helps keep this balance by giving those less fortunate in the community access to the legal help they are entitled to.