Welcome Back

Welcome back and happy 2012 from the PILF Board. The blog will be back in full swing next week–we’ll look ahead at this semester’s PILF events and provide an update on public interest opportunities here at the law school.

Until then, if you’re looking for a way to unwind after the first day of classes, check out HBO’s documentary Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, which premieres tonight at 9pm.  This film conclude’s HBO’s series on the West Memphis 3 case. Equal Justice USA even has suggestions on how to host a watch party, ways to generate discussion after the film, and information on what you can do to support the West Memphis 3.

Have a great first day of classes!

Defining Professional Conduct

The Supreme Court will grapple with two cases this term concerning how to assess professional lawyerly conduct as it relates to plea deals (Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye).  What’s your opinion on the lawyer’s conduct in each case? Consider these cases in light of Padilla v. Kentucky–what will the resulting impact be?  How will public defenders in particular be affected and what steps will they have to take to comply with these decisions, depending on how they are decided?  Share your thoughts!

 

Exploring Public Interest Internships: Part 2

Today is Part 2 of our public interest Q&A series.  Laura Dulic reflects below on her internship with the Lawrence County Public Defender Agency in Bedford, IN.

Q: What is your favorite part of the internship?

A: My favorite part of the internship is definitely the clients. I like being able to help people, and when I meet them and get to know them, I know exactly who I’m fighting for when I’m writing a motion or brief, or arguing in court.

Q: What kinds of experiences has your job entailed?

A: My job is mostly client visits and researching legal issues for motion work.

Q: Would you say that your office is team-oriented, or do attorneys work alone?

A: It is a small office, so I’m mostly on my own. I’ve got my own clients and projects so I manage my schedule how I need to.

Q: Have your perceptions about working for a public defender changed at all from when you began?

A: My perception of the relationship between the PDs and the DAs has changed a lot here. At my former job, the relationship between the PDs office and the DAs office was highly adversarial.  In Bedford, there’s a real feeling that both sides have the same goal–justice and fairness.  Both sides are still very serious and passionate advocates, but I was really struck by how easily the PDs and DAs get along and communicate.

Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learned?

A: Don’t take anything personal–this is really in regard to clients.  They’re frustrated and angry a lot of the time (and rightly so).  Even though you’re on their side, they sometimes get into it with you.  I never take it personally if a client gets angry or yells at me.  They’re my clients, and it is my job to be there for them.  If they need to yell and vent at someone, better me than anyone else.

Q: Any favorite moments you’d like to share?

A: Well there’s never a shortage of interesting moments at a public defenders…but I’d say my favorite moment was this summer at a bail hearing I did. I was at a different public defender agency and doing an oral argument to reduce a client’s bail. His family was at the hearing to watch and after the judge ruled and reduced his bail, the family was overjoyed. He had been in jail for several weeks and was about to lose his job, and had his whole family depending on him for support. It was such a simple, everyday hearing for me, and I didn’t feel like it was a big deal, but it was a huge deal for them. They were so appreciative, and he was incredibly grateful. Everything is relative, and even the smallest jobs to you make a huge difference in a client’s life when you’re working for a public defender.

Special thanks to Laura for her insight. If you are interested in working for a Public Defender, PSLawNet has resources for you as well.  3Ls can also apply for the 2012 Public Defender Corps and all other students can visit OCPD for more information on obtaining an internship.

Exploring Public Interest Internships

This week we’ll be highlighting three students with three very different public interest internships.  We’ll start the week with a Q&A from John Adams, a 2L who is interning at the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s office.  Tomorrow we’ll hear from Laura Dulic (a 3L) about her experience at the Lawrence County Public Defender.  Finally we’ll hear what Marios Fellouka (a 2L) has to say about his clerkship with Judge Diekhoff here in Monroe County.  Stay tuned–these students will shed some light on three very important aspects of the justice system.

Q: Where are you working this semester?

A:  I am working at the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office in Bedford, IN.

Q: What is your favorite part of the internship?

A: The best part of the internship is working in a small office.  Because the office is small there is ample time to sit down with the attorneys, get advice, and listen to their experiences.

Q: What kinds of experiences has your job entailed?

A: The internship has offered a variety of different experiences.  On any given day I could be attending court hearings, writing a response to a motion to suppress, riding along with the police, or reviewing incident reports.

Q: Would you say that your office is team-oriented, or do attorneys work alone?

A: I would say that, for the most part, the attorneys handle their own caseload and work alone.  Even though most of the work is done independently, the attorneys do frequently go to each other to exchange ideas.

Q: Have your perceptions about working for a prosecutor changed at all from when you began?

A: My perceptions haven’t changed, probably because of my past experience working with prosecutors.

Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learned?

A: When you think you have an answer to a legal question, slow down, think it through, and re-read the authority.

Thanks to John for his help with this post. If you are interested in working for a prosecutor’s office, check out these resources from PSLawNet or make an appointment with OCPD today.