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Anna Lammert Wants to Fight for Social Justice…in Her Own Backyard

Early in her law student career, St. Louis native Anna Lammert ’12 focused on international law. Today, however, the recent College of Law graduate is back home studying for the Missouri bar, which is just one more step in the process of beginning a career in criminal defense.

Lammert graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO in Dec. 2008, where she earned a political science degree and minors in French and women’s studies. From January to July 2009, Lammert taught English in China before returning to the States to pursue a law degree that fall.

“Initially I was attracted to the joint degree program at UC, primarily the women’s studies program,” Lammert said. “Although I did not end up pursuing a joint degree, UC has a very strong social justice program and I have not been disappointed with my decision.”

After her 1L year, Lammert clerked for a judge at the High Court of Botswana through the Urban Morgan Institute. It was this experience abroad, which included visits to “some of the poorest areas of South Africa and Botswana,” that marked the start of Lammert’s interest in indigent defense, she said.

“I realized that I don’t have to travel around the world to fight for social justice. In fact, I realized that many areas of St. Louis have been ravaged by racism, poverty, aggressive policing and over-incarceration and something just clicked for me,” Lammert said. “I knew I needed to be back in St. Louis and I knew that I could combine my intrinsic interest in the law and criminal defense with my passion for social justice – and even if I could help even one person, the effect of my assistance could be infinite.”

Since her trip to Africa, Lammert has been involved with and worked in a number of positions reflecting her interests. At school, she worked as a research assistant for the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and helped host a number of the Center’s events.  In fact, she says her favorite event was “Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice,” featuring former federal prosecutor and current George Washington University Law School’s Professor Paul Butler. Lammert spent months preparing for this event, and her parents even came in from St. Louis to attend, she said.

After her 2L year, Lammert interned with the Death Penalty Litigation Clinic (DPLC) in Kansas City, MO, a habeas corpus firm.  “DPLC is like OIP (the Ohio Innocence Project), except all of the clients have already been found guilty, sentenced to death and do not dispute their convictions,” she said. “Rather, attorneys at the DPLC look through the client’s trial and appeal records and investigate mitigating evidence in order to commute death sentences to life sentences.”

For most of her final year at the College of Law, Lammert had an “informal” internship at the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office. She also worked with the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy in Kenton County during her final semester on campus.

“In all three states (Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri), I have limited practice licenses and have really enjoyed appearing for clients and representing their interests in court,” Lammert said.

After completing the bar exam, Lammert said she would “love” the opportunity to work in the Missouri Public Defender System, particularly in her hometown of St. Louis. “Either way, I definitely plan on being a public defender,” she said.

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13