Interning at Washtenaw County Public Defender office is amazing! I am learning more than I ever imagined and I get to work on actual cases and not do “intern” tasks. As stated before I am working alongside attorney Nichollette Hoard and her team of 4 interns. I’ve met an intern who is finishing up law school, one that graduated law school a couple of months ago, and two students completing their undergraduate studies like myself. Not only do I gain a lawyer perspective, I gain perspectives from individuals living my dream of going to law school, and bond with those in undergrad. Not to mention interact with individuals in the office who are assigned to different attorneys working on various cases.
This week a lot of people have been out of the office. At first I was nervous about being Ms. Hoard’s only intern. However, I worked on 9 cases by myself and gained a lot of one on one time with Ms. Hoard. She is teaching me so much and I appreciate everything. During court in the morning I observe and take notes of words/ proceedings I do not understand to later ask and gain clarity. Once we get a break from hearings Ms. Hoard sits with me so I can ask questions and to catch me up to speed regarding different cases. She often says, “I wish you could sit up here with me so, I need you to go to law school and pass the bar.” She is very inspiring and allows me to ask questions about her journey to law school and being an attorney.
About 2 weeks ago I shed a few tears in court because the verdict was quite sad and sometimes whether a child is guilty or not you think that they are just a child. Nonetheless, this was my teaching moment. Ms. Hoard told me to not cry and she knows it is sad. However, she told me since she works with sensitive cases the best way to care is to empathize with the clients. She often provides them with her personal contact information, ask do they need time for payments, and seek to accommodate them in any way possible to alleviate any stress they might be feeling.
Another important thing she taught me is whether I believe the client did it or not provide them with the best options to not face scrutiny under law. Ms. Hoard is one to not get clients off but help them navigate and learn from the situations. It is not her goal to dictate whether juveniles should go to detention but assist them in breaking the cycle and getting off the path they are own to a better one. I really like how engaged she is with her clients because it shows that she cares and actually is compassionate about the work she is doing.