San Diego, California
As a recipient of the PILP stipend, I was able to do valuable work for the San Diego Public Defender’s Office. I was one of approximately twenty legal interns selected to work in the Felony Unit of the office. The experience was intimidating at first, having only completed one year of law school, I felt that I was out of my element. Instead of reading cases for hours upon hours, I was entrusted with many important hands-on tasks. Each felony unit intern was assigned a supervising attorney for the duration of the internship. I was incredibly fortunate to work with my mentor. I was assigned daily and weekly tasks to complete at a specified date. Some of the tasks included; writing and filing motions, calling probation and parole offices, cataloging discovery, writing memos on discovery, etc., After each task, I had a meeting with my supervising attorney. The meetings were a critical learning experience because I was given constructive criticism and valuable feedback. The professional feedback provided me with practical knowledge and insight into how my skills translate in a work environment.
In addition to working on cases in different stages of the judicial process, I was able to work with clients. Every intern was assigned a day to do Felony Arraignment. Felony arraignment occurred after a person had been arrested and charged with an offense. The person was taken to jail, and then bail was set at a certain amount. At Felony Arraignment, the person could either waive bail review or ask for the judge to reconsider the amount. Interns would be assigned 5-10 potential clients each day. We were expected to ask general questions including date of birth, work information, address, etc., and then go over the criminal information with them. The ‘information’ is the charging document composed by the arresting officer. Felony arraignment exposed interns to client counseling, conflict resolution and unique communication skills. My goal is to work as a public defender in Southern California, my experience over the summer brought me closer to this goal and allowed me to get my foot in the door at my ideal place of work. The PILP stipend was the only reason I was able to do these things, and for that I am truly grateful.