As a witness for the prosecution, being cross-examined by defense counsel can be anxiety provoking. This is especially true when you are testifying on behalf of a client, for example a victim of domestic violence or child abuse. However, when you know the facts and you know your testimony could help take the perpetrator off the street, the anxiety dissipates and is replaced with determination to ensure that justice is served. In my twelve years as a social worker, I have worked with victims of child abuse, elder abuse, and domestic violence. I have worked with these victims as an investigator, a clinician, and most importantly, an advocate. The first time I set foot in a courtroom as a social worker, I was in awe of the system, from the assistant district attorneys prosecuting the case, to the legal aid attorneys defending their clients. It did not take long to realize that the courtroom was often the place where, as a social worker, I could be most effective as I both testified and supported a client through his/her testimony. While many often say that they cannot imagine doing the social work I have done, the work came very naturally and I cannot imagine having begun my career as a victim's advocate in any other way.
But, after eight years in the field as a victim's advocate, I began to feel there was something missing. I knew there was more that I could do to fight for the rights of victims of crimes. So, I asked myself the question, what more can I do as an advocate for the people? The answer came to me immediately and the next step was obvious: law school was in my future. I looked around for a school that promoted public interest law and I found New England School of Law (NESL). Feeling as though it was meant to be, I completed the application for NESL, took the Law School Aptitude Test, and in September of 2001, while maintaining a full-time social work career, I entered the evening division of NESL. I knew that this effort would culminate in a Juris Doctor that would allow me to continue to advocate for those in need but on a level that far exceeded my role as a social worker.
So now, as school comes to an end and I make my way through interview after interview, I'm often asked why the District Attorney's office or why Legal Aid? That is an easy question to answer. The origin of my interest in the pursuit law began with my role as a social work advocate for victim's rights. My four years at New England School of Law nurtured my desire to continue as an advocate for the people and the opportunities to grow as an advocate in this field surpassed my expectations when I entered the school in September of 2001. Despite being in the evening division, I was able to obtain credit for my work in the Nassau County District Attorney's Office through the school's Criminal Procedure II Clinic. The school's willingness to allow me to make the special arrangements that were necessary to work in New York allowed me an extraordinary opportunity to pursue my public interest education through the curriculum and gain an invaluable experience.
I cannot imagine a greater reward after four arduous years at New England School of Law, than to continue in my role as an advocate for those in need and as I learned throughout my career as a social worker and during my studies at NESL, there are victims on both sides of the law. Though my experience at New England School of Law has resulted in more interviews than I could have imagined, I have not made my final decision as to where I will finally land as I begin my career in law. So, while I cannot say, just yet which legal team I will join, I do know that I will be honored and privileged to join any team, where I can continue to advocate for the best interest of my clients, the people, as a public interest lawyer.