Allison Schwartz, '10—Public Defender, Mental Health Division, Washington, DC
Schwartz, a 2L student, interned with the Mental Health Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia in Washington, DC last summer.
Why did you choose your summer internship?
“The position was an ideal opportunity to explore my initial interests in both indigent defense work and mental health law. The Mental Health Division provides representation to mentally ill, indigent clients facing involuntary civil commitment for the purposes of mental health treatment in the District of Columbia. As an intern, I was provided with the opportunity to actively engage in all aspects of case preparation with my supervising attorney. Most notably, this included the opportunity to interview clients, as well as significantly contribute to development of the client's defense and overall case.”
How has your experience helped you achieve your career goals?
“This unique opportunity confirmed my desire to pursue a career in indigent defense work and more specifically, criminal defense work. My daily experiences provided exposure to a variety of legal obstacles associated with defense work, but at the same time, emphasized the importance of ensuring effective and zealous advocacy to all clients regardless of the circumstances. Working and learning in an environment of passionate public interest lawyers was an invaluable component of the internship.
What makes UC Law’s summer fellows program so important?
“Based on my experiences from the past summer, I have accepted a position for the upcoming summer with the New Hampshire Public Defender in Concord, NH. I will work as a licensed legal intern responsible for representing clients in various criminal proceedings. The SPIF grant will allow me to obtain an array of practical skills and ultimately, provide great assistance in achieving my career goal of becoming a public defender. Working with students from different law schools throughout the country made me realize what an asset the SPIF fellowship is to UC Law. Surprisingly, many law students are not presented with a similar opportunity to obtain funding for unpaid summer public interest jobs.”